Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol

Table of Contents

Did you know that in approximately 40% to 60% of domestic abuse cases, the perpetrator has been abusing a substance? People are 11 times more at risk of committing domestic violence following a heavy drinking session.

An overwhelming majority of victims are females, but males can equally be victims of intimate partner violence and alcohol use. This cycle creates an unhealthy living environment.

Additionally, it puts you or your loved one at risk of serious health consequences. Keep reading to learn more about recognizing the signs of domestic violence and alcohol and how to find the right treatment.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence occurs when a person in an intimate relationship displays abuse tactics to control their partner. While it is more common among women, men are also victims of domestic abuse.

It is difficult to find accurate reports of domestic abuse as many cases in America are not reported. There are many different kinds of domestic abuse that fall under its umbrella. The most common ones are:

Physical Abuse

This is often what people think of when they consider domestic violence. Physical abuse will include physical attacks against the victim.

Sexual Abuse

Physical abuse can sometimes lead to sexual assault. Even if you are in an intimate relationship with your perpetrator, you can still be a victim of rape or sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual advances.

Emotional Abuse

This falls under verbal and psychological abuse. This is arguably the most overlooked type of domestic violence as it involves verbal tactics to put someone down. It can also include controlling the victim's behavior and cutting off supportive family or friends.

Stalking is another type of abuse that can result in significant negative emotional consequences and fear.

Signs of Domestic Abuse

Sometimes it is hard to tell the signs of domestic violence in intimate partner violence (IPV). This is especially true if someone is emotionally or verbally abused. However, all types of abuse are detrimental to the victim.

Physical signs of IPV include apparent signs of injury. The victim might show embarrassment or give a story on how they received the injury. You might also see different clothing worn to cover up violent attacks.

Less obvious signs include the victim appearing anxious or fearful of their partner. They also might frequently call or text their partner to let them know where they are, who they are with, or what they are doing. On the flip side, they could also receive threatening phone calls and verbal abuse while they are out.

Another critical warning sign of domestic abuse is the victim talking about their partner’s temper or jealousy. Finally, personality changes are a significant indicator that someone is suffering psychological abuse in the home. If the victim is closed off or shows low self-esteem, they could secretly be suffering from IPV in the home.

Intimate Partner Violence and Children

Children are the hidden victims of IPV. They are equally at risk of adverse emotional and health consequences. Sometimes, they are also the physical targets of IPV.

Additionally, a staggering 60% to 75% of IPV cases involving women include child abuse.

In fact, IPV is a form of child maltreatment. Most children witness either physical or emotional abuse in the home. Some statistics indicate that 8% to 25% of adults reported exposure to IPV when they were children.

It is difficult to determine the lasting impacts of IPV on children. However, some studies show that these children are more at risk for experiencing violent relationships later on.

This makes it even more important for communities and families to look for signs of child maltreatment. 

These behaviors and signs are typically less evident to people but equally as harmful. If children are victims of physical abuse, you can look for unexplained injuries or a child’s report of sexual misconduct.

Violent Cycles

IPV usually happens in a typical cycle. Why is it important to know how IPV cases typically work?

Often, the violent partner will feel guilty or provide excuses for their behavior. As a result, many victims fall into the trap that everything could return to normal. Yet, their partner’s violence rises again, and the cycle restarts.

This is an important step to recognize if you are a victim of IPV or notice your loved one suffering from continuous abuse.

The cycle starts with abuse; you have already read about this and know it can include various forms of abuse.

Afterward, your partner can move onto the stage of guilt for the act(s) of abuse. It is critical to note that the guilt usually arises because they do not want their actions to be caught or reported.

Your partner, or the abuser, will then move on to giving excuses for their actions. The excuses do not condone the behavior. It rarely includes the perpetrator owning their actions.

The next stage is the most deceiving. The abuser switches gears and tries to make the relationship seem as normal as possible. During this stage, the perpetrator could also lay on more charm than usual to try and make the victim stay with them.

This stage eventually ends, and the cycle begins to repeat itself. The abuser will start with planning out their abuse towards the victim and then setting up a situation where the abuse can occur.

How to Offer Assitance

If you notice your loved one is suffering from domestic abuse, there are a few tactics you can follow to offer help and assistance.

If someone is a victim of IPV, they might be closed off. During this time, it is critical to offer support and validation. The victim can have feelings of depression, anxiety, or confusion.

