Physical abuse occurs every 20 minutes in the US by an intimate partner.
Every year, more than 10 million men and women experience emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and more. That’s 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men.
During the cycle of abuse, the abuser will do everything they can to gain the power and control. All the tactics used are in an effort to make the victim subservient.
Through the understanding and acceptance of the cycle of abuse, it can be treated. Getting help is the most important step which is challenging for both victim and abuser.
Generational Abuse – The Repeating Cycle of Abuse
Generational abuse is a repeating pattern in a family that has passed down dysfunctional domestic abuse through generations. A child growing up with domestic abuse doesn’t understand that this is abnormal.
The correlation between a child being in an abusive upbringing and then becoming the abuser or victim as an adult is high. The developmental progression of a child abused or experiencing domestic abuse often causes antisocial behavior and violent episodes.
A son who is verbally or physically abused by his father will treat his children in a similar way. When a daughter hears her father verbally abuse her mother, she will believe that this is normal in any relationship.
The Power and Control Wheel Breaks the Cycle of Abuse Through Understanding
One of the methods on how to break the cycle of abuse domestic violence is through the power and control wheel. The wheel allows the victim and the abuse to see the pattern, intent and impact of domestic abuse.
There are stages of domestic violence that are almost undetectable for the victim.
Physical and Sexual Abuse
Physical and sexual abuse sits on the outside ring of the wheel and instills the greatest amount of fear. The abuser will not only punch her or push her to gain power but sexual abuse will also be used to dominate.
Sexual abuse is often masked as “make-up sex.” During counseling sessions, the perceptions of these situations are vastly different. He’ll often say it was the best sex he had ever had. She will say that it was humiliating because he beat her down and would then want sex.
The cycle of abuse begins with intimidation. Nothing specific has happened yet and he will test his boundaries.
The victim plays out the options in her head. Her only options are to draw a line, do what he says, or leave. The domination will never end without therapy.
Emotional abuse will be constant. The abuser believes they are superior to the victim and wants to dominate her. To really get away with this, he needs to put down everything she does until she feels completely worthless.
Name calling and the constantly emotional beating down is believed to be one of the hardest part so domestic abuse to overcome. The victim is left not knowing who they are and co-dependency often becomes an underlying disorder.
The victim may be moved away from all their friends and family. She won’t have privacy and the abuser will have access to all her lines of communication to maintain control.
If she tries to go out with her friends, he’ll start an argument with her. This is in the hopes of exhausting her so she’ll submit to just staying home.
The goal here is to keep her away from people that have the ability to reason with her. If she doesn’t hear other voices other than his, he has a much better chance of maintain the power and control.
Minimizing, Denying and Blaming
This tactic happens often. If something doesn’t go the way the abuser wants it to, blame gets shifted onto the victim. Once he’s established his dominance over her, she has no way of confronting issues.
This tactic will eventually cause her take the blame. The sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse is her fault. Even if he’s an alcoholic or drug addict, she is to blame for his addictions. She’ll excuse herself and take the blame before he does.
An abuser will leverage his children to cause her pain or try to get control. Their desire to control and make their partner pay supersedes the love they have for their kids.
They may threaten the mother of taking the kids and that she will never see their kids again. She understands this is a possibility because he always gets his own way. He sees that she loves her children so he’ll interrupt routines or make threats.
Using Male Privilege
Male Privilege is the notion that they have the right to dominate and control a woman. They know how to negotiate positively with other people. They just don’t believe that a woman is equal so there’s no respect for her.
An abusive man with the male privilege notion won’t look into his partner’s eyes, call her by name, or have a real conversation with her.
Money is power. If you control the money, you control the house. Even if the abuser doesn’t make the money, they hold the debit card.
He sees this as a good way to control her. He removes her ability to move freely in the world. This is his plan.
Coercion and Threats
To stop the victim from doing what he doesn’t want her to, he will use threats like using kids for leverage.
The Equality Wheel
Once an abuser and victim understand the cycle of abuse is happening and why, the Equality Wheel helps to create positive change. Often, the denial that something is wrong is so strong that it takes being arrested for an abuser to go through treatment.
In treatment, the Equality Wheel will help move the abuser to becoming non-violent in a partner. This includes emotional abuse with respect being the opposing factor on the Equality Wheel. Wheels can be used together to identify and explore abuse while offering the functional behaviors. This encourages non-violent change.
Lenore Walker’s Cycle of violence
The theory of the Cycle of Violence was developed by Dr. Lenore Walker. It has three distinct phases which are generally present in violent relationships:
- Tension Building Phase
- Violent Episode Phase
- Remorseful/Honeymoon Phase
The Cycle of Violence theory goes through how the victim feels during these phases and how the abuser feels too. Through this theory, the domestic abuse couple can begin to learn what is happening with one another.
The most challenging part of domestic abuse is breaking the cycle. How can the cycle of violence be broken? To stop the cycle of abuse, the victims and abusers need to understand why domestic abuse happens. From there, the therapy and healing from trauma can begin.