Victim Stereotypes Facing Those Who Report Domestic Abuse

7 June 2016
 Categories: Law, Blog

Allegations of domestic abuse raised by Amber Heard against her celebrity husband Johnny Depp have brought the issue of domestic violence- and more specifically, stereotypes faced by alleged victims when reporting abuse- into the public light.

If you are thinking of reporting incidences of domestic violence involving your own spouse, it's important that you take the time to learn about these victim stereotypes and identify some strategies that you can use to overcome them.

1. You don't look like a "real" victim.

The public often has a mental image of what a domestic abuse victim looks like. These mental images typically feature downtrodden women who aren't able to express emotion. If photographs or videos of you looking happy with your spouse after incidents of abuse occur surface, you may find your claims being doubted because the public doesn't believe you look like a "real" victim.

The fact of the matter is that it's not uncommon for women to be in denial about their abuse. Putting on a happy face when out in public can be one of the ways that a woman copes with her abuse. Be prepared to hear that you don't look like a "real" victim, but recognize that denial is one of the four stages of battered woman's syndrome and don't let public doubt prevent you from pursuing charges against an abusive partner.

2. You did something to provoke the abuse.

If your partner doesn't appear the type to engage in abusive behavior, the focus may shift to your behaviors in an attempt to discover actions on your part that provoked the abuse. In Amber Heard's case, allegations that her friendships with lesbian women may have contributed to marital troubles hint that her own actions might have made any domestic abuse that occurred within her home justified.

You should be prepared to have your actions scrutinized after you make your abuse public, but hiring a skilled attorney to protect you from deliberate libel or slander can be beneficial in limiting the amount of damage the victim stereotype of provocation wreaks in your life.

3. You must be making it up since your partner doesn't have a history of abuse.

If you are the only person stepping forward to accuse your partner of domestic violence, you may find that you face resistance in getting people to believe your story. When previous partners can't corroborate your allegations, you may be accused of making up stories to get your partner in trouble.

It's important to recognize that there are many reasons why people become abusive, and circumstances arising after past relationships ended might have contributed to incidences of domestic violence in your home.

Understanding the stereotypes that are often assigned to victims of domestic abuse will help you prepare to battle these stereotypes to bring your abuser to justice. Visit to learn more.