When it comes to domestic violence, many people don’t even know they’re a victim, which makes the link between drugs, alcohol, and domestic violence hard to spot.
According to the Department of Justice, “Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior that is used by an intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other intimate partner.” The DOJ also adds that “domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”
Who Does Domestic Violence Impact?
There’s no prejudice. It can strike any age group, and although females commonly fall victim, males can be victims, too. Many people who grow up in a home filled with violence become abusers themselves later in life. Sometimes when a young woman grows up watching her father abuse her mother, she will later become the victim of abuse in her own relationship.
Spouses and intimate partners are not the only victims of abuse; children, parents, and elders may also become sufferers.
Is There a Link Between Drugs, Alcohol, and Domestic Abuse?
Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m sorry, baby. You know it was the booze. I never meant to hurt you. I’ll never do it again. I promise?”
Or how about this one: “He’s okay when he’s not drinking.”
Unfortunately, these words are spoken too often, and the link isn’t always understood. While the severity of the abuse might be strengthened by alcohol and drugs, it’s often not the actual cause of the domestic violence but rather an excuse used by the abuser.
Women who are abused often turn to alcohol and drugs to hide the pain, while others may be forced to use with their abuser. At times, a woman might become a victim because the abuser is also her drug and alcohol supplier.
As you can see, there are many ways that drugs and alcohol are linked to abuse, but never let anyone convince you that the substance alone made them do it.
How is Domestic Violence Recognized?
Sometimes it’s easy to see domestic violence, but in many cases, it might be difficult to recognize. Remember, domestic abuse doesn’t have to show up through a bruise on the face; there are many other exhibits of it. Some of the signs you should look for include:
- If your partner belittles you, calls you names, or insults you.
- If your partner is controlling; telling you how to spend your money, what you can wear, or where and when you can go out.
- If your partner prevents you from seeing friends and family.
- If your partner blames you for everything including the abuse.
- If your partner makes you feel like you deserve the abuse.
- If your partner constantly checks your phone and text messages.
- If your partner is possessive of you and treats you like property.
- If your partner is jealous and constantly accuses you of cheating.
- If your partner hits, kicks, chokes, or hurts you, your children, or pets in any way.
- If your partner forces you into having unwanted sex.
- If your partner threatens you.
- If your partner throws things towards you attempting to hit you with the object.
- If your partner always disappoints your excitement.
- If your partner gets angry and violent while drinking or doing drugs.
How You Can Help a Friend or Family Member Who is a Victim of Violence
If you’re aware that your loved one is a victim of violence you probably want to scoop them up to safety, but before you leap in to offer protection, there are some things you must first consider. For starters, you must understand that many victims make excuses for their abuser and are convinced that the abuse is their fault.
Your friend might feel alone, thinking that you wouldn’t believe what’s happening or maybe see it as an exaggeration. Your sister might be scared that her abuser will hurt her or her children if she’s caught talking about it. As Nicholas Sparks once said, “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”
Before you leap to save the day, though, you should consider some of the do’s and don’ts of helping a domestic abuse victim.
- One of the first things you might consider is educating yourself on the subject so that you have a better understanding of what your loved one is going through. The Mayo Clinic provides an excellent in-depth resource for recognizing patterns of domestic violence and seeking help.
- Talk with your loved one at a convenient, safe time and place.
- Express your concern, giving eye contact and a focused ear.
- Let your loved one know that the abuse is not their fault.
- Express positivity to your loved one and point out all the things that make them special.
- Remind them of all the things they are good at.
- Encourage your loved one to talk to friends and family members, and offer them help with finding a support group.
- Always be patient and understanding of your loved one’s feelings. The healing process will take time, and it might not always be as easy as you think to talk about.
- Help your loved one find a domestic violence hotline.
- Don’t judge your loved one’s decision, and never criticize the abuser.
- Don’t draw your own conclusions or make a decision for your loved one.
- Don’t tell them what they should or shouldn’t do.
- Don’t criticize your loved one for their decisions.
- Don’t pretend to be an expert; even if you’ve been through it yourself, each situation and person are
Can Counseling Help?
Yes, counseling can help; however, going to counseling or rehab for alcohol and drugs alone will not fix the problem. Once a person falls victim to domestic violence, many scars – physical and mental – will remain long after the alcohol and drugs are gone. But if substance abuse counseling and other viable counseling work together, the scars will begin to heal. Although they may never disappear completely, coping with everyday life will become easier.