Potentially the most destructive myth, often believed by perpetrator, victim, and the public at large is the idea that if you've made mistakes, if you haven’t done everything your controlling partner wants, if you have questioned your partner about their behavior or whereabouts, or if you've been angry and frustrated, no one will believe you're being abused.
This particular name calling is consistent with the traditionalist Madonna/whore dichotomy, in which women are lumped into two categories: the perfect Madonna, or the alternative, Mary Madgalene, a prostitute.
Women in particular often feel guilty if they don’t live up to the image of the perfect partner—even if their partner has lied, manipulated, ridiculed them in public and private, threatened, had affairs, screamed, yelled, broken furniture, or physically attacked them. Getting over the guilt is part of the healing process. Only then can the victim truly escape her abuser.
When I am asked about the biggest barriers to stopping abusive partnerships, I point to these myths. No one is immune to them—those in law enforcement and even mental health professionals are susceptible. These faulty, destructive beliefs must be brought out into the light where they can be examined and discarded. Until they are, they will continue to form an invisible barrier between the victims of abuse and those who can help them.
If you or someone you know might be suffering from sexual or domestic abuse, don't hesitate to ask for help. There is an alternative. If you're looking for resources, a few to try are Safe Horizon, Crisis Text Line, and RAINN.