Are you convinced that your husband’s drug addiction is the reason he abuses you? Does your remorseful partner earnestly plead, ‘I only hit you when I’m drunk’? Do you struggle to understand why he won’t give up something which causes him to inflict so much hurt on you? Then there are FOUR FACTS that you need to know, right now.
Ignoring the elephant in the room
In my posts on ‘My Story’, I outlined the connection between my ex’s abusive behaviour and his cannabis use. For me, it seemed a no-brainer. He began smoking the drug (as far as I know) shortly after I became pregnant with our child. The abuse emerged at around the same time.
Everything seemed to point the finger of blame firmly toward cannabis: His paranoia and delusional jealousy, the emotional meltdowns, the gaslighting, the red mist rages, the fact that his ‘get up and go’ got up and went.
He appeared to think this too, on the few occasions he admitted to doing anything wrong. Cannabis became his go-to excuse for actions that he could not justify. Once or twice, he told me he knew he had a problem, and planned to seek professional help.
I reasoned that if he kicked the habit, the abuse would stop. So, I focussed on supporting him to quit weed and ignored the elephant in the room: that I was being abused.
I left him a couple of times, citing his drug problem as the reason. I returned when he passed drug tests. I hit the road again when he tested positive. I couldn’t understand why he was able to kick weed into touch for long enough to pass a test, but then started again.
Unfortunately for me, I sidelined the biggest problem of all – the abuse. It was no coincidence that drug use and abuse emerged together, but I didn’t see that I was putting the cart before the horse. I failed to see that the real culprit was him, and he was playing hisover and over again.
FOUR FACTS we need to know
- ‘Domestic violence and drug and alcohol addiction frequently occur together, but no evidence suggests a causal relationship between substance abuse and domestic violence.’ (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
- ‘While problematic alcohol or drug use – by either the perpetrator or the victim – can make the situation worse, the use of substances does not in itself lead to violence: many men are abusive whether or not they have been drinking – and many people drink without becoming violent.’ (Women’s Aid)
- ‘Alcohol and drug abuse increase the likelihood of domestic violence; not only during periods of intoxication, but also during periods of sobriety’ (TAADAS)
- ‘Abusers believe it is their right to exert power & control over their partners – substance use does not cause a person to feel this way but may increase the risk that he/she will assault his/her partner.’ (A Woman’s Place)
So, what does this mean?
There is a link between substance abuse and domestic violence, but substance abuse DOES NOT cause domestic abuse.
Alcohol and drugs simply make the abuse worse. As our abuser’s judgement is impaired, we are more likely to be seriously injured or killed.
Some abusers deliberately get tanked up in order to abuse us. This is a choice that they make, because they WANT to abuse us.
Don’t believe his promises to go ‘cold turkey’ or never drink again. In the unlikely event that the whiskey goes down the drain, the abuse won’t stop because – according to Pat Craven, “the real reason for their violence and abuse is the desire to keep women under control.” Not every drinker is violent, not every drug user is abusive. Some abusers are committed teetotalers.
The truth is, our partners abuse us because they want to. Alcohol and drugs simply enable them to dodge responsibility. It’s time to tear up the excuse book, today.
© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013