Common Myths and Facts About Abuse

Myth: Alcohol and drugs cause people to be abusive

Fact: Domestic violence is a pattern of learned behaviors used to control and terrorize a romantic partner. While intoxication can increase the intensity of abusive behaviors, they are not the cause. Abusers will often blame drinking or drug use for their actions, but it is important to remember that addiction is never an excuse to mistreat anybody.

Myth: It's only domestic violence if there is physical abuse

Fact: Physical abuse is a tool that abusers use to maintain control over their partners. Other forms of abuse, such as emotional, verbal, and financial abuse are also considered domestic violence and should be taken seriously.

Myth: Only women experience domestic violence

Fact: Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion, age, income, or any other demographic. Often times men who experience domestic violence face additional challenges when seeking help from friends, family, and service providers. They may be told to "stop being so sensitive," to "just fight back," or their concerns are not taken seriously. LGBTQIA+ people who experience abuse often times face stigma and disbelief as well.

Myth: Leaving an abusive relationship will harm the children

Fact: Even if children are not experiencing abuse, witnessing abuse can have serious impacts on their development, mental and emotional health, and their ability to have healthy relationships in the future. It is important for children to feel safe in their home and with the adults in their lives. If you are not able to leave an abusive situation, talk with an advocate about strategies to help your children cope with the situation.

Myth: The person being harmed can stop the abuse if they just...

Fact: The only person who can stop the abuse is the abuser. Often times people will tell survivors that they just need to stand up for themselves, be more obedient, stop causing problems, or even to be more sexually available. These efforts will not stop the abuse and can serve to further erase the identity and autonomy of a survivor. Standing up to an abuser can actually trigger more violent and harmful behaviors, as the abuser may feel their power is threatened and a loss of control.

Myth: People stay in abusive relationships because they like the abuse

Fact: There are a lot of reasons why someone might stay in an abusive relationship.

  • they are afraid of being hurt or killed
  • the abuser has threatened suicide or to hurt others
  • they have pets they cannot bring with them
  • they do not have financial resources
  • cultural, religious, or societal pressure
  • they love and care deeply for their partner
  • they have hope that the abuser will change
  • they do not recognize that abuse is happening
  • they believe they deserve to be abused
  • countless other reasons

People who are experiencing domestic violence do not stay because they like the abuse.

Myth: Abuse only happens in adult relationships

Fact: Young people experience abuse in their relationships as well. 1 in 3 youth will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship and 1 in 10 youth reported being hit, slapped, or physically harmed by their partner. Often times, people do not take teen dating violence seriously and may dismiss their concerns.

Myth: Couples counseling can help or fix an abusive relationship

Fact: Couples counseling can be a great tool for couples who are struggling to resolve a conflict, communicate effectively, or build a stronger relationship. However, in an abusive relationship, couples counseling can actually worsen the situation. It is common for abusers to use what their partner says in therapy against them, punish their partner for talking about the abuse, or manipulate the therapist into believing their partner is causing all the problems in the relationship. We strongly recommend that people in abusive situations DO NOT seek couples counseling. However, we do recommend individual therapy for people experiencing abuse.