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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) warns that domestic violence is on the rise. While domestic violence is not gender or age specific, women are typically targeted, victims. Domestic violence has many triggers which may be difficult to pinpoint; however, when an offender is suffering from substance abuse, violence is enhanced. Victims can also suffer from substance abuse as a way to cope with the violence. Victims also have panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) or depression.

Domestic violence and substance abuse are often related. More substance abuse and domestic violence cases are being filed each year. If you are a victim of domestic violence caused by substance abuse or has led to substance abuse you are not alone; you have options to receive help.

How Are Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse Related?

Substance abuse is not the only reason domestic violence occurs; however, the two are directly related more often than not. Mental disorders such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or depression can lead a person to abuse drugs or alcohol. Relationship or financial problems can also lead to domestic violence and/or substance abuse.

Victims of domestic violence may fall susceptible to drug and/or alcohol abuse. Substance abuse can affect their rational judgment, making them believe the situation is not getting worse.

Often, society blames the dependency on substance abuse for the violence that occurs. This is not always the case, as there could be many triggers or causes for the violence and the abuse. No matter the reason for the violence or abuse, everyone deserves the same treatment and support.

Facts About Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse

Understanding what causes domestic violence and/or substance abuse may help others understand how it affects so many individuals in the United States. Below are some facts regarding the two.

  • When alcohol abuse is present, the assault may be more severe and result in more injuries.
  • Alcohol and drugs are common risk factors for domestic violence.
  • Abused women are more likely to use alcohol or drugs than women who have not been abused.
  • 87% of domestic violence programs say that violence increases when both individuals abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • 51% of domestic violence programs say women may use alcohol as a shield to help them leave a violent situation.
  • In 2002 the Department of Justice discovered approximately 36% of domestic violence patients also suffered from substance abuse.
  • 69% of women who have suffered from substance abuse also stated that sexual abuse had occurred as a child.
  • Studies have shown that women who have alcohol or drug abuse have suffered physical or emotional abuse in their childhood than those who do not suffer from substance abuse.
  • Substance abuse treatment does not cure an abusive behavior.

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse

If you believe you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship that co-occurs with substance abuse the following is a list of warning signs.

  • Your spouse or intimate partner is jealous towards your friends, does not like you spending time with your friends without them being present, or tries to isolate or distance you from them.
  • Your intimate partner embarrasses you, making you feel bad while others are around or always making you feel like you cannot do things right.
  • Your spouse or partner manages your money to where you are unable to make purchases or other financial decisions on your own.
  • They use your kids against you, threatening you regarding your kids because you are a “bad parent.”
  • They control whether you go to school, work or any other outside activities that make you happy.
  • Destroying your personal items, especially those that have emotional value.
  • Using something to scare or intimidate you.
  • Threatening to hurt or kill your pets or following through with that threat.
  • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol with them.

Dual Treatment for Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse

Treatment options are available for domestic violence and substance abuse for both offenders and victims. When choosing a treatment facility, ensure it specializes in dual-diagosis and treatment.  

There is no doubt that domestic violence or substance abuse puts individuals in a tough situation. You may feel that you have nowhere to turn, or that no one will understand what you have been through or why it may have taken you so long to seek treatment. When facing fear, we often face it alone.

Batterers may become apologetic and promise never to do it again or may claim that they only did it because of the alcohol and drugs. However, that is not always the case. Untreated domestic violence often continues even after the partner becomes sober from drugs or alcohol. Both violent behavior and substance abuse will need to be treated together. Without addressing both issues, urges can still arise.

Serenity Acres is here for you. We have compassionate and experienced staff available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you seek the type of domestic or substance abuse treatment that best suits your needs to help you on the path to a healthier and sober life.