Cycle of Violence

Violence in an intimate relationship is often cyclical. The domestic violence cycle has three distinct phases which vary both in time and in intensity: the tension building phase; the explosion or acute battering incident; and the honeymoon phase. The cycle usually follows this pattern:

Tension Building: A period described as "walking on eggshells;" the batterer holds in stress and anger, and appears ready to explode at any moment. The battered person is unable to determine the cause of the anger, or to avoid the violence.

Violent Episode: A violent assault – physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, etc.

Honeymoon Stage: A period of apology, guilt and promises; the batterer is on his/her best behavior. In light of the often overwhelming obstacles to leaving an abusive relationship (self-blame, social pressure, lack of economic resources, social isolation, threats and fear of death, etc.), the victim of abuse may rely on the hope that the abuse will end by focusing on the honeymoon phase instead of the abuse. However, the reality is that the overall violence tends to escalate as the cycle continues.

Most relationships begin in the Honeymoon stage where the abuser gains the victim's trust and love, making it more difficult for the victim to understand why the abuse is happening.


cycle of abuse