There were a reported 5,796 cases of domestic violence in Malaysia in 2016. And yet, we are still shrouded in the myths of domestic violence. With the help of Dato Dr. Arunan Selvaraj (Managing Partner of Messrs. Rusmah Arunan & Associates and the author of the book Saving Your Marriage) we separate the lies from the truths to set the record straight.
MYTH: Abusers only fit a certain profile in terms of race, social status and education.
FACT: Wealthy or poor, living in the city or rural areas – domestic violence does not discriminate. “Domestic violence occurs across the society, regardless of race, social status, etc,” says Dr. Arunan. In fact, abusers are as likely to be those from a professional background as they are to be blue-collared workers (Remember Chris Brown?).
MYTH: Domestic abuse only happens when there is excessive alcohol or drugs in use.
FACT: While alcohol and drug may be exacerbating factors to abusers, says Dr. Arunan, they are not the sole contributor to an abusive behaviour. There are other factors that can be associated too, like self-esteem or childhood upbringing. The sole reason for domestic abuse is this though – it happens when an abuser chooses to abuse.
MYTH: A woman is forever trap in the cycle of domestic abuse.
FACT: “A woman can break the cycle of abuse. She can do so by bringing back a sense of power and not dwell in fear or self-esteem issues,” says Dr. Arunan. Then why does it seem that most victims find a hard time leaving? Explains the author, “This is due to the love and emotional connection the victim has with the abuser. Some victims are bound to social rules and stigma. However, the victim has a choice. She can gather courage and with the help from the right people, she will be able to leave the situation.”
MYTH: Men do not get abused.
FACT: As much as it seems that victims are only women, men themselves can also be in the same position. “While it is less likely for men to be victims of physical abuse, they can be victims of emotional or verbal abuse but it is a very small percentage,” says Dr. Arunan.
MYTH: Abusers have a problem expressing anger so they need counselling to learn how to handle arguments or controlling one’s temper without resorting to violence.
FACT: “Argument or one’s inability to control their temper can be a contributing factor. However, it is not the only cause of domestic violence,” says Dr. Arunan. The fact is most abusers have no problem resolving disputes without resorting to violence. Crave for power, possessiveness and control against their partner is why abusers choose to use violence and other forms of abuse.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, seek help immediately from someone you trust or authorities. You can also call the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) hotline at 03-7956 3488 or whatsapp 018-988 8058.
Dato Dr. Arunan Selvaraj, Advocate & Solicitor, Managing Partner of Messrs. Rusmah Arunan & Associates.
Dr. Arunan’s book Saving Your Marriage is available at major bookstores for RM39.90.For purchase information, contact Ms. Patricia at 012- 6903373.