The Cycle of Domestic Violence

Hollywood has an unrealistic way of portraying the true dynamics of domestic violence. We typically see a successful businessman who finds the less fortunate woman and woos her into his charming good graces. She falls in love with a man who later unveils his controlling and abusive behavior. It becomes so violent the woman takes matters into her own hands by taking self defense classes or learning to use a gun. She takes control of the situation and defeats the perpetrator.

Domestic violence happens every day and is not confined to a certain stereotype of individual. Domestic violence goes beyond status, income, race, or gender. The underlying factor is power and control. There is truth to what I like to call the wooing stage where there are little signs of aggressive behavior. As one gets comfortable you may see the verbal abuse and manipulation occur. I like to call this phase “testing the waters.” No one is exempt from an abuser possibly entering their life. However, some individuals see the signs and stop the relationship and abuse from continuing. Others may find excuses to why this behavior is acceptable, and this is what the abuser is looking for. Abuse is a difficult cycle to break, and there may be feelings of fear and shame associated with coming forth about the truth. Abusers use many ways to control their partners which continues the cycle. Below I have listed the most common tactics you will find in an abusive relationship.

1.) Emotional abuse-The abuser will use language and manipulation to damage and devalue the other person. It is done in a way that the partner believes the abuser and inevitably has little to no self-worth. This is where shame comes in to play. The person receiving emotional abuse may lack the courage to walk away.

2.) Isolation-The abuser will cut off contact from friends, family, and anyone associated with the partner leaving this person with no one to turn to. It goes beyond isolation from people, but also includes social media, activities, and hobbies. Isolation can make the partner feel vulnerable and in need of the abuser.

3.) Intimidation- The abuser may make threats to harm children, pets, and their own partners life in order to keep the control of the relationship. Intimidation instills fear into the individual and can make it impossible to leave feeling as though their life is at jeopardy.

4.) Sexual Abuse-Sexual abuse in the criminal world is separate from domestic violence however, speaking to many survivors of domestic violence you will find both typically go hand in hand. Sex is used for manipulation purposes in these relationships creating a false sense of intimacy or to devalue the individual. Sex may not be wanted by the partner, but the abuser will force the act to exert power over the individual. This again creates low self-worth and shame for the individual receiving the abuse.

5.) Financial-Working with survivors of domestic violence I find money to be a contributing factor as to why people do not come forward or leave the situation. Without money how can one live? Often the abuser may be the sole provider for the family and walking away means you and the children will go hungry. Usually the abuser has isolated this person to the point of having no one to turn too for security. It is more practical to suffer the abuse then to be homeless and destitute.

6.) The blame game-This may be the most difficult topic to describe so let me start with a question. Have you ever had a confrontation with someone who obviously did something out of line that hurt you? During this conversation your argument becomes faulty and suddenly you not only see the other persons perspective, but you inevitably take the blame as well. You are left somehow being at fault for that person’s bad choices and behavior and you doubt yourself. This conversation involved minimizing, denying, and blaming. The goal for the abuser is to create doubt and guilt allowing to manipulate the beliefs of the other person. This takes the spotlight off the abuser in order to place blame on the partner. The shame is overwhelming for the partner, and the abuser becomes the innocent party.

Not all domestic violence survivors have the same story, but I can guarantee they can relate to one or more of these points. You may see a reoccurring pattern throughout this blog involving shame and guilt, power and control. If a person lives their life in shame this gives an abuser the power to step in and further destroy. If a person lives in guilt an abuser has the freedom to control the uncontrollable. Taking back your life doesn’t start with walking away, it starts with realizing your worth. If you feel worthless you will attract what you feel you deserve. Do not be afraid to ask the difficult questions and more importantly do not isolate yourself in a time of need. Take back what is yours and regain the self-worth that has been so brutally abused.

Are you struggling with a domestic or sexual abuse relationship? Do you have a friend or family member who is involved in this type of relationship? A licensed mental health professional can help. Please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Orlando counselors.

No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Synder
Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1635570972/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_dcQ5CbQESXPDP

Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse by Shannon Thomas
Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JR4ST9S/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_2eQ5Cb1DKB2ZR


LECS Counselor