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Addiction and Domestic Violence


There is a close link between addiction and domestic violence. It would be inaccurate to say that substance abuse is the cause of domestic violence, but most people who engage in this behaviour will have a problem with alcohol or drugs. Domestic violence involves a number of different behaviours, and it can cause a great deal of suffering for the victim. It is vital that anyone who is engaging in this type of activity gets help right away before they cause more harm.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviour where a partner tries to dominate the other in a romantic relationship. It can also be referred to as spousal abuse, intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, or domestic battering. As well as physical violence, it can also include behaviours such as:

  • Verbally insulting the person
  • Emotionally abusing the other person and attempting to lower their self-esteem
  • Acting in a way that will be perceived as threatening
  • Financially abusing them by using the threat of withholding finances
  • Sexually abusing them by insisting that they perform sex acts that they do not really wish to engage in
  • Neglecting the person
  • Psychologically abusing the person by trying to intimidate them
  • Passive-aggressive behaviours such as ignoring the other person
  • Intruding in the person’s private life – for example, reading their diary
  • Stalking the partner or attempting to monitor their movements

Does Addiction Cause Domestic Violence

The fact that addiction and domestic violence often go hand-in-hand means that people can assume that the former causes the latter. In fact, it is usual for those who perpetuate this violence to blame it on alcohol or drugs. The reality is that addiction does not cause domestic violence, but it can exacerbate it greatly. The real causes of this behaviour will include:

  • Those individuals who have grown up in homes where domestic violence was witnessed can grow up believing that such behaviour is normal. This means that they may believe that it is okay for them to behave this way with their partner.
  • People who have low self-esteem can find it very hard to trust other people. This may mean that they suspect their partner of cheating on them, and they can respond to this by becoming violent.
  • Some individuals seem to have poor control over their emotions. This means that when they become angry they are unable to manage it, and this is bad news for anyone who happens to be in their way.
  • It is common for people who engage in domestic violence to be dealing with some type of mental health problem. Often this mental health problem has not been diagnosed.
  • The individual may feel inferior to their partner and they use domestic violence as a means to feel more in control of the relationship. This sense of inferiority might be because their partner has a better job than they do, or because they are better educated or more sociable.
  • There are certain drugs that can make people become more violent as a side effect.
  • People who engage in this type of behaviour will usually have a strong sense of entitlement. They are so obsessed with their own importance that they believe that it is the job of other people to please them. They may become very frustrated when other people do not live up to their expectation, and they may deal with this frustration by becoming violent.
  • Many people who behave violently in relationships are dealing with severe personality disorders. This person may be a psychopath and thus unable to show any real empathy for their victims. The psychopath is a particularly dangerous person because they experience no remorse for the bad things they do – although they may pretend to be remorseful in other ways to manipulate other people.

Relationship between Domestic Violence and Addiction

There is a strong relationship between domestic violence and addiction because:

  • When people are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will have lower inhibitions. This means that they will be willing to do things that they would not normally consider when sober. Those individuals who are prone to domestic violence will more easily become out of control when they are inebriated.
  • Drugs such as amphetamine and cocaine can make people feel very paranoid. They may use this paranoia as an excuse to target their partner.
  • Substance abuse lowers the person’s self-esteem, and there is a strong relationship between low self-esteem and domestic violence.
  • The addiction personality can share many character traits with the individual who engages in domestic violence such as low self-esteem and the tendency to act impulsively.
  • Alcohol and drug addiction greatly exacerbates mental illness.

Domestic Violence in Recovery

Just because an individual is able to break away from alcohol or drugs, there is no guarantee that they will automatically stop engaging in domestic violence. In fact, the fact that this person is dealing with the stress of ending their addiction may mean that they take it out on their partner. It is therefore vital that anyone who engages in this type of behaviour gets help for it. Giving up alcohol or drugs is a great start when it comes to ending domestic violence, but it is usually not enough to ensure that this will happen.

How to Cope with Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can have very serious consequences, so it can never be ignored. Some of the things that people can do to help them cope with this situation would include:

  • It is vital that victims of domestic violence get some help right away. There are many support groups and organisations that will be able to offer advice and support – it is important that the person understands that they are not alone with dealing with this problem.
  • The individual who has been engaging in this activity also needs to seek help right away. It can be difficult to break away from this behaviour without adequate support and assistance.
  • It may be beneficial for the person to attend anger management classes, as this will help them to better control their emotions.
  • Those individuals who are addicted to alcohol or drugs will need to get help to end their addiction right away.
  • There is always going to be a root cause to this violence and unless this is dealt with, the individual will struggle to break free of the behaviour. It is therefore vital that the person gets help to investigate the underlying cause of their behaviour.

It is not a good idea for the victim to remain in the situation because it will mean that their physical and mental wellbeing will be in jeopardy. It is vital that they put their own personal safety above any affection they might have for this other person. Once they have escaped from this person, they should only allow that individual back into their life if they know that domestic violence is no longer going to be an issue – in many instances, the best option would just be to end the relationship completely.

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