An excerpt from the book, Broken and Battered by Muriel Canfield, states that the National Woman Abuse Prevention Project reports that there are three predictable stages/phases of abuse. In my relationship, there were 4 phases of abuse.
Based on the book, Broken and Battered, The three phases are: tension building phase, acts of violence phase and honeymoon phase.
Tension Building Phase:
In this phase, your attacker will be stressed or angry with you, the children or their boss–or situations not having to do with you at all. Either way, the victim gets blamed for the abuser’s problems. It doesn’t matter if the victim wasn’t at fault, the abuser believes that they were “provoked” and any ramifications or “punishment” by them was warranted.
Acts of Violence Phase:
Acts of violence do not have to be stereotypical. Typically, when we picture an abuser, we think of a dirty man wearing a “wife-beater” tank, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, and drunk wielding a bat. This works against most women as their abusers may not fit this model; It is rarely this simple to spot an abuser. As such, abuse will oftentimes start with something deemed more “innocent” and then progresses to full blown hitting, pushing or more.
The abuser becomes very remorseful, very apologetic–may even cry. The abuser typically becomes very willing to do counseling; will buy gifts for their victim; and, make grandiose promises and more; This can be very genuine in the moment; or the abuser may knowingly not mean any of his words or actions. The dangerous aspect of this stage is that the victim lets down their guard. They think that things will get better or be different and allows continued contact with the abuser.
However, My situation was a bit different–at least I think that it was.
NOT EVERYONE FOLLOWS THE SAME PHASES
For instance, my abuser was very easily “triggered” to anger and violent outbursts, but the acts of violence followed other phases, typically.
He would get triggered or get drunk; It was one or the other. Mostly, he was drunk, though. Once he was drunk, which usually happened throughout and after dinner (so, the abuse usually started late at night and then carried through the night to morning), he would become very talkative.
Moreover, he would talk so much and so long and without allowing much input from me at all. As a result, He would talk so long that I would start to doze off or get distracted. Near the end of our relationship, I would simply state that I was done listening. Then, he would start crying and telling me that I was “no friend of his”, that “if I was his friend, I would still listen”. And, he would start telling me how his mom and his first wife had hurt him so bad and that I was “just like them”.
Once he quit crying, he started to be abusive. The physical abuse ran the whole gamut from sexual abuse, to pulling my hair, to spitting in my face, to slamming me against walls, to severe verbal abuse, to breaking items, to destroying my personal belongings and so on. I never knew just how bad the abuse was going to be. And, it didn’t depend on how bad I fought back or not, at that point.
OUR HONEYMOON PHASE
After the abuse, he would fall asleep. As for me, I usually stayed up and licked my wounds, not falling asleep until early morning. If it was a week day, he would enter the honeymoon stage by allowing me to sleep in and getting the kids ready and off to school. If it was the weekend, he would enter the honeymoon stage by bringing me breakfast in bed. The honeymoon stage was very predictable and always included apologies and promises of changing and getting counseling.
MY ABUSERS 4 PHASES OF ABUSE
Tension Building Phase or Drunk Phase
Crying Phase or Depression Phase
Acts of Violence Phase
If you experience any of these at the hands of an intimate friend, partner or spouse, you may very well be in an abusive relationship. Broken and Battered by Muriel Canfield states that perpetrators’ reform rates are very low.
This means very little to a christian woman, I know. We believe that we are supposed to stay with our husbands no matter what or that we are to believe the best of them or we are to believe that they will be healed or we are to believe that if they apologize to us, we are to forgive them 70 x 7 times. Considering this, do what you must; but, know from experience that the Bible also states that your husband is to love you like himself and wives are to respect your husbands.
We are all called to follow the example of Christ; and, if a spouse is being abusive, they are breaking some of the greatest commandments. It did not help my walk with God to stay in an abusive relationship; and, it did more harm than good to my children. Based on my own experience, and solely my own opinion, it is best to get out of an abusive relationship and as quick as you can.
It is not worth it.
Did your relationship follow a different sequence of the 4 Phases of Abuse? Tell me about your experience in the comment section below.
If you would like to read more about my experience with abuse, you can read some of my other blog posts at: