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Cycles of Abuse

The ideas, stories and tools, which you have read about on this site are encapsulated in the cycles of violence. The goal of the abuser is to get the victim back in the game. The abuser senses that they are losing control over their victim and desperately need to get them back. They will go to any lengths to do this. They will completely change their behavior and can hold out for quite a long time. If they see their efforts have not changed the situation to their advantage, they will once again show their abusive behavior.

One woman came to me to ask me if it could be possible her husband had finally realized he’d been abusive and was actually turning his behavior around. She said, “Liz , I know you know about these situations and I will trust you, but do you think he has really changed?” I hesitated to tell her what history has taught us here, that no, even though he was doing dishes for her and doing the laundry and being ever so patient and kind, he would if given enough time, return to his abusive self. So I explained to her that she could at least enjoy these helpful things he was doing but to keep one eye opened and be ready for him to go back to his abusive self if she didn’t “buy” into the new behavior. Within two weeks he had returned to his intimidating behavior.

The tension began again and the crazy making started all over. But this time she was alert when he’d offer to do something helpful and recognized them as “set-ups” for a reason to rage at her and possibly physically abuse her.

One day he was really “on a roll”. When she told him that she was going to have some friends over for lunch, he weakly whined, I was going to paint the kitchen ceiling. I had worked with Sue on how to give not visual response by just saying things in her head. So she thought ‘we’ll just walk around you.’ When he got no justification for raging, he moved to the next level. He asked her if she would like him to build a fire in the woodstove for her friends. She said that would be nice. He proceeded to leave without building the fire. She did not remind him, but let him go, knowing that it would not be safe to mention it. Finally the big one…We’d just finished supper when her son called to say his dad had forgotten to pick him up. She was very disgusted. We didn’t discuss it any further, but on the way home, I realized I needed to call her to remind her NOT TO SAY ANYTHING to him about it. She said she hadn’t and everything was still going smoothly.

Some may see this as an extreme approach but I’m sure many of you know what it is like to live this way, with all the tension, hoping somehow it will break. Women who can’t stand it any longer, know just what to do or say to move things into the next stage of explosion so they can finally get to the honeymoon stage. Where everything feels nice again and she experiences the man she fell in love with.

For some victims, however, they are ALWAYS the ones who say they are sorry. They grovel and plead for him to forgive them and they get fogged which is further explained on the link about emotional blackmail. There is a more detailed explanation about the cycles of abuse on the links below.

Crazy Making
Emotional Blackmail
Back to Our Home Page
Understanding the Cycle of Violence
Cycles of Violence
Red Flags of Abuse