According to a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) report, 92 percent of domestic abusers and victims reported the use of illicit drugs or alcohol on the day of the incident. For many, this startling statistic confirms the mythological link between alcohol abuse and domestic violence. However, to say that the abuse of alcohol directly leads to domestic abuse is an oversimplification of this phenomenon. Instead, it’s important to explore the unavoidable link between alcohol abuse and domestic violence, and what individuals suffering in silence can do to seek help.
Potential Reasons Why Alcohol Abusers also Commit Acts of Domestic Violence
Several studies on the relationship between alcohol abuse and domestic violence have been conducted, and although the minor findings may vary, the general consensus is that alcohol cannot suddenly transform a healthy individual into an aggressive abuser. So why is there such a startling correlation between the two separate social problems?
Here are a handful of theories as to why the incidents of domestic abuse are often associated with a chemical dependency on alcohol
- The excuse. Many times, an abuser will consume alcohol and use his impaired judgment as an excuse for battering his family members. Alcohol negates responsibility for his actions, giving the abuser a justifiable reason to act out his need for violence and control.
- A disruption in normal thought patterns. Alcohol disrupts normal cognitive function, causing an inability for the abuser to process information correctly.
- A link to aggression. Several studies have found that a person’s natural tendency toward aggression is often magnified after consuming alcohol.
- Learned behavior. Alcohol abuse and domestic violence are, in many cases, both considered learned behavior. A child is often more at risk for enacting the two if he or she is raised in an abusive and alcohol-dependent environment.
The Role of Alcohol Abuse and the Victim
There’s a startling link between the increased incidences of alcohol abuse among victims of domestic violence as well. Once again, there’s no concrete reason for this link, but there are several theories as to why battered women begin to abuse alcohol:
- Manipulation. In many cases, the woman can be coerced or forced into consuming alcohol by her partner. Instead of inciting violence, the woman will consume alcohol to appease her abuser.
- Numbing the emotional and physical pain. Many individuals use alcohol as a way to escape from the pain of their everyday existence. For a battered woman, alcohol is an inexpensive way to escape the torment of living in an abusive home.
- Their children. It’s a startling fact that many women won’t seek help for a chemical dependency either because a shelter or program won’t admit them while under the influence, or simply because they’re afraid to leave their children with an abusive mate.
Substance Abuse and Children
In many homes, the abuse of alcohol and drugs becomes the parent’s main focus, leading to neglect or violence against children. Parents are unable to provide their children with the consistency required because they’re too focused on their next fix. A survey conducted by the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse found that nearly 80 percent of all child abuse cases are linked with the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
Drug and alcohol abuse take its toll on children in a number of ways, including
- Problems learning and interacting with the other children in school
- Emotional problems and anxiety
- An inability to trust any adult,
- The increased risk of becoming abusive or dependent on drugs and alcohol later in life.
The startling link between alcohol abuse and domestic violence has prompted many rehabilitation facilities to address both issues. However, there are still many community-based programs that are ill-equipped to handle an abuse victim who is also suffering from chemical dependency issues. If you’re suffering from alcoholism and living in an abusive household. There’s no evidence to support the myth that alcohol causes domestic violence; this includes incidents of violence against men. If you’re a man living in an abusive home, don’t hesitate to seek help for yourself and your children.