Common misconceptions about domestic abuse

April 03, 2017  |   Posted by :   |   Blog

Domestic abuse can occur in many different forms, in many different types of relationship, and is unfortunately all too prevalent in the UK with 20% of women and 13% of men claiming to experience the effects of relationship abuse. However, many people fail to recognise the signs of abuse – in both their own relationships and those of others – often because they may have erroneous preconceptions about what domestic abuse entails and who it effects.

In this article we aim to dispel some of the most common misconceptions surrounding domestic violence and abusive relationships, and provide information on how to find help and support if you or someone else is in need.

It doesn’t just happen to women

According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), 1 in 5 women in the EU experience domestic violence, but it is not only women who are victims of relationship abuse. Approximately 1 in 7 men in the UK experience domestic abuse, and for every three victims, two will be female, one will be male.

Male victims are also unfortunately twice as likely not to seek support or help when they suffer abuse at the hands of a partner. Only 10% of men who have experienced domestic violence report it to the police.

Not all domestic abuse involves physical violence

Manipulation, emotional abuse, financial abuse, ‘gas-lighting’, and online stalking all comprise domestic abuse and controlling behaviour. In the absence of violence and directly threatening behaviour, abuse can be insidious and difficult to acknowledge, making victims less likely to report it or even recognise it as abuse. Constant criticism, withholding finances, digital tracking, paranoia and jealousy all contribute to abusive behaviour and can turn a relationship into a trap. According to Women’s Aid, over 40% of women in an abusive relationship claimed their partners had tracked them using apps and online activities, and manipulative behaviour can continue even when a couple has split up.

Domestic abuse is not an issue of class, gender, or sexuality

Abuse occurs in all types of relationships, and may be perpetrated by people who otherwise appear charming, successful, friendly, affluent, and caring. “But they seemed so nice” is the common refrain when details of domestic abuse are uncovered from an ‘unlikely’ source, and this is exactly why the issue is so dangerous. Relationships may seem absolutely perfect from the outside, but there are a number of subtle signs of an unhealthy marriage that may suggest otherwise.

Staying ‘for the good of the children’ is never ‘good’ for the children (or you)

A staggering 82% of children claimed they would rather their parents separated than stay together in an unhappy relationship. Children absorb everything around them, and no matter how well you think you are hiding a personal problem, they will always be affected somehow. Staying in an abusive relationship not only puts you and your children at risk, but it also sets a precedent for their understanding of a ‘healthy’ relationship and may lead to the perpetuation of a vicious cycle in their own relationships as teens and adults.

There is always someone who will believe you, and support if you need it

There are many different organisations whose sole purpose is to support victims of domestic abuse, whether you need practical help to escape a violent relationship, or emotional support to deal with the psychological effects of manipulation. For those fearful of exacerbating the situation by seeking help, there are ways to access support anonymously and procedures to help you to build towards an exit plan without alerting your partner. One of the main reasons people stay in abusive relationships is a fear of not being believed – particularly for male victims of abuse – but it’s important to reach out if you feel trapped or controlled by your partner. Remember that a central element of manipulative behaviour is making the victim feel as if they’re making the whole thing up.

If you are in need of support and advice on domestic abuse, please contact RefugeWomen’s Aid, Mankind, or speak to a family law solicitor.

At Frances Lindsay & Co we keep the well-being of individuals, couples and families at the heart of our services. Our friendly, down-to-earth family lawyers have extensive experience in children’s issues, and we will do our utmost to help those who need protection from domestic violence and abuse. Visit or contact us to speak to one of our solicitors in confidence.

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