Alcoholism: My Husband’s Drinking Almost Killed Me

CASE STUDY: Penelope in Buckinghamshire

“Domestic abuse, where the root cause of the aggressor’s behaviour is alcoholism, is generally portrayed by the media as being something that only goes on amongst the working classes, or people surviving on Benefits on sink estates across the country”, explains Penelope, a 33-year-old jewellery designer from Chalfont St Giles. “But, it is prevalent amongst the middle classes, too. And if you want a blow-by-blow account – quite literally – then come and talk to me; I know all about the living hell that is cohabitating with a violent alcoholic.”

Domestic Abuse (against women) – key facts

In the UK:

  • A woman is a victim of domestic abuse every three minutes
  • Every year, more than 1 million women suffer domestic abuse
  • Seven out of ten cases of domestic abuse against women never reach a court
  • Domestic violence against women has a low reportage level primarily due to victims being ‘economically trapped’ – they don’t have the money to move out of the family home, or a shared flat etc., and so remain silent about the abuse they are suffering for fear of the abuse worsening if they speak up/seek help
  • A woman is more likely to be the target of domestic abuse if she is married
  • Thirty per cent of domestic violence either starts or will intensify during pregnancy

And perhaps the most harrowing statistic of all:

  • Two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner – that’s one woman killed every three days

Sources: Department of Health, British Crime Survey, and Refuge

Of course, alcohol is not always a contributing factor towards domestic abuse, but in the vast majority of instances the physical and verbal violence is drink-fuelled.

Why alcohol increases aggression
Most of us are aware that the link between alcohol and aggressive behaviour is a strong one. But how many of us know the reason why consuming alcohol changes the way some people act, how they interpret situations, how they treat others?  The brain is complex and will never be fully understood. But countless studies have produced irrefutable evidence that alcohol entering the blood stream can alter a human being’s cognitive function level.


  • Gives us tunnel vision. After a few drinks, we no longer think straight, which is why so many situations and actions are misinterpreted: a casual glance by a stranger can be wrongly construed as a ‘dirty look’
  • As well as the drinker’s focus being narrowed (by alcohol’s impact on the brain); they can be oblivious to threats and dangers to them that are all around them, due to their natural anxiety levels being reduced
  • A drinker may also misunderstand another people’s behaviour and misread or misinterpret social cues (e.g. flirtatious behaviour), which can then lead to trouble


We’ll let Penelope have the last word:
“My husband, Barnaby, and I were together for nine years and were very happy at first. But his drinking gradually destroyed our marriage and our family life. It began as verbal abuse, but became physical when I was pregnant with our third son. In the end, I moved out and went to live with my parents in Monaco.”

“I think that losing me and the children was the turning point for Barnaby. He finally sought help for his addiction, by entering a treatment programme at a private Rehab clinic in Hampshire.


I could not stop drinking, having tried various methods. After making contact with Rehab Treatment UK I was put at ease immediately. All my options were carefully explained and 2 days later admitted to Rehab. Without the speedy response I would probably still be drinking today, Already, the home is a happier place. Thank you Jane for starting the process for a life of sobriety.
B. Middlesex

Thank you to Rehab Treatment UK and everyone at the Clinic that was involved in my Detox. It has been hard, but the fun everyone has made it, helped to make it easier.
S. Hull