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Online Training Lesson #5: Fast facts about substance abuse and violence

Useful Fast Facts

Fast facts about substance abuse and violence

Myth: Alcohol and/or drug abuse cause domestic violence.

  • FACT: Domestic violence and substance abuse are two different problems that should be treated separately. Actions of the abuser are typically controlled, even when drunk or high, by choosing a time and place for the assaults to take place in private and go undetected. (http://www.vlmfss.ca/Facts.html)

  • The majority (76 percent) of physically abusive incidents occur in the absence of alcohol use and there is no evidence to suggest that alcohol use or dependence is linked to the other forms of coercive behaviors that are part of the pattern of domestic violence.

  • Economic control, sexual violence, and intimidation are often part of a batterer’s ongoing pattern of abuse, with little or no identifiable connection to his use of or dependence on alcohol. (http://www.opdv.state.ny.us/health_humsvc/substance/falsecx.html#batterers)

  • Research conducted within the alcoholism field suggests that the most significant determinant of behavior after drinking is not the physiological effect of the alcohol itself, but the expectation that individuals place on the drinking experience.

  • When cultural norms and expectations about male behavior after drinking include boisterous or aggressive behaviors, for example, research shows that individual men are more likely to engage in such behaviors when under the influence than when sober. (http://www.opdv.state.ny.us/health_humsvc/substance/falsecx.html#batterers)

  • Despite the research findings, the belief that alcohol lowers inhibitions persists, and along with it, a historical tradition of holding people who commit crimes while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs less accountable than those who commit crimes in a sober state.

  • Batterers, who have not been held accountable for their abusive behavior in general, find themselves even less accountable for battering perpetrated when they are under the influence of alcohol. The alcohol provides a ready and socially acceptable excuse for their violence. (http://www.opdv.state.ny.us/health_humsvc/substance/falsecx.html#batterers)

  • An addictions framework assumes that there is a point at which a batterer can no longer control his abuse, just as an addict experiences loss of control over the substance use. The experiences of battered women, however, challenge this view. Battered women report that even when their partners appear “uncontrollably drunk” during a physical assault, they routinely exhibit the ability to “sober up” remarkably quickly if there is an outside interruption, such as police intervention. (http://www.opdv.state.ny.us/health_humsvc/substance/falsecx.html#batterers)

  • Because many male batterers also abuse alcohol and other drugs, it’s easy to conclude that these substances may cause domestic violence. They apparently do increase the lethality of the violence, but they also offer the batterer another excuse to evade responsibility for his behavior. (http://www.usda.gov/da/shmd/aware.htm)

  • The abusive man—and men are the abusers in the overwhelming majority of domestic violence incidents—typically controls his actions, even when drunk or high, by choosing a time and place for the assaults to take place in private and go undetected. In addition, successful completion of a drug treatment program does not guarantee an end to battering. (http://www.usda.gov/da/shmd/aware.htm)