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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


SLABBERT, Ilze. The role of substance abuse in domestic violence: A social work perspective. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2015, vol.55, n.4, pp.665-680. ISSN 2224-7912.

Domestic violence poses a huge challenge for social workers. It is estimated that in South Africa a woman is killed by her intimate partner every six hours, the highest incidence in the world. Research also indicates the correlation between domestic violence and substance abuse. Men under the influence of alcohol or drugs often display higher levels of aggression than do sober men and could display violent behaviour in the home. It is also significant that where men report for rehabilitation from addictive substances, domestic violence is often cited as a fall-out. The ecological perspective is useful when viewing this correlation between domestic violence and substance abuse as the different systems of this perspective, namely the micro, mezzo, eco, macro and chrono systems are all relevant. In the micro system the intimate relationship between a man and woman is negatively affected by substance abuse, often leading to domestic violence. In the mezzo system organisations such as Alanon could provide support for abused women when their partners abuse substances. In the eco system social workers in welfare organisations could provide support for abused women. In the macro system the community a woman is part of might have an influence in how she copes with domestic violence and substance abuse. In the final system, the chrono system, legislation could provide legal support for abused women needing intervention. From a social work perspective the need to gain more insight into domestic violence and substance abuse is crucial, as statistics indicate an increase in both these issues. The social work profession would thus benefit from such a study to determine how women in an abusive relationship experience domestic violence, and to determine the correlation between domestic violence and substance abuse. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of abused women, as well as the possible correlation between substance abuse and domestic violence. A qualitative study with a phenomenological approach was proposed. The phenomenon in this study was the experiences of abused women and the role of substance abuse in domestic violence. This study made use of an explorative and descriptive research design to explore and describe abused women's experiences where substance abuse might also play a role. Two non-governmental organisations and one psychologist were approached to obtain the sample of 20 women. Purposive and snowball sampling were used. The criteria for inclusion were: • Participants had to be female and between the ages of 22 and 60 years. • They had to have been in an abusive relationship at the time of the study or not more than 6 months prior to the study. • They had to reside in and around Cape Town. • They must have received professional help by a social worker, a psychologist or a nursing sister at the time of the study or not more than 6 months prior to the study. Data were collected by means of interviewing, and a semi-structured questionnaire. The data were analysed and categorised into themes. Ethical clearance was obtained. The findings included the following demographic details and themes. According to the demographic information, all the participants but one, still had dependent children in the home. The impact of domestic violence on children is severe, especially as their father is often the perpetrator. The educational level of the participants varied from illiterate to a grade 12. None of the participants had a post- matric qualification. Five themes were identified. Theme one was alcohol abuse by the partner. Nine (45%) of the participants indicated that their partners abused alcohol. Seven (35%) of these nine participants indicated that their partners' drinking increased the violence in their relationship. Theme two was drug abuse by the partner. Four (20%) participants indicated that their partners misused drugs. Theme three was alcohol abuse by the participant. Four (20%) participants indicated that they abused alcohol as a means to cope with the domestic violence. It was significant that these four participants also turned to the church to help them through difficult times. Theme four related to statutory intervention. None of the participants indicated that they found a protection order helpful. The six (30%) participants who obtained a protection order did not find it helpful either, and indicated that the substance abuse of their partners still continued, accompanied by domestic violence. Theme five dealt with police intervention. Six (30%) participants made use of police intervention, but only one (5%) found this helpful. Most participants indicated that the police were not effective in dealing with domestic violence and substance abuse. It can be concluded that domestic violence poses a huge challenge to social workers. During intervention with abused women, the role of substance abuse should be taken into consideration, as the use of substances could increase domestic violence.

Palavras-chave : Domestic violence; substance abuse; women; ecological perspective; social environment; systems; social workers; qualitative research; correlation; themes.

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