The Domestic Violence Cycle

Family and domestic violence  may take place in a cycle1, where a similar set of events seems to repeat over and over. This abuse cycle has six main phases and it can be helpful to understand them, to help you recognise the pattern of abuse and violence that can occur. This pattern can happen over a day, weeks, months or years.

Below is an example of how family and domestic violence may occur. If you find your experience does not fit this cycle, it does not mean that you are not experiencing family or domestic violence. You may experience only some of these stages or all of them in a different order. There are also different stages that you yourself might go through when you are in an abusive relationship.

 

Domestic Violence Cycle

Source: Adapted from Walker USA 1979

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that those experiencing violence may provoke/ stimulate an explosion because the build-up and standover phases can be prolonged and often worse than the explosion. This may lead to you feeling like it is your fault and you are to blame for the explosion.

Using the above example, following stage six (the honeymoons phase), the cycle often repeats itself. You may notice this pattern in your own relationship, with the promises made during the pursuit phase being broken. The more often this cycle occurs, the more severe the abuse may get, and the more danger you may be in. Remember, if you find your experience does not fit this cycle, it does not mean that you are not experiencing family or domestic violence. You may experience only some of these phases or all of them in a different order.

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