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Written by: Jackie Waters

Photo via Pixabay by Unsplash

 

Domestic violence and substance abuse are uniquely intertwined. Substance abuse, such as the use of drugs or alcohol, has not been proven to cause domestic violence. Domestic violence, however, has been shown to be a precursor for substance abuse in both perpetrators and victims. 

Batterers who abuse alcohol or drugs usually do so in an effort to dull the guilt from their violent behavior and to be able to use it as an excuse for why they hurt their victim. Domestic violence batterers will likely be violent and controlling when they are using or are not using due to the psychological aspect of their behavior, but substance abuse enables them to validate continued abuse. 

Victims of domestic violence use drugs and alcohol as an escape from trauma and pain; sometimes the abuser will encourage them to do so. Victims who are also codependent on drugs or alcohol end up staying with their abuser longer. Substance abuse hinders decision-making and assessment abilities in violent situations. This commonly leads to injury or death by the hand of their abuser.

 

Children of substance abusing parents in violent households are more likely to experience emotional, physical, or sexual abuse later in life as opposed to their peers in stable households. Witnessing domestic violence and substance abuse have a lifelong traumatic effect on these children. Many times these children grow up and form dysfunctional relationships; they may even become perpetrators or victims of domestic violence themselves.

How do you help break this cycle? It’s not an easy problem to solve. Most families suffering from domestic violence keep it hidden as much as they can. A close friend or family member usually needs to be the individual to help. 

 

A domestic violence survivor needs rehab for substance abuse while they stay at a secure location. It is common to need therapy and counseling because of the trauma. Trauma could be present immediately within the victim or show up later; they need ongoing support and understanding. Reassurance that none of the violence was their fault and that the abuser is the one responsible for their own behavior is key. 

The domestic violence perpetrator will also need rehab for their substance abuse addiction. In order for this type of abuser to get truly rehabilitated, they must examine the relationship between their violent behavior and their substance abuse. Getting clean will not stop violent tendencies. The abuser needs to be able to take full responsibility for their actions and not blame their victim. Batterers will also need therapy to work on personal relationships and respect for others. Often times they tend to believe that their behavior was justified or legitimate in some way.  Being held accountable and making necessary changes is the only path to recovery. 

 

Domestic violence and substance abuse pose a great threat to the entire family and has the ability to establish new generations of abusers and victims. This is why Family Pathways works with both victims and abusers: to end the cycle of domestic violence.

 

Jackie Waters is the creator of Hyper-Tidy.com and mother to four energetic and amazing boys.  After losing her mother-in-law, Jackie felt ill-equipped to help her father-in law with both his grief and the practical challenges that arose.  Now, Jackie writes articles in her spare time so that others know about the incredible resources available to them and so that they know that they are not alone. She volunteered to write this article for Family Pathways in an effort to inform clients that are utilizing the "Aging Services" program.