Remember, this cycle of abuse is meant to frighten the victim into remaining in the relationship. Therefore, if you are a loved one seeking help for the victim, you should never expect the person to come to you first.

The first step is taking the initiative and asking if something is wrong. If the victim opens up about the abuse they are going through, make sure you provide a listening ear and validation.

You should never blame the victim or try to advise them on how they should fix the problem. Instead, offer to help them and show your support. You can express concerns and reassure them that your conversation is private.

The most important thing to consider is that speaking to someone you suspect is suffering from IPV can be the catalyst to them moving on from an abusive relationship.

Substance Abuse

Alcoholism is a form of substance abuse disorder. Alcohol abuse is considered excessive drinking but can also include pregnant women or underage individuals who drink.

But what is considered “excessive” use of alcohol?

If a person’s drinking negatively impacts their relationships or daily activities, then it is considered abuse. Alcoholism can also negatively affect a person’s health.

Alcoholics are at a higher risk of certain cancers and chronic issues. Additionally, alcohol abuse also poses a risk for more violent acts or suicide attempts.

Recognizing the signs of alcohol abuse is the first step. Once you have identified an alcohol abuse problem, then you can work on ways to address it.

There are more signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, but this comprehensive list will give you a good idea of what to look for. The main point is that alcoholism directly impacts someone’s ability to perform work or daily tasks.

An alcoholic might also underplay their addiction or lie to their loved ones about their drinking issues.

Common Myths of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse has the potential to carry on for many years because of common myths about alcoholism. Many people who suffer from alcohol abuse think they can quickly stop whenever they want to.

While this does happen for some people, most people use it as an excuse to keep drinking. The semblance of self-control is enough for people to justify their actions.

Most alcoholics assume their actions only affect themselves. However, alcohol abuse can lead to increased violent acts and poor decisions. This includes driving or operating machinery under the influence.

Additionally, loved ones are usually left to clean up or supervise someone who is an alcoholic. This puts them in the direct line of fire if they lash out.

Most people wrongly assume that there has to be a specific amount of drinking, or when they drink, to classify them as an alcoholic. Everyone is different in their responses to drinking.

If a person’s drinking is causing problems at home or work, it is classified as alcohol abuse. You do not have to lose your job to have an alcohol problem. Many people still have jobs and provide for their families while abusing alcohol.

If you are in a relationship with someone who abuses alcohol, you could either be a victim of IPV or at risk for future acts of domestic abuse. It is crucial not to make excuses or cover up your loved one’s drinking problem as a partner. This only enables future abuse.

You also shouldn’t feel guilty for your partner’s choices and drinking. Instead, address the problem at the beginning. Express concern for your loved one and offer support and help.

Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol

IPV and alcohol are closely tied together. Unfortunately, many cases of IPV involve the use of alcohol.

This issue has hit closer to home most recently. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many people staying home. While the world has shifted to cater to work-from-home jobs and schooling, it may also increase the risk of domestic violence cases.

The CDC estimates that an astounding one-third of women report violence from their partners. Another 1 in 6 homicide cases involves intimate partners.

The risk of staying at home is wholly detrimental for those who are suffering from IPV. It can lead to a higher risk of depression, substance abuse, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Other studies have shown that men who have a substance abuse disorder (such as alcohol) are six times more likely to be arrested for abuse towards their partner.

Why do researchers think that violent acts increase with alcohol?

Alcohol reduces a person’s inhibitions which are thought to cause higher acts of violence. However, researchers are beginning to think that alcohol is a secondary problem to something more significant. It is speculated that alcohol is a catalyst for domestic abuse, but perpetrators are still at risk of committing such acts without alcohol.

Additionally, people with mental health problems or disorders are at a higher risk of using alcohol and domestic abuse.

Some of these mental health disorders that show potential for increased domestic abuse acts include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and depression. This is critical to note because a person often has underlying mental health issues that lead to a substance abuse disorder.

IPV and Different Racial Couples

Does IPV differentiate between racial groups? Certain studies have examined IPV in White, Black, and Hispanic couples. The study also found that alcohol was an outside contributor to domestic abuse cases.

The study speculated that alcohol use is an excuse for violent acts and behaviors – although this is difficult to prove thoroughly.

Surprisingly, many of these studies have been conducted for decades. In the 1980s, a study looked at violence from a husband to wife in ethnic minority groups. They found that Black couples were twice as likely to have IPV instances than other minority groups.

