Most people don’t grow up thinking they will be involved in domestic violence. Generally speaking, people don’t train themselves to spot the signs. Sure, tv shows are always using it in their stories, and there are a lot of women who are starting to speak up about it. But it’s not something our society has really confronted. The truth is, it’s far more common than you might realize. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men face violence classified as “severe.”
Domestic violence tends to follow a cyclical pattern with four main phases.
Phase 1: The Tension-Building Phase is marked by escalating conflict and tension. During this phase, communication begins to break down. Minor arguments become major arguments. And victims usually feel like they are walking on eggshells all the time.
Phase 2: The Acute or Explosive Phase comes next. This is the stage where the abuser engages in the abusive behavior. This could be physical, emotional, psychological, or even sexual. It’s not uncommon for the abuser to “lose control” of themselves during this phase.
Phase 3: During the Honeymoon Phase, the abuser begins to show remorse and affection. Whether the abuser feels guilt or only a desire to control their partner, they will try to “win back” their victim. Gifts, promises, and affection are given in a conditional sense.
Phase 4: The final phase, a Calm Phase, follows. The abuser may show improvement. Victims often say that their abuser has changed and choose to stay. But this is typically only a false change. The cycle begins again with the first phase after time or a trigger resets the cycle.
Not every case will look like this. Each case has unique circumstances and challenges, along with differences in severity and duration. And some cases don’t fit this general pattern at all. But understanding the cycle is a good place to start with trying to break it.
Breaking The Cycle
Here are 4 simple steps to start breaking the cycle:
- Seek professional help and counseling
- Contact law enforcement when any abuse becomes dangerous
- Establish a strong support system with friends and family
- Create a safety plan and exit strategy
You may be wondering why I wasn’t more specific. That’s because I can’t tell you what to do in a blog post. The first and most important step is to seek help. Whether you have noticed tendencies toward violence in yourself or your partner, you can’t break the cycle alone.
The good news is that the cycle of domestic violence can be broken. The hard news is that it isn’t easy on anyone. But it is worth it when you come out on the other side healthier for you and your family.
If any of this has connected with you, and you need some help figuring out where to start and what to do, please come sit by our fireplace. We’d love to listen to you and help you find a way to break the cycle.