Exploring The Connection Between Alcohol And Domestic Violence

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Alcohol And Domestic Violence Findings

Domestic violence is characterized by causing emotional, verbal, physical, physiological, sexual, spiritual, or financial harm to a someone. Although men can be victims of domestic abuse, 85% are women, with more than 20% of the abusers also abusing alcohol. In same-sex unions there was a, “40% lifetime prevalence, with 22% of men” reporting domestic violence. Unfortunately, alcohol is commonly sought out for several reasons in these cases. Many reasons include its ability to induce relaxation in those who seek it. As a result of alcohol’s availability and ability to produce feelings of inhibition, many use it to quell feelings of anger, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, aggression, and nervousness. Additionally, people drinking may seek to combat feelings of anxiety, depression, aggression, and conflict that occur within relationships, making matters that lie beneath the surface worse.

In cases of domestic violence or intimate partner violence, individuals can drink for the same reasons listed above, causing damage, distance, and mistrust. Someone drinking and acting out aggression on their partner can further complicate and exacerbate violence and relationships, and possibly develop an alcohol tolerance or use disorder. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol is often, “a major contributor” to domestic violence. The intensity of domestic violence increases as someone drinks more heavily or more frequently, complicating problem-solving skills and communication. Because of all of the above factors, the relationship between domestic violence and alcohol are often intertwined.

Identifying And Defining Domestic Abuse: Physical And Sexual Abuse

Physical violence is often the most visible and commonly identified side effect of domestic violence; however, other types of domestic violence can be just as harmful.  Emotional, sexual, and psychological abuse commonly occur and can be more challenging to detect compared to physical violence. Despite the lack of bruises and scars, the emotional and psychological scars left on the victim can cause trauma, depression, and poor coping mechanisms. Physical and sexual domestic violence includes, but is not limited to:

  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Slapping
  • Punching
  • Sexual assault
  • Starvation
  • Holding them hostage
  • Throwing objects at person
  • Threats of violence
  • Withholding
  • Hair pulling
  • Choking
  • Touching without consent
  • Ignoring physical or sexual boundaries of the victim

Identifying  And Defining Domestic Abuse: Emotional, Verbal, And Psychological Abuse

Psychological, emotional, and verbal abuse are insidious and sneaky as they don’t leave visible marks or scars. As a result of psychological, emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, the victim may begin to experience related trauma and can resort to alcoholism or drug abuse to cope. Emotional domestic violence includes, but is not limited to:

  • Belittling/criticizing to devalue the victim
  • Stonewalling/ignoring emotional needs
  • Emotional invalidation
  • Emotional blackmail
  • Humiliation, mocking emotions and put downs
  • Comments that target the self-esteem or self-worth of the victim

Verbal and psychological abuse includes, but is not limited to:

  • Verbal putdowns, belittling, name calling, and swearing
  • Threatening harm to self and others
  • Withholding communication
  • Name calling
  • Blaming
  • Gaslighting
  • Deflection
  • Manipulative speech or behaviors
  • Demanding, ordering around, contradicting, criticizing
  • Discounting or minimizing emotions

Domestic Violence, Genetics, And Alcoholism: The Effect Of Domestic Abuse On Children And Teens

The impact of alcohol abuse and domestic violence stretch far beyond the dynamic between the drinker and the victim of domestic violence. It can impact children and teenagers who witness such acts. According to the Office On Women’s Health, roughly 15 million children have lived in homes in which domestic violence has happened at least once. As a result of seeing abuse occur within their homes, boys are, “10 times more likely to be abusive to a partner” while girls who grow up with an abusive father are, “6 times more likely to be sexually abused” compared to a girl who was raised in a non-abusive household.

Seeing parental domestic violence can set the tone for the child or teen to accept unstable home environments and violent behavior. If children are involved in or witness domestic violence, they can also become the victim of this damaging dynamic. He or she could end up being abused or become abusive in their adulthood. Additionally, he or she can exhibit violent behavior toward their peers. Children can begin to wet their bed out of fear, show signs of anxiety, show aggressive behavior, and suffer poor academic function.

Teens can also reveal signs of parental domestic abuse, poor academic function, aggression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, and trust issues. Dealing with challenging emotions at a young age can manifest through dysfunctional relationships, poor self-image, and poor coping skills. Lastly, children and teens who witnessed domestic abuse in their home were more likely to drink at younger ages, develop alcohol use disorders, and struggle to outgrow moderate or heavy drinking.

How Treatment Can Help

Alcoholism is a complex disorder with genetic influences that can create a cycle of hopelessness and helplessness. Getting help allows someone to have one-on-one guidance with a counselor and acknowledge hidden factors for drinking. Secondly, groups like Alcoholics Anonymous can bring together those directly impacted by alcoholism as well as family members to build community and be accountable for intended or unintended harm. Detox medication is available to reduce cravings associated with alcohol withdrawal and help assist with depressive feelings that accompany alcohol detox. Medications include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Acamprosate
  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram

In addition to these meds, individuals needing help with anxiety or depression can be prescribed other medications to help bring mental balance, nutritional cuisines, exercise, and cognitive behavioral therapy for recovery. Each facility may offer a variety of treatments according to their specialties. Contacting a qualified treatment provider can be helpful in providing the individual with information to make a sound decision.

Get Help Today

The first step of recovery is acknowledging there is a problem. While it may seem challenging to take the needed steps for recovery, there is nothing to fear or be ashamed of. Compassionate professionals are available to guide you or your loved one in your decision-making process. Contact a treatment provider today and get the treatment you deserve.

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