Breakthrough The Cycle of Abuse in Toxic Relationships

Relationship Breakthrough Coach Breaking the Cycle of Abuse

Can you break the cycle of abuse in toxic relationships?

How many cycles would you tolerate before you took action? 

How much abuse would you suffer?

There are a couple of reasons you need to know about this particularly in abusive relationships. Relationship abuse is more than just violence. It is much more than just a black eye here and there, or finger marks on your arms, or reddening to the throat and neck. 

Abuse of any kind is unacceptable and unnecessary. Relationship abuse statistics can be a real awakening to how widespread and serious this issue is. You don't have to tolerate it. But you do have to consider your options alongside your personal safety. It wont be long before the cycle resets and starts again. Are you ready for another ride?

navigating the Cycle of Abuse:

  • Recognise The Destructive Cycle Of Abuse
  • Three Parties To A Cycle Of Abuse
  • The role of anger in the cycle of abuse
  • Isn't the cycle of abuse just a form of betrayal?
  • The six performances of the cycle of abuse 
  • Cycle of Abuse: Act 1 the abuse in full flow
  • Cycle of Abuse: Act 2 reflection and guilt
  • Cycle of Abuse: Act 3 Excuse the inexcusable
  • Cycle of Abuse: Act 4 a brief respite
  • Cycle of Abuse: Act 5 Fantasy and planning
  • Cycle of Abuse: Act 6 The set up
  • Completing the cycle of abuse
  • Breaking the cycle of abuse

Recognise the destructive Cycle of Abuse 

In order for a cycle of abuse to unfold in an abusive relationship there has to be a bond. Two people. Connected and co-dependent. One party needs to abuse. The other to be abused. It is unlikely to happen over night. You wouldn't go on a blind date and take a slap in the jaw and think to yourself "That was a pretty cool date, I might do that again." Highly unlikely. 

Overtime, relationship dynamics are created. Breadwinner, lover, partner, housekeeper, mother, father and so on. All kinds of hats are worn that we might not have been used to before. At first the relationship is alive with excitement and promise. Everyone on their best behaviour. Everyone trying to find the others love language to influence and seduce.

At some point those dynamics change. What was once persuasion becomes betrayal and manipulation. What was once connection becomes control. What was once seduction becomes coercion. Once you didn't want to be apart. No you are terrified in their presence. I've got a but, and this is a big one, you are even more terrified to leave.

That is when the roles of the cycle of abuse are defined. 

Anyone who has experienced fear, isolation, controlling behaviour, or physical assault from an abusive partner knows the excruciating emotions that go with it.

Uncertainty in abundance, lack of contribution, lack of self worth, loss of connections, and so on. 

An often misunderstood concept of relationship abuse is that the victim.

"Why dont they just leave?"

"I wouldn't put up with that."

"If they lay one finger on me like that I'd be out like a shot"

But they dont leave. They stay. They justify, minimise or even hide the abuse. They tell their own story. They convince themselves it was a one off. They give their partner a "chance."

Once you recognise how the cycle of abuse is a manipulation of your emotional state you will see beyond its veil. Make sure to read about the six human needs so you can recognise and understand if your partner is meeting or abusing yours, and you are meeting your partners.

Three Parties to a cycle of abuse

The Victim of relationship Abuse

The star role. This is our hero in this epic . 

The hero always goes on a journey meeting with adversity beyond imagination, before they gather resources and people around them to win the day. At least that's the misleading but entertaining Hollywood interpretation anyway.

A victim of abuse is facing life or death dilemma's on a daily basis. They may not even realise that they are a victim until it is too late. And it isn't only women who suffer relationship abuse. According to UK relationship abuse statistics (Office of National Statistics) around 26% of domestic abuse crimes recorded by the police were committed against men. Roughly 155,000 offences per year! 

Around 11% of male victims (against 7.2% women victims of abuse) have considered taking their life. Over a five year period between 2015-2020 on average 12 men per year had been killed by a partner or ex-partner (74 women per year). 

Source: Mankind 

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The Perpetrator Of Relationship Abuse

The Perpetrator is the mastermind of the cycle of abuse. An evil threat that lurks in the shadows. Nothing heroic about abusing your partner.

Think of Hannibal Lector. Smart, intelligent, charming, sophisticated, and completely psychotic. You wouldn't accept a dinner invitation. You might end up being dinner.

Whilst the majority of perpetrators are men against women, the statistics on relationship abuse reveal that where men play the role of victim, the perpetrators are overwhelmingly played by a woman. Perpetrators and victims in th cycle of abuse also occur in same sex relationships.  

The Rescuer

The rescuer's role in the cycle of abuse can be a precarious place to be. The rescuer can be a close friend, confidante, family member or even the emergency services. The rescuer looks in and tries to show the victim the bird eye view. 

The rescuer steps in and prevents a situation getting even worse.

The rescuer has the best intentions. But, not necessarily the support or agreement of the victim. In fact in some situations the rescuer can become the focal point of the anger from both perpetrator and victim. 

