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Cycle of Violence

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The Cycle of Violence is a series of events that happens in a violent relationship. It starts with an abusive incident, moves its way through the cycle, and then returns to another abusive incident, usually worse then the last one. This cycle can repeat itself hundreds of times in such relationships and each stage can last a different amount of time. The total cycle can take anywhere from a few hours to a year or more to complete.

Cycle of Violence


  • Any type of abuse occurs (physical/sexual/emotional)

Making Up

  • Abuser may apologize for abuse 
  • Abuser may promise it will never happen again 
  • Abuser may blame the victim for causing the abuse 
  • Abuser may deny abuse took place or say it was not as bad as the victim claims


  • Abuser acts like the abuse never happened 
  • Physical abuse may not be taking place 
  • Promises made during “making-up” phase may be met 
  • Victim may hope that the abuse is over 
  • Abuser may give gifts to victim

Tension Building

  • Abuser starts to get angry 
  • Abuse may begin 
  • There is a breakdown of communication 
  • Victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm 
  • Tension becomes too much 
  • Victim feels like they are “walking on egg shells”