We often hear that a partner is only abusive when they've had too much to drink or that the only reason the romantic person is abusive us because of the alcohol or drugs. It is difficult to deny that alcohol abuse and domestic violence do often occur in the same household. However, studies conducted by Larry Bennett do show that there are many individuals who are identified as heavy drinkers that do not abuse their romantic partner. This means that there is another explanation for the abuse that is occurring in the home.
One of the most common causes of domestic violence is the experience of abuse as a child. It has long been known that battering is a learned behavior. Since battering is a socially learned behavior it will not occur solely as a direct result of substance abuse or mental illness that many advocacy groups claim. It is not fair to justify ongoing abuse that occurs after heavy drinking and/or drug use by attempting to rid themselves of responsibility for the problem by blaming it on the effects of these substances.
The fact remains that many men drink and do not abuse anyone as a result and that many abuses occur when all parties are sober. We believe some of the reason for the
minimization of abuse due to alcohol use is that It can be easier for those who love an abuser to believe that the violence would not have happened if a drink had not been taken. Denial and minimization is all part of the denial process that allows abuse to continue behind closed doors unchallenged.
It is important to note that alcoholism and battering do share some similar characteristics. For example the tendencies for both situations may be passed from generation to generation, both do involve denial or minimization of the problem, both involve isolation of loved ones and both are socially learned behaviors.
However, there are many important differences between alcoholism and domestic violence. For example Alcoholism is focused on the need to unwind or relax while abuse is geared towards obtaining control of ones environment. Other differences include the fact that alcoholism doesn't require other persons where as abuse always will require a victim. Alcoholics speak of having a sense of guilt or shame after binge drinking but those who abuse others say they feel tremendous release and comfort after an explosive event. These differences are important due to the cycle of abuse, without this ongoing cycle of control and manipulation a binge drinking episode won't meet the criteria for domestic violence.
Alcohol does not, and can not make a man abuse a woman, but it is still frequently used as an excuse.