Domestic Violence Awareness Month: The Cycle Of Domestic Violence


Did you know, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner?Domestic violence often follows a repeating cycle within each relationship. Not every abusive relationship follows this pattern, but many survivors describe their relationships in this way:

Tension building phase

When tension builds in the relationship, victims may feel like they are “walking on eggshells” around the abuser. This phase can last for a few hours, days, or months. The longer it lasts, the more inevitable a blow-up can start to feel, even if the victim can’t be sure exactly when it will happen. 

Abusive incident

The abusive incident usually occurs when the tension finally breaks. This can play out in many different ways.  Usually, this part of the cycle is when the abuser physically assaults the victim.  If the abuse is primarily psychological, the abuser will call the victim names, yell and scream at the victim, make threats of violence, destroying property, or denying access to money, or basic needs.    

Honeymoon phase

During the honeymoon phase, the abuser may apologize, buy gifts, or be extra affectionate to “make up” for the abuse. Many will promise to change, promise to stop abusing, promise to seek help, or promise that it will never happen again. These assurances are intended to persuade the survivor to stay in the relationship. Not all abusive relationships have a honeymoon phase. For some, the abusive incident is immediately followed by increasing tension before the next incident.

Once the honeymoon phase is over, the tension building phase begins again, and the comforting promises the abuser made will be broken.

If you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse, you are not alone. It is not your fault and there is not something wrong with you that makes you deserve to be treated that way. There is a way out and help is available. If you need assistance The Los Alamos Victim Assistant can help you weigh your options. You can reach the victim assistant at 505-663-3511, or text (505)709-8135.  All calls are confidential and you don’t need to file a police report to receive services. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline