What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence (or intimate partner violence) is a violent pattern or behavior that causes harm to a romantic partner. The main goal of the abuser is to take control over the other person. When people get caught in this circle of violence, it is hard to get away from it without help. Usually, the abuser makes the victim think they are worthless and unable to live without them. That is why many victims do not think about leaving.
The outcome of such a situation could be tragic. Prolonged oppression, stalking, physical violence and rape can lead to traumas or many mental health disorders.
Types of Domestic Violence
Most people think that domestic violence is just physical violence. but the truth is, violence comes in many forms.
Domestic Violence and Drug Abuse
Many people might get the impression that drugs and alcohol cause domestic violence, that they are the reason behind it. The true reason is that the perpetrators choose to do so. They choose to harm their partners to gain control over them.
Abusers try to justify their actions claiming that they were abused during their childhood (most childhood abuse survivors do not actually go on to repeat their parent’s mistakes), that they have anger issues, that they were drunk. They might also claim they did it out of jealousy or stress.
Those things might be factors, but no factor can justify engaging in domestic violence.
Even though drugs and alcohol are not the cause, the link between the two issues is undeniable, as half of the cases involve substance use.
Substances can also be involved in domestic abuse as means to incapacitate the victim or make them do things they do not want to. This can include pushing boundaries in sex, recording it or prostitution.
Partners might be forced to sell, buy or even consume drugs. Later on, this might be used as leverage when the victim gets addicted and is ready to go through anything to get them. Women are oftentimes forced into prostitution in exchange for drugs.
Domestic Violence Statistics
According to some studies, 10- 15% of women in the United States have experienced domestic violence in their lives.
Unfortunately, society generally looks past sexual violence against intoxicated victims due to their potential promiscuous behavior. Furthermore, victims of domestic abuse are twice more likely to become drug and substance addicts than those in control groups.
Drugs As A Coping Mechanism
Women who use drugs are more likely to be abused, and abused women are more likely to use drugs. One of the causes of this might be that experiencing prolonged hostility, violence and abuse contributes to deterioration of the victim’s mental health – she might struggle with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and have suicidal thoughts or attempts.
One of the most degrading forms of domestic abuse is rape. It is an extremely traumatizing experience and is very difficult for a person to cope with it. Women often turn to substances, as they are the most accessible coping method. Also, women might not have access to therapy or professional healthcare because their partners do not let them seek it.
Drugs might help them temporarily alleviate anxiety, make them forget, or simply make further abuse easier to bear.
Stimulants such as cocaine give a strong feeling of power and control – victims are likely to use this drug to help overcome the feeling of hopelessness and regain control even if for a moment. They might not realize that self-medicating like this leads to addiction and more problems.
Childhood abuse and substances
The research done on the consequences of experiencing abuse as a child also shows some alarming results, namely the substance abuse rates among the victims. Women who were abused as a child are three times more likely to use drugs in their adult life.
The combination of a toxic environment and substance abuse can have seriously bad consequences on young minds. It can warp their perception of what type of behavior is acceptable. Therefore, domestic violence is a serious social problem that concerns young ones and adults alike.
Why Aren’t They Getting Help?
Why is that the case? The answer to this question is not that simple. Just as substance abuse, violence is the result of a downward spiral and promising that everything will change. Also, drug addicts and abusers are masters of manipulation. They will make their victim completely dependent and unable to leave.
Victims might be afraid of revenge, and they may fear for their health or even their life if they were ever to seek help. Apart from those threats they might be afraid of legal problems, as they could face jail time or have their kids taken away from them for drug possession.
Blame can also play a big role in this, as they might feel that since they were intoxicated, they are responsible for their abuse as they were not fully aware of the situation and didn’t react appropriately.
Drugs or alcohol might also interfere with their memory – and not remembering the situation is a problem since victims might not even report the incident as they fear no one will believe them.
This is why the care they receive should be professional and adjusted for people with the same problems.
Treatment For Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence
Treatment of victims of domestic violence should include compassion and understanding without judgment. The main goal is to empower the victim to leave the toxic environment. At the same time, it should provide the necessary help for the abuser as well.
There are rehab centers that provide both substance abuse rehabilitation and treatment for abusive behavior. This way, they can improve the quality of life for the victim.
Counseling along with anger management classes are among the best options for the treatment of an abuser. The goal is to reveal reasons for substance abuse and the aggressive behavior.
When it comes to the victim, a strong support system and a safe environment are essential for their recovery.