Cycle of Violence

There are relationships where you can see a predictable cycle of violence with several distinct phases. This is not always the case, but many victims of abuse do report being able to predict each phase of the cycle before it occurs.



* Build-Up Phase – The tension builds within the perpetrator for various reasons (such as family pressures, work stresses or their own thought patterns.) The abuser’s behavior becomes more aggressive and intense regardless of how hard the victim tries to calm them. Other individuals and couples have a range of reactions to this tension, which do not include the use of violence, but in the abusive relationship it leads to the next phase.

* Stand-Over Phase – Most times, because of the perpetrator’s physical strength and their realistic and frightening threats to hurt the victim, the victim feels as through she is under the abuser’s control. Their verbal attacks will weaken the victim even more. Many victims say that they feel that they are walking on egg shells.

* Explosion Phase – A violent outburst occurs which is usually carried out in a fit of self-righteous rage. These outburst are likely to intensify over time. After the assault, the abuser enters the next phase.

*Remorse Phase – The abuser may feel ashamed or guilty or afraid of the consequences. However, they will usually deny or understate the violence and refuse to take responsibility for their actions. The abuser may claim that the victim is responsible for the violence because they provoked them, because they deserved it, because the abuser was out of control and did not realize what they were doing.

* Pursuit phase – If the victim leaves the abuser following the violence incident, they will usually try extremely hard to win the victim back. This is also known as the “Buy-Back Phase” because the abuser will try to buy back their partner by giving them gifts, being loving and attentive, and promising that they will never hurt them again. They may promise to seek counseling or to begin to attend church.  The victim may return, wanting to believe that the abuser has changed, however, if the victim refuses to go back, the violence may escalate. THIS IS THE TIME IN WHICH MOST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MURDERS OCCUR. Many victims return to their abuser out of fear, because they feel needed, or to protect the abuser from harming themselves. Then the couple moves into the next phase. 

* The Honeymoon Phase – If a reconciliation occurs, the couple may experience an intense, intimate relationship where neither wants to remember the pain of the violence and earlier difficulties are typically denied. The abuser may be responsive to the victim’s needs and the victim hopes, or believes, that the abuser has changed. Unfortunately, in battering relationships, the cycle inevitably continues as the underlying issue of control reappears and the relationship weakens again under the growing weight of tensions.

The cycle begins again……..