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The Cycle of Abuse

He was cute, charming, smart and funny. Of course he was, because if she had seen who he really was at the beginning she would not have stayed. Abuse has to come as a shock when it starts, otherwise she wouldn’t have been there to begin with. He was a dream, and if anyone had told her that later he would control every move she made, beat her, and call her names she wouldn’t have believed them. That’s the point.

Sadly, domestic violence isn’t an uncommon occurrence. 1/3 of American women will experience stocking or domestic abuse in her lifetime. Little does she know that when this charming young man starts to show his true colors how common the pattern is, and how many women share a similar experience.

The first step of domestic violence is to charm the victim. This often entails the abuser making the victim feel like she’s dominant in the relationship. The abuser adores her because she’s everything he ever wanted. He’s so lucky to have her, and this makes her feel confident that she holds the power in the relationship.

The second step is to isolate the victim. This is often done so seamlessly that she doesn’t realize what’s happening. At this point, they’re in love, and his expression to have her all to himself feels like a gesture of that love. He often demands all of her time or attention so that eventually her friends fall out of her life and she loses touch with her family.

Once the victim is isolated enough, the cycle of abuse begins.

1.) Tension begins to build. The abuser may threaten violence to see how his victim responds. He starts to call her names and verbally abuse her. The victim often tries to please the abuser by trying to avoid situations that end in the verbal abuse, but it doesn’t stop the next phase of the cycle from happening.

2.) Eventually the tension peaks and an episode of physical abuse occurs. More often than not the abuser blames the victim for the outburst, making it sound like it was something she did that triggered him. However, his abuse is out of her control. As the tension builds, something is going to set him off into and abusive episode. Period.

3.) The last phase in the cycle is the “honeymoon phase.” After an episode of abuse the abuser tries to minimize the episode, and often apologizes and attempts to convince his victim that it will never happen again. He is loving and kind during this phase, and appears to be making a concise effort to not abuse his victim again. Maybe he is making an effort, but it’s not long before the cycle starts over.

When one is falling into a cycle of domestic abuse, it can be very hard to see and once one does see it can be even harder to get out of. 70% of murders in domestic violence situations happen when the victim attempts to leave the abuser, because at that point the abuser has nothing left to lose. Often people wonder why someone trapped in this cycle don't just leave. People who have experienced abuse know that it can be very dangerous to leave an abuser. It's a scary situation, but it is not hopeless. If you or someone you love is getting wrapped up in this cycle of domestic violence, call the Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for further advice and assistance on your situation.

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