Domestic violence is distinguished from other forms by the fact that it occurs in a couple where the two partners live an intimate and affective relationship. In his relationship of domination, the aggressor establishes and maintains his hold on his victim while ensuring that she does not leave him. Domestic violence is not a dynamic where the two partners are in turn the aggressor and the victim. It is a sequence of strategies determined and initiated by the aggressor in order to dominate the victim.
To isolate his victim and restrict her freedom, the aggressor will slowly create, through strategies, a trap similar to a spider’s web. He deliberately constructs, from the repetition of the cycle of violence, a context from which it will be increasingly difficult to escape.
The cycle of violence
Phase 1 Tension
Tension: angry excesses, heavy silences, intimidations, threatening looks.
« I am anxious. I feel like it might go wrong. I am worried. I put a lot of energy into lowering the tension. I am scared, I am paralysed. I feel like I am walking on eggshells. »
Phase 2 Aggression
Aggression: Verbal aggression, psychological, physical, sexual, economic.
« I am very angry. I am ashamed. I feel humiliated. I am sad. I have a feeling of injustice. »
Phase 3 Justification
Justification: He makes excuses, he explains why there was an explosion. The named reasons are outside of him.
« I believe and understand his justifications. If I could help him change. I will adjust myself to him. I doubt of my perceptions. Was it really an aggresson? I feel responsible for what happened and my anger disappears. »
Phase 4 Reconciliation
Reconciliation: Anything to be forgiven. Asks for help, wants to see a therapist. Wants to stop using. Talks about suicide.
« I see that he makes efforts to change. I give him a chance. I help him. I find again the one I love. I change my attitude. »
They are several reasons why it is difficult for some women to break the silence and break out of the cycle of violence:
- The hope of a change in the behaviours of her partner;
- Preserve the family unity;
- The fear of having her children taken away;
- Pressures from the relatives;
- Social isolation;
- Lack of financial resources;
- Serious threats;
- The fear of reprisals on herself, on the children or on the animals;
- Suicide blackmail of the partner;
- The ignorance of her rights;
- The fear of harming her partner (criminal record, job loss).