Many victims of domestic violence mistakenly assume that domestic violence is a one-off incident. In fact, domestic violence either never happens or it happens repeatedly. Once victims experience the initial domestic violence, they are likely to be unable to escape from domestic violence anymore.
This paper aims to raise awareness of the cycle of domestic violence, the reasons which maintain and reinforce it, and the mechanisms by which the abuser controls the victim’s ability to escape. We hope that this paper will help females identify and avoid being tripped in the cycle of domestic violence.
When partners experience the first stage for the first time, their relationship may be in tension, which leads to “minor battering”.The victim tends not to realize the seriousness of the situation at this stage and the female victim always attempts to ease the conflict between the couples. However, tolerance from the female victim appears not to resolve the conflict.
Because this stage lasts for a relatively long time and the abuser’s grievances may not be released through minor domestic violence, which eventually leads to an explosion, which is the second stage of the cycle theory of violence.
Abusers who enter the second stage of violence may be triggered by external events such as life stress, which can cause the occurrence of long-repressed aggressive behavior, which results in acute battering on the victims. Abusers in this stage exhibit difficulty in controlling their behavior and behave in a brutal manner.
The second stage, which is shorter than the first stage, lasts only a few hours only.
When the abusers appear to be aware of their mistake, the partners would enter the honeymoon phase (i.e., the third phase). During the honeymoon phase, the abuser usually shows the victim remorse by making amends (e.g., apologizing, sending gifts, etc.). Female victims who have a stronger emotional commitment to the violent man are more likely to maintain their relationship. However, the female victims are unaware that the abuser’s moral boundaries have been expanded by the initial act of violence. They have broken “the rules against using violence” and have come to believe that hitting is permissible, and the consequences are redeemable. The first act of violence can predict the second occurrence of violence after the honeymoon period.
Thus, domestic violence follows a repetitive cycle. In the subsequent cycle of violence, the domestic abuser no longer feels remorse for their actions. Instead, the abuser will become increasingly numb to violence; they begin to rationalize their violence by demeaning the victims. The victim’s self-concept is negatively affected by the denigration, and they may experience self-denial and self-doubt after they are exposed to prolonged denigration.
Physically, as the victim is subjected to prolonged violence, the victim’s physical resistance will gradually diminish. As the victim’s psychological and physical resistance diminishes, the abuser becomes increasingly aggressive to enable the victim to resist as she did initially.
At the same time, the abuser may randomly commit other types of violence in parallel with the cycle of physical violence. Other types of violence (as the figure shows below) can reinforce physical violence and are also determinants of victim control.
Katerndahl, D. A., Burge, S. K., Ferrer, R. L., Becho, J., & Wood, R. (2010). Complex dynamics in intimate partner violence: a time series study of 16 women. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry, 12(4), PCC.09m00859. https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.09m00859whi