Excerpted from ITROW News, Spring 1993,
Vol. 3, No. 1, page 7.
Substance abuse has long been recognized
as a precipitating factor in many domestic violence incidents, although
there has been relatively little research on its role. A study conducted
by the Institute for Teaching and Research on Women (ITROW) used data
from interviews with 232 offenders arrested for domestic violence. Major
Current substance abuse is high
among domestic violence offenders, with 54 percent being current
heavy users of one or more substances. The main type of substance
abuse is alcohol usage, with 46 percent of the offenders being
dependent or abusing. 28 percent were found dependent on opiates,
cocaine, marijuana, or inhalants.
Nearly two-fifths of the domestic
violence offenders said that they had been drinking at the time they
were arrested for domestic violence.
Most of the domestic violence
offenders in this sample of people coming before the courts are
white male blue-collar workers who graduated from high school or
went to college, and who do not live with the victim.
Over half had previously come to the
attention of the courts for assault and violent crimes, felonies, or
The finding that 38 percent of offenders
were drinking at the time of the incident is difficult to assess because
(a) the data are taken from the reports of offenders, who might wish to
blame the incident on alcohol, and who thus might recall inaccurately or
embellish the truth; and (b) the study design did not provide comparison
data of a matched sample of nonviolent subjects to find out what
proportion of a similar population of nonviolent individuals might also
have been drinking at the day of week and time of day that domestic
violence incidents are most likely to take place.
Because of the high level of alcohol
consumption generally in the adult population, the percentage of persons
not in domestic violence treatment who drink in evenings, or on
weekends, when domestic violence is more likely to take place, also is