It's Not Only The Drug/Alcohol Use That Hurts

In my many years as an addiction professional, I have had the honor of sitting in safe spaces where individuals and families suffering with drug addiction have shared their pain. Too many times, I have heard stories of trauma, abuse, neglect, and worse. These are tough truths to share and we honor the beautiful people brave enough to share them. 

Domestic Violence and Drug Addiction

This coming Monday, June 12th, Linda Davies, Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita will be joining me to discuss these difficult issues. The stuff we all wish would go away. The stuff no one wants to talk about. The heavy issues. We will talk about domestic violence and the correlation to drug use, abuse, and addiction.

The Facts About Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse

Delving into what’s known about the two issues — domestic violence and substance abuse — can shed some light on the problem that affects so many in the U.S.

  • Regular alcohol abuse is one of the leading risk factors for partner violence (between spouses or partners).
  • When there is a battering incident coupled with alcohol abuse, the battering may be more severe and result in greater injury to the victim or victims.
  • Studies of alcoholic women indicate that they are more likely to report they’ve had childhood physical and emotional abuse than women who are nonalcoholic.
  • In fact, women who have been abused are 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol and nine times more likely to abuse drugs than women who have not been abused.
  • Relative to the type of childhood abuse suffered, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that 69% of women being treated for substance abuse reported they were sexually abused as children.
  • Treatment for alcoholism does not cure abusive behavior.
  • The Department of Justice found in 2002 that 36% of victims in domestic violence programs also had problems with substance abuse.
  • According to a majority of domestic violence program directors (51%), a woman’s use of alcohol can be a barrier to her being able to leave a violent relationship with a spouse or partner.
  • An even greater percentage (87%) of domestic violence program directors agree with the statement that the risk of intimate partner violence increases when both partners abuse drugs or alcohol.

Domestic Violence — What it is

Domestic violence is the intentional use of physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual force by one family member — or intimate partner — to control another.

The form domestic violence takes includes acts of:

  • Intimidation — physical, emotional and verbal
  • Threats
  • Forced sex
  • Killing or maiming pets
  • Destruction of family members’ property or possessions
  • Slapping, punching, choking, kicking, burning, stabbing victims
  • Killing victims

Targets of domestic violence include spouses, intimate partners, parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren, siblings, and elderly relatives.

In the United States, a woman is beaten every 15 seconds. Thirty percent of trauma patients (excluding victim of traffic accidents) are victims of domestic violence. The medical costs associated with treating women who have been victims of domestic violence at the hands of their partners is $44 million each year.

In eight to 13% of all marriages, severe physical assaults of women occur. The assaults reoccur in two-thirds of those relationships.

Similar to the patterns of substance abuse, domestic violence tends to increase in frequency and severity over time.