Myths and facts about domestic violence |

Myths and facts about domestic violence

Myths and facts about domestic violence

Before understanding the causes and identifying solutions for individual victims of domestic violence and for our society as a whole, it is important to understand the myths and facts associated with it. The details below are compiled from statistics provided by the National Network to End Domestic Violence. For more than 25 years, NNEDV has facilitated the National Domestic Violence Hotline, providing a listening ear, resources, and advocacy to victims of domestic violence in the U.S. The hotline was established as part of the National Violence Against Women Act, signed into law by then President Bill Clinton in 1994. 

Domestic violence can be defined as “a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, or financial abuse (using money and financial tools to exert control). The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically and can include willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, rape, and murder. The inclusion of abuse between intimate partners who are not married under the umbrella of domestic violence swells the numbers further. 

MYTH: Domestic violence is a problem, but it does not affect many people. 

FACT: The facts suggest otherwise.

  • In the U.S., more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually. 
  • More than 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime; for men the number is 1 in 9.
  • On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive nearly 20,000 calls. 
  • According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2018, partner violence accounted for 20% of all violence crime.
  • Men are not always the abusers. Pervasive stereotypes can even discourage men from seeking help or reporting abuse. 

MYTH: Domestic violence doesn’t impact age groups differently.  

FACT: The devastating consequences of domestic violence cross generations and last a lifetime. 

  • Intimate partner violence is most common against women between the ages of 18-24.
  • Young women ages 20-24 also experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, followed by those 16-19. 
  • According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 8.5 million girls and 1.5 million boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. 
  • Approximately 26 percent of children under the age of 18 are exposed to domestic violence in their lifetimes.
  • Children exposed to violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, become victims of trafficking, and commit sexual assault crimes. 
  • Domestic violence has an impact on overall health, too. Women who are victims are 80 percent more likely to have a stroke, 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, 60 percent more likely to have asthma, and 70 percent more likely to drink heavily than women who have not experienced intimate partner violence.
  • Sexual and domestic violence are linked to a wide range of reproductive health issues including sexually transmitted disease and HIV transmission, miscarriages, risky sexual behaviors, and more.

MYTH: Domestic violence is more prevalent among the poor.

FACTS: Financial hardship creates its own stress, however, abusers and domestic violence victims come from all walks of life.

  • Domestic violence is a pervasive, life-threatening crime that affects millions of individuals across the U.S. regardless of economic status, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, ability, or education level. 
  • When we talk about domestic violence, we are not talking about men versus women or women versus men. We are talking about violence versus peace and control versus respect. There is no way to spot an abuser in a crowd. 
  • People of color and immigrant survivors face increased barriers to accessing safety and services. A 2019 survey by the Tahirih Justice Center found that 3 out of 4 advocates reported that immigrants fear accessing legal services.
  • Access to resources can be a barrier to options and rebuilding one’s life after abuse. Housing instability and a lack of safe and affordable housing options heightens the risks for women experiencing domestic violence.
  • As the economy gets worse or in the event of a national or local crisis, there may be less options for survivors to seek safety or escape, thus increasing the incidents and extent of abuse.

MYTH: Older Americans are not often victims of domestic violence.

FACT: As the population ages and medical treatments add years to the average lifespan, more data suggests a growing problem with elder abuse, too.

  • A significant portion of elder abuse is spouse or partner abuse. Most offenses take place in the home, with abuse levied by family members and caregivers.
  • Statistics related to national incidence and prevalence are not readily available. According to recent studies by the National Center on Elder Abuse, 8 to 11 percent of people aged 60 and over are victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. This number could be even higher since many older individuals may not be able to report abuse due to cognitive limitations.

MYTH: It is easy for victims to leave an abusive relationship.

FACT: There are many variables which impact the victim’s ability to seek help and find safety.

  • Abusive partners work hard to keep victims trapped in the relationship. They try to isolate the victim from friends and family and also limit access to financial resources.
  • There is a real fear of death or more abuse if they seek help. In fact, a victim’s risk of getting killed greatly increases when they are in the process of leaving or have just left. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, on average, three women die at the hands of a current or former intimate partner every day.
  • Through “gaslighting” abusing partners work to convince victims that they are responsible for the abuse. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that causes the victim to doubt their sanity and better judgement.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse takes a toll over time resulting in the victim not being able to imagine themselves worthy of better treatment or surviving on their own.

