Myths & Facts
There are many myths surrounding domestic and family violence and some specific myths surrounding LGBTIQ relationships and domestic and family violence. Some myths attempt to excuse the abuse while others blame the victim. Myths make it difficult for the person experiencing abuse to seek help and they make it difficult for others to understand the real issues. Myths shift the responsibility for abuse on to the victim or an outside factor. There is no excuse for domestic and family violence.
Myth: Domestic and family violence only happens to certain people.
Fact: Domestic and family violence can happen to anyone. Domestic and family violence happens in all income brackets, countries, religions, cultures, ages, sexualities, genders and sexes.
Myth: Stress causes the person to become violent.
Fact: Daily life is full of frustrations associated with money, work, our families and other personal relationships. Everyone experiences stress, but everyone has a choice in how they respond to it. Choosing to be abusive or violent to relieve stress is not acceptable.
Myth: The person being abused did something to provoke the violence.
Fact: No one has the right to be violent, control or threaten another person. No one deserves to be beaten, battered, threatened or in any way victimised by violence. Any domestic and family violence is unacceptable. Putting the blame for the violence on the victim is a way to manipulate and continue to control the victim and other people.
Myth: Domestic and family violence is caused by a loss of control.
Fact: People who use violence to control their partners are often highly self-controlled. If the rage was really uncontrollable they would explode at anyone at any time, whereas in domestic and family violence the abuse is usually hidden from others. Perpetrators are often able to appear calm when the police arrive and have enough control to limit the physical abuse and injuries to undetectable parts of the body such as under the hair or on the torso.
Myth: The drugs make the person violent.
Fact: It’s true that some drugs may trigger violent or aggressive behaviour in some individuals. Drug-related violence is usually categorised as a one-off incident.
An abusive partner will often blame the drugs or alcohol for their violence. This is a way of trying to minimise the violence and deny their responsibility for it. This is domestic violence. Someone who is violent before they use drugs or alcohol is likely to become more violent after using drugs or alcohol. It is advisable for any person to take extra safety precautions if they are in the situation where their partner becomes violent when they use drugs or alcohol.
Violence is a crime regardless of whether someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“There were the apologies and the making up. We both explained it as a speed induced come down drama...” Ruth, 48
Myth: Domestic and family violence is always visible.
Fact: Perpetrators aren’t easy to spot. Some perpetrators can be well respected and widely liked members of society and the LGBTIQ community. Domestic and family violence are insidious and can go unnoticed. Victims aren’t always harmed physically. Many victims are psychologically traumatised, socially isolated and financially deprived. This abuse is more difficult to detect.
Myth: Bondage and discipline or sadomasochism (BDSM) is about power and control. That means the submissive partner is being abused.
Fact: BDSM is a negotiated sexual activity that may involve hitting, slapping, pain, role-playing, coercion, or dominance and submission. Some people may adopt long-term roles of dominance or submission. These are conscious and consensual activities where all parties agree to their roles as well as the time and place for a particular scene. In a domestic violence situation the abused partner does not consent to the abusive activities.
Myth: Violence in LGBTIQ relationships is a mutual fight.
Fact: Domestic and family violence is about power and control and will almost always involve a number of forms of abuse, for example emotional or social abuse. Physical violence may only be one of those. Regardless of whether an abused partner may be able to fight back during a particular incident they are still experiencing domestic and family violence.
Myth: The law can’t help me.
Fact: The law in NSW offers the same protection to LGBTIQ victims of domestic and family violence as it does to any other victim including police protection and access to Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs). Threats, stalking and physical and sexual violence are all illegal. The NSW police must act with diligence and care when investigating domestic violence regardless of a person’s sexuality, sex or gender. If someone feels the police response hasn’t been adequate or appropriate they have the right to make a complaint.
Myth: I won’t be able to meet any other LGBTIQ people. No-one else will want me.
Fact: One form of abuse is social isolation. Some LGBTIQ people worry that if they leave their abusive partner they will end up isolated and alone. This is a common fear for people in their first LGBTIQ relationship. But there are many community groups that can help people make connections with other LGBTIQ people. QLife is a national LGBTIQ phone and online counselling service which is available 5.30pm-10.30pm every evening. They can offer support and can help connect people to local groups. Go to www.qlife.org.au or phone 1800 184 527.