Myths & Facts About Domestic Violence

Myth: Domestic violence does not affect many people.


  • A woman is beaten every 15 seconds.  (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Report to the nation on Crime and Justice.  The Data Washington DC Office of Justice Program, US Dept. of Justice, Oct., 1983)

  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 and 44 in the United States…more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.  (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991)

  • Battered women are more likely to suffer miscarriages and give birth to babies with low birth weights.  (Surgeon General, United States, 1991)

  • Sixty-three percent of the young men between the ages of 11 and 20 who are serving time for homicide have killed their mother’s abuser.  (March of Dimes, 1992)

Myth: Battering is only a momentary loss of temper.


  • Battering is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse.  The batterer uses acts of violence and a series of behaviors, including intimidation, threats, psychological abuse, isolation, etc. to coerce and to control the other person.  The violence may not happen often, but it remains as a hidden (and constant) terrorizing factor.  (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1990)

  • One in five women victimized by their spouses or ex-spouses report they had been victimized over and over again by the same person.  (The Basics of Batterer Treatment, Common Purpose, Inc., Jamaica Plain, MA)

Myth: Domestic violence only occurs in poor, urban areas.


  • Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels and ages are battered by husbands, boyfriends, lovers and partners.  (Surgeon General Antonia Novello, as quoted in Domestic Violence:  Battered Women, publication of the Reference Department of the Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, MA)

  • Approximately one-third of the men counseled (for battering) at Emerge are professional men who are well respected in their jobs and their communities.  These have included doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers and business executives.  (For Shelter and Beyond, Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups, Boston, MA 1990)

Myth: Domestic violence is just a push, slap or punch…it does not produce serious injuries.


  • Battered women are often severely injured…22 to 35 percent of women who visit medical emergency rooms are there for injuries related to ongoing partner abuse.  (David Adams, “Identifying the Assaultive Husband in Court:  you be the Judge.”  Boston Bar Journal, 33-4, July/August 1989)

  • One in four pregnant women have a history of partner violence.  (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1992)

  • Approximately 1,800 murders were attributed to intimates in 1996; nearly 75% of these had a female victim (US Department of Justice, 1998)

Myth: It is easy for battered women to leave their abuser.


  • Women who leave their batterers are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by the batterer than those who stay.  (Barbara Hart, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1988)

  • Nationally, 50% of all homeless women and children are on the streets because of violence in the home.  (Senator Joseph Biden, ,US Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Violence Against Women:  Victims of the System, 1991)

  • There are nearly three times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are shelters for battered women and their children.  (Senate Judiciary Hearings, Violence Against Women Act, 1990) 

Myth: Children are not affected when one parent abuses another.


  • 40-60% of men who abuse women also abuse their children. (American Psychology    Association, 1996)

  • Most research conducted found that children who witness violence are significantly more likely to have problems in one or more of the areas of behavioral, physical, emotional, social and cognitive development than children who do not witness violence. (Jasinski, J.L. and Williams, L.M. ed. Partner Violence:  A Comprehensive Review of 20 years of Research, pp.80-81, 1998) 

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