The cycle of violence has three stages.
Tension Building Phase:
The abused feels as if they are “walking on egg shells,” not sure what to expect, anything can trigger the partner’s anger out burst. It is difficult to predict the abuser’s behavior. Silence increases in the relationship, emotional abuse initiates in the form of subtle hints like progressing criticism, use of angry gestures, coercion and threats. It feels as if it is the lull before the storm. Tension can build up within the relationship due to a variety of reasons including financial crisis, family pressure and employment stress. Victims tend to experience fear of violence and mostly try to calm the batterer down, so as to avoid any major violent confrontations. Victims try to buy peace by keeping the abuser happy by keeping the triggers in control and doing actions that will keep the abuser calm.
The societal messages received by the abused are “do not do anything that will out rage him/her.” “Why do something that will jeopardize your relationship or safety.” The society approves partner violence and blames the abused for that reason abusers get away with the abuse.
Violent or Acting-out Phase:
In this explosive phase the batterers resort to acts of verbal attacks and threats, physical and sexual violence causing serious emotional and physical harm to the victim. This time is dangerous the abused can even be killed in the rage. The abused is in shock and denial as if violence is not happening. Often victims disassociate themselves from their bodies as if it is happening to someone else not them.
The desi and other ethnic communities do not interfere to prevent harm until the abuse is severe and there has been physical harm to the abused. If the abuse is verbal, emotional or financial communities try to ignore it by saying “it is a family matter’ or “it is between the couple, it is their private matter.” This gives the abuser an edge to abuse because he/she knows no one will come to the rescue of the abused if they do not cross a certain line of physical harm.
Just after the violent outburst of emotions: verbal tirade, temper tantrum or physical battery comes the honeymoon phase. After violence often abusers tend to experience overwhelming feelings of remorse and sadness. Some abusers will beg for forgiveness, they’ll cry and promise never to repeat it again. They’ll give attention to the abused and make up by giving medicines or dressing the injuries and most of all showering gifts like bringing flowers, taking the abused on a romantic date. While others will walk away from the situation, with draw affection and make the abused feel guilty. Few will blame their uncontrollable anger and will hold the abused responsible for starting the fight. In any way abusers will not take responsibility of their behavior and actions. They’ll patch up, act as if nothing happened.
The abused is confused; they experience love, anger and frustration. They once again trust the abuser in a hope this was an end of the abusive behavior. Soon the tension starts building followed by violent explosion. The cycle of violence starts and ends with this phase.
The society (desi friends and family members) justifies this phase as “look he is just short tempered he is not bad at heart.” “He is like boiling milk, rises and then quickly falls down. He loves you so much. See how sorry he is, he can’t stop crying.” Such dialogues are pervasive in all communities. Stop listening to them and think: The abuser is using you to release his/her anger. Once their anger is released they go about the business as if nothing happened. You are not a safety valve to release their pressure. Abusers chose to abuse because they know society permits it and there are no consequences.
In few days the honeymoon phase wears off and tension starts building again. And you know what will happen then… .Your safety is your right and responsibility. You have done every thing to change the situation. It is not working. It is not about you. If it were about you the things would have changed long back because you have tried every thing. It is about the abuser and their behavior. You cannot change another person. They have to initiate a change on themselves. It is time to seek intervention. Yes, you are ashamed, humiliated and hurt. It takes nine times before a woman can leave an abusive situation and relationship. You are not alone. There are many women who have done this. There is help available reach out to people who will not judge you and are willing to help you.
Caution: To end or attempt to end an abusive relationship is very sensitive time. The abusers feel they are losing control. To regain control they’ll use more violence. Be alert and make a safety plan.