Editorial: Domestic violence must be fought on multiple levels

By NEWS SENTINEL EDITORIAL BOARD

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a report on domestic violence last week, and its numbers are sobering. More than 80,000 domestic violence offenses were reported to the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System in 2012.

The report focuses only on the 41,708 incidents — a shade over half — that involved family relationships (the other half involved other domestic relationships such as boyfriend-girlfriend).

Of the family violence numbers, 13,259 of the victims were spouses and 7,105 were children, stepchildren or grandchildren. When spouses are involved, nearly three out of four of the offenders are males.

One number that stood out was the number of offenders suspected of using alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident — 17.5 percent.

If that number seems low, it’s because it likely is under-reported. A 2005 study spanning five years by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics shows drugs or alcohol were involved in 30 percent of all nonfatal domestic violence crimes, but in nearly 41 percent of the cases it was not known if substance abuse played a role. The Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug and other Addiction Services claims drinking precedes acts of family violence in 25 to 50 percent of all domestic violence cases.

The numbers, however, might be deceiving. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, citing the U.S. Department of Health, on its website states: “While substance abuse does not cause domestic violence, there is a statistical correlation between the two.” Many advocates say offenders often use drug and alcohol abuse as excuses for their inherently violent behavior.

Read more on knoxnews.com.