Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

The Role of Alcohol in Intimate Partner Violence: Causal Behaviour or Excusing Behaviour?

Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

The Role of Alcohol in Intimate Partner Violence: Causal Behaviour or Excusing Behaviour?

Article excerpt

Introduction

The aim of this study is to understand the experiences of professionals dealing with alcohol and intimate partner violence; these professionals hypothesize about their heterosexual, rather than lesbian or gay, clients. It is, of course, impossible from a study of 12 professionals to determine the relationship between substance abuse and partner violence. The aim of this study, though, is to carefully and rigorously examine the professionals' experiences of dealing with alcohol and intimate partner violence, as there has been a lack of social research on this area of study, more specifically, in the North East region within the United Kingdom. However, international concern about the issue of intimate partner violence still continues to grow. This includes some consideration of a link between violent behaviour and alcohol-the nature of which has not been clearly defined. The connection between intimate partner violence and alcohol is certainly intricate and mediated by significant economic, etiologic, and social factors. This research gives an in-depth analysis into several aspects regarding intimate partner violence and alcohol. It is identified that this research cannot address all relevant issues, but an attempt has been made to achieve a balanced account of current knowledge and thinking. Due to the small sample size in this study (n=12), the results cannot be generalised; but the purpose of this research is to generate fine-grained, meaningful, in-depth qualitative data to explore specific details that the professionals choose to impart.

Feminist theory is used as a foundation in this research to discuss the themes of power and control in support of the research findings. Feminist theory within intimate partner violence stresses power and gender inequality within opposite-sex relationships. It focuses on societal messages that allow men's use of aggression and violence throughout life, and the gender roles that expect how women and men ought to behave in their intimate relationships (Pence & Paymar, 1993). It sees the root causes of intimate partner violence as the outcome of living a society that condones aggressive behaviours committed by males, whilst socialising females to be non-violent. The research findings presented demonstrate that men are the offenders while women are the victims. Therefore, feminist theory is most appropriate to use in this research when critically examining intimate partner violence and alcohol collectively. However, it must be stressed that men can also become victims of intimate partner violence (Walklate, 2004). This research will focus particularly on alcohol and its association with intimate partner violence.

Literature Review

Though a large amount of the literature conveys the perception of a direct cause between alcohol use and violent behaviour, most studies are speculative since few differentiate between the precise quantity and occurrence of alcohol use at the time of violent behaviour. Most studies rely on self-classifications and self-reports rather than objective measures of the use of alcohol, such as blood tests or saliva (Loseke, 2005). Another problem is defining and conceptualising the use of alcohol because phrases and words that have different meanings are usually used interchangeably; for instance, abuse, alcohol use, alcoholism, excessive use, dependency, over-use, and so on (Loseke, 2005). Domestic violence is a worldwide phenomenon affecting entire societies indirectly and directly. However, after decades of research, no single definition satisfactorily explains this phenomenon. Current unofficial and official definitions of domestic violence have a tendency to interconnect with other types of violence, confusing understanding and producing ambiguity. This can affect the validity and reliability of research and produce shortfalls in practices and policies aimed at challenging domestic violence. Therefore, defining 'domestic violence' is extremely difficult, especially when culturally there are different interpretations and ideas of what constitutes intimate partner violence. …

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