The cycle of violence

The cycle of violence is to be understood as: “the progressive and ruinous vortex in which the woman is swallowed up by continuous, systematic, and therefore cyclical violence on the part of her partner” (L. Walker, 1979).

The phenomenon of violence is cyclical and develops in three distinct phases:

  1. The Growth of Tension

The woman senses the growing tension and tries to avoid escalation by trying to calm the man, decrease tension and prevent the violent behaviour of the partner. The man does not commit violence directly: he communicates it through mimicry, a cold demeanour and angry silence.

  1. Abuse

The man gives free rein to violence. Physical aggression does not always occur: the abuser can act out violence through insults, threats and the violent breaking of objects. Generally, physical violence is gradual: the first episodes see pushes and twisted arms, then slaps, punches and kicks or the use of blunt objects and weapons. In this phase, to underline his power, the man may commit sexual violence.

  1. The Honeymoon

The man apologizes and appears to be attentive and caring. There are frequent gifts, promises to seek therapy and to “do everything possible to change”. Threats of suicide are also common. There is also the denial of responsibility: the man attributes the cause of his behaviour to external factors, such as work or economic hardship, but above all, he accuses the woman of having provoked him or of having done something that justifies his aggression.

When violence is rooted, the cycles are repeated, and, like a spiral, with time they accelerate and increase in intensity.

As time goes by, the honeymoon phase shortens and the first two phases become more frequent, with more serious consequences for the woman. If the cyclical process is not interrupted, the woman’s life may be in danger.


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