Myth #1: She must have done something to deserve the abuse.

Los Angeles, CA (November 5, 2009) – In support of Rihanna’s recent interviews, Break the Cycle breaks down common myths associated with the nation’s epidemic of dating violence:

Myth #1: She must have done something to deserve the abuse.

Truth: It may be tempting to focus on what the victim could have done to cause violence. However, nothing a victim does invites or excuses abuse. Abuse is never the victim’s fault. Domestic violence is a crime and is never okay.

Myth #2: If you come from an abusive family, you will be abusive.

Truth: While research indicates that people who witness abuse as a child are more likely to be in abusive relationships, growing up in an abusive household does not mean you are doomed to be abusive. Unhealthy relationship behavior is learned and un-learning that behavior takes more than a couple of months and some community service. Learning how to build and maintain healthy relationships can take a lifetime.

Myth #3: If a person stays with her abuser, she is weak.

Truth: Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused continue to date their abuser. Typically, dating violence does not start on the first date. It is a gradual cycle that grows more severe over time. Victims might believe the abuser can change or stop the abuse. Often the victim is isolated from close friends and family, or has limited access to money or transportation.

Myth #4: If it happened to me, I would just leave the relationship.

Truth: Breaking up is often the most violent time in an abusive relationship. Victims might fear for the safety and lives of their children, family members, friends, even pets. Studies indicate that a victim’s risk of being murdered is increased by 75% when she leaves or has left the relationship.

Myth #5: Dating abuse doesn’t happen to people like me.

Truth: As Rihanna said, “This can happen to me…it can happen to anyone.” Dating violence does not discriminate. It affects everyone in every community – rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight, confident or shy.

Myth #6: It’s just “puppy love.”

Truth: Young victims of abuse feel sincere emotions for their partners. It may be even more confusing or difficult for a young person, with limited relationship experience, to discern between healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors. Abuse among youth can be just as dangerous and severe as abuse among adults.

Break the Cycle’s Executive Director, Marjorie Gilberg adds, “We support Rihanna and her courageous decision to speak publicly about her experience. Every day, young women and men become victims of dating violence and Rihanna’s story is one of thousands untold. We hope that from this tragedy, we can begin a national dialogue that dispels misconceptions about dating abuse.”

Statistics on Teen Domestic Violence

  • One in three teens will experience some form of dating violence.
  • Young women ages 16 to 24 are most vulnerable to domestic violence, experiencing the highest per capita rates of intimate partner violence—nearly triple the overall average.
  • Among high-risk youth, dating violence is more commonplace. Studies indicate a high correlation between dating violence and other delinquent behavior. In fact, nearly 92% of girls who enter the correctional system report being victims of physical or sexual abuse.
  • Teen victims of domestic violence are more likely than their classmates to bring guns or other weapons to school and three times as likely to be involved in a physical fight.
  • Abused girls are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to attempt suicide.

About Break the Cycle

Break the Cycle is the national authority on dating abuse. Engaging, educating and empowering youth through prevention and intervention programs, Break the Cycle helps young people identify and build healthy relationships. As the leading voice for teens on the issue of dating violence, Break the Cycle advocates for policy and legislative changes that will better protect the rights and promote the health of teens nationwide.