The Cycle of Domestic Violence

Violence has a consistent, predictable pattern that is often referred to as the ‘cycle of violence’. The four stages of the cycle can become easy to recognize – for example, feeling the transition between calm and the beginning of mounting tension.

Without intervention, the cycle of violence will repeat over and over again, until the relationship is ended. The cycle may last for hours, weeks, months, or years. Another consistent pattern with violence is that it escalates over time; the ‘honeymoon’ and ‘calm’ phases may disappear entirely.

The Four Stages of the Cycle of Violence

  1. Incident of violence or abuse
    The incident of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse takes place.
  2. Make-up / Honeymoon phase
    The abuser may show remorse, apologize, or make promises to change. The abuser may also ‘gaslight’ the victim into thinking the violence was their fault.
  3. Calm phase
    The abuser may act as if the abuse never happened, and abuse may stop for a period of time. The abuser may give gifts, ‘lovebomb’, or otherwise manipulate the victim into believing violence will not happen again. The abuser will often hold this inaccurate believe as well.
  4. Tension building
    The phase that includes the ‘walking on eggshells’ feeling, the victim trying to do all the right things to avoid violence. Communication begins to breakdown or stops. At this stage violence is likely to occur. This starts the cycle over again.

The cycle of violence will continue, and the frequency and severity of violence will escalate. If you are experiencing violence, seek help. New Brunswick has many resources available to victims of domestic and intimate partner violence. New Brunswick’s Domestic Violence Outreach Program includes 14 domestic violence counselors that can improve your safety.

Visit the New Brunswick Domestic Violence Outreach Program page, with contact phone numbers for each region.