Wednesday, November 9, 2011
How can I help...?
“How can I help stop the cycle of violence? How can I make a difference?”
The cycle of violence is a four-stage cycle. The first stage of the cycle of violence is called the Honeymoon Stage. In the Honeymoon Stage the relationship is happy, fun, and euphoric. Both participants in the relationship are not experiencing or committing abuse upon the other.
The second stage is called the Tension Building Stage. During this stage the victim becomes aware of what makes their partner angry and sets them off. The victim then tries to eliminate that factor in the relationship. For example, Erica has been dating Jake for a few months and he has told her that he loves her and wants to spend every single second with her. Jake gets a little jealous when Erica talks to her other guy friends, even though there are no romantic feelings between Erica and her other guy friends. Because Erica loves Jake and thinks that the jealousy is flattering she lessens or stops talking to her guys friends all together. But it was unavoidable, she had to talk to one of her guy friends at school, in the hallway and Jake sees it. He yells and tells Erica that she can’t talk to him again or he will break up with her. Erica cries and agrees to avoid her friend. The yelling and threat to break up is called the Explosion Stage. This stage is when there is yelling of insults or threats, hitting or other bodily harm, and/or threats to pets, friends, or children.
After the Explosion Stage is the Apology Stage. This is when the abuser says they are sorry and it will never happen again. The abuser says that they just got so mad and feel really bad for their behavior. Usually during this stage the abuser also brings a gift or peace offering promising to make the relationship better because they really do love the victim. The abuser is also very skilled at making the victim feel like the relationship will be stronger, better, and more loving because they went through this together. The victim can and usually does feel closer to their abuser during the Apology Stage. Then the cycle starts all over again.
The cycle of violence is static and never-changing. It always follows these four stages. The only variable to the cycle of violence is the duration of time between Explosions and/or the start of the abuse. Sometimes the first Explosion doesn’t happen for months or even years. Sometimes the time between Explosions can be short or long. It just depends on the relationship. When the cycle does start, it will only escalate unless the relationship ends or the abuser agrees to get help. When I say escalate, I mean that maybe the first few Explosions are yelling or threats. Later, as the Explosions continue, they can escalate to bodily injury and even death.
The best way to stop the cycle of violence and help make a difference is to be educated about what it is. If you know the signs, you are better equipped to end a relationship before it becomes abusive and violent. Another way you can help end the cycle of violence is to help friends if you see the signs of potential abuse in their relationships. You can point them to resources to help educate them about the cycle of violence and dating abuse. Knowing about dating abuse and the cycle of violence will help you decide what you want out of a healthy relationship. Education and prevention are the keys to ending the cycle and experiencing healthy dating relationships in the future. Knowing about dating violence is the surest way to decide for yourself what you want out of a dating relationship and what behaviors and treatments are unacceptable in your intimate relationships.