The cycle usually goes in the same order, and will repeat until the conflict is stopped, usually by the survivor entirely abandoning the relationship or some form of intervention. The cycle of abuse can occur hundreds of times in an abusive relationship, the total cycle taking anywhere from a few hours, to a year or more to complete. However, the length of the cycle usually diminishes over time so that the “reconciliation” and “calm” stages may disappear,[violence becomes more intense and the cycles become more frequent.
Angelica Pasquali, a young entrepreneur and content creator, redefines the cycle of abuse because she finds the common abuse cycle and its stages promote common misconceptions.
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The first stage is typically the “tension building” stage. I didn’t think that is an appropriate first stage because it spreads the misconception that abusive relationships start abusive right away. Abusive relationships start as regular relationships with people excited to learn, love, and explore each other. That’s why I redefined the first stage of an abusive relationship as “the honeymoon” stage.
I hate the question, “Why did you get into an abusive relationship?” People just get into relationships. In reality, they develop into abusive relationships over time. Just because a relationship ended poorly doesn’t mean it started that way.
The second and third stages of an abusive relationship are “the incident” stage and “the reconciliation” stage. I decided to redefine the second stage and keep the third stage. I didn’t agree that tension and incidents were separate in the established stages. Incidents often happen closely after tension builds. So I redefined the second stage to “the tension-incident” stage to more closely link the two.
I decided to keep the third stage as “the reconciliation” stage because I found it accurate. In this stage, abusers will try to calm victims with apologies and ensure them that “it won’t happen again”. I represented this by the abuser pulling the victim towards them.
The last stage of an abusive relationship is the “calm” stage. This is the stage when the abuser comforts the victim and convinces them that they have indeed changed, but this only leads back into the established “tension building” stage.
Yes, abusive relationships tend to go in toxic cycles. No, that shouldn’t be and isn’t the last stage of an abusive relationship. Why are we educating others that abusive relationships are an endless cycle?
I decided to redefine the last stage of an abusive relationship as the “release” stage. This is when the victim breaks away from the relationship with their abuser. Most victims are scared to leave the relationship, so by changing the last stage of the cycle, that could give victims courage to release themselves, not simply go back to the first stage.
I chose the word “release” because there are a lot of emotions that remain swirling within victims and abusers. Often times, abusers have been abused and they chose not to “release” the negative emotions, but instead chose to filter them into future toxic relationships. That’s the cycle that no one talks about, the cycle that follows after leaving the cycle of an abusive relationship. The cycle has two paths: carry that fear/hate into future relationships or spread love/kindness into future relationships.
I beg you don’t let all those negative emotions manipulate your future relationships. Chose to spread the love and kindness you deserved, but didn’t get. Grow from the relationship having a clearer understanding of how you should properly be treated. Abusers continue the cycle of hate and fear. Do not continue the cycle.
You have a power, please use it kindly.
Angelica Pasquali is an artist, her business is Luna Photography.
A young entrepreneur and content creator whose projects cover vital topics such as environmental awareness, mental health, and abuse.