Cycle of Violence (Power & Control)

Cycle of Violence 1.0Domestic violence may seem unpredictable. However, it follows a reliable pattern no matter when it occurs or who is involved. This pattern, or Cycle of Violence, can happen many times during a relationship. The different phases may last a different amount of time as the pattern repeats. For example, the abusive partner may stop being abusive for days, weeks, or months.This is known as the “honeymoon period. But when the cycle renews, it is common for the next round of violence to be even worse.

It is important to remember that not everyone’s experiences within the cycle are the same. In some relationships, the honeymoon phase may  disappear, leaving only a cycle of tension, escalation, and violence. When the honeymoon phases goes away, it is typically because the victim has been manipulated, abused, terrified, or brainwashed so often they believe they cannot leave.

Power & Control

The most obvious forms of domestic violence are physical and/or sexual assault, or the threat of those behaviors. These are the actions that typically make the victim or people outside the relationship aware of the problem. Although physical assault may only occur one time or occasionally, it instills fear. This fear then allows the abuser to take control of the victim’s life and circumstances.

As damaging as physical and sexual assault can be, they are rarely isolated behaviors. More often they are part of a larger pattern of abuse. The Power & Control diagram below is a helpful tool for understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors. These are the common behaviors used by a batterer to gain and maintain control over their partner.

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The above content and image produced and distributed by:
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence •

Note: Our intention is to provide the above information as a guide to understanding domestic violence in context. Because every situation is different, and the spectrum of domestic violence is broad, not all of these examples or theories apply to everyone.