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Domestic Abuse, Violence and Drug/Alcohol Addiction

Domestic violence is a huge problem in the US. Each year, 10 million people are assaulted by their partners. A violent incident occurs every 20 seconds. The problem affects one in four women and one in nine men. 

Another problem is the broader category of domestic abuse, which covers everything from violence to mind games. Drugs and alcohol often fuel the problem on both sides.

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What Is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse occurs when one partner in a relationship mishandles that other either physically or verbally. It’s usually done out of a desire to control the other person and seek dominance in the relationship. The victims suffer everything from hurt feelings and psychological torment to physical injury and sometimes death. 

Different Types of Domestic Abuse

Abuse comes in many forms. The one that immediately comes to mind is physical abuse, but it doesn’t stop there. People can also be abused in the psychological and spiritual sense through gaslighting. In fact, anything that gives one partner power over the other — be it financial, sexual or social — could be used for abusive purposes. Examples include:

  • Emotional abuse – This occurs when one partner berates the other with themes designed to hurt the person. If one partner is emotional about a topic — such as his/her job, ambitions, family or pets — the last thing a caring, significant other should do is heap insult on injury or rub salt in old wounds.
  • Physical abuse – This is the most obvious abuse because there’s no mistaking a closed fist. Partners who endure physical abuse end up struggling with trust issues. Each year, thousands of women are injured by abusive partners, some fatally. When men suffer physical abuse, it typically involves thrown dishes and other projectiles.
  • Psychological abuse – This takes emotional abuse a step further by getting to the partner’s subconscious. It’s one thing to insult a person or make inflammatory statements. It’s another to trick a victim into thinking the abuse is “tough love” and that “if you were smarter and more open-hearted, you would thank me.” That’s gaslighting.
  • Sexual abuse – This needs no introduction. It occurs whenever unwanted sexual advances continue past a hard “no.” Forced penetration and the unwanted touching of private areas both qualify. Consensual encounters that turn progressively rough, even after the receiving partner tries to put the brakes on, can also qualify.
  • Financial abuse – This occurs when one partner exploits his/her financial power over the other. If one partner is the breadwinner, he/she might use this as leverage in the relationship. This isn’t fair in relationships where it’s already been established that one partner works and one stays at home. It’s even worse in cases where one partner is waylaid by injury.
  • Spiritual abuse – This occurs when a partner uses religious dogma to coerce a partner into shame or guilt. If the victim already struggles with his/her spirituality, this could be a way to prey upon insecurities. In some relationships, one partner might grow exceedingly pious or adopt a more extreme and possibly sexist or judgment doctrine.
  • Verbal abuse – This one simply refers to inflammatory, vulgar language. Two people in a relationship shouldn’t be shouting cuss words at one another. Calling a domestic partner a “f**king c**t” or a “stupid piece of s**t” in the heat of an argument is taking things way too far. If this happens frequently, the offending partner has too much rage to be in a relationship.
  • Social abuse – This happens in relationships where one partner has a wider social circle than the other and uses this for intimidation. If a man marries a foreign woman and his social life becomes hers, it could be frightening if he suddenly badmouths her with poisonous lies and one-sided innuendo. 
  • Elderly abuse – This might occur if a senior citizen lives with a married middle-aged offspring and the partner doesn’t take kindly to his/her in-law. Older people often lack the mobility or resources to escape an abusive situation, yet their dependence on able-bodied adults is a wearying factor for certain people with no personal investment in the situation.
  • Image-based abuse – If a person is insecure about his/her image, the partner might exploit this to make that person feel insecure and gain leverage in the relationship. This is most toxic when the image abuse stupes to something that implies “You’re ugly. I love you out of mercy, so you better be grateful because I’m your only option.”

These and other types of abusive domestic situations could provoke a partner to use drugs as a coping mechanism. The victim might resort to euphoric drugs or alcohol to numb the emotional pain and insecurity. A person who’s insecure about his/her image might resort to diet pills or (for excessive gym workouts) harmful performance boosters.

Examples of Abusive Domestic Behavior

Abusive acts range from verbal to physical transgressions. Insults and battery are common in toxic relationships where one or both partners have low intelligence. In couples where both partners are highly intelligent, the abuse might involve deceptive gaslighting that grows convoluted with time. Examples of abusive behavior include:

