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Substance Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence

This document provides an overview of the research on the relationship between substance abuse and woman battering, covering the victimís use of substances and the specific needs for domestic violence services for those with substance abuse problems.

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VAWnet Summary:

Substance Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence by Larry Bennett and Patricia Bland (May 2008).

In Brief:

& Half of the men in batterer intervention programs appear to abuse alcohol or drugs, approximately half of the men in treatment for substance abuse batter, between a quarter and half of the women in treatment for substance abuse have been battered, and a substantial portion of the women in IPV programs are substance abusers (Gondolf, 1999, Chermack, Fuller & Blow, 2000; Fals-Stewart & Kennedy, 2005, Fals-Stewart, 2003, Lawson, 1994; Downs, 2001; & Services provided for co-occurring SA and IPV may be serial, where SA treatment precedes IPV services, parallel or coordinated, where services are provided at the same time by different agencies, or integrated, where services are provided at the same time by the same agency. In the past decade, there was been a trend away from serial and parallel approaches and toward coordinated and integrated services.

& Screening for both SA and IPV should be routine in all settings that specialize in either SA or IPV, as well as in settings where we can expect a high prevalence of both SA and IPV, such as health (both physical and mental), child welfare, and public aid agencies. Screening will be useful only if systems are modified to engage and refer those who screen positive and if agencies are in place to assess, educate, or treat the problems referred to them. Ultimately, the success of interventions for co-occurring SA and IPV depend on the investment a society is willing to make. Although rates of IPV and SA are roughly equivalent in the population, our society has viewed SA as the greater problem, while placing less emphasis (in terms of funding) on IPV. A greater awareness of IPV and a more balanced approach to co-occurring IPV and SA will benefit perpetrators, victims, and our society as a whole.

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