October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It’s important that we talk about domestic violence because it’s prevalent in our society. According to recent statistics, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women 15 to 44 years old. That’s more than automobile accidents, rapes and muggings combined.
Additional research shows that nearly half of all women will be involved in some type of violence from their significant other in their lifetime, and one-third of women are abused frequently. As a matter of fact, by the time you read this post, nearly 75 women will have been abused, as a woman is beaten every 15 seconds.
Domestic abuse is often further complicated by another behavior: drug and alcohol use. In fact, if we want to understand domestic abuse in its entirety, we must understand how drugs and alcohol fuel this type of behavior.
Statistics on Domestic Abuse and Substance Abuse
Let’s take a look at some recent facts and statistics regarding domestic violence and substance abuse.
- Regular alcohol abuse is one of the main risk factors for domestic violence between spouses and partners.
- When there is an altercation and alcohol is involved, the battering is usually worse and results in more harm.
- Women who struggle with alcoholism report more often that they’ve endured childhood abuse (emotional and physical) compared to nonalcoholic women.
- A 2002 Department of Justice study found that 36 percent of victims in domestic violence programs also had problems with drugs or alcohol.
- More than half of domestic violence program directors believe that women who have a problem with alcohol are less likely to leave their abuser.
- Eighty-seven percent of program directors agree that the risk of partner abuse increases with the use of drugs and alcohol.
Will Treatment Stop the Abuse?
It’s important to point out that while substance abuse can complicate domestic violence, treating drug or alcohol abuse does not cure the abusive behavior. Many people are misled, thinking that it’s the substance abuse causing the violence. But when their loved one returns home, they see that the underlying impulse for abuse remains.
In order for real change to be made, both issues must be dealt with. Some of the treatment options that may be recommended include parenting classes, bonding with peers and learning how to deal with anger.
Additionally, it’s important for the victim to get treatment. The victim may also have a substance abuse problem the needs attention and can probably benefit from counseling and a safety plan.
This month, let’s stand and work together to end domestic violence. Some of the ways that you can get involved include wearing purple, participating in the National Week of Action (Oct. 16-22), donating or volunteering, speaking out and more! Learn more at NNEDV.org.