Sanctuary and Serenity

Cycle of Violence

Posted on: March 27, 2010

Cycle of Violence

Phase I Tension building phase

This phase can last days, weeks, months and sometimes even years. The initial infatuation of the relationship fades, and the woman attempts to stop this by pleasing, placating or staying out of his way. She thinks she can change his behavior through her actions. When this doesn’t change or stop his abuse, she withdraws. The man feels rejected and tries harder to control her activities. At this point, a woman who has experienced violence / abuse before, knows that an abusive incident will inevitably happen.

Phase II Explosive / Violence Stage

This phase can last anywhere from a few moments to a few days. Some sort of abusive incident occurs. This is often a physical attack, but can be psychological, verbal and / or emotional. This discharges the stress and tension for the abuser. After the abuse incident, the man feels instant relief. The woman often experiences shock, denial and / or disbelief that the assault occurred. It is during this phase that the police are usually called, and a majority of women seek safe shelter.

Phase III “Honeymoon” Phase

This phase immediately follows phase II and lasts longer than, but is shorter than phase I. The abuser becomes tender and apologetic, and often sends flowers or gifts, cries, and begs her forgiveness and promises to never do it again (he truly believes he won’t). He will take action to demonstrate his sincere desire to change, however his prime motivation is to get her back, not to get help for himself. Research shows that any recovery / counseling program he enters must be actively worked at for 2 years to see and change in behavior. It is a phase that keeps the woman in the relationship because she is finally getting the love and attention she wants from him. Women often say that he is back to the man they fell in love with.

Myths and Truths

1. Battering is rare : Battering is extremely common. 1/3 to 1/2 of all women in the U.S. will be assaulted by their intimate partner at some time in their life.

2. Domestic Violence occurs only in low income, poorly educated families : This behavior crosses all socio / economic, racial and religious lines. Doctors, Ministers, Psychologists, Police Officers, Judges and other professionals have battered their wives.

3. Women are just as violent as men : There are rare cases where a woman batters a man, and battering occurs in homosexual relationships also, but in the greatest majority of cases it is a man battering a woman.

4. Domestic Violence is usually a one time event : Battering is a pattern: Once violence begins in a relationship it  almost always escalates both in frequency and severity.

5. Battered women choose to stay in the violent relationship : Many battered women leave their abusers permanently, and despite many obstacles, succeed in building a life free of violence. Almost all battered women leave at least once. The perpetrator dramatically escalates his violence and coercive tactics when she leaves (or tries to).

6. Men who batter are often good Fathers and have joint custody : Of the men who batter their female partner, 70% sexually or physically abuse their children. More than 3 million children every year witness Domestic Violence and this causes as much psychological damage as though they were assaulted themselves.


* There are at least 4 million reported incidents of Domestic Violence against women every year. Almost 20% of these cause serious injury.

* Every 15 seconds a woman is battered in the U.S. by her husband, boyfriend, or live in partner.

* In the U.S., a woman is killed every 6 hours from Domestic Violence.

* Women are more likely to be murdered when attempting to report abuse or to leave an abusive relationship and in fact are at 75% greater risk of being killed at this time.

* 75% of battered women are divorced or separated from their assailant at the time of the assault.

* Up to 50% of all homeless women and children in this country are fleeing Domestic Violence.

* Every year, Domestic violence results in almost 10,000 days of hospitalization, almost 30,000 emergency department visits, and almost 40,000 visits to a physician.

* Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the U.S.

Effects on Children

Frequently, battered women are blamed for the violence their children experience as a result of living with an abusive Father. For instance, courts and Children’s Protective Services have penalized battered women for “failure to protect”, in reality, battered women strive to protect their children from violent partners. They strive to be good parents despite their own terror, depression, and injuries inflicted by their partners. Often battered women leave abusive relationships for the sake of the children. At the same time, many of them return to a relationship because they are homeless, are no longer able to provide for their children, and fear losing custody of the children. It is always the abuser’s responsibility to stop abusive behavior. It is this behavior that endangers children of battered women.

* In general, 70% of men who abuse their female partners also abuse their children.

* As violence against women becomes more severe and more frequent in the home, children experience a 300% increase in physical violence by a male batterer.

* Being abused or neglected as a child increase the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 53%, as an adult by 38% and for violent crime by 38%.

* 63% of young men between 11-20 serving time for homicide killed their Mother’s abuser.

* At least 60% of male batterers grew up in homes where they were beaten or witnessed parental battering.

* Of the children who witness their Mothers being abused by their Fathers, 40% suffer anxiety, 48% suffer depression, 53% act out with their parents and 60% act out with siblings.

* These children also suffer poor health, low self-esteem, poor impulse control, sleeping difficulties, and feelings of powerlessness. They are at high risk for alcohol and drug use, sexual acting out, running away from home, isolation, loneliness, fear and suicide.


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