I've just discovered that a close family member of mine has given their partner a black eye twice when drunk. When not drunk, this family member has never behaved at all inappropriately, and is devastated by their drunken actions. I think the family member has a problem with alcohol and I'm really worried for the partner and also for the family member (shitty as their actions have been). My question is, if the family member can give up alcohol, properly and for good, should their partner still leave them, or is there hope? I'm at a loss about how to offer support.
The partner should leave the family home until they've proved they can stay clean of alcohol. Nothing will change if the routine stays the same. There's no incentive to stop if they get away with it by being sorry every time it happens.
Thanks Imperial. I know the person who was violent wants to give up alcohol and I will support with that if they let me. I don't know whether to encourage the partner to leave, though. Obviously it's their choice, but they are a bit "lost" I think, and may need guidance.
OK so I think you should encourage the person with the alcohol/violence problem to leave his/her partner alone for a while, to give them some time to recover and to give them some peace. He/she should do everything possible to make life easier for that person at the moment.
You have to be careful - drinking does not cause DV and it is often a coping mechanism, that abuse victims will blame drink, drugs, stress etc rather than their partner because it is easier to accept that than to believe that their partner is to blame. Even if abuse seems to only happen when a person is drunk, high, etc, the fact is that if/when it's repeated there are underlying patterns there. The use of drugs is just a screen or a justification to themselves, if you like. Lundy Bancroft writes very eloquently about why this is the case.
But for a total one off - I don't think it is the same thing. It's just that without being involved closely in the situation, you can't be sure that it was a one off.
A person can be so intoxicated that their perception is altered and they might react violently or irrationally out of panic, but alcohol and drugs do not actually change a person's personality. A panic/fear response followed by shock and disbelief upon sobriety is completely different to sustained abuse even if episodes of abuse only ever occur when the abuser is intoxicated. And "devastation" is hard to call - it could be on the side of shock/disbelief of a one off, but it could also be an abuser's typical "Poor me" reaction.
If it was a genuine one off then perhaps this will be a wake up call to look at that alcohol intake. If not then I think you need to buy your relative a copy of the Lundy book ASAP!
When there is a pattern of aggression when drunk, it usually turns out that the "usually kind, considerate, gentle" person is not so much like that. Either there are issues simmering away under the surface, or they have a really skewed sense of entitlement, or their aggressive side comes out in other ways. But it's certainly not locked away and only let out by alcohol.
Bertie, it is a least a two-off rather than a one-off. It's very true that it can't be thought of as just alcohol. I know that I, and most other people I assume, have been off my face on many occasions and never got anywhere close to being physically violent. It's hard to accept about a relative you love very much, though, and experience as very gentle, etc.. I do know that the partner has to be a priority here.