Hesperian Health Guides

The Cycle of Violence

The first violent attack often seems like an isolated event. But in many cases, after the violence first happens the following pattern, or cycle, develops:

illustration of the cycle of violence with rain, then the sun, and finally thunderclouds

Tension builds
Calm period
  • Violence: hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, use of objects or weapons, sexual abuse, verbal threats and abuse
  • Calm period: The man may deny the violence, say he is sorry, or promise it will never happen again.
  • Tension builds: anger, arguing, blaming, verbal abuse

Some women try to make the violence happen so that it will be over with more quickly, and to get to the calm period sooner.

As the violence goes on, the calm period gets shorter and shorter for many couples. As the woman’s will is broken, the man’s control over her becomes so complete that it is no longer necessary for him to make promises that things will get better.

This page was updated:17 Apr 2019