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
- 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.
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