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Cycle of Violence

The Cycle of Violence has four main parts. It is a cycle because if you deny that your partner abuses you the violence will not stop. The first step to breaking the cycle is to admit that your partner abuses you. The second step is to get help. There are many shelters throughout Canada that are ready and able to help you. Family and friends may also be there for you. Remember, you have the right to live without violence in your life.

Honeymoon Phase
After the abuser has hurt you they promise they will not do it again. It is calm and quiet.
Abuser: Survivor:
  • “I promise I won’t hurt you again”
  • They try to make everything better
  • They promise that they will change
  • Sometimes brings you gifts and does special things for you
  • You believe the abuser is telling you the truth
Tension Building Phase
Slowly the abuser starts to hurt you again. You do things that you hope will stop them from hurting you.
Abuser: Survivor:
  • “If you don’t want me to punish you, don’t be late again. Next time I’ll break something of yours.”
  • They start to hurt you again. They threaten you, break things and try to control what you do.
  • They promise that they will change.
  • The anger is building up inside of them.
  • You try to be a perfect partner, mother or wife.
  • You believe that you make them angry
  • You make excuses to yourself and others about why your partner acts this way.
Violence Phase
The anger inside the abuser is too much. The abuser becomes more violent.
Abuser: Survivor:
  • They are out of control
  • They call you names while they beat on you
  • You are afraid for your life.
  • Sometimes you fight back.
  • You may try to leave and go to a shelter or a friends home.
Denial Phase
The survivor thinks the abuse is over and so comes back.
Abuser: Survivor:
  • “I warned you not to be late, you didn’t listen. I only hit you to teach you a lesson.”
  • They take no responsibility for the abuse
  • They blame you for what happened
  • You pretend that the abuse never happened. Or you believe that it will never happen again.
  • The cycle of violence may break if you remember that your partner hurt you.
  • You must try to talk to friends, family or a counsellor about what is happening.
  • You have to admit to yourself that your partner abuses you.
  • You have the right to live without violence in your life.

Revised (1991) by: Micheline Cyr-Clear Writing Service, Literacy Link Eastern Ontario
Elizabeth Milan-Research Assistant, Community Support Program

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