By Sybil Cummin, MA, LPC, ACS
Domestic violence (DV) is one of the silent epidemics in our culture today. It is not well understood by the larger system that these couples will come into contact, let alone understood by the public and those who have not experienced DV. And even when you have experienced DV in a relationship, if you do not have the resources and support to understand what has happened to you, you can be left completely confused or believing what your abusive partner has spewed as truth. When 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men have experienced severe forms of physical violence in an intimate relationship(1), why is it not better understood?
One of the misconceptions or myths that is consistently used to defend abusive behaviors is that abusive partners “just have an anger problem.” If an abusive act is witnessed by others or called out in any fashion, the excuse that they have a problem controlling their anger is a go-to response. And, this excuse is routinely believed to be the cause of the behaviors. This makes sense to those who have witnessed a single abusive act or those in the system that do not have enough knowledge on the history of the coercive control that has been used throughout the length of the relationship. It is even an acceptable excuse for many victims feeling the wrath of this so-called anger problem. So, can DV just be explained as poor impulse control or difficulties controlling anger?