drug addiction

Domestic Violence and Drug Abuse - Things you need to know to stay safe.

Domestic violence often goes along with drug abuse. I would like to share some information about domestic abuse to help you know and understand what it is and how to deal with it.

The phrase domestic violence is used interchangeably with domestic abuse. Many people think that it is only domestic violence if you are physically attacked. I have heard women say, "well he never actually hit me" This does not mean there was no abuse. I prefer to use the term domestic abuse rather than domestic violence, as this covers all types of abuse.

Abuse comes in many forms and by the time the abuse becomes physically violent, many of the other forms of abuse are present.
Abuse is about power and control and the continual diminishing of another person. It is also the slow conditioning of a person to accept the behavior of the abuser, regardless of how bizarre that behavior may be.
At the present time over 90% of abusers are men, so I am going to use he/him as the abuser, although this does not mean that women cannot be abusers or that men cannot abuse other men as in a Gay relationship.

Let's look more closely at the different forms of abuse:
Verbal - Sexual - Economic - Physical - Emotional.

Examples of Verbal Abuse:

  • Name calling
  • Insults
  • Ridicule
  • Criticism
  • Humiliation
  • Blame
  • Religious/racial put-downs or slurs
Any of these may be done is such a way as to appear to be a joke. If the abused person does not find them funny then they are abuse and not a joke. There can be further abuse if the abuser blames the victim for having no sense of humor.

Examples of Sexual Abuse:

  • Rape or forced sex.
  • Unnatural or unwanted sexual acts.
  • Unwelcome touching/fondling of a sexual nature.
  • Sadistic sex.
  • Being forced to look at sexual material (magazines or videos) or watch/hear sexual activity.

Examples of Economic Abuse:

  • Control of money
  • Denying needs i.e. medical care, clothing, or food.
  • Inequitable division of finances.
  • Put downs relating to financial knowledge or earning ability.

Examples of Physical Abuse:

  • Hitting
  • Slapping
  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Choking
  • Forcible restraint

Also threatening actions which are physical but not enough to cause serious injury. For example, Blocking - standing in the way so that she has to request that the man moves (giving him power) or pushing him away (giving him an excuse for more physical violence).

Examples of Emotional Abuse.

Emotional abuse includes:

  • Subversive manipulation,
  • Mind games,
  • Controlling/guilting,
  • Sleep deprivation,
  • Passive-aggressive behavior,
  • Lying,
  • Emotional distancing,
  • Crazy-making behavior,
  • Discounting.

Emotional abuse is not the same as direct verbal abuse but it is just as damaging although more subtle. Emotional abuse is present in all the forms of abuse listed above, but is also a powerful form of abuse on its own. The abuser appears to be supportive but undermines the victim in many subtle ways and always sounds logical and reasonable about it. Tries to 'fix' the victim, and lets everyone know he is doing it for her own good

All abuse is a need for power and control. Many abusers get a 'high' from the abuse, in the same way that drug addicts get a 'high' from a hit of dope. We all need to feel power in our lives. In a healthy relationship we feel personal power, which is power over ourselves and our actions. In an abusive relationship the abuser needs to dominate and control and uses fear, physical force, money or emotional blackmail to get his power. This is power over another. All abusers operate in the reality of Power over Another, while victims are working in the reality of Power over Self.
Now what does this abuse look like to the victim?

Almost all abusers follow a cycle which is so well known that it is called the Cycle of Abuse. The Cycle of Abuse has three fairly predictable stages, and looks something like this:
The Tension Building Stage. Threats may be made, small incidents of violence used, the abuser may have a particular way of letting the victim know that he is building up to an acute abuse episode. It may be remarks, it could be sarcasm or he could be distant. Eventually the victim will recognize this stage as a pre-requisite for the actual acute abuse.
At some point the phase of Acute Abuse occurs, either severe battering or explosions of temper or sexual activity. These are often timed to catch the victim off-guard, such as when visitors are expected, or when they were preparing to go out to dinner. If the woman threatens to leave/call the police etc, the abuser will do everything in his power to stop her. This is often known as the Honeymoon Stage where he uses loving, contrite behavior. He will be apologetic and appear caring and considerate. He may assure you of his love or cry or beg on his knees and promise it will never happen again. Once the victim allows him to dissuade her from action, his cycle of violence is complete. This phase may last from a few days to a few weeks but slowly the cycle begins all over again. An abuser almost always places the blame for the abuse on the woman or some outside circumstance.

  • "She made me mad",
  • "If she hadn't done..... I would not have had to hit her",
or in the case of a drug or alcohol user,
  • "She knows not to bug me when I've been drinking",
  • "I was out of dope".

There is never ever any justification for abuse. This type of excuse is an admission of the lack of personal power and also a lack of willingness to be responsible for one's own actions. By admitting that some external force can 'make you' hit someone, shows that there is no control over self. These people are giving their personal power away to a set of circumstances.

If you have not already done so, see my suggestions for making an escape plan.
Even if you think you do not need one, please make one anyway. If you are dealing with a drug user, you can never really know if they will turn violent.
Drug use along with any tendency to violence make for an unsafe situation.

Even if you are not expecting violence, if there are guns or other weapons in the home, consider these safety issues, or look at my personal list of safety ideas.

I can also suggest an excellent book,The Verbally Abusive Relationship. I own this book and found it extremely helpful in understanding the more subtle kinds of abuse.

If you already know that the drug user in your family is violent, please take some action NOW. Do not wait until you are badly hurt or dead. More women are killed by an abusive partner than are killed by a stranger.
No one keeps good records on a national level of the number of women who are abused each year but it has been suggested that there are in excess of four million. Please, do not become one of them. There are ways to get free. There are steps you can take to keep yourself, your children and even your pets safe.

If you are attacked and you call the police, depending on the laws of your state, it is most likely that the abuser will get arrested. However, he may only be booked and then released. He may be given a conditional release which means that he cannot come back to the residence or in any other way interfere with you. This is on paper but in fact does not necessarily protect you from an abusers actions. The abuser may blame you for his arrest and seek immediate vengeance. If he is arrested you can find out from the local jail if he is being released. You can ask that you be informed of his release but sometimes you do not get much notice. My house mate was released at 3:00am after attacking me and even though she had a conditional release prohibiting her from coming near me, she was back at the house by 4:30am. This is when you use your escape planning and go to a friend, family member, motel or shelter. You are also entitled to file for a restraining order,. Again this is not a guarantee of your safety so as well as a court order you will have to be pro-active in keeping yourself safe.

The mistake that many people make is that they do not consider seriously enough that they could be the target of violence and that they could be seriously hurt or killed. I made the same mistake. I never thought that my house mate would attack me like she did. I was lucky - I got away from her. Had she been holding a gun or a knife I may not have been so lucky.

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Copyright Vivienne Edwards/Angels on Wheels LLC; 2008 - 2009
This page updated 2013