The Cycle of Violence



Stages of Healthy Gay Relationships

Intro To Domestic Violence

Introduction to Gay Male Domestic Violence

Treatment Of Domestic Violence

Treatment Of Domestic Violence

DV Links


Intro To Domestic Violence
Cycle of Violence

Assessing for Violence

Safety Plans

Causes of Domestic Violence

Violence between partners generally follows a cycle, and recognition of the couple's point in the cycle is important to assess risk for violence. The Cycle of Violence entails three stages.
  • Stage 1 is sometimes called "The Calm Before The Storm Stage" as it begins with a calm period, but tension and stress slowly build. There may be "minor" incidents, with pushing, threats, throwing things... but no outbreak of severe violence. The victim is more likely to try and delay movement to the next stage by trying to "stay out of the way" of the abuser, please and placate them, and avoid doing anything that might make them angry. This can go on for extended periods, and can lead to considerable rationalization, excuse-making, and denial of the problem. However, eventually, the victim is likely to fee of sense of "when will it break?". The victim may even act in ways in which she or he thinks is likely to lead to the next stage, just to end the waiting period.

  • Stage 2 is the Violent Stage, and begins with some explosive outburst and significant violence. Many people think of violent couples as living constantly in this stage, and do not recognize the other two stages. Police, family, friends, neighbors, etc... may intervene, and the victim may receive services. However, just as likely is that the incident goes undetected by outsiders; the victim may hide the bruises, tell the neighbors the television was on loudly, call in sick to work, etc.... Children are at significant risk at this stage to be hurt, sometimes by accident during the parent's struggle, sometimes after directly intervening to halt the abuse and protect one parent, and sometimes by the abuser during different incidents. The abuse of the child may be seen by the abuser as parenting or discipline, but may also come after specific threats to the victim to harm the child.

  • Stage 3 is called "The Honeymoon Stage" as it is likely marked by closeness and affection from the abuser. The abuser is likely to be very sorry about the abuse, to promise to get help or never hit again, and show their regret with gifts, affection, attention, etc... the victim may feel very loved after this, may decide the violence was a one-time incident, and may decide to forgive the partner. It can be very hard for the victim to see the Cycle of Violence at this time, and confront the denial and leave the relationship.