‘If You Keep Repeating a Myth,
Will People Begin to Believe It?’
Abuse is a major problem in our society. Unfortunately, abuse myths have now become widespread — some claims are so exaggerated as to be farcical. These factoids are harmful to victims, to society, and to the credibility of the entire abuse-reduction effort. These myths have a common theme: “wildly inflated numbers, the rhetoric of female victimhood, and complete disregard for any rights that the accused may have,” explains columnist Cathy Young.
The myths are concentrated in three areas: domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking:
- A leading government survey found that men represent 53% and women represent 47% of all domestic violence victims (Centers for Disease Control)
- Over half (58%) of all intimate partner abuse is bi-directional — see middle red wedge in graph (Partner Abuse State of Knowledge)
MYTH: Domestic violence is the leading cause of death for African-American women aged 14-45
- The leading causes of death for young Black women are cancer, heart disease, and unintentional injuries like motor vehicle accidents (Centers for Disease Control)
- “There’s certainly a lesson here: When a fact sounds too startling to be true, always go back to the original source.” (Washington Post: Fact Checker)
MYTH: More women are victims of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year.
- “The Super Bowl does not cause domestic violence, and it doesn’t increase domestic violence.” (National Network to End Domestic Violence)
- “How a belief in that misandrist canard can make the world a better place for women is not explained.” (Christina Hoff Sommers)
- An analysis of Fact Sheets from 338 DV agencies reveals many contain claims that are not “factual.” DV programs “are unlikely to work if they have little basis in objective information about the problem.” (Denise Hines: Partner Abuse, Volume 5, No. 1. 2014)
- “The online Fact Sheets of all eight domestic violence organizations received a failing grade for lack of accuracy and completeness.” (SAVE: Tall Tales and Lethal Lies)
- “The bulk of domestic violence information is one-sided and systematically biased.” (SAVE: Special Report)
- “It’s a little shocking to read a White House report that effectively assumes all accusations or reports of rape are true, and all of the accused are guilty.” (Wendy Kaminer: ‘Believe The Victim’? Maybe — But Protect The Rights Of The Accused, Too)
- “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.” (Katherine Connell: Twisting Sexual-Assault Statistics)
- “The New White House report on rape and sexual assault ignores the growing problem of false allegations and relies on inflated rape statistics. Three peer-reviewed studies have found the rate of false accusations of rape to range from 41% to 60%.” (Suzanne Venker: An Open Letter to Joe Biden)
- “Of course that hyper-inflated claim does little for the credibility of real rape victims.” (Carey Roberts: Warning to Women: The Government Wants to Turn You into a Rape Victim)
- “By defining rape broadly, the publicity surrounding the NISVS findings may lead to an increase in the number of persons inappropriately claiming to be victims of rape, thus diverting essential services from real victims.” (SAVE: Complaint letter to CDC)
MYTH: One in four college women has been a victim of sexual assault
- See analysis HERE
MYTH: Up to 2.4 million children are victims of sex trafficking in the United States.
- “The U.S. government has not yet established an effective mechanism for estimating the number of victims or for conducting ongoing analysis of trafficking related data that resides within government entities.” (Government Accountability Office)
- “The truth is comprehensive data to determine how many children are victims of sex trafficking in the United States simply does not exist.” (Concerned Women for America)
MYTH: The Super Bowl is the biggest sex trafficking event in the U.S.
- “There is no empirical evidence that trafficking for prostitution increases around large sporting events.” (Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women)
- “No one knows with certainty the exact number of children exploited through sex trafficking in the United States or during events like the Super Bowl” (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
- The “myth has taken hold through sheer force of repetition, playing on desires to rescue trafficking victims and appear tough on crime.” (Kate Mogulescujan, Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project of the Legal Aid Society)
MYTH: Children who are victims of sex exploitation are almost all female.
- Children engaged in commercial sex work are 48% female, 45% male, and 8% transgender, according to a major study conducted in New York City. (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)