Researchers have long known that violence toward spouses and partners increases with the frequency and volume of drinking. A study published today in the scientific journal Addiction shows that the context in which drinking occurs also appears to play a role in violence against partners, with male violence being linked to drinking away from home and female violence being linked to drinking at home.
Researchers from the Prevention Research Center in California and Arizona State University, USA, surveyed more than 1500 California couples, gathering information about their drinking in six specific contexts: restaurants, bars, parties at someone else's house, quiet evenings at home, with friends in one's own home, and in parks and other public places. They found that men drinking in bars and at parties away from home and women drinking in parks and public places were both associated with increased male-to-female violence. They also found a link between men drinking during quiet evenings at home and increased female-to-male violence.
From a research perspective, these findings suggest that we need to consider what occurs within different drinking contexts (besides alcohol consumption) that might trigger partner aggression. From a prevention perspective, the results are quite hopeful: it may be possible to reduce violence against spouses and partners by encouraging people in risky relationships to avoid drinking in certain contexts. Such advice could well be more effective in the short-term than encouraging people to drink less.