Written by: Shawn Lanham, LCSW, LCADC
Last year in Kentucky, over 137,000 individuals and their families were provided treatment for problems associated with domestic violence. This equates to over 375 people in treatment every day, 7 days each week, for the entire year of 2017. Many families are torn apart by the effects of domestic violence and the trauma that can last a lifetime. Perpetrators of domestic violence in Kentucky are required to enter a Batterer Intervention Provider (BIP) program to learn how to end the cycle of abuse and improve their relationships. Unfortunately, many victims and their families never seek treatment and are left to recover on their own.
A brief description of the Cycle of Abuse begins with the Tension Building Phase, where the abuser becomes increasingly moody, irritable, critical and often verbally abusive. During this phase, the victim(s) attempts to nurture, agree, avoid, and keep quiet in efforts to avoid further escalation. Next, The Abusive Incident occurs, in which the abuser has resorted to verbal attacks, threats, physical/sexual abuse, use of weapons and humiliation. During this phase, the victim typically tries to calm the abuser, reason with them and makes every effort to protect themselves, other family members and sometimes calls the police or others for help. Many of these incidents are never reported for fear of retaliation and making things even worse at home. Finally, the last phase is called the Honeymoon Phase. The abuser begs for forgiveness, lavishes gifts and affection and promises to “never do it again”, often while crying and showing how much they are hurting. The victim often takes them back, stops any legal proceedings and feels relieved, happy and hopeful everything will get better. Sadly, without treatment and intervention, it usually will not.
The Cycle of Abuse is very difficult to break since the Honeymoon Phase eases tensions and feels as though things have changed for good and “everything is better now”. However, the truth is this is just a part of the cycle and soon the old behaviors will return and begin to build as part of the rising tension in the relationship. Ongoing treatment and therapy for the abuser and the victim(s) is recommended to break this cycle. Treatment consists of education, developing effective communication and listening skills, as well as understanding and utilizing conflict resolution techniques. If you or someone you love would like to discuss treatment options for domestic violence issues, please call our office.
*Statistical information from the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (KCADV) website. https://kcadv.org/
Please see the other articles from Bluegrass staff on domestic violence.