Cycle of Violence

Phase 1 – Tension Building

  • Minor incidents of battering occur
  • Increased levels of psychological and emotional abuse
  • Victim is in denial and rationalizes they have done something wrong to provoke the violence and deserve it
  • Victim believes they are the one who should change
  • Victim becomes more withdrawn – pushes away family, friends and children
  • Victim knows what is coming
  • Abuser sees withdrawal as a rejection
  • Victim tries to keep the abuser happy
  • Increased possessiveness by abuser in hopes of keeping the victim captive

Phase 2 – Violent Incident

  • Tension discharges through violent assault
  • Almost always occurs in home where no one (other than children) will witness or stop assault
  • Victim is basically powerless to do anything other than flee or hide
  • Sometimes victim will provoke violence – senses it’s inevitable and wants to get it over with
  • Victim tends to be isolated – embarrassed, in shock or too badly hurt to leave
  • Abuser will not allow victim to leave
  • Victim feels shame – I allowed someone to do this to me

Phase 3 – Honeymoon Stage

  • Calm and loving period
  • Abuser promises to change and never hurt victim again
  • Abuser tries to make victim feel guilty and responsible for the violence
  • The abuser does and says things the victim wishes they would do all the time
  • The abuser believes they have re-established control, but may not be sorry for what they’ve done to the victim
  • Both victim and abuser often rationalize and minimize severity of incident
  • Many victims leave at the beginning stage – if victim leaves, abuser won’t be willing to let him/her go and will begin a campaign to get him/her back – often using children as a tool or threat
  • This state represents the victim’s idealistic view of how marriage or a relationship should be and victim can’t resist giving it “one more try”

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