Dating and Domestic Violence Myths

There are many myths about dating and domestic violence. Some believe that abuse only affects certain kinds of people and relationships.  However, we know it can affect anyone regardless of age, income level, gender, race, or religion. Others believe that making the decision to leave the relationship is simple, without considering the many reasons why a person may choose to stay with their partner.

Myths like these can make an already dangerous and confusing situation even worse. They can also leave friends and family members confused about how to offer support.

Here we debunk several myths about dating and domestic violence.

Only women are vctims of dating and domestic volence

Although approximately 85% of  victims in reported cases of domestic violence are female, men can also be victims.1

The best way to support a friend who is being abused is to suggest he/she dump the abuser

Ending an abusive relationship is about being readiness. There are many reasons why a person may be not be ready to end the relationship, including fear, love, embarrassment, lack of support, and financial reasons. Even though it is often our first instinct, suggesting that your friend break up with their abusive partner may not be helpful.

As a friend, it’s important to support their choices, even if that means staying in the abusive relationship.  Always continue to be there for him/her.  If and when the time comes that your friend is ready to leave the relationship, they will be thankful that you stuck by their side.

Remember: Abuse is never the victim's fault. Nobody deserves to be abused. Ever!

Abuse is mostly physical

There are many types of abuse that can affect dating relationships. In addition to physical violence, there is also mental, verbal, emotional, cyber, and sexual abuse. Some abusive relationships may never become physically abusive. The affects of mental, verbal, and emotional abuse can be just as damaging as other forms of abuse. While physical injuries may heal over time, the harm from mental and emotional abuse can take longer to heal.

The best way to end abuse is by using violence against perpetrators

Violence is a learned behavior, meaning we learn to be violent from being exposed to it and witnessing it. We "learn" how to be violent from many places, including parents, family, friends, TV shows, media, and music videos. Using violence to try to end violence will only lead to further harm. Help an abuser take responsibility for his or her actions and learn healthier coping mechanisms.

Dating and domestic violence primarily affects adults

Females between the ages of 16-24 experience the highest rate of dating violence- a rate almost 3x higher than the national average.2

Abuse does not happen in wealthy communities/families

Dating and domestic violence does not discriminate!  It affects everyone - every race, ethnicity, age, income level, educational status, sexual orientation, gender, and neighborhood.3

Abuse doesn't happen in LGBTQ relationships

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) teens are just as likely to experience dating violence as teens in straight relationships.4  Learn more about abuse in LGBTQ relationships here.

Most teens in abusive relationships tell a parent or friend

Unfortunately, it is common for teens to not tell anyone about their abusive relationship. In one study, only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.7

It's important to look for warning signs for both yourself and your friends who you think might be in unhealthy or abusive relationship. If you have a friend in an abusive relationship, it's more likely that they will reach out to you for support than a parent, teacher, or other adult. Take the time to learn how you can be a supportive friend if you ever find out one of your friends is being abused.

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