Step by Step Guide to Understanding the Cycle of Violence

Understanding the cycle of violence is important. Keep reading to discover how you can understand the cycle of violence.The cycle of violence isn’t always something everyone understands. However, the more you study it, the more you do understand. The cycles of violence happen when a cycle of events happens in an abusive relationship.

The stages don’t all happen at once and it’s not all done the same way in each relationship. Sometimes it can happen within a couple of hours, while other times, it may take up to a year to complete the cycle. Continue reading to understand the cycle of violence.

Domestic Abuse Cycle: Incident

Most people have witnessed some type of domestic abuse. The first part of a domestic abuse cycle is the incident. The abuse cycle occurs in a physical or emotional way.

Physical Abuse

Dealing with physical abuse not only hurts physically but it also hurts mentally. There are many types of physical abuse and not just hitting. Keep reading to discover the different types of physical abuse. Some example of physical abuse are:

  • Hair pulling
  • Slapping
  • Hitting
  • Being rough with someone
  • Scalding
  • Burning
  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • Making someone uncomfortable on purpose (taking their blanket or opening a window to make them cold)
  • Physical punishments
  • Restraint
  • Restricting movement
  • Confinement or involuntary isolation

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is classified as abusive sexual behavior against one person. There are many types of sexual abuse that can occur within a relationship. Some example of sexual abuse are as follows:

  • Rape
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Sexual assault of men and boys
  • Incest
  • Intimate partner sexual abuse

Emotional Abuse

Also known as psychological abuse, emotional abuse can result in trauma. Emotional abuse of a person can cause anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Here are a few signs of emotional abuse that could occur:

  • Name-calling
  • Yelling
  • Public embarrassment
  • Sarcasm
  • Appearance insights
  • Patronizing
  • Threats
  • Monitoring your whereabouts
  • Being treated like a child
  • Outbursts
  • Direct orders

Tension Building

During the tension-building phase, this is when the abuser starts to get angry and the victim will oftentimes, try to deescalate the situation. Both individuals usually experience a wide range of emotions during this period.

The victim may feel that they need to be very careful with any words that they speak. They may experience humiliation, anger, hopelessness, afraid, or become depressed. Because of this, they may try to use drugs or alcohol to tap out of the situation.

As the tension begins to rise, the abuser becomes irritable, and dishes outfits of rage, along with verbal abuse. During the second half of the tension building phase, the abuser becomes irrational and dangerously violent, or even a desire to kill at this point. Victims usually feel helpless while trying to protect themselves, and may try to seek help from others.


This is the stage during the cycle where the abuser appears to feel remorse for the physical, verbal, or sexual abuse that they caused towards the victim.

The abuser may promise through tears, or what appears to be a sincere apology, that they will never do it again. In most situations, the victim believes them, even when it has happened a handful of times before.

There are times where the abuser may even push the blame onto the victim at this point, telling them that they were forced to respond the way that they did. Had the victim not acted in a certain way or said the wrong things, that they would never have been abused the way in which they did. The abusive individual may tell the victim that the abuse never took place, or that they are making up the severity of the incident.

The Calm

Following the make-up stage, there is usually a calm after the storm. This period of time could last for several weeks or months, or even as little as a few hours depending on the abusive individual and their situation. He or she at this point will live as if the incident never happened and the abuse will stop during this point.

It is also pretty common for the abuser to present gifts or any other method they think might work in the hopes of buying back their victim’s affection. The victim may begin to feel a false sense of security, believing that the abuse is finally over and that they won’t be put in that situation again.

Breaking the Cycle

It’s important for you to be aware that any form of abuse will not go away on its own. That’s why it’s called a cycle. Seeking outside help and healing is the only way change will ever take place.

The domestic abuse cycle will continue to happen and only worsen over time if nothing is ever done about it. This includes therapy for not only the abuser but help for the victim(s) and their children who may have witnessed the violence.

Victims are especially fragile due to their situation and emotions that are not dealt with can lead them to make the same mistakes their abuser made later on down the road. This isn’t true for everyone.

Most victims and children who witnessed violence go on and choose to never hurt another individual because of what they experienced. Nonetheless, it’s crucial that they seek guidance and counsel for what they went through.


The cycle of violence has a rollercoaster of emotions that each individual experiences throughout the process. This can be terrifying, painful, or emotionally devastating to anyone that may witness or fall victim to it.

If you or someone you know has been hurt in the past by violence and the abuser has promised never to hurt you again, don’t believe it. Unless that person has sought out help for their behavior, they will continue to put you and your family in danger.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at  1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Make sure you tell the person everything, so they can add it to their chart.

Show Comments

No Responses Yet

Leave a Reply