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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:

  1. Tension Building Phase
  2. Violent Episode Phase
  3. Remorseful/Honeymoon Phase

Outlined below are typical feelings and behaviors exhibited by family members in the various phases of the cycle of violence.

Phase One: Tension Building

Woman feels: Angry, unfairly treated, hopeless, tense, afraid, embarrassed, humiliated, disgusted, depressed

Behavior: Nurturing, submissive, “walking on eggshells,” afraid to express feelings, may use alcohol and/or drugs to avoid situation

Partner feels: Tense, frustrated, disgusted, self-righteous, or jealous

Behavior: Verbally abusive, fits of anger, silent, controlling, arrogant, possessive, demanding, irritable, may use alcohol or drugs

Phase Two: Violent Episode

Woman feels: Frightened, trapped, helpless or numb

Behavior: May try to protect self, hit back, submit helplessly, get away or seek help

Partner feels: Angry, enraged, “right,” jealous and/or frustrated

Behavior: Dangerously violent, has a deliberate desire to hurt or kill, out of control, irrational, “Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde”

Phase Three: Remorseful or Honeymoon

Woman feels: Relieved, angry over the incident, resentful, guilty, hopeful, in denial over the seriousness of the incident

Behavior: Offers excuses for the batterer, may be withdrawn, tries to solve or prevent future incidents, hopes/believes changes will last

Partner feels: Apologetic, remorseful, forgetful about degree of violence, self-righteous, unable to understand why the woman is still angry.

Behavior: Makes promises to change, blames her or others for the problem, may use alcohol or drugs as an excuse