Substance abuse and domestic violence

Many people have the perception drugs and alcohol cause domestic violence. TRUTH: abusers choose to harm their partners. Domestic violence is defined, by the Department of Justice, as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. This includes behaviors that intimidate, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, frighten or isolate someone. 

Victims often blame themselves for the abuse, especially if they use or abuse substances. Trauma can increase the risk of substance abuse. If the pain continues the self-medicating will continue. This creates the perfect condition for dependency and abuse. Use of substances or substance abuse does not and should never justify violence. Abusers rely on abusing substances as an excuse for violence. 

Female victims often turn to substances as a coping method. Substance abuse may help alleviate anxiety, make them forget, or make the abuse easier to take. Victims do not consider self-medication leading to addiction or more problems. An abusers use of substances can affect the severity of the abuse. An abuser does not become violent because of substances alone.

Domestic violence is the need to exert control not a loss of control. In 1991, a study in the United States found the average alcohol consumed before the use of violence was only a few drinks. This study suggests it wasn’t the effects of alcohol but more the abusive behavior. Two other studies indicated that drug use is more connected to domestic violence than alcohol. Some research indicates the abuse of drugs may increase an aggressive response. 

Victims using or abusing substances to self-medicate rarely report domestic violence. They fear retaliation, disbelief or suffer from guilt and shame. Domestic violence is a crime in the State of Nevada. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship Winnemucca Domestic Violence Services (WDVS) is available to help. Advocates are available at the office, 50 A Melarkey St, Monday through Friday 9a-5p. You can reach an advocate after hours on the 24/7 hotline – 775-421-1028.