What is the Cycle of Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence exists in a cycle.

Understanding the stages can aid in your safety or the safety of your loved ones. Below is an explanation of the four stages along with a helpful graphic to visualize the cycle.

Victims caught up in the cycle of abuse often become isolated from family and friends. They may also feel ashamed or told by the abuser not to talk to anyone about it. This leads to increased dependence on the abuser.

Help is always available. Contact Agape House for more info on domestic abuse or our services. Please remember our Crisis Line is always open 24/7 at 204-346-0028.

Stage 1: Build Up

  • Stress results from a job, financial issues, or any other thing that affects the abuser;
  • The abuser may act out by engaging in name-calling, accusations, or insults;
  • Tension builds as the victim may attempt to calm the abuser and meet their impossible needs;
  • The tension becomes unbearable;
  • The victim feels like they must walk on eggshells and be especially alert and careful around the abuser;

Stage 2: Act Out

  • The tension that has built up in the abuser leads to severe abuse, threats, or a violent physical or sexual attack;
  • This often happens over and over;
  • Abuse is always on purpose and never accidental. Abusers behave this way in order to feel powerful and exert control;

Stage 3: Rationalization and Justification

  • After committing violence, abusers often blame others or use excuses to justify their behaviour;
  • They may blame the victim and/or minimize the violence they inflicted;
  • These defenses turn the blame away from the abuser and makes them feel better;
  • An abuser may try to convince the victim that their version of the story is the truth. Victims may doubt their own experience as a result;

Stage 4: Pretend Normal

  • After the abuser has justified their actions and the victim has accepted the abuser’s version of events, the pretend normal stage happens;
  • Both partners try to make the relationship continue as normal by pretending everything is alright;
  • However, the cycle will continue if the abuse is not dealt with;

By Director - July 6, 2023