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Dr. Phil on Causes of
Domestic Abuse and Alcohol Abuse

Commentary by
Dr. Reena Sommer

Dr. Phil devoted an entire show to the causes of domestic abuse and alcohol abuse. During this show, he featured a family struggling with the damaging consequences of domestic violence associated with alcohol abuse.

This show was particularly powerful because it provided what is likely the most graphic depiction of the dynamics of domestic abuse and alchol abuse occurring together. It also illustrated the long disputed fact that women can be perpetrators of domestic violence and that their violence does not always occur in self defense. Women's initiation of domestic violence is an issue that feminist groups have long discounted maintaining that if it does occur, it is in self defense. Dr. Phil's show demonstrated that this simply is not true.

Dr. Phil pointed out that the wife's violence toward her husband was likely the result of her being raised in a family where she observed her alcoholic father beating her mother. The intergenerational transmission of domestic abuse is well documented in family violence literature. In fact, there is strong support for the modeling of domestic violence in the family as well as alcohol abuse. Dr. Phil suggested that the wife may have sought out an alcholic husband in order to release own rage toward her father - a rage that she has carried since she was a child. He further remarked that as a child she was forced to observe her father's violence toward her mother and was helpless in making him stop.

The issue of domestic abuse being passed on from generation to generation is a serious issue. The very graphic tapes of the wife beating her drunk husband as their two young daughters watched shows how this can happen. Sadly, these children were so frightened by what they were forced to endure with no where to escape but their bedrooms. Once can only imagine what transpired when the cameras were not present. As the wife stated, this is what their children see as "normal"

Dr. Phil's remarks were very clear - the domestic abuse and alcohol abuse MUST STOP. He warned the couple that if he became aware of any further domestic violence to which the children were exposed that he would ensure that the children would be protected, His advice to the couple was to separate - for their children's protection as well as their own. He stated emphatically, that the environment in which they currently live is not suitable for the children. Dr. Phil offered to assist the family with the appropriate resources if they would agree to live apart until such time as the professionals working with them felt it was safe for them to live together.

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Dr. Reena Sommer,
M.Sc. (Family Studies),
Ph.D.(Psychology & Family Studies)

Divorce & Custody Consultant
League City, Texas 77573
Phone: 281.534.3923
Dr. Reena Sommer


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