All relationships that turn abusive tend to follow the same pattern. This pattern is called ‘The Cycle of Violence’. The cycle often begins with a quick romantic relationship. Partner is easy to talk to, fun to be around, charming, wins over family and friends and gives lots of gifts and romancing. Within a short time, the couple spends all their time together.
- Tension Stage: Could be a few days, weeks, months or even years into the relationship. The partner begins to create tension over minor things. This stage is characterized by insults, put downs, name calling, threats and “walking on eggshells”. An incident triggers a violent episode.
- Violent Episode: This is the most dangerous stage. The incident is something unusual from the way he/she acts. This stage is characterized by lack of control that may result in physical injury, sexual assault or even death. Incident may scare the victim or make he/she question relationship. The incident catches the victim off-guard.
- Calm Stage: The aggressor promises to never do it again. The aggressor will often buy flowers, gifts or act caring. There is a promise to get help or change. The aggressor may become the romantic, lovable person the victim first met and spend quality time with the kids.
Abusers use fear, guilt, shame and intimidation to maintain control in the relationship. All abusive relationships follow this cycle of violence but what can differ between relationships is the timeline of the cycle and the level of violence the victim may experience. For example, the timeline between stages could be days or weeks for some and months to years for others. Some victims will suffer from hitting and punching while another victim could endure serious assaults with weapons. Again while every relationship is different, all abusive relationships follow this cycle.
Family violence and abuse does not discriminate. Abuse happens among heterosexual couples and same sex couples. It happens within all age groups, all ethnic backgrounds and all economic levels. Abusive behavior is never acceptable.
If you recognize yourself living within the cycle of violence and are experiencing violence in your relationship, please contact our 24 hours crisis line at (780) 875-0966 or learn about Safety Planning.