Cycle of Violence

Cycle of Violence

Domestic violence is not a random act.

Understanding the cycle of violence and the thinking of the abuser helps survivors recognize that they are not to blame for the terrifying and violent lives they are experiencing.





Tension Building

Here the abuser sets up the survivor so the survivor is bound to get the abuser angry. The survivor, knowing the abuser is likely to erupt, is apologetic. If confronted by outsiders, the survivor may even defend the abuse.


The Abuse

The abuser behaves violently, inflicting pain and abuse on the survivor.


Guilt & Fear of Reprisal

After the violence, the abuser may have feelings of “guilt” but not normal guilt in which the abuser would feel sorry for hurting another person, but actually a fear of getting caught.



Abusers fantasize about the past and future acts. These fantasies feed the abuser’s anger. The abuser begins to plan another attack by placing the survivor in situations which the abuser knows will cause anger.




At this point, the abuser exhibits kind and loving behavior. Welcomed by both parties, an unusual calm will surround the relationship. The abuser may give the survivor gifts and promise the violence will never happen again.


Blaming the Victim

The abuser can’t stand any kind of guilt feeling for long, so the abuser quickly rationalizes past actions and blames the survivor for causing the abuse.


Information provided by Domestic Violence Resource Center, Portland, Oregon.

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