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The Cycle of Violence

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The Cycle of Violence

by Lenore Walker


The theory that domestic violence occurs in a cycle was developed in 1979 by Lenore Walker as a result of a study conducted in the United States. The cycle of violence theory explains how and why the behaviour of a person who commits domestic and family violence may change so dramatically over time.

This is the cycle of violence that abusers go through.  This form of abuse is the abusers way to manipulate and control their victims., in a sense a form of Gaslighting.   It shows the abuser increasing his/her tension in the relationship until the abusers loses their temper and explodes on their victim.  After the release has occurred the abuser becomes fearful and remorseful of their actions (honeymoon phase) and then tries to regain the victims trust.  Once the victim believes that the abuser is remorseful and assures their victim that this will  never happen again, the cycle starts all over and that’s why it is called the cycle of violence.



Cycle of Violence Ex #1



Cycle of Violence Ex #4


Cycle of Violence Example

The Build-Up Phase – This phase includes normal conversations that are marked by escalating tension, increased, verbal, emotional, or financial abuse between the people in the relationship. In non-violent relationships, these issues can normally be resolved.

The Stand Over Phase – This phase is when the behavior of the person who uses violence (the abuser) escalates to the point that an explosion is inevitable. The abused person may feel that they are “walking on egg shells”. and fear that anything they do will cause the situation to escalate further.

Explosion – This is the peak of violence in the relationship. This phase is when the abuser experiences a release of tension during the height of abuse.

The Remorse Phase – This is when the abuser feels ashamed of their behavior. They will retreat and become withdrawn, will try to justify their actions to themselves and others, and might be unaware that they are addicted to the release of the explosion phase.

The Pursuit Phase – This is the phase when the abuser promises to never be violent again. The abuser may try to make up for their past behavior and make try to make excuses for their behavior such as work, stress, drugs, or alcohol. The abuser may also purchase gifts, give their partner affection, and may go through a dramatic personality change.

The Honeymoon Phase – During this phase, both people in the relationship are in denial as to how bad the abuse and violence was and both ignore the possibility that the violence will begin again because they do not want the relationship to end.

Widom Cathy Spatz. The cycle of violence. Science. 1989b;244:160–6. [PubMed[Google Scholar] › resource_files › bdvas › IR_5_Cycl…

the cycle of violence – Brisbane Domestic Violence Service

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