Links between alcohol consumption and domestic and sexual violence against women: Key findings and future directions

In Australia, alcohol is estimated to be involved in between 23 percent and 65 percent of all family violence incidents reported to police. The literature shows a solid and persistent connection between alcohol use and violence against women. Nevertheless, the precise nature and function of alcohol use in the perpetration and victimisation of sexual assault, and family and intimate partner violence, is complex and controversial.

Links between alcohol consumption and domestic and sexual violence against women is an overview of relevant peer-reviewed primary research, grey literature, other literature reviews, and meta-analytic studies. Produced with the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research, this review suggests that there is little evidence that alcohol use is a primary cause of violence against women. The paper does, however, identify that there are clear associations, and in some cases, strong correlations between alcohol use and violence against women, including, for instance, in the severity of the violence.

The evidence points to a relationship between alcohol and violence against women existing in three discrete ways:

  • Alcohol use is linked with the perpetration of violence against women.
  • Alcohol use is linked with women’s victimisation by violence.
  • Alcohol is used as a coping strategy by women who have experienced violence.

The key messages for policy and practice include:

  • The application of brief motivational interviewing techniques to relevant populations may assist in reducing alcohol-related intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
  • Communication and collaboration between alcohol and intimate partner violence and sexual assault response agencies at both the service delivery and peak policy levels are supported.
  • Training for alcohol and intimate partner violence service providers should include information about both sectors’ approaches to intervention and pathways for referral. Opportunities for joint training should be explored and encouraged.
  • Policies which enhance workforce capacity to effectively respond to the relationship between alcohol use and intimate partner violence and sexual assault should be encouraged and supported.
  • Education and training for workers in the area of disordered alcohol use treatment should include information about the dynamics and impacts of violence against women, and those working in the violence against women sector should have education and training on the relationship between alcohol and violence.

 Links between alcohol consumption and domestic and sexual violence against women - ANROWS Compass 08-2017

See also

Project RP.14.06 - Establishing the Connection: Interventions linking service responses for sexual assault with drug or alcohol use/misuse