  • Constant disapproval – An abusive partner is rarely satisfied with anything the victim says or does. The abuser will constantly criticize the victim and nitpick the most trivial things. This is especially toxic when the abuser frames things in a way to trick the victim into thinking he/she agrees with the abuse but is too immature to admit it.
  • Dictating appearance – Abusers are often insecure people who can’t stand to be outshined by a partner. Male abusers won’t let their partners dress sexy or look pretty outside the house. They never trust the victim and can’t stand the possibility that other men would find her attractive.
  • Social isolation – An abuser will often try to isolate the victim from his/her friends or family. An insecure man might constantly distrust his partner and think that she’s messing with her male friends and berating him to her female friends.
  • Overruling – An abuser rarely allows the victim to make decisions. When a waiter takes an order, the abuser overrides the victim’s order and orders the same thing for both of them. The abuser will also dictate appearance, purchases and what the victim can do or say in public.
  • Discouragement – An abuser might berate the victim about things he/she wants to do or try with lines like “you could never achieve this” or “you would never do good at that.” It’s a constant barrage of negativity and curiosity shaming. 
  • Taunts – In other instances, the abuser might taunt the victim into things he/she doesn’t want to do with manipulative lines like “everyone who’s successful has already done this” or “people will see you as a loser if you don’t.”
  • Threats – An abusive partner will use all kinds of threats to intimidate the victim into submission. If the abuser has leverage in some area (money, friends, status), he/she might say “I’ll cut you off for this” or “I’ll dump you for that.” Threats of violence should always be taken seriously.
  • Coercion – An abusive partner might manipulate a victim into making forced decisions and submitting to undesired situations. This could be done through shaming, bullying or false takeaways like “you’ll lose everything if you don’t do this.”
  • Excessive control – An abusive partner will often try to micromanage the victim’s behaviors, thoughts, words and activities. He/she might veto the victim’s every idea or wish and dictate what the person will do and say.
  • Insults – An abusive partner will constantly insult the victim. This will typically start with infrequent, playful jabs that progressively grow more frequent and malicious. By the time the relationship becomes hopeless and toxic, the abuser might spew nothing but insults.
  • Shaming – One of the most toxic and manipulative ways to beat a person into submission is to describe everything the victim does within a shaming framework. The premise is usually false but misleading: “How dare you ask me about my fiscal management when I keep borrowing. That’s your problem, you’re too selfish to fork it over.”

Examples like these could easily involve drugs and/or alcohol. The abuser might indulge in alcohol, crack and/or meth, a combination that can make a person belligerent and reckless. The victim might consume illicit downers or addictive anti-anxiety meds with alcohol, a combination that can render a person complacent and withdrawn.

How Does Addiction Cause Domestic Violence?

Drug abuse and alcohol addiction can lead to domestic abuse. If an abusive partner is hooked on stimulants like cocaine, crack or meth, it could spur his/her aggressive impulses and cause abusive, irrational behavior. Alcohol, which often renders people shameless and tactless, can bring out the worst in people who already have misanthropic, violent streaks.

The similarities between addiction and abuse include:

  • No self-control – Addiction takes hold when a person can no longer control his/her use of a given substance. The user thinks about the substance all day and uses it whenever possible, not just at parties and in the occasional recreational setting. Likewise, abusive people don’t just have the occasional bad reaction; they fly into rages regularly.
  • Behavioral downward spiraling – With drug and alcohol abuse, the problem gets worse and worse as addiction takes over. Likewise, a domestic abuser gradually loses any sense of empathy or physical boundaries and decides the easiest way to win is to bully and intimidate others.
  • Increased intensity – With addiction, the body grows tolerant of the substance at normal usage levels, so the user overtakes the substance to get the same effects. This can have dangerous effects on the organs. Likewise, people who lose all sense of restraint and let their tempers roam free find no shame in resorting to shouting and violence.
  • Denial – Addicted individuals often deny they have a problem. Some love the effects of drugs and don’t want to change; others feel guilty and don’t want to acknowledge anything. Likewise, abusers either convince themselves they’re always right and have privilege over others, or they don’t want the world to know about their mean streak.

Most drug users and domestic abusers know on some level that what they do is wrong. Getting them to come clean is difficult because most people are ashamed to admit to such problems. If they are unaware of their wrongdoing, they truly have gone off the deep end and need immediate treatment for drug, alcohol or behavioral addiction disorder.

The Effects of Domestic Abuse

People who’ve suffered physical and emotional abuse tend to have issues. This can manifest through psychological problems and various types of self-harm, including:

  • Drug addiction – Abuse can turn people to drugs like heroin, fentanyl, marijuana, anti-anxiety medications and hallucinogens. Anything to ease the pain and fear and transport the mind to altered states.
  • Alcoholism – Abuse can cause people to drink constantly and develop alcohol use disorder. For passive and emotional people, alcohol numbs the mind and makes people more withdrawn.
  • Eating disorders – Abuse can cause people to use food as a drug. People sometimes comfort eat to cope with stress, grief and trauma. For some victims, stress triggers a loss of appetite. Some victims develop body dysmorphia and starve themselves.
  • Depression – This goes with addiction and eating disorders since both are symptoms of unhappiness. People who find themselves in abusive situations are often in denial because this isn’t what they envisioned. Those who stay in the situation are not happy people.
  • Anxiety – Abuse makes people fearful and distrustful. This can haunt victims for many years, long after they get out of the abusive relationship.
  • PTSD – People who’ve been abused often suffer post-traumatic stress disorder that can take years to manage.

Sadly, many people who endure abuse have low opinions of themselves. Subconsciously, they seek out abusive partners who feed into their insecurity and self-doubt.

Get Help for Domestic Abuse and Drug Addiction

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Domestic abuse is an ongoing problem that no one should tolerate or perpetuate in a relationship. When arguments cross the line into insults, brow-beating, mind games and physical violence, the problem has already gone way too far. 

If someone you know is in an abusive relationship and uses drugs to cope with such problems, get that person the help she/he needs today. Contact your local treatment centers and ask about their rehab problems, counseling and additional help for people who need to put their lives on track.

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