Drinking, Drugs, and Domestic Violence

Posted by | Alcohol and Drug Use | May 01, 2015

Domestic violence is a social problem that has existed for centuries. Despite the many advances we have made in technology, medicine, and science, humans are still struggling with their power, control, and challenging emotions. These human experiences are evident in domestic violence situations.

Domestic Violence is a form of conflict that often happens between intimate partners. Often, there is an underlying fear that one partner uses to control the other. And there are many ways in which one partner can use fear to manipulate and control:

–physical abuse – hitting, slapping, kicking, or beating
–verbal abuse – frequent criticism, humiliation, mocking, name calling, and yelling
–sexual violence – forcing sex, demanding sexual acts, degradation
–isolation – making it hard for a partner to see friends or family
–coercion – making the other partner feel guilty
–harassment – following or stalking, embarrassing the other partner in public
–economic control – not letting the other partner work, interfering with work
–abusing trust – lying, breaking promises, being unfaithful, withholding information
–making threats – threatening to harm a partner and children
–using intimidation – using physical size to intimidate, keeping weapons in the house
–emotional withholding – not expressing feelings, not giving compliments,
–destruction of property- destroying furniture, punching walls
–self destructive behavior – abusing drugs, driving recklessly, threatening self-harm

Regular alcohol or drug use is one of the leading risk factors for intimate partner violence. In fact, research has shown that a battering incident that is coupled with alcohol use may be more severe and result in greater injury. Furthermore, domestic violence and drug and alcohol addiction frequently occur together, but no evidence suggests a casual relationship between substance abuse and domestic violence.

In 2002, the Department of Justice found that 36% of victims in domestic violence programs also had substance abuse problems. Other research has found that the risk of violence between intimate partners increases when both partners abuse alcohol and drugs. And, the U.S. Department of Justice found that 61% of domestic violence offenders also have substance abuse problems.

It’s clear that there is a relationship between drug and alcohol use with violence among families. What’s also clear among researchers is a pattern of relating among partners that cycle between violence and peace. Experts of domestic violence have uncovered that there are four stages to the cycle of violence that occurs among partners whom experience domestic violence. These are:

Tension building: During this initial phase, the relationship is experiencing increasing amounts of tension. There’s a breakdown in communication, fear is increasing, and the victim will do her best to appease the abuser.

Abuse: The tension explodes into an abusive incident in which there is anger, blame, rage that gets expressed through emotional, physical, or verbal abuse.

Reconciliation: The abuser apologizes for his actions, gives excuses, blames the victim, or claims that the abuse was not all that bad.

Calm: The abuse is forgotten and a honeymoon period begins again.

It’s important to keep in mind that attending addiction treatment is not going to treat domestic violence. Although one or both partners might become sober, the cycle of violence is a relationship problem. The absence of alcohol and/or drugs might help lessen the severity of the violence, but the pattern will still exist.

Because of such a strong relationship between domestic violence and alcohol and drug addiction, some treatment centers have offered classes on healing domestic violence. Frequently the patterns that exist within a domestic violence relationship are similar patterns that contribute to one’s addiction. Perhaps with such education along with getting sober, men and women can sustain the calm in their relationship.

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