Domestic violence causes both physical and emotional trauma. For victims of domestic violence, their physical scars may be visible to those around them, but the emotional scars that cut even deeper are oftentimes more difficult to see.
As a society, we empathize with someone who has been physically injured in an accident or who has experienced something physically debilitating. But we routinely minimize the effects of emotional damage and traumatic stress.
While there are continued efforts to better understand the long-term effects of traumatic experiences like domestic violence, the need to continue working toward improved treatment and support is very necessary.
This rings even more true for people who are struggling with addiction that is directly tied to, or the result of, experienced domestic violence. The relationship between trauma of this nature and the development of a diagnosable substance use disorder is very real.
Working to better understand their connection can not only help process the emotions you may be experiencing, but also determine the best course of action toward a happier and healthier life.
Short-Term Effects of Domestic Violence on Victims
For someone experiencing domestic violence for a short time, the effects they typically experience can include:
- Constantly having their guard up
- Minor injuries associated with physical confrontations
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Substance use as a means to control emotions
These effects may vary from person to person, but the emotional stress associated with domestic violence tends to negatively impact the victim in some way.1
Long-Term Effects of Domestic Violence
While the short-term effects of domestic violence typically resolve rather quickly once a person removes themselves from the abusive situation or relationship, the long-term effects can last for years and even decades if the experienced violence persists. These effects can include:
- Severe depression and anxiety
- Sustained substance addiction
- Damaged relationships with family members and friends
- Inability to establish trust and problems with intimacy (1)
What Statistics Tell Us About Substance Use and Domestic Violence
Research shows us that substance use and domestic violence are intricately connected. In multiple studies, people who admit to using or being dependent on a substance consistently reported high rates of experienced domestic violence.
Some of the more telling statistics include:
- In a study of women in substance abuse treatment, 47 percent reported experiencing victimization by an intimate partner at some point in their lives
- Approximately 67 percent of women accessing substance abuse treatment services reported experiencing domestic violence at some point in the past six months
- A study of women who use injectable drugs found that 31 percent reported experiencing physical and sexual domestic violence over the previous year
- A study of women who attend methadone clinics found that 90 percent had experienced domestic violence at some point in their lifetime
In all of these studies, both the past year and lifetime rates of experienced domestic violence among people who use substances is considerably higher than those found in national surveys.
Building off of these concerning trends, many additional studies have identified that women who have been abused by an intimate partner are more likely to use or become dependent on substances, as opposed to women who have not experienced domestic violence.
Additional facts regarding the connection between substance use and domestic violence include:
- A community-based study of low-income women found higher rates of substance use among domestic violence survivors (26 percent) as compared to those who had not experienced it (5 percent)
- A national cohort study of 11,782 women found that, compared to those with no history of domestic violence, women with a recent history had nearly six times of problematic alcohol use
- Results of a large national study indicate that domestic violence survivors are two times as likely as those who have never been victimized to participate in alcohol treatment
However you view it, experiencing domestic violence dramatically increases the likelihood of developing a serious substance addiction. For anyone who has gone through a traumatic experience of this nature, having the courage and bravery to overcome that scenario and ask for help is the best decision they can make.
If you experience an emotional trauma, it is imperative to have a clinical professional diagnose the trauma and help you identify the best way to heal. (2)
Domestic Violence and Addiction: There is Real, Life Changing Help
Just like any physical trauma can heal, emotional trauma can improve over time, as well. The key to finding that inner peace and renewed happiness resides in the effort you put into your healing, as well as, the clinical professionals who guide the process.
Imagine for a moment that you were diagnosed with a serious illness, like cancer. Would you decide to forgo treatment and try healing the illness on your own or seek out the best medical interventions available in order to fight the disease and reclaim your life?
Overcoming a substance use disorder is no different. There is real help available that can aid in addressing your addictive impulses while also treating your past trauma. Finding a treatment facility to help with your co-occurring disorders requires a commitment to recovery and a genuine desire to want something better for your life.
When you are ready to start your journey, make sure to contact a treatment facility that not only specializes in co-occurring disorders, but also one that has a positive track record and qualified clinical staff.
There’s no time like the present to begin life anew, so don’t wait another moment to reclaim your happiness and health.
Life-Changing, Holistic Co-Occurring Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
The self-perpetuating cycle you’re caught up in doesn’t have to rule your life forever. You can face your domestic violence and addiction hurdles head-on with professional help and individualized support at Ranch Creek Recovery.
1) National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health. The Relationship Between
Intimate Partner Violence and Substance Use. Accessed January 14, 2020. http://www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/IPV-SAB-Final202.29.1620NO20LOGO-1.pdf.
2) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Complex Connections: Intimate Partner Violence and Women’s Substance Abuse and Recovery. Accessed January 14, 2020. https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/programs_campaigns/women_children_families/relationships-matter-complex-connections-presentation.pdf.