The Cycle of Abuse
The Distinct Patterns of Abusive Relationships
Most abusive relationships display a distinct pattern, known as the Cycle of Abuse or Cycle of Violence. Abuse is rarely constant but cycles between tension building, acting out, the honeymoon or “make up” period, and calm.
Not all relationships follow the same cycle, and individual experiences vary. Some stages, especially the honeymoon or calm periods, may shorten or be left out completely, especially as the abuse intensifies over a period of time.
Each stage of the cycle can last from a few minutes to a number of months, but within an abusive relationship, the following stages can often be pin-pointed:
- Tension starts and steadily builds
- Abuser starts to get angry
- Communication breaks down
- Victim feels pressured to yield to the abuser
- Tension becomes too much
- Victim feels uneasy and the need to watch every move
- Abuser apologizes for abuse; may beg forgiveness or show remorse
- Abuser may promise it will never happen again
- Victim blamed for provoking the abuse or denies abuse occurred
- Abuser minimizes or denies the abuse
- Abuses may decrease or stop
- Abuser acts like the abuse never happened
- Promises made during honeymoon stage may be met
- Abuser may give gifts to victim
- Victim believes the abuse is over and the abuser will change
Abuse is not about you, or something you did wrong. Abuse is rooted in power and control – abusers seek to dominate their victims. If you recognize these signs, you or someone you know, may be a victim of abuse.
You are not alone.
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