What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that’s used by an intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other partner. When combined with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, domestic abuse can quickly escalate into a dangerous situation that is hard to get away from.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is confidential and available 24/7. Please call 1-800-799-7233 if you or someone you know needs support.

For some, the pain of being a victim of domestic violence can trigger substance abuse. In fact, women who have been abused are 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 9 times more likely to abuse drugs than those without a history of abuse.

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Domestic violence does not always constitute physical violence — it can encompass various other types of harm to overpower an individual and keep them in fear of the other.

There are many different forms of domestic abuse:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Spiritual abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Social abuse
  • Elderly abuse
  • Image-based abuse

Examples of behaviors that can be characterized as domestic abuse include:

  • Telling the victim they can’t do anything right
  • Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair, and et cetera
  • Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeking friends or family members
  • Preventing the victim from making their own decisions
  • Threatening or intimidating the victim
  • Pressuring or forcing the victim to do things against their will
  • Controlling the victim, like telling them where they go, who they see, or what they do
  • Embarrassing or shaming the victim with put-downs or insults

Addiction And Causes Of Domestic Violence

All types of domestic violence originate from one person’s desire for control and power over another. Addiction and substance abuse is linked to domestic violence in a strong way. When someone is inebriated from drugs or alcohol, they are likely to lose control of their inhibitions. Being under the influence of any substance greatly increases the chances of abusive behavior.

Nearly 80% of domestic violence crimes are related to the use of drugs.

When a person abuses drugs, the chemicals in their brain are rewired to seek out the substance, despite any future consequences of their behavior. This can result in irrational, violent or controlling behavior within a relationship.

Addiction and domestic violence share a number of characteristics, such as:

  • A loss of control
  • Continued behavior despite negative consequences
  • Addiction and abuse tend to worsen over time
  • Both conditions involve denial or shame

The risk of domestic violence increases when both parties have a substance abuse disorder. It may become difficult, if under the influence, for the victim to determine how much danger they are actually in. They will likely have a difficult time defending themselves against a partner’s attack or being able to call for help. Domestic abuse becomes a vicious cycle, as the abuse victim may be unwilling to report the attack for fear that their partner will physically, emotionally or financially retaliate. If left untreated, domestic abuse can continue to perpetuate an unhealthy dynamic in the relationship that can have severe consequences.

Effects Of Addiction And Domestic Violence

The effects of addiction and domestic violence are far-reaching. Those who are victims of domestic violence are more likely to struggle with a wide range of mental health disorders and require inpatient treatment to overcome the trauma of abuse.

Some of the problems that may develop after domestic abuse include:

  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Treatment For Addiction And Domestic Violence

The key to sobriety and freedom from a destructive relationship pattern is to not only find treatment for the violence, but also for substance abuse. There are treatment centers available to help both the abuser and the abused overcome a substance addiction and improve their overall quality of life.

My biggest struggles while I was active in my addiction was being homeless and in a physical domestic violence relationship… I have had struggles and difficult moments in recovery but it’s better than when I was active in my addiction. I am so glad that I decided to go into residential treatment, because getting clean was the best thing that has ever happened to me.

- Kimberly S., recovering addict

It may be beneficial to incorporate anger management classes to the learning and rehabilitation process. Counseling sessions with a therapist can help address issues related to control and find the underlying cause of the violence.

Get Help Today

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, your personal safety must take priority over any feelings you may have for the perpetrator. Treatment programs can help establish a recovery plan that will help individuals in an abusive relationship move forward with their lives, away from toxic and dangerous relationships. Treatment programs and other domestic abuse resources are available to help you find safety and healing. Additionally, case managers can assist with helping victims obtain advocates for domestic violence, including resources for domestic violence shelters. If you are searching for online therapy options, click here for additional information.

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