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The Cycle of Domestic Violence

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The cycle of domestic violence begins with the Tension Building Stage, then moves into the Acute Explosion Stage, followed by the Honeymoon Stage—which eventually leads back to the Tension Building Stage.

Tension Building Stage:

The batterer is moody, nitpicking. He isolates the woman, puts her down, withdraws affection. He yells, drinks, does drugs. He criticizes and is sullen. He threatens her and destroys property.

The woman responds by attempting to calm him. Depending on the moment she may be nurturing, silent or talkative. She stays in isolation, withdraws, tries to keep the children quiet. She tries to reason with him.

She tries to pacify him with food by cooking his favorite dinner. She feels like she is walking on eggshells.

Acute Explosion Stage:

The batterer may hit, choke, rape or imprison the woman. He humiliates and verbally abuses her. He beats her and may use weapons. The woman responds by trying to protect herself in any way possible. She goes to neighbors, gathers the kids, calls the police. She tries to reason with him, calm him down. She fights back or she leaves.

Honeymoon Stage:

The batterer says he’s sorry, cries, begs forgiveness. He promises to get counseling, go to church, go to AA. He sends flowers and brings presents. He says he’ll never do it again and enlists family support for him.

He declares his love and wants to make love.

The woman agrees to stay, return, or take him back. She attempts to stop any legal proceedings. She sets up counseling for him. She feels happy and hopeful.

The Honeymoon Stage eventually fades, tension builds, and the cycle starts all over again.