MYTH: It is impossible for abusers to change.

FACTS: There is often a cycle of violence associated with abuse that continues the patterns of abuse through generations. Many abusers have domestic violence in their own family backgrounds. It is possible to interrupt the cycle, however, and the necessary first step is to recognize the abusive behavior is wrong and make a choice to change it. 

  • Domestic violence is first and foremost a matter of power and there are controlling behaviors that are common.
  • It is important to remember that domestic violence includes one or more forms of abuse and if the abuse stops in one area it may continue in another.
  • Survivors have many options and there are also services available for abusers. Counseling can be voluntary or be a requirement as a result of criminal charges.

MYTH: There are costs to victims, but not much cost to society as a whole.

FACT: While it is devastating to individuals and families, there is a significant cost to society related to domestic violence.

  • According to the World Health Organization, victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8 million days of paid work each year (that is equivalent to 32,000 full-time jobs).
  • A study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that the lifetime economic cost of intimate partner violence to the U.S. population is $3.6 trillion.
  • In the U.S., rape is the costliest crime to its victims, totally $122,461 each in medical costs, lost earnings, pain, suffering, and lost quality of life. 

There are a number of support services available if you are a victim of domestic violence or know someone who is in an abusive relationship. Hundreds of local shelters across the U.S. provide safety, counseling, legal help, and other services for victims and their children. There are also counseling services available through national and local hotlines. 

PLEASE NOTE: Contact 911 if you are in imminent danger. 

  1. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 
    1-800-799-SAFE (7233) (TTY 1-800-787-3224)
    Provides 24/7 confidential and anonymous support.
  2. Directory of Domestic Violence Programs for Muslim Families: 
  3. Crisis Text Line:
    Text SALAM to 741741
    Provides 24/7 access to crisis counseling support via text.
  4. Survivors' Toolkit:
  5. Imam's Toolkit:

Love Is Respect:
1-866-331-9474 (TTY 1-866-331-8453)
Provides teens and young adults confidential and anonymous support.


please dont post things about spells or promoting those types of sites, thats absolutely ridiculous and a disgusting way of trying to make money off of people in pain. the idea that you would try to use some spell to take someones free will is outrageous. get help. u need it..


salt lake city

If you are one of 37% of domestic violence survivors who are men, why not go to a site online for men to get your support and information. There are a number of good ones directed at men. I know you feel left out by this site but remember women are the majority who are battered and we also need a site to turn to for information.



I finally saved up enough pennies to escape a three year emotionally and physically abusive relationship. He attacked me again in my car in his driveway thru my car window. While trying to escape the blows to my head I pressed on the accelerator while in the wrong gear and ran into his garage door. I finally got away and was pulled over and arrested and charged with criminal mischief. I was trying to get to a safe place to report him because he had guns in the garage, but he called police first and falsely reported that I was drunk driving claiming I purposely damaged his property. The officer could have cared less that his attacks resulted in the car accident or that his previous wife had filed a no contact order against him. I agreed to a sobriety test showing that I was NOT intoxicated, which proved he was lying. When I told the officer who was wrongly arresting me that I wanted to press assault charges he responded with : "He said you sure know how to push his buttons" and when I told him my head was hurting he said "you have too much hair, I can't see anything" arrested me, transported me to another county and jailed me without reading me my rights or telling me what I was being charged with. I had never even had a speeding ticket prior to this false arrest. A corrupt legal system and unethical court appointed attorneys has resulted in me being court ordered to pay a domestic abuser (with a history of violence against women) thousands of dollars for a small dent to a garage door. The domestic violence laws mean nothing, because the police and prosecutors are usually men, who fail to enforce the laws properly. In my case, the abuser was the son of a public official, and knew the arresting officer, so everything was turned around on me. I now have a fake criminal record that has decimated my ability to work in my trained profession, can barely support my two children and have spent years appealing illegal court procedures and judgments. I have reported the discriminatory treatment to every governmental agency possible and no one has helped me. I now know why women stay, because if you report him (or her) while you live with them and have no ability to leave, they will beat you worse. If you do manage to leave they will just threaten you or find some way to ruin your life, if not kill you. I filed a restraining order against him as soon as I was released from jail, that he violated many times without punishment. IT EASY FOR OTHERS TO JUDGE VICTIMS OF ABUSE BECAUSE THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN THROUGH IT. They simply cannot understand how trapped you are or how scared you are every minute of every day if you do find the courage to leave. I am currently being forced by the court to PAY an abuser for damage that he caused with his violent actions. I still have nightmares that he is beating me, that no one will help me. The physical violence may end, but you are emotionally scarred for life. Many years have passed but he is still controlling me life. I am regularly required to appear for court proceedings because I have no ability to pay the thousands of dollars (illegally) assessed for a small dent to one panel of a garage door. I am purposely degraded and required to submit proof of poverty, then ordered to make monthly installments I cannot afford and required to appear again in several mos if thousands of dollars are not paid off -while he laughs all the way to the bank. Domestic Violence will never end until those entrusted to protect the victims actually get training to understand this type of control/violence, then actually do their jobs with integrity.


