No Shortage of Abuse Myths


February 17, 2014

Have you noticed all the shocking abuse factoids lately? They certainly make for attention-grabbing headlines…but are they truthful? Below, four abuse myths are presented in bold type, followed by the excerpt from a recent article that refutes the claim.


MYTH #1: Super Bowl Sunday is the Biggest Day of the Year for Violence Against Women

“’The Super Bowl does not cause domestic violence, and it doesn’t increase domestic violence, but it does increase the public’s awareness of the issue, which will help victims learn about help and resources,’ Cindy Southworth, vice president of development and innovation at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told U.S. News.” [i]

MYTH #2: Super Bowl is the Biggest Sex Trafficking Event in the U.S.

“The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, a network of nongovernmental organizations, published a report in 2011 examining the record on sex trafficking related to World Cup soccer games, the Olympics, and the Super Bowl. It found that, ‘despite massive media attention, law enforcement measures and efforts by prostitution abolitionist groups, there is no empirical evidence that trafficking for prostitution increases around large sporting events.’”[ii]

MYTH #3: One in Five Women is Raped During Her Lifetime

“In its definition of rape, the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey includes sex that occurred when the victim was drunk or high, regardless of whether she was incapacitated or unable to give consent.

“Participants were asked to respond to the question: ‘When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to give consent, how many people ever had vaginal sex with you?’ A woman could list instances of consensual sex she had while intoxicated that she did not consider to be rape — that were in fact not rape — and the researchers would nonetheless classify her as a rape victim.

“The bogus ‘one in five’ formulation does more to obscure the issue than to honestly address it.” [iii]

MYTH #4: Domestic Violence is the Most Prevalent Form of Violence Against Women (Finding #16 of the International Violence Against Women Act)

“According to the World Health Organization, the leading causes of violence-related deaths for women are suicide, homicide, and war-related injuries. Domestic violence does not appear on the list.”[iv]

Shortchanging Victims, Discrediting the Abuse-Reduction Movement

An occasional misstatement of the facts might be understandable. But what we’re seeing is the wholesale misrepresentation of the truth.[v]

Falsehoods have consequences, because they give rise to flawed policies and ineffective and wasteful programs.

As Kate Mogulescujan recently charged in the New York Times, the Super Bowl sex-trafficking myth “is actively harmful because it creates bad policy.”2