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Cycle of Violence

Many individuals who experience relationship violence describe living through a repeated cycle of abuse.

Cycle of Violence

Although each dating relationship is unique, there is a pattern that develops in many abusive relationships. This pattern is called the Cycle of Violence. This cycle helps explain the most often asked question: “Why do people stay?”

The Honeymoon:
Abusive relationships don’t appear abusive when they first begin. More often we find that a relationship appears perfect, almost too good to be true. This 1st honeymoon phase can sweep someone off their feet as they begin to gain trust for this new person in their life. As their trust strengthens feelings of love follow.

The Tension Building Phase:
This part of the cycle is gradual. A person doesn’t know why the wonderful, loving dating partner they fell in love with during the honeymoon has changed. S/he may begin calling the other person names, going through their phone or social network sites, making comments about their intelligence, how they look, what friends they have, etc. These changes raise the level of tension to the point where the couple may not be talking at all. The abuser can be threatening, intimidating, and uses jealously as an excuse for their behavior.

The Explosion Phase:
After days or weeks of tension building the explosion is where the abuser’s behavior escalates and it the moment most often associated with physical violence. However, there can be many forms of abuse during this Explosion.

  • Direct Physical Violence: hitting, pushing
  • Verbal Abuse: yelling, spreading rumors
  • Non-Direct Physical Violence: throwing things, punching walls
  • Non-Verbal: threatening notes, emails

Honeymoon after the Explosion:
Although an explosion has just occurred the abuser wants to continue the relationship. S/he will do whatever it takes to convince the victim that things will be better and nothing will ever happen again. Throughout the Tension Building and Explosion phases communication has been minimal, but now the abuser wants to talk things out and get the victim to start thinking about the great times they had together. For the victim, s/he is simply wanting the abusive behavior to end and hoping none of the threats, rules, and intimidation will return. Fear of their partner’s abusive behavior the #1 reason why someone stays in an abusive relationship.