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Domestic Violence

Helping Someone Out of an Abusive Relationship

06/04/2004

Question:

I have a cousin who has been with her husband for 10 years. He has been physically violent with her and also verbally abusive the whole relationship. Her 6 year old daughter would come to me crying about how "daddy made mommy`s mouth bleed" and "daddy punched a hole in the wall" and so on. So she had her husband put in jail the next time he hit her.

But the day he got out of jail, she picked him up and they have been together since. I am afraid that she will get beat again, and most of all I am scared for her kids. Is there any way to help her to get out of that situation??? Thank you very much

Answer:

You have basically identified what many refer to as the "Cycle of Violence." A brief overview of this is as follows: Again, Lenore Walker states that there are three distinct phases associated with this cycle: (1) the first phase is characterized by a tension-building phase, whereby, the batterers may engage in name-calling, criticism, put-downs, and or physical abuse, the second phase is characterized by the actual battering incident, which may be marked by hitting, slapping, pushing, hitting with the fist or objects, burning etc., the last phase is the loving-contrition phase, or what has been called the honeymoon phase. Here the batterer is perceived as being quite charming, apologetic, compassionate and loving. He becomes the man she hopes, wishes, and desires him to be. This phase is often absent of tension and abuse. As a result the women are positively rewarded for staying in the relationship. The women are not "set-up" for the abuse to occur over again. The cycle repeats itself over and over again. You can provide support by educating her, informing her of resources in the community (shelters), perhaps helping her to develop a safety plan, or encouraging her to seek counseling support.

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Response by:

Cathy   McDaniels-Wilson, PhD Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, PhD
Adjunct Professor
Department of Sociology
The Ohio State University