Reactive abuse occurs when victims of abuse react violently to the emotional or physical injury they are enduring. The victim may yell and scream, insult the abuser, or even lash out physically. The abuser then retaliates by claiming that the victim is, in fact, the abusive person.
Abusers Depend on Reactive Abuse
Abusers depend on the other person to engage in reactive abuse because it is their so-called proof that the victim is mentally unstable or crazy. When this occurs, it provides fuel to the initial abuser, who will hold these responses against the reactive abuser indefinitely and will bring it up in arguments for months or years to come.
Sometimes the primary abuser uses this reaction as an excuse to call the police, file for a personal protection order, seek child custody, or any number of legal avenues.
Using Reactive Abuse as Manipulation
To manipulate another person is to influence a situation unfairly. When an abuser claims they are the true victim of abuse, they are manipulating the reactive abuser into believing they are the main person at fault. The abuser is, in essence, conditioning the other person to actively accept blame.
The longer this shift in blame continues, the longer the victim will believe they are the ones to blame for the reactive eruptions and abuse that the primary abuser is dishing out. Ultimately, the victim will begin to believe that they are the violent and unstable one in the relationship. Moreover, these reactions add another factor in the abusive relationship—the victim starts to feel bad about themselves to the point of depression, guilt and shame.
When this occurs, the victim often begins to act against what they previously believed about themselves, such as being a good, competent, loving person. But that goes out the window when the experience of guilt and shame continues for an extended period.
Reactive Abuse and Substance Abuse
Reactive abuse is a type of domestic violence. All forms of domestic violence originate from one individual’s need to have power and control another. This is often a romantic partner, but sometimes it occurs between parents and caregiver and their children. Less commonly, it may occur between siblings.
Substance abuse and addiction are strongly linked to domestic violence. Indeed, evidence suggests that nearly 80% of domestic violence cases are related to substance use. When a person is intoxicated, be it due to drugs or alcohol, they are more susceptible to losing control of their temper and inhibitions. Being under the influence of any potentially inebriating substance dramatically increases the likelihood that abusive behavior will occur.
When an individual becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol, their brain’s chemicals are rewired to seek out the substance’s presence, despite any past or future consequences related to their behavior. This can lead to irrational, violent, or controlling behavior within a relationship’s context.
Addiction and domestic violence, including reactive abuse, have several characteristics in common, such as the following:
- A loss of control
- Continued behavior despite adverse consequences
- Both substance abuse and domestic violence tend to worsen over time
- Both problems involve denial, shame, and guilt
The risk of domestic abuse, including reactive abuse, increases when both individuals have a substance use disorder. It may become difficult for a potential victim to determine the danger they may facing or the consequences of their reactive abuse.
Domestic abuse in any form tends to become a vicious cycle, as the victim may be unwilling to report the abuse for fear that the other person will emotionally, physically, or financially retaliate. In the case of reactive abuse, as noted, the primary abuser may be more willing to contact law enforcement or use other legal means against the victim to ensure that they will not incur consequences themselves.
Effects of Domestic Abuse and Violence
The effects of domestic violence and substance abuse are far-reaching. Domestic abuse victims are more likely to suffer from a wide range of mental health conditions and require inpatient treatment to overcome the experience of trauma and abuse.
Some of the problems that may develop during or after domestic abuse include the following:
- Substance abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorder
If you are a victim of domestic violence, please contact thehotline.org.
Treatment for Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence
The key to sobriety and emancipation from an unhealthy relationship is to receive treatment for domestic violence and abusive behavior, in addition to substance abuse or addiction. Just Believe Recovery Center is equipped to help both the abuser and the abused overcome addiction and improve their overall quality of life.
Fortunately, both conditions can be treated in an integrated program that includes behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, substance abuse education, relapse prevention, mindfulness therapy, aftercare planning, and more.