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Wife Abusing Alcoholic

by Reid K. Hester, Ph.D.

If someone is an alcoholic and a wife abuser, is it possible that overcoming the addiction can cause the abuse to stop?

Abusive relationships often involve two people, that is both the abuser and the abused. Alcohol acts as a third party, but often is the first one that needs to be addressed.

In other words, stopping drinking is necessary for spousal or relationship abuse to stop, but it is rarely enough by itself. In all probability the individual who is abusing a spouse also needs to learn anger management skills, communication and problem solving skills, and usually much more.

All too frequently, the abused partner also needs help, not only to repair their self esteem, but also to learn a range of other skills, such as assertiveness training, and how to find and maintain a strong support system.

Co-dependency training may also be in order for both partners at some point in the future. Such a couple may need to learn skills related to setting and maintain good interpersonal boundaries, how to identify their individual needs and negotiate them in a relationship. If children are involved, they may also need help.

In summary, stopping the drinking and/or drug using is a necessary first step. Without it, I would not be optimistic about making any sustained progress with domestic violence or emotional abuse.

About the Author:

Reid K. Hester, Ph.D., Director, Research Division, Behavior Therapy Associates, 3810 Osuna Rd. NE Suite 1, Albuquerque, NM 87109. Phone: 505.345.6100.

Originally published 2/19/98
Revised 8/15/08 by Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D.
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