Why Understanding The Cycle Of Violence Can Help One Leave The Abuse

Edith Mecha

If you are in an abusive relationship, understanding the cycle of violence can help you leave.

The Cycle of Violence is a pattern of abuse where the abuser systematically harms the victim physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually. The violence often increases in severity as time goes on. Dr. Lenore Walker identified this the cycle in 1979. It has been studied by other professionals since then to learn more about it and who can be affected by it. Breaking the cycle is difficult without outside help from someone like a therapist or community organization that deals with this problem all the time.

This cycle usually starts with an incident or trigger that leads to an outburst from the abuser. Then they start feeling bad about what they did and regretful.

The cycle of violence

The cycle is made of three stages and each stage is different. The first stage is the tension-building phase. People will get mad at one another and they will blame one person for all their problems during this time. This tension leads to greater levels of stress and abuse that may lead up to a violent episode. Victims usually feel helpless while trying to protect themselves and may try to seek help from others. The second stage is called the explosion or acute battering incident. People get too stressed or hurt people because it has been building up for a while now. The third phase is called the honeymoon phase when things calm down again, but may not last long.

The abuser may apologize and promise to change to keep the victim from leaving or calling law enforcement. In some cases, they may become remorseful or even loving. They can buy gifts or take the victim on a nice vacation. This cycle continues over time with each stage building upon the other.

Cycle of violence
Cycle of violence

How does the cycle of violence impact children in a family?

Children who grow up in a family where violence is rampant are greatly affected. The consequences for these kids can be dire. These children are at risk to develop mental health problems, low self-esteem, delinquent acts, adult criminality, and chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes. They may feel that they don’t have control over their lives or trust people close to them. Some children may retreat into a shell, avoiding people and the world around them. When these children repeat the violence, they have experienced, they perpetuate a cycle of violence that can continue throughout future generations.

Why can’t victims just leave their abuser?

The cycle of violence has a physical, emotional, and verbal abuse component. It is often difficult for victims to leave their abusers because they have been living in fear or have had threats made against them if they report the abuse. This type of behaviour feeds into what we call learned helplessness. This is where the victim has come to believe that there are no other options available and that they have lost control of their lives. This type of behaviour leads some victims to think it’s better if they died than live in a cycle of violence with an abuser, which can lead them into suicide ideation or attempts. But if a victim gets a strong support system, they can be able to make a sustainable decision and leave the abuser.

How can we break the cycle of violence?

Abuse happens in cycles. It is hard to stop abuse, but it can be done. If you are a victim, you need to understand that the longer you stay in an abusive relationship, the more violent it can become. To end this cycle of abuse, you need to know what the warning signs are and address them safely.

If you are being hit or have been abused for a long time, the first step to ending this is telling someone. You can tell a trusted friend or family member and also get professional help.

Every person who has been abused needs a strong support system to make the decision and leave the abuser. You can share with them resources that will help them cope with mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, which are often linked to being abused.

The Cycle of Violence repeats itself over and over again. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter how many times the cycle has happened before, each time it happens again it can be stopped by taking action. Friends and family can offer support but only you can decide what steps you are willing to take to escape the abusive relationship.

Stopping the cycle of abuse is not easy. It takes work and determination to break free from an abusive relationship. You don’t have to live in fear or isolation any longer! If someone is abusing you or making you feel unsafe emotionally or physically – reach out for help today! There are resources available that will make sure that the abuse stops at once. Check them out here, see what they offer locally as well as globally!

Remember that there is no shame in reaching out for help when needed – we all deserve to live free from fear and harm! Call your local hotline today if you need help escaping an abusive relationship! Here are more resources.


The Cycle of Violence is helpful as it provides a reference system for understanding the many different forms that violence can take. It in no way represents all experiences with or without violence. But it provides an insightful way to understand how abuse situations build up and affect others in their wake.

The Cycle of Violence diagram illustrates some commonalities among victims/survivors such as: living in fear; making excuses for their abuser’s behavior; accepting responsibility from others when they really shouldn’t have too (for example children); denying their own needs while putting other people first even if those needs aren’t met either fully nor at all by said person(s).


Edith Mecha

Edith is a writer, social science researcher and speaker who cares about communication, gender equality and women empowerment. She loves adventure and comedy too! Edith believes that we can all be agents of positive change in our communities by making small but impactful changes every day.

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