Myth: Abusers behave as they do as a result of alcohol or drug abuse or possibly mental illness, all of which are not the fault of the abusers. We must understand them and treat the illness. Reality: Domestic violence is a learned behavior, proven by the fact that it exists where alcohol, drugs, and mental illness do not exist. That’s one reason why it repeats itself from one generation to another.
The reality is that drugs and alcohol serve to break down the self-control and the behavioral barriers we establish. If a person becomes abusive after taking alcohol or drugs then the behavior was there all the time but under control. And, as previously stated there are more than enough stories of abusers who did not take drugs or alcohol. Therefore, even though the two may co-exist it does not mean they are automatically joined. One thing shown to exist in most abusers is a belief that they can treat other people however they please in order to get what they want.
Mental illness has been used to discount abusive behavior as well. One victim said that her husband’s doctor told her he was manic depressant and could not help himself so she shouldn’t blame him. In an interview with a director of a domestic violence shelter, she told me, “Mina, being mentally ill and being abusive is like having a broken arm and a broken leg. They are both broken but you don’t treat them the same way.”
Domestic Violence is a violent crime committed by people whose belief system gives them permission to treat others however they please to get what they want. Until society treats it as a violent crime and makes the abuser accountable, abuse will continue.