Conjugal violence is intended by the partner to take control over you. To be able to install this control, he will use different behaviors that will occur in a cycle. This cycle is a strategy initiated by the aggressor in order to take, maintain or take back control over you.
The cycle is created with 4 phases: the first two (tension and aggression) will allow him to take control while the two others (justification and reconciliation) are strategies will ensure that you won’t be leaving.
First phase: The Tension
Tension is slowly building up, creating fear, powerlessness, discomfort and anxiety inside of you. It pushes you to be centered on him and his needs only.
- « As soon as he set foot in the house, I know he’s not in a good mood. I know it is not the time to discuss our boy’s school results. »
- « I always have the impression I have to walk on eggshells. He’s a ticking time bomb. At any time, I fear he might just burst. »
Second phase : The Agression
This is when he’s violent towards you, using any of the five forms of violence (psychological, verbal, economical, physical, sexual).
- « After ignoring me for days for whatever reason, he suddenly starts yelling at me, accusing me of being selfish and centered on my own little needs. »
- « Then, when the tension is almost unbearable, he starts pushing me around every time I walk past him. It’s so intense that now I decide to stay in the bedroom to avoid him. I’m so scared of him.»
Third phase : The Justification
After the violent episode, your partner uses different excuses to justify his unacceptable behaviour. He will use reasons he know you’ll « buy » and will make you doubt yourself.
- « He starts crying, telling me he hates himself and who he became. He tells me he’s like his father used to be. I have to admit, I have pity for him… But at the same time, I wonder why he’s doing what he’s doing, knowing he’s been through it and how it feels…»
- « Every single time, he puts the blame on something outside of his control. It’s never his fault. It’s the stress at work, the kids being noisy, and the dinner that is too cold, even the toilet paper roll that is upside down. »
Forth phase: The Reconciliation (honeymoon)
This is the moment where he’s the person you used to know. Your partner makes promises, instilling hope in you and making you believe that he’ll change and the violence will end.
- « He promises the sky. He brings us to the chalet, to the restaurant, he buys gifts for me and our children, to show us that he loves us and he’s sorry…»
- « He’s so convincing! I believe him every time. I tell myself that next time will be different. I’ll be so close to perfection that he’s never going to do it again.»
- « Little by little, the honeymoon wasn’t even there. He wouldn’t apologize anymore. It was like if it was a given. The reconciliation for me was when he would stop yelling for a few hours.»
And every time, despite the promises, it begins again… Tension builds up again. On and on.