Cedar Rapids, IA

I also have been the victim of DV and yes I am not a woman but a man. I too am happy that you have showed the rates for woman but what about us men. we are the under reported victims in this both by being painted as only an aggressor and by no one shining the light on us as victims as has been done with woman. There needs to be a lot more education on this fact that men are victims also as stated any other way is a myth in its self also.


some were USA

Masha-AlLaah, I applaud the efforts of the SoundVision Team for raising the flag of D.V. victims. However I am rather hurt that this article - and the majority of information about D.V. on the site - is so one-sided, to the pointwhere it actually sounds like domestic violence is carried out by men alone and the only victims are women. I am a woman who was a victim of years of domestic abuse at the hands of my former sister-in-law who also used to hit my parents, her husband (my brother) and their young children. Now that they are divorced, she claims to have been the victim and uses this card to keep custody of the children, whom she continues to hit and mentally abuse. Over the last nine years in my work withing the West London community in the UK, I have come across numerous cases where the victims of D.V. are often men; husbands, former husbands, fathers and fathers-in-law. The next most common victims are the children. While I support the much needed efforts being made to help women and girls who fall victim to D.V. I do feel it is extremely unfair to all those men out there for whom there is not one single ounce of help. The moment they turn to someone for some support, they are either laughed at, belittled or simply ignored. Who even cares if a man is being abused by his wife? Who even recognises it as domestic abuse when he is the victim? All a woman has to do is turn up to work with worry lines and a complaint against her husband for everyone to jump on the D.V. bandwaggon in her deffence - couldn't we see some advice about how to help the men who face that same daily torture the article talks about happening to women please? I don't understand why we still have such double standards! Islam doesn't, so why the rest of us?


London UK

i am a domestic abuse survivor and some of the responses realy bother would be very difficult for a woman to do to a man what my sons father did to me.i never had the mind frame that it was okay for me to hit a man and that he could'nt hit me a matter of fact i did'nt defend myself because that would have required deadly force and even though he did many things to me i did'nt want to kill him, i did'nt want to put my son through that.i don't think it is anymore right for a woman to hit a man than the other way around. this islam guy sounds like a woman beater to me.he seems to be making excuses for domestic violence.also, it is one of the cycles of abuse for a batterer to provoke the victim. another fact for you, if you dont believe it look it up, murder is the number one cause of death for pregnant women. also to this islamic guy, are you implying that married women arent abused? i was in a support group for survivors and seven out of the ten of us were married to the abuser. either way you slice it, the statistics are probably worse than reported because women are less likely to report it, you are more likely to get killed after you leave, and a majority of fatalities happen when there is a protective order.


atlanta, ga

Nice information, however regardless about this page anyone out there who is getting physically and emotionally abused don't just stand there get help! i did what I could and I got my happily ever after. Now, you make your choice and you get your happily ever after. You don't deserve a life full of pain and misery. Listen just call out for help. Don't be afraid because they have no right of treating you like that. And also for people out there that know people getting abused or hurt help them. Get help now!!!



I agree with Maxie in Kingston. Until individuals experience what I have experienced they can never know what it is like to live in the hell and finally make the decision to get away for good. But then, there are the flash backs and the dreams that exists, but thanks to God I am finally free from the memories and find myself helping others to overcome.



The first fact under myth # 5 really scares me. I have left an abusive relationship after four previous attempts, That fact makes me more vulnerable? May God help me. Lots of persons can talk, but unless you experience it first hand you cannot understand.



Because there are other facts out there supporting men who are abused, doesn't make these facts false. Congratulations on a great page!




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