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Understanding Substance Use Coercion as a Barrier to Economic Stability for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence: Policy Implications

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) – 2020

Substance use coercion occurs when perpetrators of intimate partner violence undermine and control their partners through substance-use related tactics and actively keep them from meeting treatment and recovery goals. Substance use coercion is common among victims of abuse and is a barrier to victims’ economic stability. This brief highlights research on substance use coercion, including potential policy and practice responses for the domestic violence and substance use treatment fields and for federal agencies. This project has identified important lessons and areas for policy change and responses at all levels. In addition to the lessons and recommendations outlined, key informants spoke of the need to address the stigma around both substance use and IPV. Substance use coercion will remain pervasive if service providers and policies do not recognize the intersection of substance use and intimate partner violence and ensure that survivors are able to disclose their experiences without fear of stigmatization. Federal agencies can help address this issue by exploring potential strategies and creating flexible opportunities for states and local service providers to increase survivors’ options to attain economic stability and access trauma-informed mental health treatment services. To address this stigma and consider the lessons and recommendations identified in this project, it is important to listen to individuals who have experienced substance use coercion and leverage policy responses to address their needs. (Author abstract)