1. K-State home
  2. »CAPS
  3. »Additional Resources
  4. »Self Help
  5. »Should I Stay or Should I Go? Part III

Counseling and Psychological Services

Lafene CAPS Logo

Kansas State University
Counseling and Psychological Services
1105 Sunset Ave, Rm 101
Manhattan, KS 66502

Monday - Friday: 
8 am - 5 pm

866-793-8010 (fax)

Parking Information

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Part III

How to recognize unhealthy relationships and get out
By Karin S. Ryan, Psy.D. & Heather B. Trangsrud, Ph.D.

Cycle of Violence 

Abuse may seem unpredictable, but there is a (repeated) pattern.

Pattern may look different for different relationships.


  • Tension Building
  • Crisis or Incident Phase
  • Reconciliation
  • Honeymoon or Calm Phase
  • Each phase may last a different length of time.
  • Level of violence often increases over time.
Cycle of Violence – Tension Building 


  • Tensions increase.
  • Abuser is argumentative/angry.
  • Communication breaks down.
  • Victim feels as if walking on eggshells and needs to placate abuser.
  • Victim may also make excuses for abuser to others.
Cycle of Violence – Crisis Phase


  • Abuse occurs (e.g., physical, emotional, verbal, sexual).
  • Anger, blaming, threats, and/or intimidation.
  • Victim may feel loss of control.
  • Victim may also feel/be psychologically or physically trapped.
  • Victim may not experience effect of abuse immediately.
Cycle of Violence – Reconciliation 


  • Abuser apologizes (maybe).
  • Excuses given.
  • Blames the victim.
  • Denies that abuse occurred.
  • Minimizes abuse.
  • Doesn't acknowledge abuse and just returns to "usual."
Cycle of Violence – Honeymoon Phase


  • Incident is forgotten.
  • No abuse taking place.
  • May express regret and act apologetic or promise it won't happen again.
  • Deny intent to abuse.
  • Promise will change and/or get help.
  • Victim feels responsible for abuser's well-being.

© All staff articles are used by permission of the respective author(s). Copyright belongs to the University Life Café. No part of this may be used without authorization. 

How to recognize unhealthy relationships and get out PART III (pdf)