Women’s Aid UK defines domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, by a partner or ex-partner.
1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetime and 8% will suffer domestic violence in any given year (Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013/14).
The Relationship Between Domestic Abuse and Alcohol and Drug Addiction
The statistics from the US point to a link between domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse:
- Abused women are 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol and nine times more likely to abuse drugs than women who have not been abused.
- Regular alcohol abuse is one of the leading risk factors for partner violence (between spouses or partners).
- A woman’s use of alcohol can be a barrier to her being able to leave a violent relationship with a spouse or partner.
- 69% of women being treated for substance abuse reported they had been sexually abused as children.
Domestic abuse and addiction are often part of a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult for the victim to break.
Prescription Drug Abuse Among Female Domestic Abuse Victims
Victims of domestic abuse might often be prescribed painkillers for legitimate medical reasons. In time, it is common for domestic assault victims, who are already suffering physical and emotional pain to over-medicate themselves with prescribed tranquilizers, sedatives or painkillers. The medication is seen as a way to escape from reality, manage the physical abuse, stress and fear.
In the long term, addiction will have damaging effects on the victim’s mental and physical health: difficulty making good judgment, caring for yourself and your children, absenteeism at work, financial instability.
Symptoms of Women Suffering From Domestic Abuse
Domestic and sexual abuse victims use drugs and alcohol to treat these symptoms of acute psychological pain and to try to avoid feeling or remembering the traumatic incidents. They may have experienced abuse as a child or in an intimate relationship.
- Women who are abused suffer from anxiety, depression, will often develop; post-traumatic stress disorder [LINK] and be constantly afraid, with feelings of suicide;
- Victims who abuse alcohol or other substances become more vulnerable, putting themselves in a situation where it is easier for their partner to take advantage of their state;
- Victims of domestic violence are often very receptive to their spouse or partner, always on the lookout to identify the possible triggers of another outburst. They try to read any signs or behaviour cues, to interpret their partner’s mood, words and actions so as to prevent another violent episode;
- This keeps them constantly alert, fearful, stressed, consuming a lot of energy;
- They stay in the harmful relationship despite constant threat as they are afraid for their children, and don’t believe they can raise their children on their own;
- The assaulter is commonly the woman’s drug/alcohol supplier, which makes her even more dependent on her aggressor;
- Social stigma and fear of losing their children to social services keeps them from reporting the assault and seeking treatment.
Rehab for Female Victims of Domestic Abuse and Addiction
Victims of domestic abuse, who have also developed a drug or alcohol problem are struggling with dual diagnosis. They suffer from the addiction as well as the traumatic effects of domestic abuse, such as PTSD, eating disorders and other mental health issues.
Rehab treatment must address both conditions at the same time. This is one of the reasons why a specialised dual-diagnosis residential treatment programme is recommended, as it gives the patient the time to focus on their recovery without the threat of the abuser’s presence or the other stressful distractions of everyday life.
Specialised dual-diagnosis and PTSD therapy gives the patient the opportunity to explore all the repressed feelings that domestic abuse has awaken: from sadness and frustration to anger, shame and guilt.
Rehab Treatment for Victims of Domestic Abuse at Castle Craig
At Castle Craig we have the expertise to treat dual diagnosis. We assist women in breaking their alcohol or drug dependency, while teaching them new, healthy coping skills .
Treatment for women who have been a victim of domestic abuse needs to:
- Provide safety in a residential setting, away from the abuser’s influence;
- Give emotional comfort through individual therapy, where her feelings are validated and she feels empowered to participate in her recovery;
- In-depth aftercare plan to identify her options after treatment and develop a safety plan.
We provide a comprehensive, integrated residential treatment programme that includes both abstinence-based addiction treatment and mental health treatment. We treat the patient as a whole, carefully examining both their addiction and all their other mental health issues.
Each patient is individually assessed on:
- Their medical and psychological history in order to determine any psychological disorders or hidden trauma symptoms.
- Their drug using history to determine a personalised detox plan and treat any withdrawal symptoms.
Based on all these findings, a personalised treatment plan is drawn to simultaneously address the domestic violence trauma and the addiction. The plan consists of a clear outline of specialist and complementary therapies that best address the patient’s needs and that they will attend while in treatment at Castle Craig.
Treatment Plan for Victims of Domestic Violence
Our integrated treatment plan for women suffering from domestic abuse and addiction is made up of several components:
Individual in-depth psychotherapyto help the woman find ways to cope with emotions of shame, guilt, anger in a healthy manner – without resorting to alcohol or drugs.
- Individual in-depth psychotherapyto help the woman find ways to cope with emotions of shame, guilt, anger in a healthy manner – without resorting to alcohol or drugs.
- Women’s Group helps address the most common issues that women face during recovery for substance abuse and other traumatic experiences.
- Many victims of domestic violence suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trauma therapyis led by experienced trauma therapists – both in group sessions and individual trauma therapy, where patients process their own unresolved trauma so that memories no longer interfere with addiction treatment.
- Eating disorders groupis particularly valuable for women’s rehab treatment as women are more prone to developing an eating disorder than men.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapyis also helpful in treating both addiction and domestic abuse symptoms by addressing unhealthy coping mechanisms.
- Mindfulness Meditationteaches patients ways to relieve stress and focus their energy on beneficial activities.
- Other complementary therapies such as acupunctureand aromatherapycan be used to help the person relax.
- At Castle Craig patients are also introduced to the 12-step methodology and go to regular AA/NA 12-step group meetings that will strengthen their support network in aftercare.
- Women who have struggled with domestic violence might find our Extended Care programme particularly valuable. Together with their individual therapist, they will be advised on the best option for their sustained recovery.
We place great importance in caring for our patients before, during and after treatment. To this end, each patient receives a personalised two-year aftercare plan.
Get Help for Domestic Abuse Addiction
If you or someone you care about is experiencing domestic abuse, PTSD or addiction, contact us to get help. We provide an individualised treatment plan to help patients heal physically as well as psychologically and rebuild their lives. Our treatment approach is successful for both victims and abusers looking for long-term recovery.
Castle Craig has over 30 years of experience in treating addiction and co-occurring disorders such as PTSD, eating disorders, depression and other mental health issues.