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Addiction and Domestic Violence

Here at Rehab Recovery, your addiction recovery journey is our number 1 priority. In this article, we will be discussing the link between addiction and domestic violence, and the help you can seek as a sufferer.

    Addiction and Domestic Violence

    Domestic violence and addiction are very closely connected, with both of them sadly linking together through impulsive actions and devastating effects. Fortunately, the cycle of abuse can be broken.

    What is domestic violence?


    Domestic violence refers to a single incident or repeated pattern of incidents of controlling, threatening, degrading, coercive, or violent behaviour, including sexual violence, often by a partner or ex-partner.

    Domestic violence can also include violence by a carer or family member. In the majority of instances, it is perpetrated by men while women are the victim. [1]

    Domestic violence can take many forms and often includes instances of:

    • Physical and sexual violence
    • Humiliation
    • Controlling an individual’s life
    • Isolating them from their friends and family
    • Controlling their finances
    • Stalking and harassment
    • Online abuse
    • Elderly abuse
    • Spiritual abuse
    • Verbal abuse
    • Psychological and emotional abuse

    Although domestic violence has been at the forefront of many social efforts, it is still a major problem, especially in the UK.

    Behaviours that can also be categorised as examples of domestic abuse include:

    • Gaslighting the victim
    • Controlling what the victim wears and how they appear
    • Threatening the victim
    • Intimidating the victim
    • Forcing the victim to do things against their will
    • Verbally attacking the victim through insults or threatening language
    • Not allowing the victim to seek support from friends or family

    How are addiction and domestic violence linked?


    For lots of people, the pain and struggle of suffering at the hands of domestic violence can trigger a pattern of substance abuse. Because of this, it is estimated that women are 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol than women without a history of domestic violence.

    Domestic violence begins when an individual has the desire to control and take power over another.

    This makes the link between addiction and domestic violence very strong. Not only do many victims see drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism, but the risk of domestic violence strongly increases when both people have issues surrounding drugs and alcohol.

    Drugs alter the chemical processes in the brain and can cause a wide variety of unpredictable and violent behaviours.

    The main things both addiction and domestic violence have in common are:

    • A lack of control
    • Continuing in the behaviour even though you understand the consequences
    • Both addiction and domestic violence involve feelings of shame and denial
    • Both tend to worsen very quickly

    When both the victim and abuser are struggling with addiction, things can become fatal. The victim may be unable to see how much danger they are in and will also be very physically unable to defend themselves from a violent attack.

    Like addiction, domestic violence becomes a terrible cycle with many victims feeling as though they cannot report the violence or seek help because their abuser will find out and retaliate through continued abuse.

    If not treated, domestic violence can have a wide variety of negative consequences both mentally and physically.

    How does addiction impact relationships?


    Personal relationships help us to live a fulfilling life. They should bring a multitude of rewards and make us feel good about ourselves.

    A successful romantic relationship should include:

    • A shared understanding and trust in one another
    • Thriving both together and individually
    • A rewarding time spent together
    • An absence of threat, violence, emotional abuse, and aggression

    When addiction impacts a relationship, things can quickly deteriorate. You may find that if your partner is addicted to drugs and alcohol the dynamic changes as they become more fixated on their next dosage or high than on your relationship.

    You may notice changes to their personality i.e., lying or becoming secretive about where they are going or who they are spending time with. They may say hurtful things to you and make it very difficult for you to want to stay with them.

    Living with someone addicted to drugs and alcohol can be very dangerous and places you at an increased risk of physical and psychological harm.

    The substances that often cause aggression and irritability are alcohol, cocaine, steroids, and methamphetamine.

    What are the effects of addiction and domestic violence on an individual?


    When struggling with domestic violence and addiction, the effects can be debilitating.

    Those who are victims of abuse are more likely to struggle with severe mental health conditions and require inpatient treatment at a residential facility to help them come to terms with their trauma.

    Children who live in homes where domestic violence and substance abuse take place are also at an increased risk of developing mental health disorders and experiencing both neglect and childhood abuse.

    Many people find it incredibly difficult to leave domestic violence situations. This is because, over time, the loss of control in an abusive relationship progresses further without any sense of provocation but an increase in violence.

    During this time, the abuser may show deep remorse and promise to never hurt the victim again.

    Similar to addiction, the impulse will return if not treated.

    What are my options for treatment?


    If you have experienced domestic violence and are currently addicted to drugs or alcohol, we recommend you reach out to our team today.

    We can help source professional help in your local area. To help you deal with both your trauma and addiction, we recommend seeking help from a private inpatient facility.

    Here, you can benefit from around-the-clock medical care and security for your well-being and peace of mind.

    Inpatient treatment is considered the most beneficial form of addiction treatment and can help you deal with your issues safely and effectively.

    Your programme will most likely begin with detoxification. This will help you to overcome the physical part of your addiction in a controlled setting.

