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The family violence cycle consists of three phases; the tension building phase, the acute-battering incident, and the loving reconciliation.

Tension-Building Phase: During this phase the woman senses her mate’s increasing tension. He is "edgy" and perhaps challenges her and tells her she is stupid, incompetent, etc. The woman may internalize her appropriate anger at the man’s unfairness and experience physical effects such as depression, tension, anxiety and headaches. As the tension in the relationship increases, minor episodes and violence increase, such as pinching, slapping, or shoving.

Acute-Battering Incident: The tension-building phase ends in an explosion of violence. The woman may or may not fight back. Following the battering, she is in a state of physical and psychological shock. The man may discount the episode and underestimate the woman's injuries.

Loving Reconciliation: During the last phase of the family violence cycle. both parties have a sense of relief that "It’s over." The man is often genuinely sorry for what happened and is fearful that his partner will leave him. He apologizes and may "shower" her with love and praise that helps her repair her shattered self-esteem. He tells her he can't live without her, so she feels responsible for his well-being and guilty for her actions and blames herself for what led up to the abuse.

Increasing Spiral of Violence
Once violence has begun. it continues to increase in both frequency and severity. Understanding the psychological consequences of her violent relationship can help the woman take power and choose constructive alternatives, as well as aid those who intervene to help her.
Last updated: 9/10/2009 11:09:25 AM