Domestic Violence Cycle

January 11, 2009

The domestic violence cycle involves 6 phases: the build-up phase, stand-over phase, explosion phase, remorse phase, pursuit phase, and honeymoon phase. Not all stages are present in every abusive relationship.

1.) Build-Up Phase

The abuser’s anger rises. The relationship does not need to be the cause of the anger.

2.) Stand-Over Phase

Tension is in the air and the victim may have a sense of ‘walking on eggshells.’ They know that a fight is just around the corner, and may alter their behaviour to try to ward it off.

3.) Explosion Phase

The abuse occurs. This can be emotional, sexual, financial or physical.

4.) Remorse Phase

After an incident, the abuser may feel remorse about what they have done, or fear that the victim will tell someone. They may become very apologetic.

5.) Pursuit Phase

The abuser tries to win the victim back by making promises of changing, going to counselling, giving up drugs or alcohol, buying gifts for the victim, and begging her to stay.

6.) Honeymoon Phase

During the honeymoon phase, the abuser is very sweet, charming, affectionate, and loving. The good times of the relationship happen in this time. The honeymoon stage is what makes it so difficult for a victim to leave the abuser. The victim may also reject help from others she has sought in previous phases of the domestic violence cycle. The relationship appears happy and normal. Soon, however, the tension begins to build again, and the cycle re-enters the build-up phase.

My personal opinion is that the abuse follows a downward spiral as opposed to a cycle, as it usually gets more violent and the stages are completed in a shorter space of time. This is how I see it:

domestic violence spiral

You can find further information on the domestic violence cycle on the About.com website.

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