The cycle of domestic violence



Persistence is an important consideration in differentiating between spousal abuse and quarrel [2]. Persistence refers to the cycle of domestic violence. In this repetition of domestic violence events, a chain of strategies will be used to dominate the spouse. This cycle repeats itself several times and accelerates

Phase 1 – Climate of tension

The abusive spouse, who is responsible for the violence, manifests angry excesses, heavy silences, intimidations, threatening looks. The spouse who lives with violence feels that it’s going to go badly, she feels worried, she puts a lot of energy to lower the tension, she is afraid, she paralyzes and she has the impression to walk on eggshells.

Phase 2 – Crisis or aggression

The abusive spouse uses strategies such as verbal, psychological, physical, economic, social and sexual abuse. The spouse who experiences violence has feelings of anger and shame: she feels humiliated, she feels sad and she has an impression of injustice.

Phase 3 – Justification

The violent spouse justifies himself; he finds excuses, he explains why there was a breakup. The reasons are outside of him. It is always the fault of his spouse. As for the spouse who lives violence, she feels responsible for what is happening. She will believe and understand the justifications of her spouse: “If I could help him change … I will adjust to him. She doubts her perceptions, she feels responsible, her anger “disappears” and her impression of injustice diminishes to give way to doubts.

Phase 4 – Honeymoon or Reconciliation

The abusive spouse does everything to be forgiven. He asks for help, talks about therapy and suicide. The spouse who lives violence now has hope, she sees the efforts of change, she gives him a chance, she helps him, she recovers the one she loves and she changes her attitudes.

Cycle of violence in Spanish:

[1] Violence conjugale : « Je veux comprendre. » : Cycle de la violence conjugale (Domestic violence : “I want to understand.” Spousal violence cycle. In French only)
[2] Violence, Conflit ou agressivité : y a-t-il moyen de se démêler?  Diane Prud’homme Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale. ([2] Violence, Conflict or aggression: Is there a way to unravel? Diane Prud’homme Grouping houses for women victims of spousal violence).