Alcohol and Domestic Violence: The Links

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Domestic abuse and alcohol abuse are two separate issues – however, there may be links between the two. Could alcohol increase the risk of domestic violence? Are victims of domestic abuse more likely to turn to alcohol?

In this post, we are going to explore the links between alcohol and domestic violence. Read on to learn more about domestic abuse, the effects of alcohol, and how alcohol and domestic abuse are linked.

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse – also known as intimate partner violence or domestic violence – is characterised by a pattern of behaviours used by a partner to gain or maintain control over the other partner. Anybody can be affected by domestic abuse, regardless of age, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or race.

A domestic abuser doesn’t always have to use violence to maintain power or control over their significant other. Domestic abuse can include physical abuse, but can also be sexual, mental, emotional, social, and even financial. For example, abusive behaviour in a relationship can include controlling somebody’s finances or wearing down their mental health and well-being. Domestic violence can also include sexual abuse or sexual violence.

Domestic abuse and abusive behaviour can take many forms. Some common ways that domestic abusers will assert control over their victims include:

Emotional abuse – for example, playing mind games, humiliating, or being emotionally cruel.

Using children as a tool to assert control – for example, threatening to take the children or sending messages through children

Using threats – for example, threatening violence, threatening to leave, or threatening to kill themselves

Intimidating their partner – asserting their strength, smashing objects/ things, or displaying weapons

Isolating their partner – for example, using jealousy or force to stop their partner from seeing others, or controlling their communication

Gaslighting their partner – making them think they’re to blame, minimizing or denying the abuse, or purposefully causing low self-esteem

Controlling their money – for example, destroying their bank cards, controlling a joint bank account, or interfering with their career

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Domestic Violence Statistics

Domestic abuse occurs more frequently than you may think. According to data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, roughly 2.3 million adults between the ages of 16 and 74 experienced domestic abuse/ domestic violence in the year ending March 2020. This equates to around 5 in 100 adults.

According to HMIC, on average, police in England and Wales receive more than 100 domestic-abuse related phone calls every hour.

Although anybody can be affected by domestic abuse, it appears that white women are more likely to experience domestic abuse than white men – with 7.7% of white women experiencing domestic abuse, and 3.6% of white males.

What is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is a form of alcohol use disorder – with the more severe form of AUD being alcohol dependence. Although most people with alcohol dependence will abuse alcohol, not all people who abuse alcohol have an addiction.

Generally speaking, alcohol abuse classes as a dangerous drinking pattern. This can include binge drinking – when you consume an unhealthy or dangerous amount of alcohol in a short space of time, to the extent that it causes physical damage.

Alcohol abuse and substance abuse can put you at an increased risk of developing a range of physical health problems, as well as mental health problems. In fact, over time, alcohol abuse can increase the risk of developing cancer, as it is a known carcinogen. On top of this, alcohol consumption has been found to be a causal factor in over 60 medical conditions.

Excessive drinking can have many negative consequences, not just regarding your health. For example, excessive drinking is a huge risk factor for developing alcohol dependence. Alcohol abusecan also affect your finances, relationships, and career, and even increase the risk of alcohol-related legal issues such as drink-driving.

There is no level of drinking that is 100% safe – however, drinking mindfully, in moderation and sticking to the NHS guidelines (no more than 14 units per week) can reduce the risk of developing long-term health problems.

If you’re worried about your alcohol use, check out the ‘Help for Alcohol Abuse’ section of this page, or contact one of our friendly advisors to discuss alcohol rehab.

The Links Between Alcoholism and Domestic Abuse

Although domestic abuse and alcohol dependence are two separate social problems, there are some links between the two. Back in 2019, 39% of violent incidents were related to alcohol – a figure that hasn’t changed dramatically in over a decade.

Alcoholism is never the sole trigger or cause of domestic violence – however, alcohol can be a contributing factor to intimate partner violence. Likewise, not all people with alcohol use disorder are violent – and not all people who stop drinking alcohol or overcome their alcohol addiction will stop being domestic abusers.

Drinking alcohol can lower your inhibitions, and cause you to do things that you wouldn’t do while sober. For example, you may become violent when you drink alcohol – something that you may not do while sober.

Alcohol is thought to increase aggression – and there are a number of theories that explore the reasons behind this. Alcohol myopia is a current theory that suggests alcohol reduces our ability to think coherently, and lowers our attention span. Because of this, we may miss environmental and social cues, affecting how we interpret situations.

Instead of acting rationally when provoked, when intoxicated, we may be more likely to react negatively and not consider the potential consequences. Being intoxicated could also lead to you misinterpreting a situation, and thinking that you’re being provoked when you’re not. This can lead to angry reactions or even violent reactions.

Alcohol myopia could be a leading cause of fights when drunk – for example, if you bump into an intoxicated person at a bar, they may think that it was an act of aggression when in reality, it was a harmless mistake.

Violence and alcohol abuse may be linked, but abusing alcohol or substance abuse is never an excuse for violence. Substance use and alcohol abuse may contribute to aggression, but this is by no means a justification for violence.

Likewise, alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction is not an excuse for domestic violence and is never the sole trigger for domestic violence. Alcohol can mask the problem, and prevent a person from understanding the underlying reasons for their behaviour. Only by addressing their reasons for the abuse can a person be treated, whether this involves therapy, rehab, or counselling.

Are Domestic Abuse Victims More Likely To Abuse Alcohol?

Many factors can contribute to a person abusing alcohol, including stress, mental health, and trauma – all of which can be caused by domestic abuse.

Ongoing domestic abuse or witnessing violent acts can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, and people with PTSD may be more likely to drink alcohol than others. People dealing with trauma may drink to relieve the negative symptoms and feelings.

Psychological factors such as anxiety, as well as other mental health conditions, can lead to a person developing alcohol use disorder. Having a history of low mood and depression may increase the risk of you developing AUD – however, substance abuse and alcohol abuse can increase the risk of developing depression and affecting your mood.

Get Help Today

If you are in an abusive relationship and are experiencing domestic abuse or domestic violence, there is help out there for you. You can contact Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline at 0808 2000 247, or alternatively, speak to an adviser on the online live chat. Another option is to fill out the web form – you can include your name or a code word, and they’ll get back to you within 48 hours.

However, if you think you may be in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police, or an ambulance if necessary. If you’re unable to talk, press 55 to have your call directed to the police.

At Help4Addiction, we can help if you have a problem with alcohol, or you think that your partner may have an alcohol addiction. Read on to learn more.

Help for Alcohol Abuse

At Help4Addiction, we can help you if you are struggling to control your alcohol consumption. We have extensive experience helping those with alcohol problems and substance abuse issues, including drug use and drug addiction.

Our friendly team of experts will listen to your story, requirements, and preferences and use this information to find the right treatment plan for you, whether it be an alcohol rehab program or just an alcohol detox. Check out this page to learn the benefits of detoxing from alcohol.

If you are dependent on alcohol, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the severity of your alcohol problem, you may be recommended a medical detox. This may involve detox medication and medical supervision.

After detoxification, you may wish to receive addiction therapy, whether it be CBT, counselling, group therapy, or many more. This can help you gain a further understanding of your addiction, and learn effective coping mechanisms that don’t involve turning to alcohol. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get sober.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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