The Cycle of Abuse

Many people, especially those who have not experienced domestic abuse often blame those experiencing abuse for condoning it, for not speaking out or even insinuate they deserve to be abused on the basis that the victims must have seen the 'signs' or experienced some form of abusive behaviour on the onset before committing to a relationship with the abuser. Likewise, many people also expect that victims of domestic violence should have a 'certain look' or appearance before, during and after the abuse. These types of beliefs stem from the limitation or lack of understanding of what domestic abuse is or the understanding that domestic abuse is only physical.

Well, I have ''walked the walk'', so I can very much ''talk the talk''. Abusers don't have a typical facial appearance or physical build neither do they introduce themselves by saying ...''Hi, I'm an abuser, I control and manipulate people and occasionally beat them up when I'm angry or provoked...would you like to go out with me? or worse still...will you marry me??''!

Many abusers are capable of hiding or masking their abusive tendencies at the onset of the relationship. Domestic abuse is not easily detected by a single event EXCEPT it's clearly physical in nature. As a matter of fact, in most cases, physical abuse comes after the abuser has successfully introduced series of controlling behaviour, secured commitment with the ''Target'' and instilling fear in the victim which the victim may not even realise soon enough. Some may not even experience any form of physical violence.

Domestic abuse in relationships takes the form of distinct patterns of behaviour identified as the ''Cycle of Abuse'' developed by American Psychologist - Dr Lenore E. Walker to explain typical patterns of behaviour in an abusive relationship.

Phase 1 is referred to as The Tension Building Phase. This is where minor battering incidents occur. The victim may begin to deny the reality of the incidents, they may hide their anger through rationalisation (making excuses). In order to prevent the abuser's anger from escalating, the victim may become nurturing, compliant and may anticipate the abuser's every whim; or may even avoid the abuser.
The abuser translates this passive behaviour as acceptance of the abuse and continues. This leads to the second phase.

Phase 2 is known as The Acute Battering Phase. This is where all hell breaks loose. The violence occurs. It could be physical, verbal, sexual, spiritual, psychological or all together in an uncontrollable manner. The degree of violence and the arrival of this phase are unpredictable. This then leads to the third phase

Phase 3 is known as The Reconciliation Phase. The abuser could ask for forgiveness, feign repentance/remorse, promises the abusive incident will never occur again, blames the victim for the abuse, accuses the victim of exaggerating the incident. During this phase, the victim may feel manipulated but believes the abuser. This then leads to the final phase

Phase 4  is referred to as The Honeymoon Phase.  During this period, there's calmness. The abuser shows some form of superficial kindness and contrite loving behaviour. The abuser constantly behaves in a charming and loving manner. The victim is convinced that the abusive behaviour will cease, believes the abuser's superficial repentance and chooses to remain in the relationship. 

The end of Phase 4 then leads to the beginning of minor abusive incidents, tension building and the cycle is continuously repeated many times during the relationship with no standard or a specific length of time in each phase. As the cycle is repeated, the extent of severity increases.

In the centre of all of these is ''Denial'' - The victim may continuously remain hopeful, accepts blames, takes responsibilities for the abuse, makes considerate effort to please the abuser, protects the abuser by not speaking out or justify their actions to themselves and others, may feel shameful of their experience, feel fearful of the abuser, some may feel trapped, isolated, helpless or stuck in the relationship and continue to deny the experience until they reach their 'breaking point''. Unfortunately, some victims become addicted to the cycle, may never speak out or seek help except a loved one practically pulls them out of the relationship.

Bear in mind that abusers don't necessarily exhibit these patterns of behaviour with other people outside the relationship but only with the one they're in a committed or intimate relationship with. The victim is the abuser's ''Target''

So, If you're guilty of accusing people in abusive relationships for remaining in the relationship, having children in it, condoning it or staying for too long, or said something like ....''Why can't s/he just leave??''.... I hope this helps your understanding of their ordeal.

If you are currently experiencing any of these, feeling isolated from your loved ones who may have expressed their concerns for your safety and can relate with these patterns of behaviour, perhaps you have been blamed for the abuse or feeling exhausted from thinking you can change the abuser...You CANNOT CHANGE AN ABUSER. Even if you raised the abuser or was responsible for their upbringing, you cannot and must not take responsibilities for their actions. It is their choice to be abusive, It is also your choice to either remain a target or to get some help. The abuse will continue as long as you allow it.

Seek wise counsel and get some help.

Never Give Up on yourself.

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