Sadly, the Cycle of Abuse is a real thing
When I was a domestic violence counselor, we used the term “cycle of abuse” to describe the patterns of behavior that led up to and included an abusive event. As counselors, we taught women who were involved in abusive relationships to recognize these patterns and to identify which stage they were currently in. By doing this, they could create a preemptive strategy to avoid or cope with an upcoming abusive incident.
Dr. Lenore Walker proposed the “Cycle of Abuse” in 1979. After interviewing 1,500 female domestic violence survivors, she found that they all shared a similar abusive scenario and that there was a recognizable pattern to how the abusive events happened. She developed this “cycle of abuse” based on this scenario.
The Four Elements of Abuse
Four elements were present in various forms for each of the female abuse survivors:
- Tension Building
- Abusive Incident
The Honeymoon Period proceeds directly into Tension Building, and the cycle repeats itself, uninterrupted. Every cycle shares the same four phases, but each cycle’s details differ from the previous ones. From one abuse cycle to the next, each of the four stages, as well as the cycle itself, can last different amounts of time or include behaviors that are unique from those of the last time.