Domestic Abuse Victims and Addiction Problems

December 27, 2012 Kellie Jo Holly

Abuse victims can develop addictions to substances, sex/porn, video games, and any other type of addiction to escape the pain of abuse.

Domestic abuse victims often fall into addiction problems and I did too. I don't know why others develop addictions, but for me, I'd given up on figuring out why I was so miserable. I could not solve the mystery. So I sat on my behind and lost myself in The Sims 2, a video game that allowed me to create a pretend family of my choosing. I became addicted to the video game's fantasy family because I didn't have the energy for anything other than wishful thinking. I let the addiction take me over before I realized I was a domestic abuse victim, and before I could fathom life as becoming enjoyable ever again.

Abuse Victims Use Addictions to Escape

At that time, I didn't see myself or my marriage clearly. I thought it was my job to fix my marriage because I thought the problems in it were my fault. I hadn't noticed that my husband allowed me to accept all the responsibility for it by pigeon-holing me into his definition of a housewife. As a housewife, I was to be grateful for the roof over my head and the food on my plate, raise our children as he dictated, and feel loved. Yes, it was my job to remember that he loved me without any reminders from him. Grateful, loving servitude was my job and since I couldn't do my job right, I had no business being happy.

In desperation, I isolated myself and my thoughts; I confined both to fixing my marriage and myself. I'm sure many of you know how frustrating it is to search for solutions, read the best books, and research online only to find what works in so many other relationships holds no relevance to your own. I thought I must be the stupidest person on this earth to have captured a man's heart only to turn it to stone. I gave up, just a little bit, and distanced myself from the problems and resigned myself to fantasy.

My Sims 2 mini-me had a much better life! I allowed myself to rot in denial for months while I played that video game at night until minutes before my husband woke. I'd silently crawl into bed, trying not to wake him, hoping that he would believe I'd lain beside him most of the night. An hour later I got out of bed to put our boys on the bus, then slept a few hours before waking to withdraw into the game. That is all I did except for feign grateful servitude as best I could. This went on for almost an entire year.

Abuse Victims' Addictions of Choice Vary

Some abuse victims drown their pain in alcohol, pills, or illegal drugs. My drug of choice was The Sims 2. I can't really think of any differences between video game addiction and any other type of addiction. It was all-consuming, debilitating, and I felt panicked at the thought of leaving the game for any reason. My participation in our boys' school activities dwindled significantly. I didn't call my family or maintain any relationship other than my quasi-relationship with my husband.

The Breakthrough That Ended My Addiction

I think that the addiction ended when I realized I could pass as a "housewife" on auto-pilot. My preoccupation with the video game did not change the way my husband treated me. I don't know if he knew I had a problem! From my space of detached denial, I finally saw that my husband didn't care about me at all. Painful as that was, it seemed to shake me out of using the game as a band-aid. I suppose it did more than shake me because I came out fighting for change in me.

Understanding that he would treat me the same even if I were a robot motivated me to shine my individuality bright. I painted again. I drew. I wrote. I designed a website or two. The year of detached denial continued to insulate my emotions from his inexplicable reaction to my re-emergence. He manipulated more. He insulted more. He raged more.

At the time, I didn't understand what happened. I only knew it felt safer to hide what I did from him. It was safer to pretend I was addicted and ashamed of my addiction (read: blame myself) than share my true colors. In time, the reasons for pretending became conscious choices instead of unconscious actions. Even so, it wasn't until the last half of 2008 that I realized all of it, the addiction, the pain, the hiding, the shame...all of it stemmed from domestic abuse.

On the same note but a brighter tune, my year of addiction led to where I am now. I recognized the abuse, fought for my family as best I could, left my husband, and found peace. I will stop short of saying I am grateful for my addiction year. I wish I could have progressed without it, but I'll never know if I could have done it any other way. My advice: Instead of detaching from your abuser on auto-pilot, detach consciously so you do not hurt yourself (or the rest of your family) through an addiction of any sort. Numbing your pain only postpones it.

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APA Reference
Jo, K. (2012, December 27). Domestic Abuse Victims and Addiction Problems, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

Jane Birkett
May, 26 2019 at 4:36 am

I have been abused emotionally mentally physically for now close to eleven years already and people because of that
Evil Satan Toxic
Crispin Paul Bedford people think that I am the problem as it is saying that I am the abuser

September, 11 2014 at 9:32 am

I also want to say thank you. I was in a relationship with a guy and I wasn't happy so I left. (I wont go into that) after I left he continued to call me every day for 2 years. finally that was over and I got into a new relationship but because of what had happened in my past relationship it took me a long time to realise that I am now in an abusive relationship. I kept on thinking every time that it was just me and that I was so paranoid from the first that I was imagining it on the second. over the last year it has got a lot more worse (verbal not physical). I do have a drug problem (heroin) which I was near to overcoming but he made me miss appointments and even brought me heroin so I would be more into having sex when he demanded, claiming it was to help me as I was ill but it was really for his benefit for sex and now he holds those times over me, constantly bringing it up as soon as he sees me doing well. he is nasty to the point where I given up trying for the moment to come off it and so now I am on methadone and using on top to try and calm down as the methadone doesn't help anymore due to the stress. it is a downward spiral and your comment on addiction made me want to say to others that if you find yourself in my situation please put yourself first no matter what becase he is doing exactly that. do not let that person ruin all the effort you have been putting in. it is hard as it can be but they will make sure you fail everytime so that you will never be in a position to leave.

May, 19 2013 at 5:58 pm

Thank you for sharing such personal experiences. Feel so lost at this moment it brings some comfort to knw other ppl suffer the way I do! Thank you REALLY hope this is real not just some Hype???

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