The harmful impact of domestic violence stereotypes


While many know about domestic violence and how damaging it can be, experts say people still are falling prey to myths about the issue. The reason why they persist may be because of the stigma still surrounding the issue.

In Fresno, there’s a number of programs, organizations and other resources that are at-the-ready to help victims of domestic violence. Even so, Sonia Medina Pranger — who teaches a domestic violence studies class at Fresno Pacific University — said many are still hesitant to seek their help.

She points to the shame most victims feel.  “If people have this idea that society is already blaming them…people are less likely to reach out for support,” Pranger said.

Pranger adds it’s that stigma that helps keep domestic stereotypes alive. Some big ones: only women are domestic violence victims, the abuse is only physical, and that only the uneducated or poor experience it.

She thinks as they continue to thrive, it affects how little research gets done, saying, “there isn’t a lot of data right now and that speaks to the lack of societal knowledge on the issue.”

The myths get worse when coupled with other stereotypes. For example, Asian and Asian American communities can be seen either as too successful to experience this — or too poor to prevent it.

There could also be cultural expectations at play that some wouldn’t understand.

“The primary cultural value is to stay together at all costs,” said Gena Gong, an Asian American studies professor. “Unfortunately, [what happens is] a lot of times people do try to uphold their culture and stay with their partner.”

Pranger said educating yourself, spreading awareness and helping local organizations can chip away at the myths.

“What is helpful is supporting, being there and to provide the resources and help in that situation without judgment,” she said.

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