Physical Abuse in Relationships Due to Drugs and Alcohol
Family violence has become a significant public health issue in the United States (Wood pp). Many believe the reason for the problem of domestic violence within the United States is because the U.S. has the highest substance abuse rate of any industrialized nation (Drug pp). There have been numerous studies to support a relationship between substance abuse and domestic violence.
According to many researchers and physicians, such as Cathy L. Baldwin-Johnson, who spoke before the annual meeting of the American Academy of Family Physicians, partner violence is the most common form of domestic violence, and occurs within all ethnic groups, economic classes, religions, and age groups, as well as in homosexual relationships (Wood pp). Ninety-five percent of all victims of violence are women, and approximately half of all women in the United States will be abused by a current or former partner sometime during their lifetime (Wood pp). Up to fifty percent of all female homicide victims are murdered by their male partners, compared with twelve percent of men killed by their partners (Wood pp). Moreover, assault during pregnancy is a huge problem, in fact, homicide is the leading cause of mortality in pregnant women (Wood pp). In other words, there are more deaths from domestic violence than from any medical complication of pregnancy (Wood pp).
Domestic violence usually begins as verbal or emotional abuse with the intent to intimidate and isolate, and then escalates to physical abuse, which increases in frequency and severity over time (Wood pp). According to Dr. Baldwin-Johnson, "Almost sixty percent of rapes of women over 30 are related to their battering relationship with their partner" (Wood pp). Fifty percent of victims report being threatened by a weapon, and that the rape occurred after a beating, while forty-four percent reported being hit, kicked, or burned during sex, and twenty-nine percent reported have an object forcibly inserted in the vagina or anus (Wood pp). Sexually abused domestic violence victims are at greater risk for death, says Baldwin-Johnson (Wood pp). Moreover, victims of domestic violence are at greater risk for mental health problems, such as panic attacks, eating disorders, depression, substance abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, headaches, and gastrointestinal complaints (Wood pp). Furthermore, abused women are at high risk for suicide due to feelings of hopelessness and self-induced or attempted abortion (Wood pp).
Prenatal care-based studies report that from 4 -- 26% of patients are violence victims before pregnancy, whereas 1 -- 17% are violence victims during pregnancy (Martin pp). A review of studies that examined the prevalence of violence during pregnancy reported that most of the prevalence estimates ranged between 4 and 8% (Martin pp). Several studies have found that women who have been victimized either before or during pregnancy are more likely than other women to drink alcohol or use illicit drugs before and/or during pregnancy (Martin pp). Studies indicate that, during the year before pregnancy, women who were physically assaulted by their partners were somewhat more likely to drink alcohol compared with women who did not experience this type of violence, however, during pregnancy, women who were victims of violence were more likely to drink alcohol (Martin pp). In other words, women's alcohol use before pregnancy was somewhat more likely among those physically assaulted before pregnancy but was not more likely among those who experienced psychological aggression or sexual coercion before pregnancy (Martin pp). Alcohol use during pregnancy was more likely if the women experienced any of the types of violence during pregnancy, including psychological aggression (23% of the victims drank alcohol compared with none of the women who did not experience this violence), physical assault and sexual coercion (Martin pp). The study revealed that among the women who drank alcohol during the year before pregnancy, frequent drinking was somewhat more common among those who experience each type of violence compared to women who did not experience such violence (Martin pp).
In an article in the March 01, 2005 issue of "Journal of Studies on Alcohol,"
Caetano Raul revealed the findings of his study that investigated the relationship between partner violence (male-to-female and female-to-male) and heavy drinking (consuming five or more drinks per occasion) and the effect on marital separation (Raul pp). The findings showed that couples who reported female-perpetrated violence, female alcohol related problems and male heavy-drinking episodes were roughly three times more at risk for separation (Raul pp). According to Raul, intimate partner violence, IPV, is an important risk marker for divorce or separation among married or cohabiting couples, and clinical and community studies have shown that alcohol-related problems and a consumption pattern such as heavy drinking are associated with and can play a role in triggering intimate partner violence (Raul pp). An overview of studies examining alcohol consumption at the time when violence occurred indicated that men were drinking in approximately forty-five percent of the events and women were drinking in about twenty percent of the events (Raul pp). A 1989 study reported that women in alcohol treatment programs experience a rate of intimate partner violence three times higher than that of a sample of community controls (Raul pp). Severe IPV was reported by forty percent of the women in treatment compared to eight percent of controls (Raul pp). Moreover, rates of IPV are higher among male alcoholics, reaching sixty percent for all types of IPV and twenty-two percent for severe IPV (Raul pp).
A study reported in 2001 reported that men were more likely than women, (30-40% for men verses 4-24% for women) to have been drinking during IPV events over a twelve month period (Raul pp). Alcohol related problems and drinking five or more drinks per occasion were identified as significant predictors of male partner violence (Raul pp). National surveys report that the rate of physical assault on a female partner is approximately three times higher among men who are frequent heavy drinkers than it is among men who abstain from alcohol (Raul pp). The literature on domestic violence indicated a strong link between drinking and partner abuse (Raul pp).
According to Raul's study, couples who reported female-perpetrated violence, female alcohol problems and male heavy-drinking episodes one to three times a month are up to three times more likely to separate, while couples are less likely to separate if the female partner reported heavy drinking one to three times a month or if the male partner suffered from alcohol related problems (Raul pp). The study findings highlighted the critical role of female-perpetrated violence, female alcohol-related problems, and male heavy-drinking in marital quality and stability (Raul pp). Past research indicates that partner violence in its milder forms is a common phenomenon in the general population and has been recognized as a public health concern in the United States, therefore, it is not surprising that significantly more separated couples reported IPV compared with married or cohabiting couples (Raul pp).
Raul's study suggests that female violence is a risk marker for a couple's separation in the general population that needs to be acknowledged (Raul pp). Moreover, the study revealed that nearly half of the couples engaged in bidirectional violence, in other words they reported both MFPV and FMPV (Raul pp). However, these high rates of female violence are perhaps due to retaliation to male partner's aggressive acts (Raul pp).
Excessive drinking adds another critical dimension to the mechanism of family violence, because heavy drinking increases the risk of male violence, and alcohol-related assaults against wives are more likely when both partners are heavy drinkers (Raul pp). According to research based on community samples, male alcohol use is the significant predictor of violence perpetration even after controlling for sociodemographic and personality factors (Raul pp).
Some studies suggest that spouses converge their drinking behavior and that female drinking behavior is influenced by having a spouse…