By Jessica Kantor
Domestic Violence and Substance Use: Numbers Show the Strong Correlation
Sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic abuse, domestic violence…These issues appear more and more often in the headlines and every day conversation. The spotlight that is currently being placed on these issues is a long time coming for many women – and men – who have been harassed or attacked in their lifetime.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and now is the time to highlight this rampant and violent issue.
Addiction & Domestic Violence Statistics
Domestic abuse and violence is something that thousands of both women and men face daily. One key part to many of these situations that is less talked about is the role of substance use and substance abuse. Here are some key statistics:
- The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) found that 40% to 60% of domestic violence incidents involve substance abuse.
- The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) found that 61% of domestic violence offenders also have substance abuse problems.
- According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), research has found that both victims and abusers are 11 times more likely to be involved in domestic violence incidents on days of heavy substance use.
- Further, women make up 85% of domestic violence victims, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics and women who use substances are more vulnerable to domestic violence than their non-using counterparts.
Whether drugs and alcohol involved are on the side of the abuser or the victim, substances play a large role in:
- Verbal violence.
- Physical violence.
- Sexual violence.
Addiction, Sexual Violence and the News
Many celebrities have recently shared their personal story of sexual assault and violence. These recounts have sparked nationwide support in the form of a digital campaign titled #MeToo where women, and some men, are sharing their stories in solidarity.
Although many individuals are not including whether substances were involved, the momentum behind the #MeToo campaign is strong and will continue to grow. However, this issue will remain a deadly secret for many unless individuals continue to share their stories and speak out against such acts.
One Woman’s Story
One New Jersey woman is using her own experiences to help get the word out about this issue, and she is hoping to save some lives in the process. Nicole Taylor was in active addiction for several years before she realized that her abusive relationship was a danger to her life.
“Like most abusive relationships, my boyfriend started with making rude statements about my looks or what I was wearing,” remembers Taylor. “He would emotionally manipulate me and eventually it turned into actual physical violence against me.”
Taylor shares that her abuser used a previous sexual assault that she had gone through as a means to manipulate her and her trust. He pegged himself as “her protector” and used this as a means of control. Sexual violence was the last evolution in their relationship and she was finally able to get out of his control through the help of a friend. Taylor notes that her abuser did not drink or use drugs while they were together, but he knew that if she was on a substance that he could use that to control both her and the situation.
It took much longer than she would have liked to get out of the relationship because she would drink or use to numb herself from the emotional and physical pain caused by her loved one. Now Taylor can recognize the abusive signs much easier and faster, so she is able to avoid an abusive relationship and end the cycle before it starts in her new romantic endeavors.
Now, with several years of sobriety and a job as Alumni Coordinator at Sunrise House Treatment Center in Lafayette, New Jersey, Taylor helps others that find themselves in situations similar to hers. She works with current clients and alumni and mentors them through substance abuse treatment, the 12-steps, and identifying problematic behaviors in personal and romantic relationships.
Reach Out! You are Not Alone!
If you are experiencing verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, you are not alone. Tell someone in your life about what is going on. If you do not have anyone close to you that can help you, call or text the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or you can chat with them online here.
If you or a loved one are suffering from substance abuse, call American Addiction Centers at (888) 961-5647 to speak with someone who can help.