The Cycle of Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence
Relationships are a rollercoaster ride; it's full of passion, love, and sometimes fights. But, abuse should never be part of that equation. If you experienced it, it isn't a one-time event, and anyone can be a victim.
In America, 1 out of 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced abuse or violence from a partner. Domestic violence and IPV are common because different forms of oppression influence them.
To be part of the change, it's a must to know the cycle of domestic violence and IPV. You can liberate yourself or support someone when you know how it forms. Patterns and cycles must be understood so it can be broken. Here is the cycle of domestic violence and intimate partner violence.
THE TENSION-BREAKING PHASE
Every relationship starts with a mutual attraction. If you find someone you like, you try to get to know them - what they eat, their goals, and how they process things. You first walk on eggshells until you find common ground. Eventually, a bond forms when you feel the presence of vulnerability and trust.
The tension-breaking phase is where the abuser finds something interesting that can reel you in. The most common way an abuser can reel you in is to make you feel that you have control in the relationship or the upper-hand. The tension between you and your abuser breaks once you feel comfortable and trusted.
THE ISOLATED HONEYMOON PHASE
We all know the 'honeymoon' phase. It's where a lot of love, kisses, and efforts are shown. The abuser shows extreme patience, affection, and interest. Promises to stop the abuse are said, assurances are sworn, and this eventually persuades you to stay in the relationship.
This phase also isolates you. Since affection and promises are said, it gives you a change of heart. You may have had a safety plan all checked out so you can leave or asked a friend to help out. But, once you get into this phase, it's a tendency to abandon the thought of leaving your abuser. The affection given to you distracts you from leaving.
THE TENSION-BUILDING PHASE
This is the third cycle of domestic violence or IPV. Once the flowery words dissipate, the abuser goes back to the usual. A facade is no longer needed, so the true colors show.
Accepting an apology can be easy, but healing from trauma isn't. Even though you accepted the apology, a fast gesture from your abuser will make you flinch. This is your body's way of saying that the person is still a threat to you.
The hard truth is, no amount of affection or attention can erase what your abuser has done to you. It can distract you for a moment, but you walk on eggshells to prevent another 'incident.'
THE ABUSIVE INCIDENT
In most cases, even though you're careful with what you do or say, an incident still happens. Your abuser lashes out and exerts violence in different forms. Here are different examples of how an abuser establishes power and control:
- Hitting you or throwing an object at you
- Threatens to hurt oneself or someone you care for
- Intimidates you by smashing things, abusing pets, or with gestures
- Limiting you by taking control of your money
- Preventing you from working, going out, or talking to someone and lashes out when you do
- Name-calling or berating you
- Humiliating you or putting you down in public or private
After an abusive incident, it's a tendency that you will be blamed and gaslit by your abuser. 'If you didn't say that, I wouldn't have done this'; that's a typical abuser's response. Another example is that they justify their abusive actions because of what you made them feel.
THE ONLY WAY TO LIVE IS TO LEAVE
One common insensitive remark when talking about the cycle of domestic violence or IPV is, "Why won't she just leave?". This response shames the survivor into silence. As a victim of abuse, it's normal to dance around the thought of leaving or staying. But, leaving is the only option that can help you recover. If not, the next incident can be your last.
As said by the director of MCADV, "Women in abusive relationships are about 500 times more at risk when they leave". The most dangerous time is when you try to leave because it means that you won't play into your abuser's trap anymore.
When leaving, you must have a plan for your safety and your family's. For support, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at any time. You are not alone in this; Help is available.