The Cycle of Violence

Relationship violence can be tracked in a cyclical manner, known as the Cycle of Violence. The duration of each phase may vary depending on the individual perpetrator and his or her history with being violent. Some will cycle through this pattern twice a day, others twice a month, and still others, twice a year.

Tension Building: The phase includes the gradual increase in tension through arguments, isolation, blaming, and manipulation. The abuser will use events during this phase to blame the partner for "causing" the abuse and ends when the tension erupts into a violent episode. Partner frequently describes this phase as feeling like they are "walking on eggshells."

Violent Episode: This could be any physically, psychologically, or sexually abusive incident, ranging from being slapped in the fact to being sexually assaulted.

Honeymoon Phase: The period after a violent episode when the abusive partner shows remorse for what he or she has done and promises that things will change. The abuser frequently gives gifts to his or her partner, becomes less psychologically abusive, and frequently returns to the way the relationship was before the abuse began.