“Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?” ~ Rumi
Everyday we hear about domestic violence and STOPPING THE CYCLE of violence. However, what is the cycle of violence? How do we know we’re a part of it? And how do we get out? The cycle of violence is complex.
It begins with the Tension-Building Phase. This is when you’re walking on eggshells, feeling uneasy, unsure of your footing and — this is crucial — this is where your voice starts to disintegrate and disappear. You know if you say the wrong thing, something scary could happen. It could even be giving your partner the wrong coffee cup one morning, something benign and what most people would chuckle at — becomes the lit match of aggression. Once the tension is set, the next part of the cycle is the Acute or Crisis Period. This is when things get even worse. Threats, destruction physically or emotionally, experiencing the biggest blow up in the relationship; fear for your safety. Drugs and alcohol abuse ramp up, too, if there is addiction in the partnership. Then the final phase of the cycle: The Honeymoon.
The most compelling reason a survivor stays is because the abuser returns to the “one I love.” They are contrite, adoring, apologetic — making promises to never do it again and that they will seek help. The fervent words of, “I love you! Don’t leave!” echo hardest on a survivor’s heart when the Honeymoon Phase hits. It’s one reason it takes up to 12 cycles of abuse for someone experiencing domestic violence to look for a way out.