The Links Between Domestic Violence and Substance Misuse

January 1, 2003


This project, jointly funded by the Home Office and the Greater London Authority (GLA) aimed to;

  • identify strategies for progression practice and policy through building upon the developing practice in both sectors;
  • explore the overlap between domestic violence and substance use by men and women who are accessing services in the sectors, including the overlap with both survivors and perpetrators of abuse;
  • ascertain service user experiences of help-seeking and service provision.

Methodology included the following;

  • a review of all relevant research internationally;
  • consultation (including interviews and focus groups) with service providers working in the context of the overlap between substance misuse and domestic violence;
  • a survey of the service users of a number of domestic violence agencies;
  • a survey of the service users of a number of substance misuse agencies;
  • documentary analysis of files from a number of perpetrator programmes to extract information regarding substance misuse;
  • interviews with survivors and perpetrators.

Some Key findings:

  • A very significant number of people using domestic violence survivor agencies, perpetrator programmes and substance use programmes face the duel problems of domestic violence and substance use;
  • for many survivors and perpetrators of abuse, the patterns of substance use are linked to the violence and abuse, which they are either perpetrating or experiencing. This link should not be understood as a causal relationship, but one where the practice issues of safety planning, and identifying the strategies of power and control need to be addressed in the context of, and intersection with, problematic substance use;
  • violence reported by service users where there were dual issues of substance use and domestic violence was severe.This highlights the urgency with which this issue needs to be addressed and also raises concern about the children that are living with mothers and fathers where there is co-occurrence of substance use and domestic violence;
  • mental health problems such as depression, trauma symptoms, suicide attempts and self-harm are frequently symptoms of abuse and need to be addressed alongside the issues of substance use and domestic violence;
  • the majority of service users who have domestic violence and substance use problems are primarily using either substance use agencies or domestic violence agencies and not receiving appropriate intervention for ‘the other’ issue;
  • there has been only marginal development of the practice and policy linking domestic violence and substance use.


See Research Briefing Report: Domestic Violence and Substance Use: Overlapping Issues/Separate Services?

Grant Holder: Dr Catherine Humphreys, University of Warwick

Sponsor: The Stella Project and COI Consultancy on behalf of the Home Office

  • Project Team:
    Catherine Humphreys, Linda Regan, Ravi K. Thiara