The Vicious Cycle of Domestic Violence
The cycle aims to shed some light on how one person can stand being in an abusive relationship. The cycle can happen hundreds of times and each stage lasts a different amount of time in a relationship. The total cycle of domestic violence can take anywhere from a few hours to a year or more to complete. As the violence escalates, the time between the stages decreases. As the tension builds, so does the frequency of beatings and of false gestures of love.
Incident. Abuse is not an isolated incident. There is a pattern and its’ frequency and gravity increases over time. Therefore, it is important to take advantage of the predictability of the abusive behavior and to consider even the littlest form of abuse as a serious threat.
- Any type of abuse occurs (physical/sexual/emotional) to you and other family members
Tension Building. In the first stage, the tension between the couple increases. This build-up tension leads to more arguments or rather, it occurs more frequently. During this time of heightened hostility, the victim is made aware of what will happen to her if she is not submissive to his demands.
- Abuser starts to get angry
- Abuse may begin such as the battering incidents and verbal assaults
- There is a breakdown of communication
- Victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm
- Victim believes that it is possible to control the abuser by appeasing him and by being submissive
- Tension becomes too much
- Victim feels like they are ‘walking on egg shells’
Making-Up. In the second stage, the abuser becomes remorseful though he is not truly sorry for what he did, because most abusers blame the incident on the other party. He becomes loving towards the victim nevertheless. At this point, he acts contrite for hurting his partner and reassures her that it will not transpire ever again.
- Abuser may apologize for abuse
- Abuser may promise it will never happen again
- Abuser may blame the victim for causing the abuse
- Abuser may deny abuse took place or say it was not as bad as the victim claims
Calm. In the third stage, the abuser lets up on the battering. He returns to his “normal” state, the man you fell in love with. He tries to make up for the brutal incident by showering the victim with gifts and affection. The victim is led to believe that the violence has stopped. Both parties will deny that the abuse even took place or how violent the incident was.
- Abuser acts like the abuse never happened
- Physical abuse may not be taking place
- Promises made during ‘making-up’ may be met
- Victim may hope that the abuse is over
- Abuser may give gifts to victim
The cycle of domestic violence proves that the abuser follows a compulsive pattern. Most victims can anticipate the onslaught of the violent behavior since it has occurred to them often. It is important to remember that not all domestic violence relationships fit the cycle. You may not experience or relate to all of the stages. Often, as time goes on, the ‘making-up’ and ‘calm’ stages disappear. You may be experiencing the violent outbursts on a regular basis, without it subsiding or gradually evolving to the remorseful, make-up stage.
Advocacy groups and crises centers are established based on informative research and studies. In response to this cycle of domestic violence, legal courts are able to understand and gain insight on the behavior of both parties.