The cycle of domestic violence

Domestic violence is rarely a one-time occurrence. It usually takes place as part of a cycle that includes the following phases:

  • Tension-building stage: This includes the 'Build Up' and 'Standover' phases and involves insults and other verbal attacks and minor abusive situations. This period is where the victim tries to be compliant, “walks on eggshells,” and feels helpless; atmosphere becomes increasingly more tense.
  • Violent episode:This is the 'Explosion' phase. Built-up tensions erupt into incidents ranging from severe verbal/emotional abuse to physical/sexual assault and can last from a few minutes to a few days, depending on the relationship. It is during this time that the victim is most likely to be seriously injured or killed by her partner.
  • Honeymoon stage: This includes the 'Remorse', 'Pursuit' and Honeymoon stages. Following a violent episode the abuser is usually contrite and attentive; the victim once again recognises the person she first fell in love with and may be inclined to believe his promises to change.

Domestic violence rarely stops without some form of intervention. The cycle usually repeats itself with the violent episodes escalating in frequency and intensity.

For more information on domestic violence and abusive relationships, visit the Australian Government’s Health Direct website (hyperlink

The cycle of abuse in domestic violence
The Cycle of Domestic Violence
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