After a video surfaced of football player Ray Rice punching out his then-fiancée Janay in an elevator, domestic violence has been at the forefront of the national conversation.
When the couple married, many asked, “Why would she stay with him?” Twitter answered back with #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, in which survivors shared their stories of why they remained in abusive relationships and why they eventually got out.
Yet misconceptions persist — that abuse is a private matter, that women who stay with abusive partners are simply weak-willed, that women are just as abusive as men. Cosmopolitan.com talked to the experts to clear up some of the most stubborn, and most dangerous, myths about intimate partner violence.
1. Domestic violence is unusual.
“Many people think domestic violence is uncommon and it hardly ever exists anymore,” Katie Ray-Jones, president of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) and the National Dating Abuse Helpline (NDAH), told Cosmopolitan.com. And even the stats we have are just for physical violence, and don’t take verbal and emotional abuse into account. “One woman told me, ‘I can still hear his voice in my head. Even though I’ve been out of the relationship for three years, I feel like I’m still sitting there,'” Ray-Jones says. “It really has long-term impacts on a woman, and it takes a really long time to heal from.”
While still common, incidences of domestic violence, along with other crimes, have decreased significantly since the mid-’90s. There’s less social acceptance of it; women are more economically independent and mobile and therefore better able to leave; and there are more services for survivors, including Ray-Jones’s hotline, which you can call at 1-800-799-7233 or find online (they also do live chats). That’s been good for both women and men: Fewer women are victims than in previous decades, and fewer abusive men are killed by their wives — now, the wives can leave, instead of thinking murder is the only way out.
Our appreciation to Domestic Violence for sharing his vital information.
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