Drinking Can Bring Out Violence in All Types of Relationships

Men are more likely to abuse partners on drinking days

woman throwing drink in man's face
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It does not matter if you are straight or gay, all couples can experience physical violence in intimate relationships when alcohol is thrown into the mix.

What is different is that physical violence has been understudied within the same-sex couple dynamic, and couples in same-sex relationships are less likely to seek help due to fewer resources available for the LGBTQ community.

Statistics on Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol

Alcohol use and drug intoxication are both closely tied to intimate partner violence. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol is often a factor in violence where the attacker and the victim know each other. Two-thirds of victims were attacked by an intimate partner (including a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend) and reported that alcohol had been involved.

Nearly 500,000 incidents occur each year between people who are intimate partners and involve people who had been drinking.

Study of Physical Violence by Men in Straight Relationships

When it comes to straight couples, men who drink alcohol and have a predisposition for physical violence toward their intimate partners are more likely to be violent on the days they drink alcohol, according to a 2003 study reported in the "Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology."

This particular study examined 135 domestically violent men entering an alcoholism treatment program over a 15-month period and found a significant relationship between men's drinking and violence against their partner.

The odds of male-to-female physical aggression were 11 times higher on days when the men drank alcohol than on days with no alcohol consumption

Compared to days of no drinking, the odds of any male-to-female violence on days of heavy drinking by the male partners (drinking six or more drinks in 24 hours) were more than 18 times higher and the odds of severe violence were more than 19 times higher.

Partner Aggression in Same-Sex Couples

The problem of intimate partner violence among LGBTQ couples is as real as it is in the straight community, but fewer studies exist highlighting the issue.

Studies that have been conducted show the LGBTQ community has:

  • Experienced more problematic drinking behaviors than heterosexual couples
  • Higher rates of intimate partner violence
  • Displayed more negative factors associated with seeking treatment

Couples in same-sex couples and other sexual orientation groups generally do not seek treatment because they fear homophobia and being outed, especially those living in intolerant communities.

The LGBTQ community also may have valid concerns about the efficacy of a cookie-cutter program for straight couples being used to treat issues faced by LGBTQ couples.

When Violence Occurs

Violent episodes are more likely to occur during or shortly after you drink. However, men who are in treatment for domestic violence with severe alcohol misuse problems are generally more likely to engage in intimate partner violence on any given day, regardless of drinking, than their partners who do not have drinking problems.

For straight couples in which male partners have a fairly recent history of perpetrating partner violence, drinking, particularly heavy drinking, represents a highly significant risk factor for the recurrence of physical aggression.

If you think you might be in a dangerous relationship, take the online danger assessment quiz.

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Article Sources

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fact Sheets - Alcohol Use and Your Health (2016)
  • Klostermann, et al. "Aggression and Violent Behavior: Alcoholism and Partner Aggression Among Gay and Lesbian Couples." (2011)
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "Alcohol, Drugs and Crime." (2015)