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The Connection Between Domestic Violence and Alcoholism

Domestic violence is violent and aggressive behavior in the home that typically occurs between spouses or partners. Easily the most discussed form of domestic abuse is physical abuse, which tends to include behaviors that include (but are not limited to) hitting, punching, slapping, choking, etc. Domestic physical abuse is something that should always be taken seriously, as it can be life-threatening. But, physical domestic abuse is not the only type of domestic violence that people experience. Other forms of domestic violence include:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Mental abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Elderly abuse

People of all ages, races, genders, and financial backgrounds can become involved in a relationship where domestic violence is occurring. There are several risk factors that increase this potential, including the following reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Low self-esteem
  • Low income
  • Depression 
  • Suicidal tendencies/behaviors/attempts
  • Substance abuse
  • Aggressive/delinquent behavior prior to adulthood
  • History of being abused
  • Being isolated from others
  • Desire for power or control

These are just some of the risk factors that can raise the likelihood of a domestically violent relationship. The CDC also reports the following statistics related to domestic violence:

  • 24 people per minute are victims of rape, stalking, or physical violence by an intimate partner
  • Approximately 15% of women and 4% of men have been injured as a result of domestic violence that included rape, stalking, or physical violence
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men ages 18 and older have been a victim of several physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner
  • More than 12 million people are affected by domestic violence each year 

What is Alcoholism?

Alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, is a chronic disease that is characterized by compulsive drinking behaviors and preoccupation with alcohol. Today, more than 21 million Americans are actively addicted to alcohol. Symptoms of alcoholism include the following:

  • Continuing to drink regardless of the consequences of doing so
  • Making attempts to stop drinking but being unable to 
  • Being unable to control how much alcohol is consumed 
  • Becoming more focused on drinking alcohol, obtaining alcohol, and recovering from being drunk than on important responsibilities, such as getting to work on time, feeding the kids, or cleaning up the house
  • Feeling unable to function without alcohol
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting, dizziness, rapid heart rate, tremors) when unable to drink as much as usual or at all 

Someone who is struggling with active alcoholism is going to experience several issues in their everyday life related to their drinking. Unfortunately, one of the issues that some people experience when alcoholism is active is domestic violence.

How Are Alcohol and Domestic Violence Connected?

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 55% of domestic abuse perpetrators were drinking alcohol before an assault. This number does not mean that 55% of domestic perpetrators are alcoholics, rather how closely connected alcohol and domestic violence are. Additionally, women who are abused are 15 times more likely to use alcohol. There are numerous reasons for the connection of these two issues, including the following as reported by WHO:

  • Impaired cognition and physical function — Being under the influence alters a person’s ability to control their impulses and find resolutions to problems using reason. As a result, alcohol can serve as fuel to the fire for someone who already has violent tendencies, as it inhibits their behavior and overall functioning.
  • Personal problems — Personal problems, such as financial difficulties, infidelity, child-rearing, or other family issues can serve as triggers for both alcohol and domestic violence. People experiencing these issues can grow increasingly agitated and become violent and/or turn to alcohol to help manage the frustration. When someone who is struggling emotionally and is feeling irritable drinks alcohol, the chances of a domestic event occurring are increased. 
  • Societal beliefs surrounding alcohol and violence — Society often normalizes violence when a person is under the influence of alcohol. People may try to brush off a violent interaction because their partner was drunk or rationalize whatever they believe they  might have done to deserve that violence. In many ways, this societal belief can encourage violent behavior while drinking, which raises rates of domestic violence. 
  • Experiencing domestic violence and/or alcohol as a child — One of the greatest risk factors for becoming an addict or alcoholic is having grown up in a home where domestic violence and/or substance abuse occurred. Witnessing and experiencing violence and negligence such as that can spark heavy feelings that can morph into major problems later on down the line. The anger and frustration that often comes from being a victim of alcohol and domestic violence can cause a person to repeat learned behaviors and engage in one or both of these behaviors as an adult.
  • Using alcohol to cope with effects of domestic violence – As mentioned before, women who are victims of domestic violence are 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol. That is because experiencing domestic violence is not only physically painful, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually draining. Alcohol can appear to be the quick, easy fix to the physical and emotional pain that a person is experiencing because they have been abused, however utilizing alcohol for this purpose can quickly become problematic. 

Individuals who are alcoholics can easily start down the path of domestic violence, especially if they have some of the risk factors that increase their chances of abusing a spouse or partner in the future. Conversely, however, those who are victimized by an alcoholic or are victimized when their partner or spouse abuses alcohol can just as easily turn to alcohol to try to numb the pain they are feeling. Alcohol and domestic violence are highly connected for these reasons. 

Do You Need Help? Call Us Right Now.

If you are struggling with alcoholism and need help, do not wait one more second to call. We can help you stop your active alcoholism and begin building a strong foundation of recovery with you. Do not allow anything to stand in the way from you getting the help you and your loved ones deserve.

Call Asana right now. We are here to help.

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