The Cycle of Abuse in Relationships

How do you spot the cycle of abuse in relationships?

When you have awareness that a pattern exists you can do something about it can't you?

If you would like to breakthrough negative abusive patterns that are killing your relationship then read on...

Readers of the Relationship Breakthrough Coach have seen more than a handful of references to awareness of a problem being the first step towards solution. In fact, a problem fully stated and expressed is well on its way to being resolved.

More about patterns of abuse

Patterns of abuse occur when both parties to an abusive relationship repeatedly step into the respective roles. Ego rules. The goal of love is absent in that moment.

The simple truth is that if the roles are not created then the cycle cannot continue. I say simple, but that does not imply simplicity. Anyone who has experienced the fear, isolation and controlling behaviour, or physical assault from a partner knows the pain of the emotions that go with it.

You might be forgiven for thinking anger is the cause. In most cases of domestic violence, anger can be seen as the mythical beast that causes all the problems and is therefore to be avoided at all costs. Anger is only the surface presentation of the problem so that isn't a well stated problem. Think of the ice-burg. Only the tip shows on the surface doesn't it?

Anger management courses abound, which means there is a perception that if we can control the anger we can control the level of abuse in relationship. When it comes to the cycle of abuse, anger is only the outward manifestation in act one.

Don't get me wrong, it is good to release the emotional bonds created by anger and the NLP tools I use help people to realise the action signal behind the emotion anger and resolve it, rather than the uncontrolled behavioural response to it. Authentic anger can be useful. Emotional uncontrolled anger can be totally destructive. (find out more about NLP Coaching by clicking here)

Three Key Ingredients For Relationship Abuse

In order for an abusive relationship to perpetuate there have to be three key ingredients present:

  1. The Victim of Abuse
  2. The Perpetrator
  3. The Rescuer

This also means that in abusive relationships, if you remove one of the ingredients the abuse cannot continue either.

The trouble with domestic violence is that the roles are not exclusive to one of the parties, and each party can take on any of the roles.

In the cycle of abuse the perpetrator can and often does become the "rescuer."

Isn't that just betrayal?

Absolutely! Follow this link to find out more about how betrayal plays an important role in abusive relationships, and about how the three key ingredients interplay (COMING SOON!)

How does the cycle of abuse perpetuate?

Cycle of Abuse: Act 1

In Act 1 you have the actual abuse. Dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, blackmail, violence. You can probably name quite a few specific acts that would be within the scope of domestic violence and relationship abuse. The abuse is often a power play, just to let the victim know who's boss.

Cycle of Abuse: Act 2

After the initial abuse takes place there is reflection which leads to guilt. Guilt is a powerful emotion that carries with it destructive behaviours. Is it the shame of leaving a bruise on your body, and having harmed you, or is it fear of being labelled as an abuser? There will be apologies, expression's of shame and love. Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Cycle of Abuse: Act 3

Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. Not just outwardly either. Internally the abuser will rationalise the behaviour. They will blame their abusive and violent behaviour on a bad childhood, a bad day, and even on the victims of their abuse. The abusive perpetrator may minimise the abuse or even deny that it occurred. He or she will commonly shift the responsibility on to the victim: Somehow, his or her violent and abusive behavior is their fault. There is also a high incidence of drug abuse and alcohol abuse seen in these relationships. Now, let me think, what would a heavy drinker do after feeling an overwhelming guilt?

Cycle of Abuse: Act 4

The relief of normality reigns once again. What do you consider normal behaviour? To the victim of abuse it might be a move from violent physical aggression to a mere emotional blackmail. Things settle down, even become enjoyable again. The abuser is careful, caring, charismatic and charming. The perpetrator does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. It may even feel like the abuse is behind the victim now. A relationship breakthrough? Maybe, but there is no saying how long this act lasts. Days, weeks, months. Who knows?

Cycle of Abuse: Act 5

Fantasy and planning – the perpetrator begins to fantasize about abusing again. They can spend a lot of time thinking about what they can use against the victim, for example what you’ve done wrong and how they'll make you pay.

Then it is just a matter of time before the right circumstances occur for the fantasy to be played out. The perpetrator may even plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

Cycle of Abuse: Act 6

The perpetrator has strict rules. All they have to Set-Up is the victim breaking them. Since the victim can't be aware of the rules they have no idea they will break them. The abuser sets you up and puts the plan in motion, creating a situation where they can justify (at least within themselves) abusing the victim once again. For example. The perpetrator asks for the victim to collect some goods from the shops. The victim thinks this an opportunity to makes things better and willingly accepts the task. The victim takes time to get the request "just right" but misses the one vital piece. They get home five minutes late. Tick tock, tick tock.

The Cycle is Complete

The abuse now perpetuates. The cycle of abuse begins once more. The perpetrator character trait has achieved its aim.

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