Thesis: Domestic Violence and Alcoholism

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Domestic Violence and Alcoholism

Any person who works in the area of domestic violence knows from experience that alcoholism is positively correlated with domestic violence. However, it is inaccurate to suggest that alcoholism creates domestic violence; the mere fact that many alcoholics are not violent belies that statement. In fact, there are several myths surrounding the connection between alcoholism and domestic abuse that may increase the danger faced by domestic violence victims. Family violence and alcoholism share several key traits, which make them both resistant to change. Furthermore, drinking can be a catalyst for assaultive behavior, though it does not cause that behavior. Finally, the victim's alcohol use can also be a good predictor of domestic violence, and may actually be that victim's method of coping with violence in the home. Taken together, these facts point out that domestic violence and alcoholism are two separate problems, and that the resolution of them will require approaches specifically geared to each individual problem.

Many victims of domestic violence would like to believe that alcoholism caused their batterer to engage in assaultive behavior. While the correlation between alcoholism and domestic violence is well-established, it is not a simple cause and effect relationship. In fact, it may not be a cause and effect relationship at all. According to Jordan et al., there are, "very complex relationships between violence, substance abuse, personality disorder or traits, depression, cognitive functioning (particularly frontal lobe activity), and situational context…Even when substance abuse if very evident in a case, it is unlikely to be the cause of the violence; other factors such as personality or executive functioning of the frontal lobes may be more explanatory." (2004). Not all experts agree with Jordan et al.'s belief that alcoholism is unlikely to be the cause of violence, but they do agree that the interplay between alcoholism and domestic violence is far too complex to assign a simple causal relationship. However, it must be noted that, along with other factors like unemployment, alcoholism does increase the risk of domestic violence. (Dryden-Edwards, R., 2008).

Perhaps because of that correlation, there are several false assumptions about the connection between alcoholism and domestic violence that may actually increase the danger to battering victims. The first assumption is that "alcohol use and/or alcoholism cause men to batter." (Zubretsky, T., & Digirolamo, K., 1996). While heavy drinkers may be more likely to cause serious injuries than other abusers, the fact is that most abusers are not problem-drinkers. Even more interesting is the fact that most severe alcoholics do not engage in partner abuse. Furthermore, domestic violence is not about losing control, but about exerting dominance and control; therefore, it should come as no surprise to learn that "even for batterers who do drink, there is little evidence to suggest a clear pattern that relates the drinking to the abusive behavior." (Zubretsky, T., & Digirolamo, K., 1996). However, there may be one correlation; society has traditionally failed to hold both batterers and intoxicated persons responsible for their behavior. Therefore, an alcoholic batterer may find that "the alcohol provides a ready and socially acceptable excuse for their violence." (Zubretsky, T., & Digirolamo, K., 1996). The second myth is that treating the alcoholism will end the domestic violence. (Zubretsky, T., & Digirolamo, K., 1996). The third is a type of victim-blaming and suggests that "battered women are 'co-dependent' and thus contribute to the continuation of abuse." (Zubretsky, T., & Digirolamo, K., 1996). The fourth and final false assumption is that "addicted battered women must get sober before they can begin to address their victimization." (Zubretsky, T., & Digirolamo, K., 1996). This is a problem for two reasons; first, the battered woman may experience an increased risk of violence as she enters into recovery because of a perception by the batterer that he is losing control, and second, because substance use is frequently a coping mechanism for victims, which means that further assaults greatly reduce the likelihood of sustained sobriety.

Despite those caveats, it must be noted that family violence and alcoholism are both pervasive social problems, which not only frequently co-occur, but also share some core traits. First, family violence and alcoholism "both tend to be intergenerational problems, getting passed along by modeling, genetics, or both." (Potter-Efron, 2007). Second, alcoholism and domestic violence have similar impacts on other family members, including the reduction of self-esteem, the creation of co-dependency, increased… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Domestic Violence and Alcoholism.  (2008, August 5).  Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/domestic-violence-alcoholism/245346

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"Domestic Violence and Alcoholism."  5 August 2008.  Web.  21 July 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/domestic-violence-alcoholism/245346>.

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"Domestic Violence and Alcoholism."  Essaytown.com.  August 5, 2008.  Accessed July 21, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/domestic-violence-alcoholism/245346.