Battering Linked to Substance Abuse & Unemployment
Men who abuse alcohol and drugs tend to batter their wives and girlfriends more often than others, according to two recent studies in the New England Journal of Medicine. One study at eight emergency departments around the country looked at 915 injured women, including 256 hurt by husbands or male partners. The women were asked about the habits and lives of the men.

The first study found more than three times the risk of domestic violence when husbands or male partners abuse alcohol or drugs, go in and out of jobs, or break up with the women. They also found that perpetrators of violence against women tend to be former or estranged husbands or ex-boyfriends. The study found that the risk of being injured from a domestic violence incident was:

+3.6 times higher if the male partner abused alcohol;

+3.5 times greater if he used illegal drugs;

+3.1 times higher if he didn't have a steady job;

The researchers also found that women involved with men who were high school dropouts were 2.5 times more likely to be the victims of domestic violence.

The second study analyzed the factors for both domestic violence and other violence against women in a poor, west Philadelphia neighborhood. It found that the male partners of the injured women were more than three times more likely to have used cocaine and more than four times more likely to have an arrest record than the male partners of women in the control group. One third of the women who were attacked tested positive for cocaine. In the Philadelphia study, 53 % of violent injuries to the women had been perpetrated by persons other than their partners, including neighbors, family members, or other women.

The Pennsylvania study also found that injured women differed from other women in several ways. The researchers noted that “Women who had been injured by a partner tended to be socially isolated, to have low self-esteem, and to have few sources of social or financial support.”