3/18/2010

Domestic Violence 101 - Tension Building

As we discussed in the first installment of this series, domestic violence is a cycle. It is all about the attempts of an abuser to control a victim. It's not love. It's not infatuation. It's control and it gets worse over time instead of better. Stage I is the Honeymoon Phase.

This article focuses on Stage 2 - Tension Building in Domestic Violence 101

In this stage the abuser begins reacting to real or imagined stresses. The abuser is tense and finds fault with everyday occurrences. The freshly cleaned house may not be clean enough. The steaming hot dinner is too hot or too cold. There may be minor explosions or medium sized flare ups in the tension building stage. Doors may be slammed. Names are being called. Put downs are increasing. Phone calls may be monitored. Odometer readings may be recorded. Controlling behavior is increasing.

The couple may argue. There is intimidation. There are threats.

The abuser may say things like:

• You are nothing without me.
• I can’t believe I ever saw anything in you.
• You wouldn’t have anything if it weren’t for me.
• If you leave me I will kill you.

Or alternatively they may threaten suicide, claim to be dying of cancer or similar illness or accuse the victim of having an affair.

Victims feel afraid and helpless to stop the cycle from escalating. They start to blame themselves for the abuse that is to come. Often, they will report the feeling of “walking on eggshells”. They may become compliant and try to do anything to keep the next stage from happening or they may do something that they feel will trigger the next stage of the cycle to “get it over with”.

Note: This stage is often equated to a “simmering pot”.
Pressure builds and eventually there is an explosion.

Resources:
Domestic Violence 101 - The Cycle

National Domestic Violence Helpline
US Department of Justice
CDC - Intimate Partner Violence

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