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The cycle of violence

Domestic violence is not just a one-time incident, but a pattern of behaviors over time. Most abusive relationships follow a pattern called the cycle of violence, a repeating cycle with three phases: tension building, explosive incident, and honeymoon stage. The length of each phase can be as short as a few seconds or as long as several years.

Tension building
In this phase, the warning signs of abuse start to appear. Often during the tension building stage:

Explosive incident
In this phase, all the tension built up in the first phase is released through an outburst of violence that can include intense emotional, verbal, sexual and/or physical abuse. During the explosion, the abuser may:

Honeymoon stage
In this phase, the abuser tries to get the victim to stay with him by apologizing for the explosion, trying to make up with the victim, and trying to shift the blame for the explosion off himself. During the honeymoon stage, the abuser often:

As a cycle, this pattern repeats itself; after the honeymoon stage, eventually the tension starts to build up again. Generally, over time, the honeymoon stage gets shorter and shorter and may even disappear, and the explosive incidents become more and more violent and dangerous.

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