Hidden Hurt Domestic Abuse Information

Chaos Addiction and Domestic Violence

In this brief overview on chaos addiction and domestic violence, Laura Jackson gives us an overview not only of situations in which chaos addication can develop, but also shows the specific application with regard to domestic violence for those living with abuse, both for the perpetrator and victim.


Dealing with a domestic violence situation can be complex, complicated, and heartbreaking. Abuse manifests itself in many different ways; some are obvious, others are more difficult to identify and to trace. Many perpetrators of abuse are extremely aware of what they are doing, while others may not be self-aware enough to realise that they are developing abusive tendencies. This does not in any way condone the harm they inflict, but it is important to recognise just how deep-rooted and complicated abuse can be. Many people who are involved in abusive relationships are aware of their fear and displacement, but may not recognise that the relationship is abusive. The lifestyle which they have come to know has become "normal" and the difficult circumstances which they have come to anticipate are now a regular feature of life.

For many victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, this constant exposure to abuse correlates with extreme cases of what is called "chaos addiction." People who are addicted to chaos cannot function in what is generally accepted as the "norm", meaning that high drama, dysfunctional relationships and abuse is their accepted life; the body is constantly exposed to adrenaline. Not all people who suffer from chaos addiction are abusers, nor are they necessarily subject to abuse, and it is also important to acknowledge that chaos addiction occurs at varying degrees and extremes. In the case of domestic abuse, identifying chaos addiction can be a key component in the healing process.

Living with Chaos Addiction

In many cases, chaos addiction is caused by common examples of people who live in highly dysfunctional family environments; there may be substance abuse, physical/mental/sexual abuse, frequent displacement from home, instability by continuously changing circumstances, etc. to the point where "normal" and "chaos" become inverted; a relative smooth, non-chaotic life will then be problematic from someone suffering from chaos addiction. It is essential to note that people who are addicted to chaos do not choose to be drawn to chaos, anxiety and drama. Their psychology has simply been subject to so much that the very construct of life itself has become reversed. This is what allows cycles of both abuse and addiction to continue.

Many abusers of domestic violence who are addicted to chaos and who are very aware of what they doing will understand how conditioning will work in the domestic context. Slowly and surely, they will "condition" their victims by isolating them from friends and family, and establish a "new" set of norms for their victim. Over time, being restricted to where they can go, what they can do, and who they can talk to as well as subject to an environment in which anxiety is always present, victims will also become accustomed to chaos. Detaching themselves from this environment and being able to function in a lifestyle where they are free, independent and safe can be extremely difficult because it is so drastic from the world they have known. This is partly why so many victims of domestic violence continue to find themselves in violent situations again and again, and why children who have been exposed to this kind of violence often continue the cycle when they are older.

Finding Hope

One of the first steps to breaking this addiction is to examine beneath "the tip of the iceberg" and investigate exactly what factors are contributing to chaos addiction. As many critics duly note, an addiction itself is often not the core problem, but the result of a greater problem or series of problems. Removing these factors - such as taking someone out of a domestic abuse situation is essential. Someone suffering from domestic abuse must also relearn what "normal" is and the boundaries between right and wrong, treat chaotic tendencies as relapses, recognise chaotic behaviour, and develop alternative coping mechanisms to anxiety through professional help, support from friends and family, and other forms of therapy which not only restore a sense of self, but help to clear the mind and soul. Holistic therapy can be beneficial for those who want to take a more spiritual route. Most importantly, it is love, compassion, and an open mind which will make the difference in a person's life, especially when they need it most.

Return from Chaos Addiction and Domestic Violence to Domestic Violence Articles

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In This Section:

Related Pages:

Emotional Abuse
What is Normal?
Emotional Boundaries

Recommended Reading:

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie

Life after getting out of an abusive relationship often continues to be a struggle, and It's My Life Now offers guidance to overcoming common pitfalls, blending worksheets with insights on self exploration and ongoing growth. From handling feels of loss and guilt to overcoming feelings associated with having loved an abuser, this book continues to offer invaluable lessons and be a real source of help and strength:

To order in the US: It's My Life Now: Starting Over After an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence, 2nd Edition

To order in the UK: It's My Life Now

Click on the donate botton below to support Hidden Hurt. Thanks you.

UK National Domestic Violence Freephone number 0808 2000 247


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In The UK: Hidden Hurt Survivor Poetry I (Hidden Hurt Series)

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