Alcohol and domestic violence often go hand in hand, although, as an article in the Daily Mirror last week (‘Is There a Cure for Domestic Violence’, 7 October 2013) pointed out, this is certainly not always the case. It would be wrong to suggest that alcohol abuse is the cause of substance abuse; it is closer to the truth to say that domestic abusers like to also abuse alcohol. Where the abuser is also an alcoholic, it is usually necessary for them to get treatment for both conditions.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can refer to any abusive behaviour where one person in a relationship tries to control another person by intimidation. The most well known form of domestic violence is physical abuse, but it can also include things like verbal abuse, psychological abuse, neglect, stalking, passive aggression, sexual abuse, and trying to control the other person through financial means (for example, limiting money unless the person behaves in a certain way). Domestic violence can occur between anyone in the household, but males most often do it.
The Causes of Domestic Violence
The overall cause of domestic violence is that one person wants to be able to control the life of another person. The person may want to do this for a number of reasons, such as:
- those who have low self-esteem are unable to trust other people so they try to control them by being abusive
- the abuser is unable to control their jealousy
- many of those involved in domestic abuse come from homes where they experienced or witnessed domestic abuse; they may view it as normal behaviour
- the individual may have poor impulse control so they are unable to manage their emotions
- when one person feels inferior to their partner they can try to redress the power imbalance by becoming abusive
- it is fairly common for those who are engaged in domestic violence to have some type of mental health problem
- a high number of domestic abusers have some type of personality disorder, i.e. they may be a sociopath or a psychopath.
Domestic Violence and Alcoholism
Many of those who are engaged in domestic violence are also alcoholics. This does not mean that their alcoholism is the cause of the behaviour, and it should never be used as any type of justification. It is common for alcoholics who engage in domestic violence to blame it on their addiction. This type of justification may sound convincing, but the reality is that if these individuals become sober, they will usually continue engaging in the violent behaviour.
It is certainly likely that being inebriated does often trigger violence outburst, so the fact that the person is an alcoholic means they may become violent far more often than they would if they were sober.
How Alcoholics Overcome Domestic Violence
When the family of a domestic abuser who is also an alcoholic hear that this person is ready to get help for the addiction, there is usually a great sense of relief. It comes as a huge disappointment then to find out that this individual continues to behave badly once they are sober. The early months of recovery can be very stressful, potentially meaning that the person becomes more abusive than ever.
It is very important that the alcoholic who is engaging in domestic abuse get help for both of these conditions together. The article in the Daily Mirror talks about a course that is being offered by the Domestic Violence Intervention Project. If this is combined with alcohol addiction treatment, it may help the person break free of both behaviours.