Are you a victim of domestic violence? Did you know violence against women and men has a strong link to substance abuse?
Substance abuse is involved in 40 to 60 percent of intimate partner violence. In addition, 20 percent of batterers report having engaged in substance use prior to the most severe and recent violence.
In instances of intimate partner violence, abuse is 11 times more likely to occur on days when the abuser has engaged in heavy alcohol or drug use.
These numbers are sobering. However, they point to the fact that while domestic violence is not exclusive to individuals who engage in substance use, there is a strong link.
But, the link goes beyond that. The link also extends to victims of domestic violence. This October, in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, join us as we explore the link between domestic violence and substance abuse.
Domestic violence goes beyond what gets portrayed in the media. For many people, when they picture domestic violence, this is what they see:
“Johnny arrives home after a long day at work and going to the bar with friends. He has had a bad day.
Johnny is drunk, and he gets mad at Suzy. This leads to Johnny and Suzy arguing, and Johnny hits Suzy.”
This is what the media portrays domestic violence as. Yes, this is domestic violence. However, there are many types of domestic violence, and it does not always involve hitting.
Domestic violence is about power and control. It is a pattern of behavior used to gain the desired power and control.
Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, economic, psychological, and sexual. In addition, to be a victim of domestic violence, you do not need to live with your partner.
Physical abuse is the easiest type of domestic violence to recognize. All of the following actions can get labeled as domestic violence in a physical form:
That last one may shock you a bit; however, just in the United States, domestic violence is responsible for over 1500 deaths a year.
Emotional abuse can be more challenging to recognize. With emotional abuse, the signs of abuse are not as obvious. There are no bruises left; however, this type of abuse can have a significant impact on your self-esteem and more.
Emotional and psychological abuse can often look very similar. Both are methods an abuser uses to demean their partner or isolate their partner to gain power and control.
Some of the actions that can constitute psychological and emotional abuse include:
Sexual abuse is also a form of domestic violence. Being in a relationship or married does not take away your right to give consent.
Some of the forms sexual abuse can take include:
Essentially, any sexual activity that is not consensual falls under the category of sexual abuse.
This type of abuse is also referred to as financial abuse. This type of abuse is not as well known; however, it is a very effective way for abusers to gain the power and control they desire.
Some actions that can constitute economic abuse include:
Individuals who find themselves in this situation can often struggle to leave because they have no control over finances or money. They get forced to rely on their partner to meet all of their economic needs.
Domestic violence occurs more often than you think. Around one in three women and one in ten men are victims of domestic violence.
However, those numbers only account for adults over the age of 18. Teens can also experience domestic violence within their dating relationships.
For many years, domestic violence has been a taboo subject. These were things that people did not talk about.
However, that trend is changing, and there are many ways to seek help now. So why do women or men stay in abusive relationships?
There are many reasons victims of domestic abuse stay in the relationship. From the outside, it can be challenging to understand.
If you are a friend or family member of a victim of domestic violence, it can be tough to watch and know what’s happening but feel you are unable to do anything.
It can also be easy to get angry at your loved one for not leaving. Understanding the reasons people stay can help give you some insight into what is happening.
Substance abuse is defined as the harmful use of any substance for mood-altering purposes. Substances do not need to be illegal to get abused.
Prescriptions and legal substances can get abused. Long-term uses of substances can cause physical and mental disorders.
For those with substance abuse disorders, it is necessary to undergo the appropriate treatment to kick the addiction.
There are a few links between domestic violence and substance abuse. Not only are abusers more likely to perpetrate abuse after substance use, but victims of domestic violence are more likely to use substances.
While many studies have been done, the whole reason behind the link between substance abuse and domestic violence is unknown.
Perpetrators of domestic violence will abuse their partner when under the influence of substances and when they are not. However, the use of substances can increase these incidents and make them more violent.
There are many reasons for this. However, at least one of the side effects of substances can contribute towards instances of domestic violence after substance use.
Both drugs and alcohol can cause disinhibition in the user. This causes any suppressed feelings of anger to surface. It also reduces the ability to make judgments and impacts decision-making abilities.
Abusers who are violent when using substances will often blame their violence on the substance.
Did you know that 1 in 11 females and around 1 in 14 males in high school have reported physical violence in dating relationships? On top of that, 1 in 8 females and 1 in 26 male students in high school have reported sexual dating violence.
For individuals who experience domestic violence, it often starts before the age of 18. For women, 26 percent experience some form of violence from a partner before the age of 18. For men, that number is 15 percent.
So what’s the link to substance abuse?
Teens who experience dating violence are more likely than their peers who are not abused to engage in the following behaviors:
For young adults who have experienced dating violence, mental health, and substance use disorders are more likely within six months of the abuse.
Individuals who are abused by their partners are more likely to develop a substance abuse problem or addiction. In addition, in some circumstances, individuals have been coerced into using drugs or alcohol by their partner.
When you look at women who experience domestic violence, substance abuse, and high-risk alcohol use is more common in women that have been victims of domestic violence than those who have not.
Women who are in violent relationships are more likely to use multiple substances prior to pregnancy and during pregnancy as well.
Unfortunately, the link between domestic violence and substance abuse does not stop with the victims. Children exposed to substance abuse experience effects. In addition, children who witness domestic violence also experience effects.
Even if you do not believe your children see what is happening, they often do. Around ten percent of children are exposed to domestic violence annually.
However, 25 percent of children will be exposed to at least one event of domestic violence during their childhood. Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to experience dating violence as teens.
Men who are abuse their partners are also 30 to 60 percent more likely to abuse their children.
Children who experience domestic violence are put at risk even if they are not being physically or mentally abused themselves.
How do you help yourself or a friend or family member who is a victim of domestic violence? For individuals in abusive relationships, it can be difficult to leave.
However, there is help out there. Here are some steps that can be taken to start shifting from a domestic violence victim to a domestic violence survivor.
If you are in a situation where your partner is abusive, you need a safety plan. If you are the friend or family member of someone being abused, you can help them create their safety plan.
A safety plan will help the domestic violence victim have a plan for leaving or a plan for what to do when violence occurs.
You should ensure that a few things are put into the plan. However, be sure that the abuser is not alerted to plans to leave. This can trigger an incident.
If a victim of domestic violence needs to leave home because of an emergency, they need a place to go. In addition, if they are ready to leave, they need a place to go.
Sometimes knowing where to go is the first step in helping victims be able to leave their abuser. Ensure that this is included in any safety plan.
What happens if the individual feels threatened? They know they need to leave, but they do not know how to get out.
They need an excuse to leave. Preparing an excuse to leave can help in the heat of the moment.
In situations where the victim needs help, they should have a code word. When this word is used with family or friends, it will mobilize them to get help for their loved ones.
This bag is going to include everything they need when leaving. It will have cash, important documents, keys, toiletries, and clothes.
The bag should be easy to access but stored somewhere that their abuser will not find it.
Knowing who to contact and when is essential.
These are people that can get called when help is needed.
If you are a victim of domestic violence you are not alone. There are support groups available for domestic violence victims. Your local domestic violence resources can point you in the right direction.
As a friend or family member, it can be difficult to not step in when someone you love is getting abused. However, doing so can cause not only worse abuse for the victim, but you could get hurt as well.
Anytime you know abuse is actively occurring, call 911.
Domestic violence against women and men is significantly linked to substance abuse. If you are a victim of domestic violence you are not alone.