If you are in or have been in a domestic violence relationship you may notice after time incidents of violence or abuse follow a cycle or pattern. In this article we will look at the typical cycle of abuse. Remember, it may not be exactly like this but very similar.
Tension Building Phase
In this part of the cycle, the abuser becomes angry about something. You didn’t clean the house right, you didn’t have dinner made on time, you stayed at work to late, she asked you to do something but you didn’t do it on her schedule, he wants to know what you spent money on, etc. You may feel like you are “walking on eggshells”. You try to do everything you can to make your abuser happy again to calm them down to prevent abuse. He/she may stop communicating with you as they stew over what you did or didn’t do. Then there is the explosion, the time bomb goes off and the abuser begins. Remember, abuse can take many forms: hitting, smacking, screaming, yelling, sexual assault or withholding sex, cutting you off from finances, family, friends, etc.
Making Up Phase
After an abusive incident, several things may occur. The abuser apologizes to “make it go away”. Of course, the abuser may not apologize and act like nothing happened. He/she may just let things blow over and not mention the incident at all ever again yet you are hurt and confused. There may be promises of it never happening again. Or the abuser will blame the victim for everything that occurred (“If you didn’t do this, then I wouldn’t have done that.” Or “If only you were more like this, I wouldn’t do that.”). My abuser liked to blame other people for his outbursts or blame the medication he was taking. He thought everyone was out to get him yet took it out on me.
Calm or Honeymoon Phase
This is usually the phase that really brainwashes a victim. The abuser lavishes you with attention, gifts, sex, dinner, etc. Whatever you want to make you happy again until the next incident of abuse. Promises he/she made during the making up phase are met or somewhat met. It is like the calm after the storm. Everything is peaceful and quiet but you are still uneasy, appeasing the abuser, praying this was the last time he will hit you or she will scream at you.
Usually the Making up Phase and the Honeymoon Phase get shorter and shorter between incidents of abuse and the Tension Building Phase will get longer and longer. Recognizing this cycle will help you recognize that you are in an abusive relationship.