The most staggering statistic during this study was that Black couples were 400% more likely to have domestic abuse instances than White couples. So why are minority groups more at risk of IPV?

There hasn’t been one exact instance of cause and effect. However, that doesn’t mean that researchers don’t continue to hypothesize what causes this discrepancy. One opinion is that certain cultures view violent or physical acts as a way to resolve disputes.

Another theory is conditions of minority groups lead to higher rates of IPV. These conditions include poverty and higher rates of unemployment.


So, what are the steps for treating alcohol abuse and rates of IPV? If you are suffering in a relationship with domestic abuse, many hotlines are available to call, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

First and foremost, it is vital that you or your loved one are physically safe. This means getting away from the person who is harming you. It is beneficial to include any close friends or loved ones during this time for help and support.

Hotlines can help you develop safety plans. There are also various treatment centers available for individuals who are suffering from substance abuse disorders.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Some centers incorporate dual diagnosis rehab. As mentioned earlier, alcoholism is often an underlying result of mental health disorders. Mental health disorders contribute to alcohol and domestic violence.
What is a co-occurring mental health illness?

Having a co-occurring mental illness means that someone deals with more than one mental health disorder. Sometimes self-medicating for a mental illness leads to another condition.

Other times, people are more predisposed to developing a mental health illness with strong genetic links. Drugs and alcohol can rewire brain chemistry.

Substance abuse is commonly seen in people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, or other mood disorders. Following the detox process, the most crucial aspect of these treatment centers is to identify the person’s triggers.

Because people turn to substances to self-medicate the adverse effects of mental health illnesses, it is vital to determine what situations or instances trigger this reaction.

In a substance abuse treatment center, the person also has an opportunity for group and individual therapy sessions. Many find hearing other people’s stories are helpful and provide perspective or hope for the future.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

There are various programs out there to assist individuals in addressing their addictions and mental health disorders.

Out of 21 million people who suffer from addiction, only 2 million actually seek out treatment. Some people are hesitant to participate in an inpatient program fully, but did you know that there are many different rehab settings out there?

The two most notable ones are inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab. The difference is that inpatient rehab involves a patient staying in a rehab center or sober living house. If your loved one is suffering through withdrawal symptoms and needs a medication treatment plan, then this is the route to go with.

Outpatient rehab centers are usually offered after someone has participated in a more intensive rehab program. Essentially, it is for continuity of care as the person reemerges into society sober.

An intensive outpatient rehab center is a happy medium between both of these programs. It is designed for someone to start to return to work and life while remaining in therapy. It is more intensive than outpatient therapy.

This program is only ideal for someone who has a safe home and environment to return to. There should be no substances for them to use in their home.

Holistic Therapy

Recently, holistic therapy has been used to try and help with a wide variety of illnesses. Substance abuse disorders are no exception. Holistic therapy is beneficial for people who experience substance abuse in conjunction with mental health disorders.

What types of tools that holistic therapy treatment centers use?

Mindfulness is often incorporated for individuals suffering from anxiety and depression. It helps to recenter your thoughts and be more present.

Meditation is similar to mindfulness and provides clients with tools to reduce stress, improve withdrawal symptoms and mood. Breathwork utilizes similar strategies to yoga and helps reduce anxiety.

Did you know that acupuncture assists with addiction? Skilled clinicians use different parts of the ear specifically for managing substance abuse. After acupuncture sessions, you might notice a decrease in cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and stress.

Experiential treatments include activities like hiking, sports, and art. The design of this treatment plan is to address trauma from addiction and aid in healthy coping skills and mechanisms.


Did you know that based on surveys in 2018, substance abuse is higher amongst individuals who identify as LGBTQ+?

If you, or a loved one, are suffering from substance abuse disorders as a member of the LGTBQ+ community, then you want to ensure the treatment center provides a safe environment.

Additionally, it is essential to have skilled staff members that address specific problems and discrimination within this community. Many of these programs include anywhere from inpatient to outpatient programs.

They also treat the mental health effects that people who identify as LGTBQ+ deal with and the unique circumstances that lead to substance abuse disorders.

Get Your Life Back with No Matter What Recovery

October is considered the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This month is to raise awareness of those who are suffering from intimate partner violence acts. It also sheds light on how alcohol and violence are closely intertwined.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone at any point in time in their life. However, there is help for those who are suffering from addiction and violent behaviors.

Don’t wait any longer. Contact us for the right treatment program for you or your loved one, and get back to living your life to the fullest.


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