Society’s understanding of domestic violence has grown dramatically over recent years, as the many factors that contribute to the problem become better understood. Substance abuse is now known to be linked to domestic violence incidents in many cases.
Understanding Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is defined as the willful intimidation, physical assault, sexual assault or other behavior perpetrated as part of a systematic pattern of power and control over another person. It can also include emotional abuse, financial abuse, stalking and other forms of control. Domestic violence can range from mild to severe, and can even end in murder.
Domestic Violence Statistics
According to the Surgeon General of the United States, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44, more than auto accidents, rapes and muggings. Because incidents of domestic violence are often not reported, the exact number of women injured each year is not known. However, police and emergency reports indicate that it is a widespread problem that occurs at every level of society. A few statistics demonstrate how prevalent domestic violence is:
· Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims are women, while fifteen percent are men.
· Over four and one-half million women experience domestic violence from an intimate partner every year.
· One in four women are victims of violence from an intimate partner in their lifetimes.
· One in seven men are victims of violence from an intimate partner in their lifetimes.
· A current or former male partner murders three women each day in the United States.
· An estimated three million children witness violent acts against their mothers each year. These children are at high risk for becoming abusers themselves and are more likely to abuse substances later in life.
Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence
Although there is not a causal relationship between substance abuse and domestic violence, research finds a statistical correlation between the two problems. In addition, the link between domestic violence and substance abuse is a complex one. Not only is the incidence of domestic violence higher in those who abuse alcohol or drugs, the likelihood that a victim will abuse drugs or alcohol is also higher. So the behavior continues, in a cycle of substance abuse, violence upon another person and subsequently the use of substances to cope with the effects of the behavior. The cycle continues until both the substance abuse and the abusive behavior are properly treated.
Unfortunately, getting treatment for both problems is difficult for a number of reasons:
· Domestic violence programs rarely have enough funding to provide alcohol or drug abuse treatment.
· Domestic violence programs generally only provide shelter and safety for victims.
· Domestic violence programs fear that dealing with the substance abuse problem may tend toward blaming the victim for the violence.
Benefits of Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient treatment programs are among the most effective methods for treating alcohol and drug abuse problems.
· Inpatient treatment takes the individual out of the home to provide treatment in a safe environment.
· Treatment methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help the woman to gain a perspective on the abusive behavior and how it has impacted her life and her impulse to abuse substances.
· Detoxification and stabilization can be managed effectively.
· Coexisting conditions such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder can be diagnosed and treated.
· Underlying issues of childhood trauma can be addressed.
· Batterers can be held accountable for their actions during therapy, and they can learn to manage their emotions and violent behavior.
· Aftercare can be provided to support victims in their decision to change their lives.
If you or a loved one have issues with alcohol or drug abuse, along with the problem of domestic violence, seek help today to start on a path to a better life.