Houston DWI Law Blog

The Relationship Between Domestic Violence And Alcohol

A Hartford, Connecticut woman recently died after her ex-boyfriend came to her apartment and killed her. Before the ex-boyfriend came over, police said that he smoked crack cocaine and drank alcohol. The man then went to her the woman’s apartment and brutally stabbed her death.

The woman's brother commented that people need to realize that domestic violence is real, and “we know there are the signs, but we need to realize that everybody has a role to play in this….” The man has been charged with murder and is being held in jail on a $2 million bond.

Does Alcohol Increase Incidents Of Domestic Violence?

Too often, there are stories in the news like these that involve incidents of alcohol and domestic violence. Given the frequency in which these stories appear in the news, the public starts to associate alcohol as the cause of domestic violence incidents. 

For example, Canyon, Texas residents just recently approved the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption and the legal sale of mixed beverages in restaurants by food and beverage certificate holders. While residents overwhelmingly approved the change, some residents did not support the change. Rev. Glen Stocklher, pastor of Bible Believers Baptist Church, believes that that the change “will increase the crime rate as far as domestic violence, probably some public intoxication, and those sort of things.”

Is this true? Does alcohol in fact cause or contribute to the frequency of domestic violence incidents? Or, has the public developed a false connection between alcohol and domestic violence? Research and various articles suggest both.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that while substance abuse does not cause domestic violence, there is a statistical correlation between the two issues. Regular alcohol abuse is apparently one of the leading risk factors for domestic violence. At the same time, however, the NCADV says “no evidence suggests a causal relationship between substance abuse and domestic violence.” Therefore, if one is treated for alcoholism, this will not necessarily cure one’s abusive behavior. Nevertheless, the NCADV suggests that because of this relationship, both issues should be treated simultaneously.

The relationship between alcohol and domestic violence may come more from the experience and expectations from drinking, rather than the physiological effects of alcohol. In an article from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, research shows that individual men are more likely to engage in boisterous or aggressive behaviors when under the influence than when sober because the cultural norms condition this male behavior. This leads to the conclusion that men are therefore more likely to engage in physical violence or domestic violence while drinking.

Texas Law On Domestic Violence

Under Texas law, family or dating violence is a crime. Family violence includes the act of a family member against another “that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.”

The definition of dating violence includes the same acts as family violence. The difference, however, is what constitutes a dating relationship. A “dating relationship” means one “between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” It does not include “a casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.”

The penalty for family or dating violence depends on the nature and severity of the conduct. A charge can range from a simple assault Class A misdemeanor to an aggravated felony charge. If you have been charged with in a domestic violence incident, a Texas domestic violence attorney can help you with your case.


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