Substance misuse

Practitioners - Substance misuse and domestic violence and abuse

Alcohol is a factor in approximately 50% of domestic violence incidents reported to the police in Leeds and in a significant percentage of MARAC cases, but links between alcohol and domestic violence are complex and can feature in the experiences of both perpetrators and victims.

Men who perpetrate violence against women are more likely to inflict serious assaults when they have been drinking. The nature and extent of alcohol as a factor in domestic violence varies among individuals. When drinking, some men are less inhibited about displaying aggression whilst some are less concerned about the consequences of their violence. Some may drink in order to provide an excuse for violence.

It is important not to view alcohol and drugs as a cause of domestic violence and abuse. Whilst the chances of physical and sexual violence are increased when, for example, the perpetrator has been drinking, other forms of abuse such as controlling behaviour or emotional abuse are often present at other times in the relationship. It is important that any interventions with perpetrators who misuse alcohol take account of both the alcohol misuse and the abusive behaviour.

Substance misuse does not feature in the profile of domestic violence perpetrators to anywhere near the extent that alcohol does, however many women misuse alcohol and drugs as a consequence of and response to abuse and therefore a significant number of women approaching services may present with multiple support needs.

Women with problematic alcohol and/ or drugs misuse problems experiencing domestic violence are likely to feel isolated and doubly stigmatised. They may find it harder than other women to report or even to name their experience as abuse. They are in an especially vulnerable position and may be unable to access suitable sources of support.

Further information

Forward Leeds is the alcohol and drug service in Leeds for adults, young people and families. For more information on support available, please visit the website:

More on the over-lapping issues of domestic and sexual violence, substance misuse and mental health can be accessed from the Stella Project.