The Cycle of Violence

In many abusive relationships, violence is not a one time incident. The abuse usually happens again and again. It is important to remember that not all domestic violence relationships fit the cycle. Often, as time goes on, the "making-up" and "calm" stages disappear.


  • Any type of abuse occurs (physical/sexual/emotional) 
Tension Building
  • Abuser starts to get angry 
  • Abuse may begin 
  • There is a breakdown of communication 
  • Victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm 
  • Tension becomes too much 
  • Victim feels like she or he is "walking on egg shells" 
Making Up
  • Abuser may apologize for abuse 
  • Abuser may promise it will never happen again 
  • Abuser may blame the victim for causing the abuse 
  • Abuser may deny abuse took place or say it was not as bad as the victim claims
  • Abuser acts like the abuse never happened 
  • Physical abuse may not be taking place 
  • Promises made during "making-up" may be met 
  • Victim may hope that the abuse is over 
  • Abuser may give gifts to victim
The cycle can happen hundreds of times in an abusive relationship. Each stage lasts a different amount of time in a relationship. The total cycle can take anywhere from a few hours to a year or more to complete.