Domestic abuse is described as the misuse or mistreatment of a spouse or mate. It encompasses many types of abuse, including physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, and financial abuse. Though an abuser may or may not choose to abuse other people, the spouse or mate in a domestic abuse situation is the primary target.
Domestic abuse involves a pattern of behaviors intended to obtain and to keep control over one’s mate or spouse. Often, abusers blame their victims for the abuse or deny it altogether. However, the abuse is not caused by the behavior of the victim. Instead, it is caused by the need of the abuser to dominate at all costs.
There are clear-cut cycles of domestic abuse. The first phase in the cycle of domestic abuse is the build-up phase. During this phase, tension builds, and the abuser may begin to become angry. Often, a breakdown of communication ensues. During this phase, the victim often makes attempts to keep the abuser calm and may feel as if he or she is walking on eggshells.
In the next phase of domestic abuse, the actual abuse begins. The attack may be verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical. However, the intent is always the same – to control and harm the victim.
In some relationships, a combination of abuse types are inflicted. For example, the abuser may begin with verbal attacks and escalate the attack to include hitting. Sadly, in some situations, sexual abuse may precede or follow physical or verbal abuse.
The next phase of domestic abuse can be described as the making-up period. During this time, the abuser may be apologetic, promising that he or she will never behave in that manner again. On the other hand, many abusers are not apologetic at all and instead choose to blame the victim for the abuse. Sometimes, an abuser may deny the abusive incident altogether or claim that it wasn’t as severe or damaging as the victim asserts.
The last phase of domestic abuse, before the cycle begins all over again, is a period of calm. During this phase, the abuser may behave as if the abuse never occurred. This phase is often referred to as the honeymoon phase, as the abuser often behaves nicely towards the victim and may live up to promises made during the make-up phase. The abuser may give the victim gifts. As a result, the victim may begin to feel hope that the abuse is over.
Sadly, the cycle of domestic abuse repeats itself again and again until someone puts a stop to it. Each stage varies in length, ranging from just a few hours to a year at a time. Often, the making-up and calm phases disappear with time.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, don’t waste a minute hoping that something will change. Seek out the help of a domestic abuse organization to learn how to extricate yourself from the situation safely. If you are being physically or sexually abused, contact the police for help right away.