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Every 24 minutes a person is the victim of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. Close relationships with family and friends are easily destroyed by domestic violence, just as they can be destroyed by substance abuse and addiction. Some, but not all, batterers have substance abuse problems. Often times incidences of domestic violence may occur after the batterer has been using drugs or drinking alcohol.

There are no glaring signs that point to someone being an abuser, but there are a few red flags to keep an eye on. For example, someone who abuses their intimate partner might publicly embarrass them, put them down, act overly possessive, intimidate them, physically injure them, or keep them from going to school or work. According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence (NCADV) 61% of offenders also have substance abuse problems. Men who abuse their partner frequently use alcohol abuse as an excuse for their violence. Abusers who live with women with alcohol abuse problems may try to justify their violence as a way to control their victims when they are drunk. Victim blaming can become a tool for batterers to further justify their abuse and their alcoholism.

A 1994 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice on murder in families found that more than half of defendants accused of murdering their spouses had been drinking alcohol at the time of the incident. Alcohol affects everyone differently. Some people may become relaxed and passive when drunk while others become aggressive, angry, and belligerent. Treatment for alcoholism does not ‘cure’ abusive behavior. After getting treatment for substance addiction, many batterers will not stop their abusive behavior. They will need specific therapy that addresses the root of their issues.

Domestic violence is devastating for everyone involved. Incidences of domestic violence can escalate to the point where serious injury or even murder can occur. Alcohol and drugs are never the lone reason why someone abuses their partner or family. However, drugs and alcohol impair judgment, which may lead someone to make an irreversible choice. No one should ever be abused emotionally, mentally, or physically. If you are in an abusive situation, get help now by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.