Domestic abuse and substance abuse are interlinked. “Nearly 80% of domestic violence crimes are related to the use of drugs.” In many instances of domestic abuse, the abuser is under the influence of a substance. When someone abuses drugs, their brain is rewired to chemically seek out the substance, and it causes them to become unconcerned about the consequences of their behavior. This can cause unjustifiable and violent behavior in a relationship. If left untreated, the unhealthy dynamic of the relationship can become a vicious cycle with significant consequences. Suffering domestic abuse has widely negative repercussions.  Survivors can develop mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Experiencing domestic abuse can provoke substance use because the individual may self-medicate in various ways to cope with the emotional and/or physical trauma. 

Domestic violence can emerge in many diverse forms, “it can encompass various other types of harm to overpower an individual and keep them in fear of the other.” Many of the victims struggle to reach out for help because of the uncertainty of their partners’ retaliation. The distress of the emotional, physical, or financial retaliation of their partner can make the victim reluctant to report the abuse. The abuse will continue to happen until it is reported and both parties receive the help they need. 

  “My biggest struggles while I was active in my addiction was being homeless and in a physical domestic violence relationship… I have had struggles and difficult moments in recovery but it’s better than when I was active in my addiction. I am so glad that I decided to go into residential treatment, because getting clean was the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

– Kimberly S., recovering addict

A study investigated the self-views of women in abusive relationships and how exercise transformed those views. Many of the women deemed themselves as worthless and identity-less. “They felt undeserving of good things in their lives and believed that positive events could not happen for them. They also had lost self-knowing; their likes and dislikes had to be relearned as that aspect of themselves had been taken away from them through the controlling actions of their partners. Although the women’s feelings of self and emotional states were negatively influenced by court dates and custody issues, they experienced a number of commonly reported benefits and as a result of their physical activity involvement. A sense of accomplishment as well as improvement in mental and emotional status. The sense of accomplishment was achieved by overcoming the desire to quit a difficult workout routine and through improvements in their physical stamina, abilities, and appearance. All of the women reported improvement in their mental and emotional status through physical activity which provided relief from symptoms of posttraumatic stress syndrome by reduced levels of hypervigilance and anxiety. The requirement of a focus and concentration on the physical activity additionally served as a distraction from their troubling circumstances, resulting in an improvement in emotional stability.

Who Can You Call?

National Domestic Abuse Hotline- 1-800-799-7233 

Free, confidential, 24 hour hotline. “Every contact to The Hotline is personal. Some people who reach out to us identify as survivors of abuse, some as concerned friends or family members, some as abusive partners seeking to change themselves. While every contact is unique, our advocates are guided by The Hotline’s Consent and Ethics policy and will emphasize several key points throughout your conversation.

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