Domestic violence leads to a great deal of misery and suffering for all involved. Such behavior is inexcusable, but it is often associated with alcohol or drug abuse. When the perpetrator gives up their addiction there is hope that things will improve, but this is not always the case. This is because the actual cause of the abuse runs much deeper than substance abuse. If the individual fails to deal with the root cause they are likely to continue with this unacceptable behavior. This means that the family will continue to suffer even though the perpetrator is technically in recovery. This is a terribly sad state of affairs.
One way to define domestic violence would be to say that it involves abusive behaviors by one person against somebody who they have an intimate relationship with. As well as involving actual physical violence this type of abuse can also include:
* Emotional abuse
* Name calling
* Attempting to intimidate the other person
* Trying to bully them
* Sexual abuse
* Stalking the other person – this can involve following a wife to see if they are having an affair.
* Making threats of physical violence
* Neglecting the other person
* Using passive aggression such as ignoring the other person
* Depriving the other individual financially
Actual physical violence can include slapping, shoving, restraining, throwing things, biting, kicking, and tripping.
Domestic violence can be given different names including:
* Family violence
* Spousal abuse
* Intimate partner violence
* Domestic abuse
* Domestic battering
Just because an individual is able to walk away from an addiction does not necessarily mean that their behavior is going to improve. In Alcoholics Anonymous they talk about the sober horse thief. This refers to the fact that a horse thief can give up alcohol but still continue to be a horse thief. In other words the bad behavior remains much the same and giving up alcohol has only gotten this person physically sober. This point makes more sense when it is coupled with the idea that recovery is a process and not an event. In order to get truly sober the individual will need to do a great deal more work on themselves and stopping drinking will just be the first of many steps. If all that people do is to quit alcohol then this is unlikely to be enough to make them a better human. If the individual was prone to domestic violence before getting sober then they may continue with it in recovery.
The cause of domestic violence is most usually that one person wants to control another. There are a number of other contributing factors including:
* Those who abuse alcohol or drugs are far more likely to commit domestic violence. This is because these substances lower inhibitions and encourage people to act impulsively.
* The individual has a sense of entitlement and when they feel denied this they become aggressive.
* Some individuals suffer from extreme forms of jealousy, and this motivates their actions.
* The individual may have some type of personality disorder that means they are unable to empathize with the hurt they are causing to the other person. It is suggested that as much as 2% of the population in the United States fit the criteria for psychopaths – these are dangerous individuals who can commit domestic violence without any sense of remorse .
* Some individuals may have a mental disorder that makes them prone to violent outbursts.
* There are some people who have difficulties controlling their emotions. They can be prone to anger outbursts where it feels like they have lost control.
* They feel inferior to their partner, and they try to make up for this by attempting to dominate their partner. A good example of this is when the person committing the violence is jealous of their partner’s educational or work achievements.
* Many of those who commit such violence suffer from low self-esteem. This means that they do not feel deserving of love and find it difficult to trust anyone.
* Those individuals who grew up in a violent household will be more prone to this type of behavior. They may view such aggression as almost normal.
* Many abusers have been victims of abuse themselves.
Factors such as substance abuse and losing control will often be used in an attempt to excuse this appalling behavior. The perpetrator will usually be trying to control their victim, and this means that they have chosen their actions. Alcohol abuse may well exacerbate the problem, but it is usually not the underlying cause. It certainly should not be used as a means to excuse the behavior or suggest that the individual is somehow not responsible for their actions. There is almost always a choice involved in such violence.
When the individual becomes sober his family will usually develop a more optimistic view of the future. They may believe that the days of domestic violence are behind them, but this is not always the case. If the individual does not make an effort to get to the root of their problems there is likely to be more trouble ahead. The triggers for domestic violence in recovery include:
* The individual feels frustrated because recovery feels like a prison sentence to them – they are staying sober using the white knuckle method. They may decide to vent their frustrations by becoming abusive at home.
* They may blame their family for not being supportive enough. Such individuals may feel entitled to almost constant compliments for how well they are doing – they become angry when such compliments are not forthcoming.
* The individual expected their life to become perfect as soon as they quit the substance abuse. Their unrealistic expectations mean that they are now disappointed and will take this out on family.
* The addictive personality involves a number of personal characteristics, such as low self esteem, that mean people are more prone to violent behavior. The individual can continue to deal with low self esteem in recovery and so continue to be full of jealousy.
* If the individual has some type of untreated personality disorder or mental health issue then this will continue to cause problems for them in recovery.
* Recovery involves a great deal of change and this creates stress. The individual needs to learn effective ways of dealing with this stress or they may resort to unacceptable behavior.
* Many individuals will just get sober in order to please other people or get themselves out of trouble. They have no really willingness to change so their behavior is unlikely to change.
Substance abusers are not only the perpetrators of domestic violence, but they can also be the victim of it too. In fact it may have been the domestic abuse that drove the individual to substance abuse in the first place. In the beginning this may have helped them cope, but ultimately it just makes the situation much worse. When people become sober they can still continue to suffer as a result of domestic violence. The only way to end this is to escape the situation – the individual may need some type of professional help to be able to do this.
Domestic violence leads to a great deal of suffering. If this type of behavior continues in recovery it will mean that the family (or romantic partnership) will not see any improvement. In order to deal with this violence the advice is:
* Victims of domestic violence need to escape the situation. This is particularly important if there are children at risk.
* If the individual has had a violent outburst they should not ignore it. They need to take immediate action to stop any further outbursts.
* The perpetrator of domestic violence should stop making excuses for their behavior. They need to get help to end the abuse, and they may also need to accept the need for them to be removed from the family.
* There are a number of different organizations that can help those involved in domestic violence. Getting outside help can lead to an improvement in the situation – people are more vulnerable when they feel alone.
* The National Domestic Abuse Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE can offer good advice on dealing with domestic violence.
* If the individual who has entered recovery is not prepared to deal with their other problems it will mean that the situation will not improve. This individual needs to develop better coping mechanisms and find the root cause of their abusive behavior.
* Personal safety should always take priority. If the abuse continues then the victim needs to get out of the situation.
* Some perpetrators may benefit from attendance at anger management classes.