Why Treatment For Addiction Helps Survivors Of Domestic Violence Regain Their Lives
Domestic violence, sometimes referred to as intimate partner violence, is a threat that many women (85% of domestic violence victims) face on a daily basis. This violence can come in the form of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. Intimate partner violence is responsible for more than 50% of homicides perpetrated against women.
Research from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) revealed that abusers and their victims are 11 times more likely to become involved in intimate partner violence on days during heavy drug or alcohol use, and and that 40-60% of violent incidents happen while the substance abuse is occurring.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 85% victims of domestic violence are women who abuse substances and are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than their sober counterparts. Also, women in violence-fueled relationships are more likely to have a substance abuse disorder than women in non-violent relationships.
Life Factors Affect Relationships With Both Substances And Partners
But why? Perhaps women who have problems with substance may be more likely to be in an abusive relationship. Or it could be that being intoxicated may make them more susceptible to abuse.
Conversely, women who are in violent relationships may engage in substance abuse in an attempt to deal with the pain inflicted by the other partner.
Another possibility – when you are intoxicated, whether male or female, you are less likely to be able to defend yourself, and are more likely to find yourself exposed to dangerous situations.
Most importantly, however, if your substance abuse is related to childhood trauma, low self-esteem, mental illness, or family dysfunction (such that included abuse or addiction, for example), you may also be attracted to others who engage in substance use and violence, as well.
Please don’t take this the wrong way – people do not generally seek out abusive relationships any more than they seek out addiction. Most relationships that become abusive begin normally and it may take months or years before the abuse peaks. And it’s the same for addiction. Most people who start using substances do not fall into full-fledged addiction right away.
Moreover, relationships with substances may develop in a similar way that domestic relationships do. Both types of relationships may feel exciting and pleasurable at the beginning and seem to offer some sense of relief, security or escape from the rest of the world.
But as substance use evolves into addiction, so romance can devolve into a dysfunctional, co-dependent, and possibly abusive relationship. There are up and downs during both processes – some days are better than others.
But ultimately, most of these relationships, whether related to a substance or an abuser, leave the person who is at their mercy feeling trapped, isolated, hopeless, and desperate.
And factors such as adverse and traumatic experiences, mental health problems, and a lack of healthy identity and self-esteem often contribute to behaviors that lead us into the deep abysses of addiction and violence. Moreover, the reasons why people self-medicate are not so different than the reasons why people put up with daily abuse from the person they love.
Both women and men (15% of domestic violence victims are male) who suffer from both substance abuse and violent relationships can significantly benefit by gaining insight into how both of these situations are interrelated, and directly related to other chronic underlying issues.
What About Men Who Abuse?
According to ASAM, more than 1 in 5 male perpetrators of domestic abuse report using substances before their most recent and extreme acts of violence. Victims also report that the offender has been using drugs or alcohol.
How Treatment For Substance Abuse Can Help Victims Of Domestic Violence
Treatment for addiction doesn’t just focus on the addiction itself – it must happen concurrently with treatment for other adverse life factors for the exact reasons discussed above.
Substance abuse rarely occurs in a vacuum – that is, it most often results from a person’s attempt to escape suffering, negative experiences, and mental health conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
When these underlying problems are treated effectively, not only does one’s vulnerability to addiction decrease, but also that individual will gain insight into why they behave in certain ways and make the choices that they do. Ultimately, they grow, become stronger and more confident, and find themselves able to no longers refuse to let someone else, no matter how much they purport to love them, to abuse them in any form.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you love is abusing substances, please seek treatment as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one.
Please call us today at 888-380-0667 for a free consultation.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology