(Physical, Sexual, Emotional)

Characterized by outbursts of violent, abusive incidents including physical, emotional or sexual abuse. During this stage the abuser attempts to dominate his/her partner (survivor), with the use of domestic violence. In abusive relationships between intimate partners children are negatively affected by having witnessed the violence and the partner’s relationship degrades as well. The release of energy reduces the tension, and the abuser may feel or express that the victim “had it coming” to them.


(Apologise, Promises)

Characterized by affection, apology, or, alternatively, ignoring the incident. This phase marks an apparent end of violence, with assurances that it will never happen again, or that the abuser will do his or her best to change. During this stage the abuser feels feelings of remorse and sadness, or at least pretends to. Some abusers walk away from the situation with little comment, but most will eventually shower the survivor with love and affection. The abuser may use self-harm or threats of suicide to gain sympathy and/or prevent the survivor from leaving the relationship. Abusers are frequently so convincing, and survivors so eager for the relationship to improve, that survivors who are often worn down and confused by longstanding abuse, stay in the relationship.


(Gifts, Fulfilling Promises)

During this phase (which is often considered an element of the honeymoon/reconciliation phase), the relationship is relatively calm. During this period, the abuser may agree to engage in counselling, ask for forgiveness, and create a normal atmosphere. The abuser may even buy presents to appease his/her partner. Over time, the abusers apologies and requests for forgiveness become less sincere and are generally stated to prevent separation or intervention. Over time, the incidents become more and more violent so what may begin as verbal threats may turn into physical violence. Also, at the beginning of a relationship the cycle of violence may take a whole year but as the relationship continues, the time between violent incidents will become shorter and shorter and in some cases be happening more than once per day.



Stress builds from the pressures of daily life such as conflict over children, marital issues, misunderstandings, financial problems, or other family conflicts. During this period, the abuser feels ignored, threatened, annoyed or wronged. To prevent violence, the victim may try to reduce the tension by becoming compliant and nurturing. Alternatively, to get the abuse over with, the victim may prepare for the violence or try to lessen the degree of injury.