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Domestic Violence & Substance Abuse
Things You Need To Know

How Prevalent is Domestic Violence?

Every 15 seconds a woman is battered in the United States by her husband, boyfriend, or live-in-partner.  Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 to 44, more common than automobile accidents, muggings and rapes combined according to findings by the former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.  Other research has found that half of all women will experience some form of violence from their partners during marriage, and that one-third are battered repeatedly every year.  Although official estimates of domestic violence rely largely on FBI, police and emergency reports, many women also report domestic violence to friends, relatives, churches, synagogues, physicians and nurses.  These sources of information are not included in national crime surveys.  In addition, most reports do not show the number of violent incidents experienced by battered women and their children.  Hence statistics do not accurately reflect the amount of violence experienced in intimate relations and in the home.

Domestic Violence Defined:

Have you or someone you know ever experienced the following by a boy friend, husband or intimate partner?

Ø      Name-calling or put-downs

 Ø      Isolation from family or friends

Ø      Withholding money

Ø      Actual of threatened physical harm

Ø      Sexual assaults

 These are examples of domestic violence, which includes partner violence, family violence, spouse abuse, battering, and wife beating.  This violence takes many forms, and can happen once in a while or all the time.  Although each situation is different, there are common warning signs or “red flag” behaviors to look for.  Although the wife, girlfriend or lover is the primary target, violence is often directed toward children as well, and sometimes toward family members, friends, and even bystanders in attempts to control their partner.  Approximately 95 percent of the victims of domestic violence are women.  However, violence also happens in gay and lesbian relationships, and, in a small number of cases, by women against men.

Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence:

Violent men are more likely to abuse alcohol than nonviolent men.  Estimates of alcohol and drug abuse by violent men ranges form 52 to 85%-- rates three times those of nonviolent men.  The victim, as well as the abuser, may be drinking at the time of an incident.  One effect of battering is higher rates of drinking among victims seeking to cope with depression, fear, and stress.  Studies of domestic violence criminal cases find incidents involving drugs and alcohol are more, not less, likely to be prosecuted than cases that do not involve alcohol or drug use.

Drinking is linked to violence in complex ways:

à        Chronic alcohol abuse creates stress in the family.

à        Heavy drinking can disinhibit control of behavior.

 Research on the links between alcohol abuse and violence finds that: 

  • Drinking proceeds acts of family violence in 25 to 50% of all cases of domestic violence.
  • Substance abusers are violent more frequently and inflict more serious injuries.  They are more likely to attack partners sexually, and are more likely to be violent outside the home than non-substance abusers.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse increase the likelihood of domestic violence; not only during periods of intoxication, but also during periods of sobriety.
  • Highest rates of abuse are found in moderate to heavy drinkers (not heaviest drinkers).  Chronic use of alcohol is a better predicator of battering than acute intoxication.


Myths about Alcohol and Abuse:

 1.  All the bad behaviors exhibited by alcoholics result from their drinking problem.

Not True. Battering is a separate problem.

2.   Alcoholics who drink are not in control of their behavior.

Not True. It has been demonstrated that batterers who abuse alcohol can decide when and how to hit their wives.


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