First of Five Types of Abuse: Cycle of Violence

When a person gives their partner a black-eye, it is clear abuse is happening. But sometimes, even physical abuse can be more subtle and difficult to spot. Read on to understand the first of the five Abuse Types: The Cycle of Violence.

For reference, here are the 5 Abuse Types:

  1. The Cycle of Violence Type

  2. The Controlling Type

  3. The Sadistic Type

  4. The Stalking Type (when not in a formal relationship)

  5. The Codependent Type

To be clear, it is typical for abusers to show a combination of Abuse Types, in fact, surveys indicate that only 20% of abusers exhibit just one Abuse Type. More likely, they will have a combination of Abuse Types which can help to determine their dominant Abusive Character Type; which will be described in later blog posts and E-books. The one common theme among the 5 Abuse Types is that a partner tries to control, abuse, and/or cause disharmony for the person that is the focus of their attention, whether it’s a current partner, or even a past or intended partner.

The Cycle of Violence Type

For couples experiencing the Cycle of Violence, over time, sometimes several years, it can seem as if the periods of happiness and connection diminish and all that is left is the fights. Teens, who are just starting to date, often end up fighting about the same thing regularly. The Cycle of Violence Abuse Type is reminiscent of a couple who fights almost every day, makes-up, enjoys a brief honeymoon, and after tension builds, erupts once again with aggressive outbursts.

Cycle of Violence Type is the most common form of abuse experienced: about 90% of the victims seeking aid through domestic violence centers experience this cyclical form of torment.

The cycle of violence is a relationship pattern that is repeated, with highs and lows, and follows predictable sequences. Men and women, straight and heterosexual, and young and old are not immune from falling into abusive patterns.

Sometimes this cycle is introduced by one partner after a relationship has been formed. Because this cycle requires some amount of participation by both people, it is easier to mitigate, as only one partner needs to be committed to change in order to alter the cyclical process.

Although this cycle repeats every few weeks or even every day, the couple is often content to stay together for years and years. In this type, there are triggers that begin the escalation of behavior, almost like a ritual, frequently around the same time every day and in the same place (often in the kitchen or the family room in the evening).

Cycle of violence includes shame-bound people, believing themselves to be seriously flawed, without worth, and hardly belonging in the world. This inevitably has the consequence of their shame-consciousness showing up very negatively in many areas of their life. The shame-bound person may become either an offender or a victim, or, as is commonly the case, one who vacillates from one mode to the other. If their experiences cause them to access their shame, they may take out their hurt and rage on others weaker than themselves in their community, family, and friends.

Some consider this form of domestic abuse to be harmless and “normal,” especially when no physical harm has been done. In fact, escalation over time or a specific event may elevate behaviors to lethal levels without warning.

The Cycle of Violence stages are:

  1. Seduction and the building of trust.
  2. Tension builds and contentment is replaced by escalating negative thoughts, resentment, and increasingly negative interactions and complaints.
  3. An explosion of anger, rage, violence, aggression, destruction, or threats ensues.
  4. The tension after the explosion vanishes, apologies are offered, peace is made, and a honeymoon phase follows. The couple is back to stage 1, and the cycle repeats.

This profile also applies to many couples in the dating scene. Patterns of emotional outbreaks occur and repeat again and again. Both partners are required to create and react to an escalating interaction that tends to end in an argument and exaggerated emotional expressions.

Drugs or alcohol may be used with the intention of escalating emotional behaviors as an excuse for fighting, but it only affects the extremeness of emotion exhibited; it does not cause the fights. These cycles still occur when drugs or alcohol are not present, but Cycle of Violence Types love to blame alcohol or drugs as the reason why they “acted stupid.”

The Cycle of Violence Type often features infrequent or no physical abuse by the partner. The destruction of personal property, screaming and yelling, and slamming doors are more typical.

Nearly every woman I have interviewed as a Domestic Violence Advocate describes experiencing a cycle of violence pattern in their relationship.

Abuse is a disease, passed from one generation to the next. One of the biggest problems in fighting abuse in our culture and among our friends and family is to recognize that many common actions we see are part of a larger picture, part of a pattern of abuse that begins to emerge if we know what to look for and how to look for it.

Literally everyone can benefit from a better understanding of abuse, please share this article. There is always a first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!

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