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Letter to the editor
Domestic violence myths abound
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Forsyth County News
For the last three weeks, it seems the entertainment world has been focused on domestic violence, or DV, due to the alleged incident between pop stars Rihanna and Chris Brown.  

I work in the field of DV and am sickened by its prevalence and devastating ripple effects it has on every community, including ours.  What furthers my distress is how the public has reacted.  There are so many myths about DV that are perpetuated in situations like these, and I’d like to dispel at least two and provide the readers the sources of this information.

Myth 1: Women are just as violent as men.  There are violent women out there to be sure; however, women experience 4.8 million DV related assaults annually, while men are the victims of 2.9 million.

Additionally, studies’ show that gay men experience DV at a comparable rate to women.  And from 1976-2005 there’s been a steep decline in the number of DV homicides where a man was the victim, but only a slight decline in the number of women murdered by their abusers.

Myth 2: Anger causes abuse.  We all get angry, it’s a natural emotion, but we do not all get violent.  Abuse is caused by belief systems. Many abusers seem to have a split personality where they are perfectly normal, appropriate, and reasonable in public but become a nightmare at home.  

Is it because they never get angry in public?  No.  It’s because an abuser’s belief system revolves around power and control of their family, particularly their spouse.  The root issue is not their childhood, mental illness or substance abuse, and not the victim’s fault.  It is a belief of entitlement, a feeling of possessiveness and justification, and a need for power and control.  It is a choice.

I urge everyone to please place the responsibility for abuse on the abuser and not the victim.  And the next time you find yourself or someone else saying “Why won’t she leave?” I challenge you to share what you’ve learned here and to ask instead, “Why won’t he stop abusing?”

Sources: CDC, Bureau of Justice, NCADV, author Lundy Bancroft, The Duluth Model

Leslie Dinkins