I normally write about kink related topics, but today I have something else on my mind. Later today I will be going to court to seek a more long term no contact order, in an attempt to deter my stalker from continuing her threatening and harassing behaviour. So what does that have to do with domestic abuse? Well, my stalker is my SO’s ex, and she is the textbook domestic abuser. Unfortunately for him every time he tried to end the abuse, he was shamed and even blamed. He was told that he “allowed it to happen”.
First, let me say that domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race, etc. Often times, however, it is viewed in highly gender biased terms. When someone of unknown gender writes of being abused, we often assume they are female. When a male speaks out about being abused by a woman he either “allowed it to happen” or worse, he is portrayed as being the real abuser.
Second, domestic abuse has a pattern. Recognizing that pattern may help you, or someone you know, avoid or get out of a violent situation.
Third, abuse is not always physical. There are many types of abuse.
Cycle of Abuse
1. Honeymoon – Everything seems great during this stage. Your partner will go out of their way to do nice things for you, and you have hope for the relationship.
2. Routine – Things settle into a routine. Daily life is status quo. Maybe things aren’t so romantic, but life isn’t all roses, right?
3. Tension – The eggshells are piling up now. Little things spark frustration. Didn’t take out the trash on trash day a month ago? You’ll be reminded of that now.
4. Trigger – Something sets off the abuser. Maybe they just got too drunk or maybe they had an exceptionally bad day.
5. Abuse – If this is the first time this has happened, maybe you’ll justify it. After all, no one is perfect, right?
6. Excuses / Victim Blaming – “I wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t made me mad”. ” I wouldn’t be so angry if you would just …”
7. Apology – In some models, this is called remorse; however, remorse prompts change. In the abusive cycle, there is no lasting change. In the apology stage, the abuser will apologize profusely in the hopes of maintaining their relationship with the victim.
At this point, the cycle reverts to the first stage, the honeymoon, and the loop begins again.
What Can We Do?
- If you know someone stuck in a cycle of violence, do not blame the victim, regardless of their gender. People stay in domestic violence situations for a number of reasons, but it is never because they enjoy being abused.
- Be cautious about confronting the abuser, unless you know the victim is safe. Confronting an abuser can often serve as the trigger for abuse, and make the abuse worse for the victim.
- Support the victim patiently. Offer to help them get out of the situation, and be a shoulder for them to lean on. Leaving an abuser is difficult.