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Cycle of Violence

Violence in a relationship often follows a predictable cycle that repeats itself continually. Over time, couples pass through the cycle more quickly and the level of violence increases. This cycle consists of three stages:

Phase I: Tension Building Phase

  • Tension and stress is building; you can feel it, it's like "walking on eggshells."
  • Increased anger, blaming and arguing; more tension/stress in the relationship.
  • May involve minor instances of physical abuse.
  • The pattern becomes familiar over time and the victim becomes frightened, knowing what will happen if they do not comply.
  • Phase progresses more quickly as this cycle is repeated.

Phase II: Abusive Behavior

  • Abusive partner loses desire or ability to control their anger; abuse/violence relieves stress that has been building.
  • An act of violence occurs.
  • Victim is often very fearful; feels helpless and depressed.

Phase III: "Honeymoon Period"

  • A period of relative calm.
  • Abuser is sorry, promises it will never happen again; or,
  • Abuser denies, ignores or minimizes the incident of violence; blames the victim for the abuse – "if you would just _____", "it's your fault, you make me so angry."
  • Victim wants to believe the promises that "it will never happen again..."

Then, Phase I begins again. This cycle of violence continues, and over time, the cycle progresses more quickly, and the level of violence tends to increase. Many people may question why an individual stays in a violent relationship. There are many reasons why people stay. Help is needed to break this cycle of violence.


2017-01-27T09:36:15.751-06:00 2017
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