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Who Facts on: Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol

NCJ Number
Date Published
12 pages
This "fact sheet" reports what is known from research about the role of alcohol use in influencing the extent and impact of intimate partner violence (IPV) and the risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator, as well as the role of public health in prevention.
Strong links have been found between alcohol use and the occurrence of IPV in many countries. Evidence suggests that alcohol use increases the occurrence and severity of domestic violence. Relevant alcohol effects include a reduction in cognitive and physical functions that impair self-control, with the consequent effect of reducing the ability to resolve conflicts nonviolently. Further, excessive drinking by one partner can exacerbate financial difficulties, childcare problems, infidelity, or other family stressors. In addition, individual and societal beliefs that alcohol promotes aggression can encourage violent behavior after drinking. Studies of intimate partner violence have regularly identified recent consumption of alcohol by perpetrators. Alcohol consumption by victims of IPV has also been documented, albeit at a lower level than in perpetrators. Research on the prevention of alcohol-related IPV is scarce; however, generic strategies that address IPV and those that aim to reduce harmful alcohol use both have important roles in prevention. Successful strategies for countering IPV in general include addressing societal tolerance toward IPV, acceptance of excessive drinking as a mitigating factor, and changing normative beliefs about heavy drinking being a mark of masculinity. Interventions to moderate alcohol consumption include reducing alcohol availability, regulating alcohol prices, expanded treatment for alcohol-use disorders, and screening and brief interventions. The role of public health agencies in addressing the link between alcohol abuse and IPV includes the collection and dissemination of relevant information, research programs, the evaluation and promotion of cost-effective prevention strategies, and the promotion of multiagency partnerships to address IPV.