The Basics of Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence takes many forms:

a) Physical and/or sexual abuse

b) Emotional and/or economic abuse

c) Intimidation, coercion, threats

d) Social isolation

“It takes an average of seven times to leave the abuser. Many stay because of children involved.” – Carrie Moylan, MSW, PhD.

Abuse is cyclic and can be sparked by a large or small incident. Excessive anger does not require a rational reason to take over someone. First is the Tension-Building Phase, small occurrences bother the abuser and the victim feel the need to be cautious around the abuser  in fear of setting them off. The second is the Explosive Phase This phase often times involves violence and gets worse over time but it was be any sort of abuse that is out of control.

The third phase is Reconciliation. The abuser apologizes and says it won’t happen again but still manages to shift blame to the victim, contributing to the victim staying since the abuser is supposedly not the one in the wrong, therefore no apparent reason to leave. The victim is in shock and finds it hard to believe that the abuser hurt them, which leaves them in denial and willing to accept gifts and apologies. The fourth is the Honeymoon Phase. Usually accompanied by jealousy, the abuser makes the victim feel loved and accepts gifts. The abuser acts as if the abuse never happened while the victim hopes it never happens again.


When it comes to families, children may be influenced by watching the abuser. They are likely to repeat the cycle when they get older, since they grew up believing this is the proper way to show love. “Children understand normalcy through their environment.” -John Vassello

Sources: Class notes, guest speaker

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