While drugs and alcohol are widely thought to be the most prevalent triggers for domestic violence cases, no clear scientific evidence can be found to back that up.
Intoxicating substances can impair judgment, reduce inhibition and increase aggressive behavior, but various studies indicate drugs and alcohol were prevalent in 25% to 80% of domestic violence reports.
A new approach to DV research
In a departure from previous studies, researchers from Ohio State University listened to actual phone conversations between jailed suspects and their accusers. Their goal was to find what prompted the episode resulting in domestic violence allegations. They found these incidents were most common when:
- One or both partners accused the other of sexual infidelity
- Drug and alcohol use were often involved, but not in every case
Other stressors are related
OSU researchers, who have worked in domestic violence interventions for years, termed the findings “shocking.” These phone conversations revealed other traits associated with intimate partner abuse, including:
- Long-running disputes over infidelity existed in nearly every relationship
- A history of alcohol and drug use often escalated arguments into physical confrontations
- Depression, thoughts of suicide and other untreated mental health issues were significant factors
Researchers say infidelity is a red flag
The OSU study authors urge counselors, healthcare providers and others to look closely to identify potentially explosive situations for couples when infidelity accusations are present and whether both parties have made an attempt to resolve, or at least discuss, these issues.
They say it’s equally important to screen couples for drug and alcohol abuse as well as mental health concerns that can complicate and lead to an even greater chance of violence.
Responding to domestic violence accusations
Arguments, sometimes heated, happen in just about every relationship at one time or another. When jealousy – warranted or not – and drugs or alcohol are involved, these disagreements can lead to disputes where the police are called. Once that happens, law enforcement and prosecutors decide whether charges will be filed.
Even if an accuser changes their mind, or no actual violence occurred, the accused can face devastating personal consequences. That’s why it’s crucial to contact an experienced San Diego defense attorney to protect your well-being. Even the least serious charges can lead to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Working with a lawyer who used to prosecute these cases can be vital to avoiding charges or minimizing penalties as well as the potential personal and financial repercussions.