Unfortunately, the combination of domestic violence and substance abuse is common in our society. While not always the case, the majority of domestic violence incidents that occur in this country involve some sort of either drug or alcohol substance. In addition, being the victim of domestic violence, or being surrounded by it can lead to a higher chance that the person on the receiving end develops a substance abuse problem down the line. Turning to drugs and/or alcohol can be a popular coping mechanism for a domestic violence victim. In this blog, we will take a deeper look at the correlation between domestic violence and substance abuse as well as ways in which both substance abuse and domestic violence can be treated.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is also referred to as intimate partner violence or domestic abuse. It is something that occurs in an unhealthy relationship and involves one or both parties physically and/or emotionally abusing the other. Domestic violence can take many forms and isn’t as cut and dry and just as a physical altercation. Other examples of domestic abuse include threats of violence, financial or economic violence, humiliation, controlling what the other person can and can’t do, and even isolating the victim from their friends and family. Per the Mayo Clinic, something can be deemed domestic abuse if any type of coercive tactics are used to either gain or maintain power and control.
While an emphasis has been placed on reducing domestic violence both in the legal system and in social efforts, unfortunately, it is still a major problem. In fact, in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten on average once every 9 seconds. While domestic violence against women is most common, it can occur the other way around as well. In fact, while 1 in every 4 women will experience some form of domestic abuse in her lifetime, 1 in every 7 men will fall victim as well.
Another unfortunate thing about domestic violence is that it largely goes unreported, despite it being the single leading cause of injury to women. The fact that the violence is coming from someone with whom the victim is in both a physical and emotional relationship can make it very difficult to pursue any sort of legal action against their partner.
What Are Some of the Different Types of Domestic Violence?
As we mentioned above, domestic violence can take on many different forms. While the most common is physical abuse, there are several different types of domestic violence that don’t actually involve any physical harm. Some types of domestic violence include, but are not limited to:
- Physical Violence – This includes hitting, pushing, slapping, biting, etc. This is the most immediately visible, and most common, sign of abuse.
- Emotional Abuse – Common examples of emotional abuse include putting the victim down, ignoring their needs, manipulation and suspicion, and belittling comments. As a result of emotional abuse, the victim may feel undesirable, shameful, worthless, or guilty.
- Mental Abuse – This can occur when the abuser actually blames the victim for the abuse. The abuser may also play mind games to maintain power over the victim.
- Gaslighting – This occurs when the abuser uses mental manipulation to cause the victim to constantly second-guess themselves. The abuser might even convince the victim that they are crazy.
- Verbal Abuse – This type of abuse involves insulting, demeaning, or shaming the victim. Name-calling is also a common example of verbal abuse.
- Sexual Abuse – Rape, unwanted touching, sexual harassment, and being pressured into uncomfortable sexual acts are the most common examples. An abuser can also withhold sex as a way to control the victim.
- Spiritual Abuse – This kind of abuse involves invalidating the person’s enthusiasm and hope for a healthy relationship.
What is the Correlation Between Domestic Violence and an Unhealthy Relationship?
While anyone from any walk of life can become abusive, a person is more likely to engage in domestic abuse or violence if they grew up in that type of environment. They could have been the victim of domestic abuse as a child or grew up in a household where domestic violence occurred. In an abusive relationship, the abuser tends to be manipulative and controlling in various ways. These behaviors typically leave the victim in a state of unrest. The victim might begin to second guess themselves and feel a sense of unworthiness or inferiority. They may even begin to feel unloved or experience a lack of self-worth. As a result, the victim begins to become more and more dependent on the abuser as their trust in themselves continue to deteriorate. They feel helpless without the abuser and feel a subconscious need to be controlled.
Can Domestic Abuse Result in Mental Disorders?
Due to the manipulative nature of domestic abuse, a fairly common side effect for the abuser is some form of either an emotional or mental disorder. Some of the mental, physical, and emotional health issues that a victim of abuse can develop include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Suicidal ideation or suicide attempts
- Preoccupation with abusive treatment
- Low self-esteem
- Poor academic performance
- Career damage
- Changes in appearance
- Weight gain or loss
While many of these symptoms can be developed as a result of domestic violence, they can also be worsened if any of them already exist. In many instances, when the victim develops one or more mental or emotional disorders as a result of domestic violence, they turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the problems. This can lead to substance abuse and even addiction.
What is the Correlation Between Domestic Violence and Addiction?
Because repeated drug and alcohol use changes the chemical makeup of the brain, mood swings or changes in behavior can be common. Unfortunately, this change in chemical balance and makeup can result in, amongst other things, domestic violence. In fact, domestic violence and substance abuse have a mutually impactful relationship. On one side of the spectrum, substance abuse makes domestic violence more likely. On the other side of the spectrum, domestic violence can make substance abuse more likely.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine found that both abusers and their victims are 11 times more likely to be involved in domestic violence incidents on days of heavy substance abuse. On the flip side of that, being the victim of domestic violence can be incredibly difficult to deal with. As a result, the victim is more likely to develop a substance abuse issue as a result of the violence. In fact, studies show that those who are victims of sexual assault are significantly more likely to use cocaine, prescription drugs, and marijuana. In addition, if their partner suffers from substance abuse, victims are significantly more likely to develop a substance abuse issue as well.
Women aren’t the only ones that might find themselves developing a substance abuse issue as a result of domestic violence. A significant number of men will also tend to abuse drugs and or alcohol either immediately before or immediately after violent incidents. Many times, excessive drinking can directly lead to acts of violence.
Domestic violence and substance abuse aren’t only limited to heterosexual couples either. In fact, violence fueled by drug and alcohol consumption also takes place in same-sex relationships. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have higher rates of substance abuse than the general population, often due to the prejudice that many of them face in their lives, and this may manifest in violence carried out within their domestic unions.
What are the Treatment Options for Addiction and Domestic Violence?
While it might feel like there is no end in sight when it comes to domestic abuse, there is hope. It is important to remember that not only are there options as far as treatment from the violence goes, but the substance abuse associated with it as well. Many treatment centers, like Crest View Recovery Center, offer help with not only the substance abuse component, but also the abuse component.
In addition, things like anger management classes, individual therapy, and couples counseling can be great ways to work through the problems at hand as you and your partner work to achieving sobriety and an overall healthier life both physically and mentally.
Do You or Your Partner Suffer from Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse?
If you are the victim of domestic abuse, it is important to remember that your safety and well-being needs to be a priority. While you may feel that you have an obligation to your partner, it is vital that you make yourself your number one priority.
At Crest View Recovery Center, we don’t want you or your partner to have to suffer in silence for another day. That’s why we offer a variety of treatment programs to get you and/or your partner the help that they need. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help get you and your partner on the road to recovery.