He claims the vodka made him do it.
Let’s dispel a lie: that drinking and drugs cause a person to be belligerent, aggressive and violent—and if he/she would quit drinking or drugging he would cease his verbal and physical abuse.
In a national study seventy-five percent of the instances where physical aggression occurred, no alcohol was used by either partner. Moreover, many batterers continue their violence even after "drying out."
Alcohol or drugs does not and cannot make a person abuse another. An abuser may blame alcohol as an excuse for their violence. Alcohol may escalate an abusive event. Alcohol can act as an “un-inhibitor,” intensifying abusive incidents—but alcohol DOES NOT cause the abuse.
Dr. Dirtbag was an expert at justifying his inebriated abusive behavior. He said “wine made him crazy,” so he switched to beer. It wasn’t long before his “beer behavior” was equally unpredictable and offensive, so he switched to bourbon. He mixed his bourbon with ice and coke in a tinted tumbler to conceal his daytime drinking. One afternoon I was baffled by his drastic change in behavior so I secretly took a sip of his iced “coke” sitting on the kitchen counter. My eyes crossed, my nose flared and my throat screamed, “Holy crap, Jim Beam!”
Alcohol and drugs do not a monster make.
“Alcohol does not change a person’s fundamental value system. People’s personalities when intoxicated, even though somewhat altered, still bear some relationship to who they are when sober.” — Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
In other words, our core values, beliefs and behaviors already exist inside each of us. If we do not believe we should rob a bank, then getting drunk won’t abruptly turn us into bank robbers. Nor will alcohol or drugs suddenly turn a person into a villain, rapist or murderer. Alcohol will, however, states Bancroft, help the abuser overcome any “shame and embarrassment” that might hold him back, and provide him an “excuse” to unleash his innate and pent-up anger.
What happens when an abuser gets sober?
A “dry drunk” is an alcoholic who has stopped drinking but he has made no internal emotional and behavior changes and he still displays the glaring alcoholic traits of anger, blame, impulsivity, covert aggression and denial.
The dry drunk is empowered by a sense of superiority and he expects others to respect his high-minded authority. He will use his sobriety to help him control, dominate and manipulate his partner. He may threaten to drink or “dope up” if he doesn’t get his way. Or he may use it as a bargaining chip; “I’ll stop drinking if you’ll quit spending money,” or “if you’ll pay more attention to me,” or “if you’ll stop going out with friends.”
“Even when men who batter stop drinking or using drugs, their violence most often continues,” explains Bancroft. In fact, many battered women say the violence gets worse during substance abuse recovery.
I thought excessive drinking was at the core of Dr. Dirtbag’s erratic and abusive behavior. I thought if he would quit drinking he could cease abusing me. I threatened to leave him if he didn’t stop drinking. With my belongings half-packed he pledged to stop drinking. I told him if I ever suspected him of drinking he would have to take a breathalyzer test.
“Don’t worry,” he promised. “I love you and I’ll do anything to keep us together.”
It didn’t take long for Dr. Dirtbag to sneak a drink, and when he did all hell broke loose.
You cannot change an abuser’s behavior by changing your behavior.
The abuser cannot change his behavior until he gives up his denial of the abuse.
Medication will not correct the harmful mindset of an abuser.
According to Bancroft, medication is not a long-term solution to correct an abuser’s behavior for two important reasons:
No medication yet discovered will turn an abuser into a loving, considerate, appropriate partner. It will just take the edge off his absolute worst behavior—if it even does that.
Abusers don’t like to be medicated because they tend to be too selfish to put up with the side effects and almost always quit the medication in a few months.
Dr. Dirtbag self-diagnosed himself as having a social phobia disorder characterized by anxiety in social situations (a hard-to-refute, sympathy-gaining justification for his hurtful, dry drunk behavior). He obtained a prescription from his therapist and began taking SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to control his “mood swings” and “social anxiety.” His verbal abuse seemed to subside. I thought he was making progress. But he became withdrawn, sullen and agitated as if he were tormented by angry, restless demons. Several weeks later Dirt-Vader was ready to rock and roll.
There are no medications that can instill honesty, compassion, guilt, remorse and empathy.
Understanding that an abusive, narcissistic, sociopathic brain is wired to inflict unhappiness and harm to others should help you avoid or dump an abusive man in search of a healthy relationship—if not, girlfriend, you need to get counseling!
Does your boyfriend or husband blame alcohol or drugs for his verbal and physical abuse?
Understand the covert tactics of an abusive personality in Never Date A Dead Animal: The Red Flags of Losers, Abusers, Cheaters and Con-Artists by Nancy Nichols
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