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Study Explores Link Between Neighborhood, Alcohol and Domestic Violence

Posted in Alcohol Abuse

Could a person’s street address be an important element in the likelihood of domestic violence, especially when alcohol is present? One study is suggesting more research into this concept.

Recent theories about domestic violence are drawing new conclusions from sociology, including the concept of neighborhoods and the role they play in the dangerous mixture of alcohol abuse and domestic violence – especially when it comes to the ways men and women respond differently in regard to household violence when consuming alcohol.

Also called intimate partner violence (IPV), experts have long known there is a strong relationship between alcohol abuse and the likelihood of violence toward a spouse or partner in the home. A study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research is also calling to light a connection between domestic violence, drinking alcohol and a person’s neighborhood climate – all factors that could strengthen the likelihood of domestic violence occurring.

Study author Carol Cunradi, Prevention Research Center, explains that certain neighborhood factors may allow actions like spousal or partner abuse to occur more often and become woven into the fabric of some households, especially when alcohol abuse is also present in the home. The study looked at answers from more than 19,000 adults who were either married or living together, as part of the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse in 2000.

The study, says William Fals-Stewart, University of Rochester School of Medicine, points to the need for more research into the environments and contexts in which a person’s actions are altered by the influence of alcohol. In addition, more research is needed to learn about the specific factors surrounding alcohol’s influence on women who are victims of domestic abuse, or who abuse a partner or spouse while under the influence of alcohol.

Results suggested that for males who use alcohol, chances of being involved in intimate partner violence that is mutual in nature were higher if they had the added factor of also living in a neighborhood that is socially disorganized.

For women, the implications of neighborhood type seemed to be more closely linked to the nature of their consumption of alcohol than for men. If the women in the study drank alcohol, but not to an extreme level, they showed a higher risk of being involved in domestic violence if they lived in highly unsettled or disorganized neighborhoods. However, for females with excessive use of alcohol, it didn’t matter as much what type of neighborhood they lived in – they had a higher likelihood of experiencing mutual domestic violence no matter where their home was located.

Experts commenting on the study suggest more studies that are collaborative in nature for studying domestic violence, including the influence of a person’s community on this dangerous and widespread problem. Future studies may also include a closer look at how alcohol, community and gender play a role in a person’s risk for becoming involved with partner or spousal abuse.