Domestic Violence - Cycle of Violence

In recognition of October and Domestic Violence Month, we're continuing our education on spousal abuse and domestic violence. Yesterday Teri introduced us to the many signs of domestic violence. Today we're going to talk about the cycle or common pattern that domestic violence tends to fall into. Here's how it begins:

  • Abuse - The abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show "who is boss".
  • Guilt - After abusing, the abusive partner feels guilt, but not over what they have done. They are more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for their abusive behavior.
  • Excuses - The abuser rationalizes what he or she has done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame the other person for the abusive behavior - anything to avoid taking responsibility.
  • "Normal" behavior- The abuser does everything they can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. They act as if nothing has happened, or they may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that they abuser has really changed this time.
  • Fantasy and planning- The abuser begins to fantasize about abusing again. They spend alot of time thinking about what the other person has done wrong and how they'll make the other person pay. Then they make a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.
  • Set-up - The abuser sets the victim up and puts their plan in motion, creating a situation where they can justify abusing.

The abuser's apologies and caring/loving gestures in between episodes of abuse can make it difficult for anyone to leave a relationship. They may make you believe you are the only person who can help them, that things will be different this time, or that they truly love you. However, the dangers of staying are valid.

If you or someone you love is experiencing Domestic Violence and you need help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).  Thursday we will be discussing how to recognize the signs in someone else who may be in an abusive relationship. Thank you for reading!

*Sources: &

Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counselingat Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.