Dating Violence - Myths and Facts


Social Definition: Dating/domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors including physical, sexual and psychological attacks against the victim, children, property or pets.

Legal Definition of Domestic Violence: "Physical harm, bodily injury, assault or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm or assault between family or household members." Household members are people who have resided together or are residing together, have a child in common or are 16 years of older and have been in a dating relationship. Domestic Violence includes violence between spouses, boyfriend/girlfriend, adult child to parents and co-habitants.
Personal myths about domestic/dating violence exist, which need to be looked at in order to learn about domestic violence and anger control. Learning the facts helps to dispel the myths.

Myth: Abuse means physically hurting someone.

Fact: Abuse comes in many forms: physical, verbal, emotional/psychological, sexual. Inflicting fear with words and gestures is also abuse.


Myth: Battering or partner abuse rarely occurs. It's a thing of the past.

Fact: One out of every four American women (26%) report that they have been physically abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.


Myth: Women who stay in abusive relationships must not really mind the abuse. If they did, they would leave.

Fact: A common misconception is that a woman will be safer if she leaves. In actuality, the danger escalates once she leaves. During separation a woman is five times more likely to be killed by her partner than prior to separation or after divorce.


Myth: Woman are just as violent as men toward their partners.

Fact: Among all female murder victims in 1995, 26% were known to have been slain by husbands and boyfriends. Only 3% of the male victims were known to have been slain by wives or girlfriends.


Myth: Abuse is a private thing that only affects the immediate victim and/or family.

Fact: An estimated 50% of the 256,000 children in foster care are victims of abuse. Those of us who pay taxes spend $2.5 billion in Federal foster care expenditures under Title IV-E.


Myth: Abuse happen elsewhere, but not in my town, not in Bellingham, WA.

Fact: According to 1997 and 1998 Bellingham Police and Sheriff's arrest reports: A combined number of 2,864 people where charged and/or arrested according to Domestic Violence violations. An additional 2,903 incidents of Verbal Abuse within Whatcom County were investigated and reported.

Source: Adapted from Crime and Sexual Assault Services (CASAS) website, Student Affairs, WWU

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Page Updated 06.03.2013