Though there are variations on behavior, the descriptions of the phases of battering have been recognized as the patterns experienced by victims of chronic abuse. Please use this information as a warning guide of sorts, share it with your family and friends.
The Phases of Domestic Violence
- The Tension Building Stage: Abuse occurs in small increments initially, with the woman coping with the abuse and controlling the situation by placating to the abuser. She works to control external factors, the kind that will “set him off.” The perceived control works for a while, but he becomes more oppressive over a shorter recovery time and eventually explodes.
- The Acute Battering Stage: A very short period of time, characterized by abuse that is completely out of control and devastating. While most people think of this as a phase marked by physical violence, it is completely possible for acute battering to be a vicious attack. Abuse only stops when the attacker is physically exhausted. Both the abuser and the abused tend to deny the attack, and they minimize the brutality.
- The Loving Behavior Stage: Characterized by promises to change, apologetic behavior and grand gestures in the pursuit of forgiveness. Gifts are often a large component in this stage.
Minor battering incidents will occur, during which the woman will choose any one of several techniques she previously managed to calm her abuser with. It is possible that she will be nurturing, compliant, the person fulfilling his every wish or she may choose to retreat completely.
As tension builds, she does not allow herself to get angry with her abuser. Denial becomes a coping mechanism for personal anger, and it is matched with the strange bedfellow rationalization of the abuse. In other words, it is very possible for someone who is abused to talk convince themselves that they deserve the treatment they are receiving.
The situation escalates, with the woman trying to control the external factors that cause abuse to flare but the battle is like a finger in the dam. The batterer knows that the behavior is wrong, but there is no real reason for him to change his actions in a society that refuses to acknowledge the true impact of domestic abuse.
As his personal acknowledgement of the behavior grows, the abuser fears that his spouse will leave and he turns to oppression; possession and jealousy in the hope that his iron rule will keep her in the household.
Tension can build for periods close to a decade, with both the abuser and the abused rationalizing that things will “never” make it to the acute battering stage. The simple truth is that there comes a point at which the oppressor simply will not respond to any of the old controls, the ways of minimizing the abusive behavior, and some external trigger will usher in the next phase.
There is a terrifying point of no return.
Phase Two – The Acute Battering Stage
Whereas the past was characterized by minor incidents of verbal or physical abuse, this stage is characterized by a completely uncontrolled discharge of tension built over months or years. Both the abused party and the abuser do accept that the rage of the abuser is completely out of control, but he is blind as to the “why” or “how” of what did happen.
In Phase Two, it is important to remember that:
- The rage starts as a “lesson,” one initially not intended to do injury, but it only stops when the rage has left him physically incapable of causing more harm.
- The trigger is rarely an offense committed by the woman, but is more likely an outside factor or some internal state for the man. There are instances where women in a longtime abusive relationship, typically be women who have lived in Phase One for years, will intentionally trigger an outburst as a method for coping with the abuse. Her belief is that getting the rage “over with” will allow her to be in control.
- This phase rarely goes for more than a full day.
- No matter what kind of coping mechanism is used, the harsh reality is that Phase Two ends when the abuser finally does allow it to end.
- On onset of behavioral changes in the abused before the attack. Anxiety, depression and sleeplessness are all frequent symptoms that you should be watching for.
- Her spouse is typically unable to describe much of what happened during the attack, and both the abused and the abuser will deny and minimize the severity of what took place.
- She will feel psychologically trapped, only seeking help if there is an injury that she views as “severe enough” to see medical attention.
- If there is intervention by the authorities, expect both the abused and the abuser to claim that there is not a “real” problem. Due to the way an abusive relationship is structured, the abused will often verbally attack the police in her attempt to avoid further abuse at the hands of the abuser. She feels that showing loyalty will lessen his anger, but it does not.
Oppression, violence and battery eventually bring all abusers to a point at which they realize “I went too far.” The problem is that the abuser does not realize that the application of the pent-up emotion, the control, is not simply going to vanish from the marriage. This time of flowers, promises of better behavior, dropped divorce proceedings and calm is just another leg in the journey back toward Phase One. Oppression seeps back in, and coping begins anew.
A life of oppression and manipulation is NOT a life. Take the information from this article, as well as the simple checklist below and build a better world for EVERY woman.
Does your partner:
- Put you down?
- Act in ways that scare you?
- Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?
- Control all financial decisions?
- Make all household decisions?
- Threaten to physically harm your child?