Alcohol is a drug that affects our bodily functions and behaviors. One area where alcohol may be particularly risky is intimate partner conflicts. Data shows that alcohol use is rampant in domestic abuse cases. This article will explore the ways alcohol plays a role in domestic violence. Also, what are the possible solutions to such a widespread problem, and what can we do to help individual victims of alcohol-related intimate partner abuse or violence?

What Is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is a pattern of behavior that seeks to establish power and control over an intimate partner through fear. It can include physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse, and any other controlling behavior aimed at a romantic partner.

It can happen in any relationship, regardless of how long the couple has been together and of factors such as age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and social class.

Domestic abuse may affect other household members, like children, elders, and other family members.

Common Forms Of Domestic Or Intimate Partner Violence

  • Physical violence: slapping, hitting, kicking, and beating.
  • Sexual violence: forced or coerced sexual contact.
  • Emotional and psychological abuse: insults, intimidating actions and speech, threats of physical harm, and abusing children as a form of causing damage to partners.
  • Controlling behaviors: social and familial isolation, excessive monitoring of everyday activities, prohibiting partners from earning money independently, and restricting access to medical care or education.

What Role Does Alcohol Play In Domestic Abuse?

Unfortunately, alcohol is often present in intimate partner violence (IPV) cases and domestic abuse. These are some of the ways alcohol is associated with domestic violence.

Alcohol is prevalent in cases of intimate partner violence

An American study on black, white, and Hispanic couples found that a significant amount of male-to-female IPV occurred in the 12 months leading up to the survey. The rate of female-to-male domestic violence was also high.

Not only that, but alcohol was significantly present in reported cases of IPV. The study found that 30-40% of men and 27-34% of women who committed IPV drank during the incidents.

Researchers note that the presence of alcohol during IPV cases might partially explain alcohol’s disinhibitory effects on behavior and physiology. It’s also possible that some partners deliberately consume alcohol to excuse their abusive behavior. Finally, both heavy drinking and violence are associated with impulsive personalities, so combining both leads to increased chances of IPV.

Finally, a report by the World Health Organization found that approximately 55% of domestic violence occurrences involve an abuser under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol use is often present in domestic homicides

A report by the British Home Office determined that substance use is very often present in domestic homicides. Its analysis of 33 intimate partner domestic homicides in 2014-15 found that 20 involved substance use. 10 of those 20 cases involved alcohol.

Mental health issues and a history of domestic violence were also significant factors.

Alcohol reduces self-control and makes us less likely to negotiate conflicts peacefully

Alcohol has the physiological effect of reducing our inhibitions and self-control, increasing the chances of personal conflicts resulting in violence, especially for those with impulsive personalities.

This study found that self-perceived impulsivity is a better predictor of IPV in men seeking alcohol treatment than poor results on behavioral measures, such as behavioral inhibition and executive function. 

In general, low self-control in both partners predicts intimate partner aggression. This study found that intimate partner aggression was most likely in couples where both partners had low self-control. In addition, adding alcohol into the mix may increase the chances of aggression.

How Can We Minimize Alcohol-Related Intimate Partner Violence?

According to a report by the World Health Organization, data on alcohol-related IPV is scarce, but some measures can be taken to reduce it. Some of these measures include:

  • Exploring and addressing societal tolerance towards intimate partner violence, acceptance of excessive drinking, and shared beliefs about masculinity and heavy drinking.
  • Reducing alcohol availability. Reducing the hours a day alcohol is available to the population may help reduce alcohol-related IPV.
  • Increasing alcohol prices to reduce total purchases.
  • Providing more access to alcohol rehabilitation resources.

How To Help A Victim Of Alcohol-Related IPV?

There are multiple ways we can help a victim of alcohol-related IPV. Some of them include the following:

  • Educating ourselves about appropriate ways to intervene.
  • Staying in touch with them and frequently asking how things are.
  • Finding secure channels of communication. Their partner may monitor certain well-known messaging apps but not others.
  • Listening intently without doubting their claims.
  • Not taking action without their consent unless their life is in danger. Acting prematurely can make things worse.
  • In more severe cases, offering assistance like providing a safe place to spend the night.

Ultimately, we may not be able to solve their situation. Still, we can be a shoulder to lean on in difficult times. Alcohol’s influence on domestic abuse is complex; every case is different, so we must approach it carefully and respect the abused partner’s wishes and consent.