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of Violence

Phase I, Tension-Building

Phase II, Abusive Incident

Phase III, Honeymoon Period

Domestic Violence is not just a one-time incident, but a pattern of behaviors over time. Most abusive relationships follow a cycle of violence, which has three stages: "Tension-Building', 'Explosive Incident' and 'Honeymoon Stage'. The lengths of each stage can vary from seconds to years. (Click here for 'Intimate Partner Violence Fact Sheet') 


During the 'Tension-Building Phase', the warning signs of abuse begin to appear. They may repeat and they may change each time, but they are there. 


  • There are more arguments between the abuser and the victim. 

  • The abuser yells at the victim for no apparent reason. 

  • The abuser accuses the victim of acts they did not do, such as sleeping around, flirting with other people, cheating. 

  • The victims feel as if they cannot do anything right and are afraid to do anything to make the situation worse.


 During the 'Abusive Phase', the abuse occurs. It may be mental, physical or sexual, but it is always an intense outburst.


  • The abuser threatens the victim with physical violence.

  • The abuser hits, grabs, shoves, kicks or otherwise physically attacks the victim.

  • The abuser screams and yells violently.

  • The abuser throws objects across the room.

  • The abuser injures a family pet.

  • The abuser rapes or sexually assaults the victim.


During the 'Honeymoon Phase', the abuser tries to justify or minimize the abuse. They may treat the victim with extreme kindness as they try to "make up" for the attack and try to keep the victim from fleeing. The abuser may also try to make the victim feel responsible for the abuse so they will not blame the abuser or press charges.


  • The abuser apologizes and promises that it will never happen again. 

  • The abuser tells the victim they love them.

  • The abuser buys the victim gifts such as flowers or jewelry to "make up" for the abuse.

  • The abuser makes excuses for the abuse, often blaming the victim for the abuse ("you made me do it", "it was only a little slap, it's not like I really hurt you", "you know that always makes me angry", "you know how stressed I've been lately because of work", and many others).


As a cycle, the phases repeat themselves. After the 'Honeymoon Phase', the tension eventually starts building again, which leads to another explosive incident. Over time, the 'Tension-Building Phase' takes less time to lead to the explosion, which becomes more violent and dangerous, and the 'Honeymoon Phase' becomes shorter and shorter.

Signs of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is not always easy to recognize but the signs are usually there. Abuse takes on many forms, from emotional to physical to sexual. The following are some of the signs that the person you are with may be abusive.


The person...

  • Repeatedly lies to you and breaks promises.

  • Withholds affection in order to get power over you.

  • Shows extreme jealousy and tries to keep you from family, friends, or interests.

  • Insults or puts you down.

  • Violates your privacy, goes through your possessions without permission.

  • Threatens you.

  • Tries to control you, telling you how to dress, where to go, what to eat, what to do, etc.

  • Attempts to cause you pain or injury.

  • Punches, kicks, shakes, slaps, or restrains you.

  • Attacks you with a weapon or thrown objects.

  • Causes pain or injures you.

  • Forces their attention on you, either verbally or physically.

  • Sexually abuses you.

  • Injures or threatens to injure the family pet.

  • Threatens to injure your children.

  • Injures your children.

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