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(Potter-Efron, 2007). Both alcoholics and domestic violence offenders seem to be out of control at times, especially to their victims. (Potter-Efron, 2007). Finally, both family violence and alcoholism create tension in families, which can lead to an increase in assaultive behavior or alcoholic binges, making both problems very self-perpetuating. (Potter-Efron, 2007).
In addition, the drinking behavior can be a catalyst for family assaults. This is rarely due to the fact that non-violent people become violent when drunk. However, alcohol use lowers inhibitions, making it more likely that an abusive person will resort to violence. Furthermore, many abusers may actively seek to become intoxicated prior to abusing, knowing that their victims, and the rest of society, are less likely to hold them accountable for their abusive behavior when they are intoxicated. Therefore, it is quite likely that drinking patterns will establish abuse patterns in a household. For example, children may "keep a lookout for Dad on Friday nights because that's when he goes to the tavern, gets drunk, and comes home to beat up them and their mom." (Potter-Efron, 2007). Drinking patterns can help establish abuse patterns in a different way, as well. The non-alcoholic partner may grow increasingly frustrated with the alcoholic partner's substance abuse, and actually resort to violence as a means of solving that problem. (Potter-Efron, 2007). Furthermore, if the victim is the alcoholic, then episodes of drinking may precede episodes of domestic abuse, because as the alcohol dulls inhibitions, the victim may engage in behavior that he or she knows is likely to result in domestic abuse. Finally, it is frequently the case that both partners are alcoholics, which exacerbates the problem even further.
It is important to look at the impact of an alcoholic victim on domestic violence. The following is not mean to suggest that alcoholics are deserving victims of domestic assaults, but to inform people about the correlation between domestic violence and assaults. Substance abuse, predominantly alcoholism, is thought to contribute to at least half of all cases of intimate partner violence. Moreover, women with drinking problems are significantly more likely to be the victims of verbal and physical aggression by their partners than are non-alcoholic women. In addition, alcoholic women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-alcoholic women, and a large percentage of sexual assaults occur in domestic violence situations. (Wakefield, P., Williams, E., & Yost, E.B., 1996). Furthermore, many victims may have been introduced to alcoholism by their partners. Alcohol is considered a socially acceptable means of sexual coercion, and many young domestic violence victims are pressured by their partners to drink, many times to excess. This behavior may actually begin a pattern of alcohol dependency. Moreover, once a victim's drinking behavior is established, she may be easier to control, so that many batterers encourage active alcoholism.
While alcoholism clearly does not create domestic violence, it obviously does not hinder violence, either. Alcoholism creates stress in a family environment, and the buildup of stress is an important and recognized part of the cycle of violence. Reducing the stress in a household frequently leads to a reduction in assaultive behavior and severity of assaultive behavior, though it does not generally lead to the elimination of assaultive behavior. Therefore, while alcohol abuse may be only one of many factors contributing to domestic violence in a home, it seems reasonable to suggest that treating alcohol addiction in either batterers or victims is likely to lead to an overall reduction in violence in the home. However, because sobriety can increase violence in some batterers, and victim sobriety can increase the risk faced by each individual victim, the primary goal in intervention should be to ensure safety, and then focus on sobriety.
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Jordan, C., Nietzel, M., Walker, R., & Logan, T.K. (2004). Intimate partner violence. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Potter-Efron, R. (2007). Anger, aggression, domestic violence, and substance abuse. In Hamel, J. & T. Nicholls. Family interventions in domestic violence: a handbook of gender-inclusive theory and treatment. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Wakefield, P., Williams, E., & Yost, E.B. (1996). Couple therapy for alcoholism: a cognitive-
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Zubretsky, T., & Digirolamo, K. (1996). The false connection between adult domestic violence and alcohol. In Roberts, a.R., Helping…[continue]
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