Canadian Journal of Family Law


Jennifer Koshan

First Page


Document Type



Survivors of domestic violence, who are disproportionately women, face numerous myths and stereotypes about the veracity, nature, and extent of violence they and their children experience. In legal disputes, they encounter allegations that they have lied about or exaggerated domestic violence out of vengeance, jealousy, or to gain an advantage in family law proceedings; that their partners are victims too; that abuse ends at separation or is irrelevant unless it is physical; and that it has no impact on children or only matters if it does. Although scholars and activists have revealed how these allegations are tainted by false and faulty understandings of violence, courts and other decision-makers continue to accept them in many cases. This paper will identify the ongoing influence of myths and stereotypes about domestic violence, focusing on the common and evolving misconceptions that legal actors have about survivors and the violence they experience. False or faulty assumptions about the credibility of domestic violence claims, as well as the nature and impacts of violence, can have serious implications for the impartiality of decision-makers and result in harm to women and children.