Statement of purpose Nationally, drug-using women are 3–5 times more likely to experience physical/sexual intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime. While there are a number of mechanisms that link drug use and IPV, this article focuses on IPV in the context of victim and perpetrator drug use and its direct psychopharmacological effects (i.e., impaired judgment, altered emotional states). We aimed to understand the role of drug use in IPV from the perspective of stimulant-using women in San Diego, CA.
Methods/approach From January to June 2014, we conducted a mixed Methods study among 30 women residing in San Diego, CA, aged >18 years reporting current stimulant use (i.e., methamphetamine, cocaine, and crack) and recent physical/sexual violence by a male intimate partner. Interviewer-administered surveys explored topics related to drug use, sexual health and experiences of IPV.
Results The sample consisted of 30 ethnically diverse women with an average age of 46 years (SD = 9.2). Commonly reported stimulants included methamphetamine (90%) and crack (23%), with 80% reporting poly drug use. Ninety-three percent reported having a current drug-using partner. Over 66% of women reported their partner’s drug/alcohol use as a trigger for paranoia, jealousy and anger and subsequent IPV perpetration among partners. Half of women admitted to initiating IPV at least once in the past year, of which four women reported personal drug-facilitated anger, paranoia and distrust, as a leading cause for the initiation of violence.
Conclusions Our findings indicate drug use as a potential trigger for IPV victimisation and perpetration. This research reveals drug-related triggers to violence including paranoia, jealousy and acute irritability.
Significance and contributions Our research highlights the importance of integrating IPV interventions into drug treatment programs and providing domestic-violence related resources for out-of-treatment drug users experiencing IPV. Moreover, it encourages the development of couple-based interventions targeting IPV among drug-using couples.
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