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The "Power and Control" of Domestic Violence Myths

Journalist Philip Cook observes that "there is more false, falsely framed, or disingenuously deceptive information about domestic violence than any other significant public and social issue."

RADAR's new special report, "Fifty Domestic Violence Myths,"(http://mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-50-DV-Myths.pdf) debunks some of this misinformation, including the following myths:

  • "From the very beginning, American jurisprudence has viewed wife-beating as an acceptable practice." (It's never been acceptable to beat your wife under American law.)
  • "At least 40% of law enforcement families experience domestic violence." (Only if you define "domestic violence" to include any form of family conflict.)
  • "Men and women engage in domestic violence for fundamentally different reasons." (A study showed 12 of 14 reasons for DV apply to both genders.)
  • "False allegations of domestic violence are almost non-existent." (They're actually quite common.)
  • "False allegations are no more common in divorce or custody disputes than at any other time." (They're actually far more common.)
  • "The expression 'rule of thumb' refers to the diameter of a stick or rod for which wife-beating was considered legal." (Such a law has never existed.)

The problem with the myths identified in the report is not simply the number of them, but that "the widespread existence of such myths has come to overshadow the truth of domestic violence" and that their "cumulative effect has been to hamper the overall effectiveness of abuse reduction programs." (They also seem impossible to kill, as Christina Hoff Sommers noted in a recent article in The Chronicle Review, "Persistent Myths in Feminist Scholarship" (http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i40/40sommers.htm).)

Please read the new RADAR report and forward it to anyone who might benefit from reading it.

Thanks for your help getting our message out.

Date of RADAR Release: July 20, 2009

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org