Abusing drugs or alcohol does not necessarily cause domestic violence, but there is a strong correlation. For households with an addict, episodes of violence are far more likely. Every day can be a fearful game of waiting for the drug abuser or alcoholic to explode or lash out at a child or a spouse. Substance abuse and domestic violence too often go together and represent a frightening reality for many Americans. The trauma of violence in the home can have far-reaching and long-term effects on both children and adults.
Facts About Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse
Many of us are fortunate enough to be ignorant about the prevalence of domestic violence. It happens more often than you might think, and alcohol or drugs are commonly involved. Also surprising to many people is the fact that substance abuse correlated with domestic violence may be an issue for the perpetrator, the victim or both. Here are some important facts that we should all know about substance abuse and domestic violence:
- One of the most important risk factors for violence between partners is substance abuse. This can be abuse of one partner by the other or violent fights between the two.
- The risk becomes even greater when both partners abuse drugs or drink. When a woman is the victim of domestic violence and she also drinks or uses drugs, her substance abuse acts like a barrier to her being able to leave the relationship.
- People who struggle with alcoholism are more likely to have suffered from abuse as a child, both physical and emotional. The majority of women in treatment for substance abuse were sexually abused.
- In households with incidents of domestic violence as well as substance abuse, the violence and the injuries are more severe than in those without substance abuse.
Getting Help for Domestic Violence
Leaving a violent household seems like the obvious choice for anyone on the outside looking in, but for the victim it isn’t that simple. The victim of domestic violence may face many issues in leaving, including having no money and nowhere to live. Often, there are also children to consider. Anyone experiencing domestic violence and wanting to leave should reach out to someone trustworthy or to an organization or shelter that helps victims. If you suspect domestic violence is happening in a friend or family member’s house, especially if substance abuse is involved, reach out and offer help. Standing by and doing nothing means letting it happen. In addition to a safe place to live, a victim of domestic violence may also need substance abuse treatment. Drug abuse programs don’t treat domestic violence, but they can help victims recover from addiction and rebuild their lives. Any victim of violence who also has a substance abuse problem needs counseling for both issues. Treating addiction without considering the trauma of violence will not give the victim the best chance to move on and start a better life.