Myths & Facts

The definition of domestic violence is physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse inflicted by an intimate partner or family member and crosses all class, racial, and educational lines. Victims of domestic violence suffer devastating effects including physical pain, loss of self-esteem, forced dependency, anxiety, terror, and depression. In addition to creating an atmosphere of fear at home, the stress and tension of living with violence extends beyond the home. It affects ones ability to function in the work place or at school and relationships to family members and friends.

MYTH: Abuse only happens in poor families with little education.

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FACT: Domestic violence is a problem regardless of race, socioeconomic class, and geographic location. In rural areas, physical isolation makes it easier for the abuser to hide the crime and more difficult for the victim to access resources. It is a problem in poor families and it also occurs in middle class and wealthy families. Victims with greater economic resources may not access services due to shame and fear of lost social and financial standing.

The definition of sexual violence is sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault and can be inflicted by an intimate partner, family member, acquaintance or stranger. Like domestic violence it crosses all class, racial, and educational lines. Victims of sexual violence suffer devastating emotional effects such as depression, anxiety, low self worth, guilt and traumatic memories. Life after sexual violence can be disrupted and coping with the effects can be difficult without support.

MYTH: Victims provoke sexual assaults when they dress provocatively or act in a promiscuous manner.

Read all 10 sexual violence myths and facts

FACT: Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence and control that stem from a person’s determination to exercise power over another. Neither provocative dress nor promiscuous behavior are invitations for unwanted sexual activity. Forcing someone to engage in non-consensual sexual activity is sexual assault, regardless of the way that person dresses or acts.