Is substance abuse a cause of domestic violence? Some are convinced and others are not. I do not believe that it can be a cause without other issues in place. After speaking with domestic violence survivors, it is obvious we will hear the violence may be more extreme while their partner is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These substances typically take away a person's inhibitions. An intoxicated person may drive faster, laugh harder, cry more desperately, spend more money, or go further sexually than they would if completely in control of their body and mind. When a perpetrator looses inhibitions, he/she may cross boundaries that might not have been crossed otherwise. Back to the question at hand-No. A substance can not be responsible for violent acts. Those specializing in 're-wiring' a batterer will report that the desire/need to dominate or control another person is usually rooted deep within that person's character. The battering flaw is often caused by arrested development during childhood. There are plenty of cases where arrested development never occurred. However, the batterer was trained to batter by viewing examples around them that showed controlling, hurting, and belittling another is the normal way to behave and live. Anything contrary to this lifestyle might be considered feminine, weak, homosexual, or lesser in his distorted way of thinking. Once in a while, there does not appear to be anything in the batterer's history that could have started the cycle of violence. Ephesians 6:12 NIV For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
If there is not an obvious root we could consider to be the cause, maybe we should look beyond what we see in the natural. The person may just be mean spirited. Substance abuse does not make a person violent but can intensify what is already occurring. Regardless of the root, a batterer does make choices. They choose whether or not to say and do things that hurt others. They choose whether or not to admit they have a problem. They choose whether or not to continue to lie and manipulate the people around them including an accountability partner. They choose whether or not to ask for help and put their pride and reputation aside. They choose whether or not to do the work and difficult task of changing the pattern of behavior and thinking they have adapted to. If substance abuse is in the picture, they choose whether or not to pick up that drink or drug knowing it will play a part in hurting the ones they claim to love within the hour. It is a choice. It is a choice. It is a choice. Sometimes it may take professional help to be able to find ways to make better choices.
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