Polk County Medical Examiner

The Cycle of Abuse

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There are three stages to the cycle of abuse. The following is a brief description of each state.

  • TENSION BUILDING
    • The victim can sense the perpetrators edginess.
    • Some victims sensing that an abusive episode is inevitable and knowing that they can not prevent it, will try to provoke the perpetrator so they can at least control the timing of the incident.
  • EXPLOSION
    • This is the stage when the actual abuse occurs.
    • This is typically the shortest stage, lasting from a few hours to one or two days at the most.
    • Typically the perpetrator does not begin the abuse wanting to hurt the victim; they want to teach the victim a lesson.
    • It is usually after this phase, but before the Honeymoon phase gets into full swing, that the victim will call a Crisis line.
  • HONEYMOON
    • In this stage the perpetrator tries to make up for their behavior, often through gifts or special treatment.
    • Both partners believe that the perpetrator can control their behavior.
    • The victim feels responsible for the perpetrator and the perpetrator feeds into this by claiming that they can not live without the victim.
    • Over time, this phase shortens. If there is no intervention, the honeymoon phase may disappear completely.

Contact Us

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1801 Hickman Rd
Des Moines, Iowa 50314
(515) 286-2102 (Days)
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