Marijuana and Domestic Violence – A Personal Testimony

Breaking the Cycle of Marijuana and Domestic Violence, a 28-year Journey

I started smoking pot when I was 17. My father died suddenly when I was 13, and my home was no longer happy.  I couldn’t see that I was anesthetizing my pain.  I loved the way marijuana made me feel and I took every opportunity to smoke it. At first I was afraid to try it, but once I put my fears aside and smoked it, I decided my parents had been wrong when they warned me against using all drugs.

Instead of going to college, as my mother wished, I dropped out because my marijuana habit got in the way of studying. I had a bad early marriage and a daughter. I constantly thought about the decisions I had to make in life and felt that I had tried hard to do the best at all times. Somehow it ended up with my life falling apart once or twice a year.  It was very difficult to put together a solid foundation for myself or my child. By the time I was 30, I had been through a failed marriage and two boyfriends, and had been battered in all three relationships.

There is a link between marijuana use and domestic violence.

I was desperate to make a decent life for my daughter and I knew I was dragging her through the mud with me. My life was at a dead end. But no matter how guilty or terrible I felt about what I was doing, I never saw that it might have anything to do with the fact that I smoked pot every single day – naw! It couldn’t have been THAT! After all, pot is perfectly harmless, right? Something deep down inside of me was falling to pieces. I hadn’t been to jail, I wasn’t leaving bars with strange men or failing to feed my child. Nobody was threatening to take her from me. I was working as the secretary to a judge in a small town by then, but at night my life was horrendous. I had gotten back together with my daughter’s father.

After she went to bed at night we would smoke pot.  It usually ended up with him beating up on me, or tearing up the house.  Nobody knew what was really happening behind closed doors, but we had scene after scene in that living room.  There was so much abuse that it is a miracle I am alive– way too much abuse for me to chronicle in this article, or it would have been 20 pages!

For example, one night he had me down on the floor beating me. We we were both high.  Our daughter, 7-1/2, ran out of her bedroom and jumped on her father’s back, yelling: “Don’t hurt my mommy!” He picked her up and ran into her bedroom, locking the door behind them and shouting, “I’m going to beat her a**!” I jumped up and ran to the door, screaming at him to open the door and let her out, warning him not to spank or hurt her in any way. He refused to open the door. I ran outside to the woodpile and grabbed the ax, ran back into the house, and then chopped down her bedroom door. He gave her back to me unharmed, but how much had my child suffered from being in such a scene? Oh well, it didn’t really matter, because the next day we got high again and moved forward in time to the next scene.

Marijuana and Domestic Violence Brought Despair and Hopelessness

I attempted suicide when I was 30 and from that point forward I moved through life like a zombie. I had no choice. All of my choices were taken away. All I could do was move through each day and get high at every opportunity, but of course in my mind getting high wasn’t the problem. I went to the battered women’s group, went to church, talked to a counselor, went to the pastor, talked to my mother, my sister, my brother, my friends and nothing cleared up. I couldn’t figure out what was  wrong with me. What could it be? It was a mystery. I felt I had tried everything, including suicide, and nothing worked.

Early marijuana use is predictive of intimate partner violence, for both perpetrators and victims.

One night in the summer of 1987 I had a huge fight with my daughter’s father and he ran off into the night on foot after fracturing my arm. After a stint in the emergency room of the local hospital, I came back home exhausted and put my daughter to bed.

The next morning I called my mother and asked her what I should do. I said maybe I should take both of our paychecks, which were on top of the fridge, cash them, and try to get a place to live, since we were planning to move away from town. I looked up and realized he had been sleeping in the spare room, heard what I was saying, had pulled my paycheck down and lit one end of it on fire! I grabbed the lit paycheck and he went all over the house tearing up everything and breaking anything he could get his hands on. My whole life was in tatters. He tore the phone from the wall and my mother called the police, who removed him from the house – right in the middle of our planned move.

Marijuana and Domestic Violence Breaking Out of the Cycle of Dependency and Abuse

It was at this point that an acquaintance told me about Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous and handed me a book about recovery. I read it and immediately signed up for a 30-day outpatient rehab program. I stopped smoking pot, drinking, taking any mind altering substances or living with men who were addicts on July 15, 1987, and I have been sober ever since. It wasn’t easy, but I stayed with it. I put 100% of my effort into getting and staying sober from that day forward and I now have 28 years of complete sobriety. I’ve gone to meetings all of these years and the program of recovery has helped me to rebuild my life based on something much bigger, better and more sacred than smoking a joint. A researcher team from the University of Florida published a study about marijuana and intimate partner violence.  (To read the sequel to my life since my sobriety began 28 years ago, read Part 2. I wish to be anonymous.  Everything I say about my journey is not meant to represent the opinion of Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous. )

We published Part 3, which she wrote two years later, as she celebrates her 30 years of sobriety.