Domestic violence is one of the most common forms of criminal activity going on in homes around the world. While it has been normalized and justified by its perpetrators through the misinterpretation of religious and philosophical texts, we know today that domestic violence is never okay. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s gone away. In fact, during the Covid-19 pandemic, where families were quarantining together, reports of domestic violence saw a sharp spike upwards.
While generally accepted that domestic violence is wrong, there are still many pervasive myths that surround it. While you’d be hard-pressed to find someone defending the idea of spousal in the form of physical or emotional trauma, the concept of what those terms mean can become muddied. Today we want to identify some of the most prominent ways people minimize domestic violence, and the dangers that continuing to perpetuate these myths brings.
One of the most common myths you’ll hear about domestic violence and emotional abuse is that it’s the victim’s fault, or that because a victim doesn’t leave an abusive relationship, they must like the abuse or it’s being exaggerated.
This idea is patently false. Our modern understanding of abusive relationships shows that emotional and physical abuse can be very effective ways for an abuser to psychologically and physically manipulate their partner into feeling trapped and scared to leave a relationship. Threats might be made, either against a partner’s physical safety, that of their loved ones, or against their social status.
The cycle of abuse shows the general way that an abusive relationship goes. An isolated abusive encounter occurs – the victim is shocked, scared, humiliated, and doubting whether or not they are at fault.
The abuser then typically shows great remorse and makes ample apologies, and is greatly romantic. The victim is in an emotionally fragile state, and will usually believe these apologies since they are subconsciously just glad to no longer be in danger. This is known as the honeymoon phase, which usually continues until the next instance of abuse.
Men Can’t Be Abused
Another myth surrounding domestic violence is the notion that men are always the abuser in any heterosexual relationship. However, this couldn’t be further than the truth. Numerous studies have shown that between 40-50% of men over 18 have experienced some form of domestic violence in their lives. This includes sexual violence and emotional abuse.
These statistics include same-sex relationships, but men suffer domestic violence from their partners in heterosexual relationships as well, even if the number of incidents are less numerous and usually less severe than when perpetrated by a female partner.
The fact is that under no circumstances is abuse okay, regardless of the genders of perpetrators and victims. While pop culture and the media might lead us to believe that male abuse victims are not to be taken seriously, it’s imperative that we as a nation recognize this apathetic view of a disturbing reality.
Domestic Violence is a Crime of Passion
Oftentimes, domestic violence is excused by perpetrators and their supporters with a common argument: “It was a one-time thing! I have anger management problems! I just lost my temper!”
Excuses like these allow abusers to justify their actions and place blame on victims of domestic violence. Generally, it’s considered that there are three types of abusers: predatory abusers, affectively-motivated abusers, and instrumental abusers. Of these three, only effectively- motivated abusers generally act on genuine impulse. In these situations, a combination of environmental and internal factors can contribute to a lashing out of pent-up rage and violence.
In no way does acting on an impulse justify or excuse domestic violence. However, these abusers at least have an explanation for their actions that could potentially be fixed or adjusted through different forms of therapy. However, the majority of abuse cases are conducted by the other two categories of abusers, who abuse their partners either for sadistic pleasures or for manipulative purposes.
Domestic Violence is a Thing of the Past
As we’ve already mentioned in this article, domestic violence is very much happening today. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, partner abuse was still present in many relationships in the United States. While domestic violence as a whole has been decreasing over the decades, percentages can be deceiving, as they eliminate the very real human lives affected by physical and emotional abuse.
In the United States, it’s estimated that as of 2022, over 10 million men, women, and children are affected by domestic violence every year. This includes elder abuse, child abuse, and partner abuse. With Covid-19 causing a recent surge in violence, it’s ignorant to believe that this ugly old problem hasn’t gone away in our modern times.