The trouble with trying to resolve toxic relationship cycle of abuse is that the roles are not exclusive to one or other of the parties. Each party can take on any of the roles depending on the prevailing circumstances. The levels of entanglement run deep, like the roots of a badly placed tree. You absolutely know its in the wrong place, but its just too hard to dig it up and move it. So you leave it. 

The role of anger in the cycle of abuse

You might be forgiven for thinking anger is the root cause of toxic relationship abuse.

In cases of domestic violence, anger can be seen as a cause of all the problems and is therefore to be avoided at all costs. Anger can and does lead to violent outbursts but when you look at how anger stirs in the body it appears to be closely associated with passion and excitement. 

Violently eruptive anger is a surface presentation, or a symptom of a deeper rooted problem. To conclude that anger in and of itself is the cause of toxic relationship abuse isn't a well stated problem. Think of an ice-burg. Only the tip shows on the surface doesn't it?

When it comes to the cycle of abuse, uncontrolled anger is merely an outward manifestation in phase one.

You have to find ways to release the emotional bonds created by anger, before they overwhelm you. 

Authentic anger can be useful so expressing anger in a safe environment can also be useful.

Uncontrolled anger experienced in relationship abuse can be totally destructive. Even fatal.

the cycle of abuse betrayal

Betrayal is a significant element within the cycle of abuse. The illusion of deeply loving connection and commitment, interspersed with explosive anger, shame and hurtful psychological abuse. Confusion reigns with doubt and the illusion that it won't happen again. The betrayal bond becomes the trap which is repeated over and over again. 

In toxic relationship abuse the power of positive thinking becomes like a veil. If the focus is on the toxic behaviour the power of awareness not positivity is what will lead to a relationship breakthrough. Seeing only good in an abuser is just as much a self betrayal as the abuse dealt by the abuser.

Exposing the  behaviours that create a cycle of abuse is the first key to breaking the cycle and ending relationship abuse. See the behaviour for what it is. Recognise where you are and the threat that may exist within your relationship.  

six Phases of the cycle of abuse

Cycle of Abuse Phase 1: Relationship abuse in full flow

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

Cycle of Abuse Phase 2: reflection and guilt

After the abusive behaviour has been expressed you may notice a period of 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 on themselves and love for the victim. 

The true purpose of guilt is to minimise the emotional impact on the abuser. Guilt shows the abuser that they do have a conscience. When the abuser feels guilty, it lowers the impressions of being a bad person, after all to not feel guilty, in these cases, may be a sign of psychopathy. 

 Guilt and forgiveness become the rescuers. So the toxic relationship goes on.

Cycle of Abuse Phase 3: Excuse the inexcusable 

Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. Not just outwardly either. Internally the abuser will rationalise the behaviour. They might 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 behaviour is their fault. There is also a high incidence of drug abuse and alcohol abuse seen in these toxic relationships. 

Cycle of Abuse Phase 4: brief respite and Betrayal

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. Whilst this may look like a relationship breakthrough, there is no saying how long this act of the cycle of abuse will last. Days, weeks, months. Who knows?

Cycle of Abuse Phase 5: Fantasy and planning

If you recognise acts one to four of the cycle of abuse you are in very dangerous territory. You must already know this. You have lived it breathed it and tolerated it before so you know what comes next. 

As you enter act 5 of the cycle of abuse the perpetrator may begin 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. A pressure cooker comes back to the boil.

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

Cycle of Abuse: Act 6 The set up

The perpetrator has strict rules. All they have to do to set up the realisation of the cycle of abuse is allow the victim to break 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 internally justify unleashing their wrath upon you 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. Alternatively, the victim does not want to oppose the abuser so complies with the request. 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.

Completing the cycle of abuse 

The cycle of abuse can now reset to phase one and the whole process begins again. If you allow it.

If you ask for help there may be a way out.

There may even be a relationship breakthrough as you break up a toxic relationship.

Breaking the cycle of abuse

Readers and clients of the Relationship Breakthrough Coach recognise that in life coaching sessions, you create a goal or a vision, work out a strategy and take steps to achieving it. 

In a toxic relationship you often can not think beyond today. How can you make goals for tomorrow?

Having awareness of a problem is the first step towards finding the breakthrough.

In fact, a problem well stated and fully expressed is well on the way to being resolved. But when you don't recognise the abusive cycle you won't see the problem for it is. 

Breaking the cycle of abuse means letting go of the shackles holding you back. Once you sever the ties in the physical world, you need to unlock the ethereal energetic ties that keep you stuck. You can overcome your emotions. You can breath deeply and fully again. You can look to a future that you will enjoy. 

Here's your invitation to take a free coaching consultation. Just to sound out your ideas and sound me out at the same time. No pressure. Just talk.


To your success


love, always


Tony, The Relationship Breakthrough Coach

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Support for victims of domestic violence is available. You just need to ask, and it is given.

National Domestic Violence Help Line

0808 2000 247 (UK only)

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