Alcohol and Domestic Abuse: Important Information

There is a general link between drinking alcohol and domestic abuse. That’s violence toward a partner. They often occur together. But does drinking cause abuse? Experts warn against jumping to that conclusion.

alcohol and domestic violenceIt’s easy to fall into the trap. That’s confusing correlation with causality. For example, the number of people who drown goes up with the eating of ice cream. But neither causes the other. In warm weather more people eat more ice cream. And more people go swimming. More swimming means more drownings.

Experts stress that there is no evidence that drinking alcohol causes domestic abuse. The most men who abuse alcohol don’t abuse their partners. And most instances of partner abuse occurs in the absence of drinking.


So why is drinking linked with domestic abuse at all? The Women’s Rural Advocacy Program has an explanation. It says that the higher rate of alcohol among men who batter is easy to explain. It results from the overlap of two separate social problems.

Two researchers wrote “The False Connection between Adult Domestic Violence and Alcohol.“ They found that domestic abuse is “often part of a batter’s ongoing pattern of abuse, with little or no connection to his use of alcohol.”1

Alcohol is Blamed for Bad Behavior

alcohol and domestic violenceAlcohol does not and cannot make one person abuse another. Many researchers explain that “men who batter frequently use alcohol abuse as an excuse for their violence. They attempt to rid themselves of responsibility for the problem by blaming it on the effects of alcohol.”2

Most writers focus on men as abusers of women. Yet research also shows that women abuse men about as often. And there’s no reason to believe that alcohol causes women to abuse men.

Alcohol and Domestic Abuse


    1. Zubretsky, T. and Digir, K. The False Connection between Adult Domestic Violence and Alcohol. In Helping Battered Women.

2. La Casa, Alcohol and Substance Use.