Domestic Violence: The Facts Behind the Myths
Domestic Violence is one of today's most common assault type crimes. It seems as if almost everyone either knows someone who was, or is a victim of domestic violence. Or, they either are, or were a victim themselves. There are a lot of myths associated with domestic violence that unfortunately are grossly misleading. In this article, I am going to address some of those myths and attempt to set the record straight. Who am I, and what qualifies me? Well, I am a former Police Officer of over 14 years, and I am the author of the book "Crime Awareness 101." Throughout my career as a Police Officer, I have dealt with a lot of domestic violence situations, and have seen first hand what this crime does to both its direct and indirect victims.
"Domestic Abusers are extremely violent people"
Though some domestic abusers are extremely violent people, they are actually the minority. Most of the domestic abusers we arrested never resisted or fought with us. Why? Because domestic abuse isn't about violence. It's about control. The abuser wants to control their victim, and this control is enforced through physical violence, but the underlining fact is control. This is why they will not fight with the police, because they know they will not gain the control. Another example is say the abuser is at work, and his superior (who may even be a woman) asks him to do something that he may not want to do. He doesn't beat the superior up because he doesn't have the control. Yet at home, behind closed doors, he wants and gains the control. This is a difficult concept for many to understand. To help explain this better, I have listed a few common control issues found in domestic abusers.
As you can see domestic violence is a control issue. Actually the psychological damage done by this type of behavior is much greater then the actual physical abuse.
- Monitoring the victim's comings and goings in great detail.
- Isolating the victim from family or friends.
- Discouraging the victim from working, joining organizations, attending school, or leaving the house.
- Constantly accusing the victim of being unfaithful.
- Belittling or humiliating the victim.
- Controlling all finances and forcing the victim to account for what they spend in detail.
- Destroying personal property or sentimental items.
- Threatening to leave with the children or saying they will never see the children again.
"Domestic Violence only happens to poor people."
Domestic Violence has no boundaries; it affects all levels of income. I had one case where the domestic abuser was an educated male who made a six figure income. His victim (former live in girlfriend) was an educated female who made a nice income herself. They both had good jobs, and lived in an expensive condo. Well, he had beaten her so badly that she was hospitalized with a closed head injury. Talking with her later, she stated that she could not believe she found herself in this situation. She stated that her abuser was a white collar worker who actually appeared on the outside to be a harmless geek. In fact, her friends couldn't believe he was capable of this. A few days later, we were called back to the residence to stand by as peace officers while the woman packed up her stuff and moved out. During the time that we were there, I noticed how she couldn't stop trembling. She was so afraid that her abuser would come back, and attack her while she was there. This was in spite the fact that two Police Officers were with her the whole time (remember this was many days later). What is sad this was not the first time she was abused, but hopefully with her leaving, it will be the last. In case you're curious... yes, he was arrested.
"Alcohol drug abuse, stress, and mental illness cause domestic violence"
This is not true, but is commonly used as an excuse from abusers who try to pardon their actions, and unfortunately their victims buy into this. Alcohol use, drug use, and stress do not cause domestic violence; they may go along with domestic violence, but they do not cause the violence itself.
"Domestic Violence is a personal problem between a husband and wife"
Domestic violence goes way beyond just the two immediate people involved. Look into a child's face that sees this violence everyday. Then go visit that child about 10 to 15 years later and see what they have become. If they are male, they will most likely become domestic abusers themselves. If they are female they will most likely become domestic victims themselves. Why? Learned behavior; this was their environment growing up, and to them, this is just acceptable behavior that people do. It takes a very strong person to come out of that type of environment and not have it become part of their adult lives. A child who lives with domestic violence will never forget it.
"If it were that bad, she would just leave."
Leaving a domestic violence situation is not so easy. Many times children are involved and the victim may not have any financial means of supporting themselves. Not only that, but they may fear that they will be killed if they leave. As strange as it may sound, some have a real psychological bond with their abuser, and just won't leave. I have had many instances where we arrested an abuser and the next morning his victim is begging us to release him and recanting her story. This is one of the reasons why the law has changed in many states. Now it is the state, not the victim, who prosecutes the domestic abuser.
"I can change him."
This thought is the worst. For anyone who thinks this, read the following carefully: NO YOU CAN'T! I have heard this so many times, all from victims who are beaten time and time again. Domestic violence is way too complex for any one person to handle, or fix. You have to either escape it, or have some sort of professional intervention. I would highly recommend escaping it. I have yet to see anyone who has stated this, ever change their abuser.
In closing I want to make one point clear. Even though in this article I referred to males as being the abusers, females can be abusers also; it is just not as common. In my book "Crime Awareness 101" I go much deeper into domestic violence. I address the law, the cycle of violence, and some domestic violence traits to look out for early on which should raise a red flag. I also list numerous resources of agencies that are devoted to helping victims of domestic violence. I also cover many other crimes and crime related topics, for more information, or for more articles on criminal behavior go to http://www.crimeawareness101.com.
Copyright © 2005 Scott Shaper
About Scott: Scott Shaper is a former Police Officer of over 14 years. He is also the author of the book "Crime Awareness 101". For more information about his book, or to read more articles he has written please go to http://www.crimeawareness101.com.