No two abusive relationships are alike. Even so, certain patterns do emerge in many of them, like abrupt, ugly shifts in your partner’s mood due to the slightest provocation. Maintaining rigid control over you is an abuser’s typical strategy.
The smallest thing, like leaving a lamp on by mistake or not getting the laundry done and folded neatly, can send an abuser flying into a rage. Episodes such as that can leave you stunned, frightened, emotionally drained and maybe physically battered. You may even sometimes blame yourself for their actions.
At other times, all seems normal. You let your guard down. It’s as if a storm has passed. Your relationship may feel serene and blissful – for a while. Then the violence flares up again, perhaps worse than ever.
Abusive relationships can have these distinct phases
You should understand the stages of a domestically violent relationship so you know if they are happening to you. Generally:
- The initial stage involves tension. Your partner may be quietly fuming but not say a word about it. Their anger has not spilled over yet.
- Next comes something that triggers their rage so it boils over. The abuser has to feel like they are always in control, so they make threats, act manipulative or physically hurt you.
- Stage three involves reconciliation. The abuser will often apologize profusely, say their violent behavior will never happen again and lull you into believing them.
- The final stage is when tranquillity has apparently been restored. The only problem is, that it’s not real or lasting.
How can you break the cycle of family violence?
Domestic violence occurs often. People may be reluctant to reveal it because they feel ashamed or afraid. Yet the statistics about its frequency are concerning. Roughly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced domestic violence.
The most important thing is your mental and physical well-being. Make sure that you remain safe. You might want to think about obtaining a protective order to keep your abuser at bay and regain some peace of mind.