    Attempting to detox at home is not advised, especially if your home environment is abusive or triggering. This could worsen your addiction and result in a fatality.

    Medically supervised detoxes are always advised and can help ease any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

    After your detox is complete, you can begin therapy. For someone who has experienced domestic violence, therapy can be difficult, but the results are paramount, and you will have support every step of the way.

    You can begin to process what has happened to you with the help of a professional. The benefit of private rehab is that you can work through your problems at your own pace. You will never be rushed or forced to complete treatment if you are not ready.

    There are lots of domestic violence charities in the UK that can help you source safe and secure housing once your time in rehab has concluded.

    There are also treatment centres that specialise in helping those who abuse break the cycle. Many clinics incorporate anger management classes and holistic therapies to do this.

    The key to freedom and sobriety is to find a dual diagnosis treatment programme centred on helping you heal from substance abuse and domestic violence.

    Rehab can help both victims and abusers improve their way of life and heal in a healthy environment.

    Call Rehab Recovery today on 0800 088 66 86 to find out more and seek immediate help.

    What are the warning signs of domestic violence?


    Every situation of domestic violence is completely different and incredibly difficult to predict.

    However, sometimes there are certain patterns that occur such as psychological abuse or emotional manipulation before physical abuse begins.

    Examples include:

    • Your partner feels jealous of your friends or feels as though you spend more time with them. From here, they will gradually urge you to sever ties with loved ones until they are no longer in your life.
    • Your partner embarrasses you in front of others or makes you feel bad about yourself most of the time.
    • They have threatened to take your children from you.
    • They have threatened to hurt or kill your pets.
    • They have access to your finances and have to consult them before you spend money.
    • They don’t want you to engage in any hobbies or activities outside of work or school.
    • They dictate the simplest parts of your day such as what you wear and what you eat.
    • They have damaged expensive or sentimental items that mean a lot to you.

    Many men who abuse women often blame their actions on alcohol consumption. This then leads women to turn to drugs to cope with the repeated cycle of abuse.

    Did you know that domestic abuse rates increase by 38% when the England team loses a World Cup match? [2]

    Domestic Violence and Addiction Statistics in the UK


    • It is estimated that at least one in four women in the UK will experience domestic violence in their lifetime
    • Alcohol is considered the most consumed substance involved in violence toward partners
    • 69% of women who received treatment for drug and alcohol addiction were abused in childhood

    What are the causes of domestic violence?


    The root cause of domestic violence is the need for one partner to take total control of the other.

    There are many contributing factors that cause domestic violence including:

    • If an individual has low self-esteem and struggles with their image. This may mean they are unable to trust their partner and resort to violence to take control.
    • The diagnosis of a personality disorder.
    • If an individual grew up in an abusive home where domestic violence and substance abuse were treated as the ‘norm’.
    • If individual drinks to a very high level and often loses control leading them to regular violent outbursts.

    Men and Domestic Violence


    Women are not the only people affected by domestic violence; men also suffer at the hands of abuse but very few speak out. When men are affected by domestic violence, the signs are not as easy to spot.

    This can occur in heterosexual or homosexual relationships. Many men don’t often realise that they are experiencing domestic violence abuse until it is too late.

    The signs of domestic abuse in men are often seen when:

    • Your partner acts jealous or often accuses you of cheating
    • Your partner hits you, your children, or your pets
    • They stop you from leaving the home
    • They blame you for their behaviour and say things like ‘you deserve it’

    As a gay man, your partner may:

    • Threaten your sexuality and ‘out’ you to loved ones or colleagues
    • Attempt to justify their abuse by saying that you aren’t really gay
    • Threaten you with continued violence by telling you that the local authorities aren’t likely to believe or help a gay man

    Attempting to Justify Domestic Violence


    Often, abusers blame their violence on alcohol and drugs. When sober, they may appear very remorseful and claim they can’t remember what they do when they are intoxicated.

    Remember that there is no justification for domestic violence, and you must plan to seek immediate help and support if they refuse to seek help.

    If your partner does decide to seek professional help for their substance abuse, it is important that the domestic violence is also addressed during treatment.

    How to Seek Help

    If you or someone you love is showing signs of abuse or domestic violence, you need to act fast. It is never too late to seek help, getting out of an abusive relationship is possible with the right support.

    There are lots of valuable resources online as well as local community services that offer full anonymity. This means that your partner can’t locate you or find out what type of service you are accessing.

    In the UK, another option is to call the National Domestic Violence Helpline. This is a free service and operates 24/7. It is also free and run alongside support from Refuge and Women’s Aid.

    The best way to get out of an abusive relationship is to formulate a plan. Acknowledging the abuse is the very first step and can help you to overcome any denial you may have.

    For confidential help and support reach out to Rehab Recovery today by calling us on 0800 088 66 86.


    [1] What is domestic abuse?

    [2] World Cup: does domestic abuse spike when England lose?

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