Monday, November 10, 2008

Is substance abuse linked to spouse abuse?

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.

Your feedback is welcome!


Kathryn said...

It's with a grateful heart I found your blog. I'm like one of the women who's home you would think was perfect. We were both ordained into the ministry. Both not only involved with our local church, but the community as well. Later became involved full time missionary work. We were married a couple months shy of 25 years.

All the while behind closed doors was horrendous abuse. The last thing he did was hit me in the face with a hammer. He broke my jaw and fractured my eye-socket. Our senior "pastor" knew of the abuse. It was deemed "my fault". I was told I needed to pray more, fast more, fit myself into my husband's plans...and 101 other things.

There was NO help within the church. It was by a miracle I got out with the help of the police department...however, I lost everything with the exception of the clothes on my back, my briefcase and my new puppy.

The women's resource center worked in conjunction with the local Humane Society...they kept my puppy for me until I was on my feet again.

This all happened a few years ago. I am VERY happily remarried..yet am treated like a leper in the area we live by the churches. I have to keep a personal protection order against my "ex" he gets in stalking mode whenever the mood strikes him.

Recently the Lord brought a few Christian sisters across my path...and it's like a new day has dawned. Forever I am grateful at the goodness of His grace and mercy...and will remain within His Hand.

Unknown said...

Lundy Bancroft's book has a good chapter on Abuse and Addiction. His book is called Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. He says that substance abuse and partner abuse are two different issues. One does not cause the other. Many partner abusers are not substance abusers. Many substance abusers are not partner abusers. The two phenomena have some characteristics in common and some characteristics totally different from each other. I strongly recommend reading Lundy's book.

Hannah said...

I think substance abuse and spouse abuse are two different issues. Two separate issues. I see people also struggling with spouses that are Bipolar for example, and wonder if that plays into it. I'm sure like substances the inhabition to abuse is less, but I still believe its two separate issues.

I guess I look at an abuser as an addict as well in some ways. They are addicted to their power, control and rage. Even when their is nothing to abuse over - they will search for something. They must have their drug of choice. said...

It's interesting that Hannah mentioned abusers acting like they are addicted to power. I've been thinking the same thing, and wonder how long it will be before the American Medical Association declares the person who does domestic violence to be an addict.

My understanding of abusers is that they seem to cycle based on their need to feel powerful. It does not matter that they are already having everything their way, if they can not FEEL that euphoric sense of power. So that people--especially women--can understand, I liken it to taking a hot bath. When you first get in the tub, you don't want the water too hot, since it feels like more than you can handle. But once you get accustomed to the warmth, you add more heat. And then as you soak, after awhile it can be difficult to tell where your body ends and the water begins, so you add more hot water so you can feel the water again.

The trouble with abusers is they do feel the need to not be too obviously ridiculous, so they try to find something "reasonable" to fuss about to add heat or get their power-high. But when their wife is already doing everything they asked, what are they to do? At that point, they completely reverse what they demanded before and try to come up with a plausible "reason" to back it up. As their "addiction" progresses, and they have more and more power in the relationship, their "reasons" sound more and more ridiculous.

This brings up an interesting side note. In one a novel I read years ago, the female character laughs at the man when he acts so ridiculous, instead of acting hurt or angry or all our other reactions. The character knew from somewhere that bullys hate to be laughed at.

I do recall at least one incident, if not 2, where I laughed at my abusers stupid reasoning. He ended up chuckling, too, and the incident did not escalate to his usual using me to mop the floor. Unfortunately, I was rarely able to react this way because I felt so beat down, and usually felt the need to defend myself.

I'd like to do an experiment to see if laughing at the abuser will stop the abuse every time. If anyone wants to try this, please be cautious. It may not always be safe to laugh at him. That may be why I could only do it once or twice--because I could sense a very evil spirit behind what he was doing. Laughing at a man when he is berating you or calling you names is not easy. It requires a woman to not care so much about being nice or submissive, or about having a good reputation. She has to be ok with having some faults, and not be so geared to trying to be perfect. She has to be secure in knowing she does not deserve whatever he is dishing out--so secure she can laugh at him. I'll have to try that in my next novel. By the way, in my first novel, "Behind the Hedge," Luke does this thing where he increases the demands when he wants that power-high. And after he does his verbal/emotional stab and knows it did it's damage, he feels that sense of supreme power, and he feels so masculine.

I actually got this from real life. Besides what I read in the books, the incident where my husband totally creamed me and I escaped to a back bedroom and cried and cried gave me a big clue as to what was going on in his head. When I finally surfaced to get something from the kitchen, he was out there whistling merrily. The "fight" that had totally devastated me had delighted him, even though what he said was not true, so he had not "won" an argument. He had just been incredibly cruel.