Stereotypes & Myths about Abuse of Women
Stereotypes and myths create stigma which in turn makes it even harder for women to summon up their courage to seek support, thereby increasing risk for those living in abusive relationships. These attitudes add to feelings of despair and isolation often felt by those suffering and are deeply unfair.
Nobody deserves to be abused and there is no justification for violent crime. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone – being ‘a good wife/partner’ does not stop someone being victimised.
Statistically 1 in 4 women will suffer abuse in their lives.
“He was abused himself: men who abuse women come from violent families”
We know that many men who grow up in violent families don’t go on to become abusers and many men who are violent to their partner come from families with no history of abuse. This myth is an excuse to let abusers blame their abuse on their upbringing and not take responsibility for their behaviour.
Just because he might have experienced abuse as a child this does not justify his behaviour. A difficult childhood may have an impact on emotional regulation and responses, and if this is recognised the abuser may benefit from accessing appropriate support. However there is still a choice that is made and there is no excuse for using abusive behaviours.[research link: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/042115-podcast-child-abuse]
Specific cultures create women who are passive and conform to male dominated culture and religion with harsh traditions (that may include wife beating, maiming and killing)’
Women from all cultures experience domestic abuse and the risk does not differ significantly according to ethnicity or religion.
Abuse is not greater within any ethnic minority group. Chauvinist views and oppression of women exist in all cultures, although gender power may be displayed in different ways.
However, forced marriage, family honour (izzat) and shame (sharam) may be part of some Asian families and further limit women’s ability and safety to seek help; Asian women are 2-3 times more likely to attempt suicide than other women as it can often feel as if their situation is hopeless.
‘He’s a good dad, so she should stay for the sake of the children’
In 50-70% of homes where men assault women, children are abused as well. The impact of domestic abuse is serious and cumulative. Just hearing or witnessing domestic abuse can cause a variety of physical, behavioural and emotional problems for children and is considered to cause them ’significant harm’ both long and short term.
Research shows the emotional and physical health of children improves considerably when they are removed from abuse.
‘There is no point in getting involved because the women always go back’
Leaving an abusive relationship does not guarantee safety. Women are at most risk of life-threatening violence when they attempt to leave or have recently left a partner. So leaving can be a very hard and frightening thing to do and women need support and help to do so in safety – to give someone at risk the idea that you care and are there without the judgement above can be very powerful and means she will feel less alone.
Finally Domestic Abuse affects people from ALL backgrounds, also it affects people of all ages – there is no age or society limit to someone finding themselves trapped in an abusive relationship. If you are affected by abuse there are support services that can offer you information about your options and further support.
Rotherham Rise is actively looking for volunteers and businesses that want to support the needed and valuable work we do – find out more about how you can make the difference to women, men and children affected by abuse – click here to find out more.