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How Alcohol Use Affects Domestic Violence Rates

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Alcohol consumption and domestic violence are two acts that often occur together. While alcohol use and addiction don’t directly correlate with domestic violence, it has the potential to escalate an already violent and angry individual. 

Alcohol use may cause impaired judgment, increased aggression, and lowered inhibition, which could be the driving factor behind a person’s decision making. Those struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and who commit domestic violence often require professional help. 

If you or someone you love is a victim of domestic violence, you must contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to speak with trained advocates who can help you. 

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is when a person willfully harms their intimate partner for power and control. Domestic violence can vary from sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, psychological violence, battery, or any abuse aimed at an intimate partner. Domestic violence will vary from one situation to another, and while someone may experience abuse occasionally, others may experience it daily. The aspect consistent with all domestic violence is a thirst for power and control from the person initiating it.

Relationship violence is an epidemic and a stain on society, and the vile act does not discriminate based on demographics. Domestic violence occurs in every religion, gender, race, and nationality worldwide. It’s challenging and sometimes impossible to know if a partner will become violent, and many who go on to commit domestic abuse start their relationships as the perfect partner. As the relationship progresses, the need to dominate and control their partner may become more apparent.  

Domestic Violence Statistics

According to NCADV, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by their intimate partner across the United States, translating to more than ten million men and women each year. One in four women and one in nine men will experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, or stalking that causes fearfulness, injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or contraction of sexually transmitted disease. 

One in three women and one in four men reported experiencing a form of physical violence from an intimate partner, including shoving, slapping, or pushing. One in seven women and one in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner, and ten percent of women have been raped. One in four women and one in seven women have been severely beaten, strangled, or burned by their intimate partner. More than 20,000 calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines in the United States on a typical day. 

One in five women and one in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime in the United States, and nearly half of both women and men reported they were raped by someone they knew. An estimated 45.4 percent of female rape victims and 29 percent of males were raped by an intimate partner.

Women that are abused by intimate partners are at a greater risk of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases because of forced intercourse or prolonged exposure to stress, and studies describe a relationship between intimate partner violence and suicide. 

Reasons for Domestic Violence

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 55 percent of domestic abuse perpetrators drank alcohol before the assault occurred. Women that are victims of abuse are 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol. Although there is no definitive link to drinking and domestic abuse, it’s hard to argue the majority of cases where alcohol was present.  

Apart from sexual and physical violence, domestic abuse may include other abusive tendencies, involving:

  • Attempt to control the money in the household.
  • Threats against family members, friends, or pets.
  • Control over how the victim dresses.
  • Trying to shame or embarrass the victim publicly or in private.
  • Stalking their partner.
  • Discouraging family or friend visits.

These are a few examples of how someone can domestically abuse their partner. When you throw alcohol abuse into the equation, domestic violence can escalate quickly. These consequences include emotional trauma, physical injury, and in some cases, death. According to the Washington Post, an estimated 87,000 were killed worldwide in 2017, translating to 137 women each day by intimate partners or relatives. Many of the deaths could have been prevented.

How Alcohol Use And Domestic Violence are Related

Although alcohol abuse and domestic violence are viewed as going hand in hand, abuse is not always the result of alcohol consumption. However, it may be fueled by intoxication. Although domestic violence is not caused solely by substance abuse, the correlation is undeniable. 

A person under the influence of alcohol or any mind-altering substance is more likely to lose control of their behavior. It can make someone already prone to violence more likely to act on their thoughts and urges. Unfortunately, as a result, their partner may be on the receiving end of these violent tendencies.

Alcohol addiction and domestic violence share specific symptoms. These include:

  • Feeling guilty and shameful about their actions and behavior.
  • Continuing to participate in this behavior despite the consequences.
  • Losing control.
  • Continually lying or denying their involvement in the behavior.
  • Heavier drinking or more severe abuse over time.

The risk of potentially deadly consequences all increase when domestic violence and alcohol are combined. A person under the influence likely won’t see the harm they are causing the victim, and if they’re intoxicated, it’s even more challenging for them to seek help.

One thing that must be kept in mind is that violence is a learned behavior and not the result of substance abuse alone. Men or women who harm their partner often use alcohol as an excuse for their violent acts and blame it on the effects of alcohol. Alcohol cannot make a person abuse another, and these violent behaviors require treatment for both the abuser and the victim to overcome. 

How to Seek Help For Domestic Violence and Alcohol Use

As was mentioned above, if you or someone you love is a victim of domestic violence, you must contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to speak with trained advocates who can help you. Abuse may start as verbal or not serious, but it can escalate quickly and potentially be fatal. There is no excuse for violence, and you should seek help immediately to get yourself out of a dangerous situation. 

If you are worried about dangerous outbursts in yourself or others, help is available. Alcohol addiction is a severe problem that requires strict treatment. Since withdrawals from alcohol can cause seizures or death, you must seek medical detox for stabilization as the substance exits your body. Once you’re medically cleared, you must seek comprehensive addiction treatment that will help co-occurring disorders existing in conjunction with alcohol addiction. 

Remember, it’s not too late to get the help you need to save your life or someone else’s. 

Sources

CDC (October 2020) Intimate Partner Violence. from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/index.html

WHO (N.D.) Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol. from https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/factsheets/fs_intimate.pdf

MedlinePlus (October 2020) Dual Diagnosis. from https://medlineplus.gov/dualdiagnosis.html

The Washington Post (November 2018) U.N. Finds the Deadliest Place for Women is Their Home. from https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/11/26/un-finds-deadliest-place-women-is-their-home/

TheHotline.org (N.D.) Domestic Abuse Hotline. from https://www.thehotline.org/

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. National Statistics Domestic Violence Fact Sheet. Statistics. from https://ncadv.org/STATISTICS#:~:text=On%20average%2C%20nearly%2020%20people,10%20million%20women%20and%20men.&text=1%20in%203%20women%20and,violence%20by%20an%20intimate%20partner

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