Domestic Abuse – The Cycle of Violence

Forgive me for being a little late with this post…I’m a little under the weather (sick).

Last week I shared my experience as a victim of Domestic Abuse.  Today, we’re going to look at the Cycle of Violence. Violent relationships usually do not begin with violence. Like normal, healthy couples, they begin with romance.


During this time, the abuser bonds with their partner. Domestic violence relationships never return to romance once the cycle begins.


The abuser begins to assert his or her power over the victim in an attempt to control the victim’s actions. Abusers will set rules for the victim that are impossible to follow. Rules often may include no contact with family members, money spending rules and/or needing to obtain permission for everything the victim does. Abusers use demeaning, degrading and derogatory phrases toward the victim in an attempt to “objectify” the victim. This is done because it is easier to commit violence against an “object” rather than someone you are supposed to love.

The victim may internalize the appropriate anger at the abuser’s unfairness and experience physical effects such as depression, tension, anxiety and headaches. As the tension in the relationship increases, minor episodes of violence increase, such as pinching, slapping or shoving. The rules are nearly impossible to follow, but victims try to follow them in an attempt to forestall the inevitable assaults. The violation of the rules leads the couple into the next phase.


During this phase, the abuser exhibits uncontrolled violence outbursts. This is the shortest of the three but the most dangerous. Abusers decide to teach the victim a lesson and will usually injure the victim. The injuries may start out as minor such as a slap, a pinch, or hair pulling. As the cycle continues the violence becomes increasingly brutal and escalates into a great bodily injury or death.

If death does not occur, the victims usually react with shock, denial or disbelief, and the cycle continues into the third phase, the Acute Battering Phase, which ends in an explosion of violence. The victim may or may not fight back. Following the battering, the victim is in a state of physical and psychological shock. The abuser may discount the episode and underestimate the victim’s injuries.


During this last phase of the cycle of violence, the abuser usually begins an intense effort to win forgiveness and ensure that the relationship will not break up. Abusers ask for forgiveness, say it will not happen again and behave in a loving manner. While abusers apologize, they still blame the victim for the violence saying something like, “If you had only stayed home like I asked you, I wouldn’t have had to hit you…” or “I’ll never do it again…” Often abusers use gifts to convince the victim to forgive. The victim wants to believe that the abuse will end. The victim’s hopes that the abuse will now stop is supported by the abuser’s loving behavior. Once violence has begun, it continues to increase in both frequency and severity. The cycle is then repeated starting with the Tension Building Phase.

Next week I’ll tell you where to find help and how I got out of a bad situation.

Until next time…