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Our Turn: Domestic & Sexual Violence and Addiction

It is important to note that individuals who abuse substances are not particularly more likely to abuse partners; however, abusive partners commonly use illicit substances, and some abusers may choose drug and alcohol use to fuel their toxic behavior.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine states, “Victims and abusers are 11 times more likely to be involved in domestic violence incidents on days of heavy substance abuse.”

Abusive conditions are extremely difficult to cope with; the victim may struggle to find healthy coping mechanisms and turn to substance abuse. Victims of sexual assault are 3.4 times more likely to use marijuana, 6.4 times more likely to use cocaine, and 5.3 times more likely to use prescription drugs. Victims are more likely to abuse substances if their partner abuses substances. Victims of sexual assault have a higher vulnerability to homelessness, substance abuse, and poverty compared to the general population who were not abused.

The risk of domestic violence increases when both parties have a substance abuse disorder. It may become difficult, if under the influence, for the victim to determine how much danger they are actually in. They will likely have a difficult time defending themselves against a partner’s attack or being able to call for help. Domestic abuse becomes a vicious cycle, as the abuse victim may be unwilling to report the attack for fear that their partner will physically, emotionally or financially retaliate. If left untreated, substance abuse can continue to perpetuate an unhealthy dynamic in the relationship that can have severe consequences.

Turning Points Network advocates are available 24/7 to support survivors with co-occurring addiction disorders. Services range from crisis intervention and safety planning to supportive counseling, safe shelter and resources for substance abuse treatment.

Our wraparound support services offer a healing environment for survivors and their families to receive the help they need.

For more information, call our 24-hour Crisis & Support line at 1-800-639-3130.

OUR TURN is a public service series by Turning Points Network (TPN) serving all of Sullivan County with offices in Claremont and Newport. We provide wraparound supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking and we present violence-prevention education programs in our schools. For more than 40 years, TPN has helped people of all ages move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope.

For information contact 1.800.639.3130 or www.turninqpointsnetwork.org or find us on Facebook and Instagram

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