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The Domestic Violence Cycle
Dr. Lenore Walker of the Domestic Violence Institute has devised a theory of violence that aids in explaining the phases of domestic violence. Dr. Walker is a nationally recognized clinical and forensic licensed psychologist. She specializes in the psychological impact of trauma on victims, particularly battered women and sexual assault victims.
STEP 1: Minor battering
Victim's denial of anger helps them cope with a situation they desperately will change. Victim blames outside factors; takes guilt for battering incident; apparent passive acceptance spurs on the abusive behavior and batterer doesn't have to find control.
Batterers don't want behavior made public, causing fear in them the victim will tell, thus increasing the oppression. Batterer's brutality keeps victim captive. Learned helplessness syndrome.
As Phase one progresses, battering incidents increase, anger escalates, victim realizes next phase is coming and works hard to control external situations: keeping children quiet, no phone calls, etc. Soon, coping techniques fail.
Batterer increases possessive smothering and brutality. Victim is less able to defend themselves against the pain and hurt. Victim withdraws; batterer moves in more oppressively. Unbearable tension builds up. Victim sometimes triggers next phase in order to break the tension, to "just get it over with."
Two IMPORTANT characteristics: lack of control and lack of predictability. Acute battering with major destructiveness takes place. Usually lasts from 2 to 24 hours, with some reports of a week or more of terror. Only batterers can end Phase 2. There's an element of overkill and victims express extreme futility in trying to escape. Victims suffer emotional collapse 22 to 48 hours after acute battering. They seek isolation; thus, doctors often do not see them until a natural healing time has passed. There is extreme sexual abuse during this time.
There is an unusual Period of Calm. Batterer is extremely loving, kind and contrite. Batterer is sorry and promises never to do it again. Batterer believes they can maintain control. Also believe they have taught victim a lesson so that they won't have to beat them again. Promises to give up drinking. Convinces victim they're needed, makes them feel guilty for leaving; makes victim feel the responsibility. Promises they will get help if victim just stays. The victim sees the batterer as being sincere and loving. Victim chooses to believe this is what they are really like and if they help the batterer, they will change. Phase Three is a time when most of the rewards of being married take place thus making it difficult for the victim to end the relationship.
Phone Numbers and Links
Columbus Alliance for Battered Women call (706) 324-3850
CONTACT (from Columbus Phone Area) call 211
Domestic Violence Hotline (Georgia Only) call 1-800-334-2836
National Domestic Violence Hotline call 1-800-799-7233
National Center for Defense of Battered Women call 1-800-903-0111
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence