Domestic violence may seem unpredictable, simply an outburst related just to the moment and to the circumstances in the lives of the people involved. In fact, however, domestic violence follows a typical pattern no matter when it occurs or who is involved. The pattern, or cycle is repeated, and the level of violence increases. The abuse gets worse. During every stage in the cycle, the abuser is fully in control of themselves and is working to control and further weaken the victim.
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Understanding the cycle of violence and the thinking of the abuser helps victims recognize they truly are not to blame for the violence they have suffered and that the abuser is the one responsible. Six distinct stages make up the cycle of violence: the set-up, the abuse, the abuser's feelings of "guilt" and their fear of reprisal, their rationalization, the abuser's shift to nonabusive or to very good behavior, and the fantasies and plans for the next episode of abuse.
The abuser will create and control situations in which the victim has no choice but to act in a way that will, in their mind, justify the abuse. For example, if the abuser tells himself the reason they hit their partner is because the house isn't kept clean, they will arrange a day to keep their partner busy so they don't have the chance to clean. If alcohol is part of the rationalization, the abuser may stop for drinks on the way home to the house they know will be messy.
When the time and the planned circumstances are right, the abuser begins the violence. The attack is a display of power and control over the victim and, by extension, everyone else in the household. Over time, the abuser typically follows an ever-worsening pattern of violence.
After the violence, the abuser may have feelings of "guilt" -- not normal guilt, in which they feel sorry for having hurt another person, but a kind of guilt that is really just fear of getting caught. "I shouldn't have done that," they may think, "because I may get caught." The abuser can't stand any kind of guilt for long, so they quickly move on to the rationalization stage. Here, the abuser tells himself that the one really at fault is the victim; they also tell that to the victim. For example, the abuser will tell their partner, "You shouldn't have made me mad" or "You should shut-up when I tell you to" or "How do you expect me to act when you are so unreasonable?" A perpetrator may say "They were acted like they wanted it" or " They asked for it." When the abuser blames the victim, they are justifying their own behavior and giving themselves permission to continue behaving that way. When the abuser rationalizes, they completely ignore any personal responsibility they might have for the abuse.
Sometimes the abuser may say they are sorry or try to excuse the behavior by saying, for example, that their temper could not be controlled or that alcohol or drugs caused them to loose control of themselves. The abuser may promise fervently never to do it again. They may use promises and gifts as bribes. The real purpose of these actions is to silence the victim and to protect themselves.
Between incidences of violence, the abuser often behaves normally perhaps even especially well. They act as if nothing has happened. Typically the victim of domestic violence is forced to participate in the cover-up. Sometimes the abuser threatens the victims credibility - "No one will believe you. They'll think you're crazy if you tell them." Abusers make subtle threats - "I'd sure hate to have to call Services to Children and Families and tell them what a lousy parent you are" or direct threats, such as "I'll kill you if you tell." they will manipulate their victims through guilt - "you know I love you. I'm the only one who loves you. You wouldn't want to hurt me and the children by calling the cops, would you?" And indeed the period of normal or model behavior tends to throw the victim further off balance psychologically, making them easier prey for the next outburst. To make matters worse, the victim may actually work up the courage to tell someone about the abuse, only to receive a luke warm response. All of these elements working together help to keep the victim silent and to reinforce the power and control of the abuser. Children/Teens are greatly affected in these situations, The parents are suppose to be the role models and they must make sure that they set a good example to their children and have them make the right positive choicesin life. If the problems persists we suggest you try online dating to find a new partner.
Batterers and other abusers fantasize about their past and future abuses. The fantasies feed the abuser's anger and help move them on to the next step, which is active planning. To help themselves plan another attack, the abuser starts to use excuses they made in the rationalization phase earlier in the cycle. For instance, if the abuse is rationalized due to the victims behavior with other individuals, this is the time the abuser will decide to take their partner for a social outing. The events at the outing - the set-up - bring on the abuse, and the cycle continues.