Unless you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you’re probably unaware that there’s a cycle associated with abuse. Sienna Wagnon is a survivor of domestic violence that is working to educate the public on the dangers of domestic violence. Since her attack in 2016, she has worked to advocate for other victims and raise awareness.
Knowing the cycle of abuse can help victims and friends and family clearly see a pattern. Of course, there are variations in the cycle or pattern, but it will usually have four distinct parts. This information has been compiled from other victims and plainly shows that there is a pattern or cycle associated with domestic violence.
The Tension-building Phase
During this phase, you’ll notice that the mood has shifted. When an abusive partner is feeling bad or triggered, you won’t be able to help them or bring them out of it. In fact, they’ll pull you down with them because if they aren’t happy, no one is happy.
This is the point where the abusive behavior usually flares up. Abuse comes in different forms, but it’s all about power and how much control they can assert over you at that moment. Finding your vulnerabilities or just starting an argument are ways abusers can successfully get a rise out of their partners.
This is when a full on attack happens. It could be verbal, physical, or sexual. The point is that you feel intimidated, threatened, and frightened. The incident plays out for however long and is extremely disruptive and leaves you shocked and disturbed. You may even vow to remember how you feel at that moment and promise that you’ll leave.
Unfortunately, abusers are so manipulative that people often disregard these feelings and convince themselves that things will be okay. Some victims give up altogether, knowing that there’s no use in trying to leave because they feel powerless in the face of this kind of manipulation.
During this phase, the abuser will say whatever they have to just to make you stay. They’ll make promises and apologize. This is manipulative behavior. Even if someone is sorry, that doesn’t mean you should stay with them. If they are really sorry, they will understand that you have to watch out for your safety first. Unfortunately, for some, it’s just too difficult to not forgive someone they care about.
It’s hard to stand up to someone that is acting so vulnerable. They make you feel sorry for them by crying and pleading. Furthermore, they might offer to help you in ways that you need or buy you something you’ve been wanting.
They just want you to think that they’re going to make some big changes and that the incident won’t happen again. This is a really confusing time for those that aren’t aware of this cycle. Because it’s so exhausting, the abuser is usually able to pull you back in.
When it’s all said and done, you feel a sense of relief. This is where you and the abuser find common ground and can reconcile.
This is referred to as the honeymoon phase or the calm phase. This is where the abuser pretends nothing happened and has managed to make you forget how bad the incident was. They might do this by overcompensating with gifts or acts of service, or they might gaslight you into thinking it wasn’t that bad. Either way, they prefer that you not remember it and act as though nothing ever happened.
Educating people about these phases is extremely important. Many people engage in these cycles without being aware of just how common it is and what it means. Knowing about these cycles can help you or someone else identify abusive patterns and behaviors and seek help.
For more information, you can reach Sienna through her social media pages: