Myth-Busting: What are the causes of domestic violence?

Word cloud.jpg

Earlier this year Interval House posed a question to Ontarians through an Angus Reid Omnibus Survey to uncover some of the common myths, attitudes, ideas and misperceptions about the causes of domestic violence.

The most common responses appear in the word cloud below.

Some words jump out right away: “alcohol,” “abuse,” “control,” “anger,” “self,” and “lack.” Words like “mental,” “esteem,” “stress,” “history,” “power,” “money,” and “drug” are also pretty common.

But when we start to scratch the surface, we discover there’s more going on than most people realize. So for instance, look at the commonly held opinion that abusers are violent because they’re out of control when they’re drunk or high.

Is it true?

FALSE: The relationship between substance abuse and domestic violence is complicated. Just because there are many domestic abusers who also abuse substances, and vice versa, doesn’t mean that one causes the other. Abusive partners may be more prone to substance abuse and substance abusers more prone to partner abuse. But the most important reason why men abuse is that they think it’s acceptable to do so.

If you’d like to read more about the common myths that surround domestic abuse, you’ll find a 5-part series of blog posts here:

Part 1: What are the causes of domestic violence?

Part 2: Does substance abuse cause domestic violence?

Part 3: Does mental illness or anger cause domestic violence?

Part 4: Does a history of childhood abuse cause abusive behaviour?

Part 5: Is domestic violence about power and control?