A cycle of abuse generally follows the following pattern:
- Abuse – The abuser initiates aggressive, verbal or physical abuse, designed to control and oppress the victim.
- Guilt – The abuser feels guilty for inflicting abusive behavior, primarily out of a concern of being found guilty of abuse rather than feelings of sympathy for the victim.
- Excuses – Rationalization of the behavior, including blame and excuses.
- “Normal” behavior – The abuser regains personal control, creates a peaceful phase in an attempt to make the victim feel in the relationship.
- Fantasy and planning – thinking of what the victim has done wrong how he or she will be punished and developing a plan to realize the fantasy.
- Set-up – the plan is “put in motion.”
A cyclical nature of domestic violence is most prevalent in intimate terrorism (IT), which involve a pattern of ongoing control using emotional, physical and other forms of domestic violence and is what generally leads victims, who are most often women, to women’s shelters. It is what was traditionally the definition of domestic violence and is generally illustrated with the “Power and Control Wheel” to illustrate the different and inter-related forms of abuse. Intimate terrorism is different from situational couple violence, which are isolated incidents of varying degrees of intensity.