How To Stop the Cycle of Abuse

Cycle of Abuse
Cycle of Abuse

The Cycle of Abuse

What is the cycle of abuse? “The cycle of abuse is a social  theory developed in that tries to explain the patterns of behavior that tend to occur in an abusive relationship. Every relationship and situation is different of course, but usually the cycle of abuse remains at least somewhat consistent.Sometimes abuse seems to come out of nowhere. Everything is going smoothly and then BOOM, something happens and the cycle starts. Below we are going to go over the 4 stages in the cycle of abuse. Once you’re well armed and ready to take action, the cycle can be broken.

1. Tension Builds – During this phase the stress of daily life adds up. Common misunderstandings happen, financial woes, and even raising the children can all add to the tension building. To reduce the tension the victim will often become very compliant and make attempts to calm the situation.

2. The Incident – This is typically the explosive situation. This can be physical violence, emotional terrorism, intimidation, and many other things. Sometimes a repeat victim will instigate this part of the cycle in the hopes of “getting it over with” or lessening the potential injury. It’s important to note, no matter how the abuse starts, the victim is not to blame.

3. Forgive & Forget – During this part of the cycle of abuse the abuser will often apologize, reassure the victim that it “won’t happen again”. This can also manifest in both the victim and abuser ignoring the incident all together. Many times the victim is humiliated and confused, and may wrongly feel responsible for the abuse. The abuser will use this time to deflect attention from the situation, make sure law enforcement does not get involved, and other scenarios that work towards the abusers benefit.

4. The Calm Before the Storm – Some people might call this the “honeymoon period”. During this time the relationship can seemingly get back on track. Sometimes counseling is involved, or therapy. The abuser will often be more attentive and “caring” in order to “prove” the abuse will not last. However, this cycle feeds directly back into the tension building and can be hard to spot before a repeat incident happens.

It’s important to remember that ANY abuse is not the victims fault. If you’re looking for more information on breaking the cycle of abuse, or know someone who is being abused, there is help.

Abuse of any kind is not OK.
Once is one too many times.


To break the cycle call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

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