enabling, caretaking, over-responsibility for a partner's behavior, not setting limits or defining personal boundaries-are often, for victims, the life-saving skills necessary to protect themselves and their children from further harm. When victims are encouraged to stop these behaviors through self-focusing and detachment, they are, in essence, being asked to stop doing the very things that may be keeping them and their children most safe.
Because resources such as 12-step groups or co-dependency groups were not designed to meet the needs of victims of domestic violence, there is no assurance of accuracy in the information victims might get about domestic violence in 12-step groups. In fact, the kinds of behavior changes encouraged in such forums may well result in an escalation of abuse, including physical violence.
Victims need accurate and complete information about the purposes of 12-step groups and co-dependency groups and the potential limitations of these forums as sources of help regarding safety-related concerns. While participation in 12-step groups may provide victims with useful information about addiction and may serve as a potential support network, victims should be given referrals to a local domestic violence service provider who is trained to assist them in addressing their safety-related needs.
a.Routine screening for domestic violence should be conducted with all male clients to determine if they are perpetrating abuse in their intimate relationships.
It is helpful for substance abuse treatment professionals to know if their male clients are perpetrators of domestic violence in order to effectively assist chemically dependent abusers in successful substance abuse recovery strategies and to take appropriate and allowable measures to protect the safety interests of victims.
b.Substance abuse treatment providers should reinforce abusers' sole responsibility for their violent and coercive behavior as the issue emerges in any forum, including individual and group sessions.
Domestic violence is behavior over which abusers have control and should never be justified, excused, or minimized. Abusers will often use alcohol and other drugs as the excuse or explanation for their violent and controlling behavior. Research, however, consistently indicates that alcohol/other drugs are neither a necessary context for domestic violence, nor is their use a sufficient explanation for the violence.