Phase One– the tension building phase
Imagine the clouds as a thunderstorm builds. Imagine the warm air meeting with the cold air. Tension begins to build as the batterer (male or female) begins to react negatively to frustrations and the victim (male or female) tries to passively placate the abuser. The batterer fears rejection or losing his partner. These fears are reinforced by the victim avoiding confrontation. The more the victim tries to avoid or forestall the fight or argument that is coming, the more the batterer expresses his feelings of possession, oppression, and jealousy. The anger inside the victim is intensifying and the batterer senses the tension. The victim is withdrawing more and more with each incident. The batterer seems to be smothering the victim. The batterer misinterprets the victim’s actions as the abuser feels suffocated and her tension is raising higher.
Phase Two– the storm
Imagine the thunderstorm. The lightening, the thunder, the hail, and the rain are the result of the uncontrollable discharge of the tension from the warm air and the cold air combining. This is the destructive discharge of pent up frustration from the batterer to the victim in an attempt to convince the victim not to behave in this manner in the future. After “the storm” is over, the batterer sees the victim injured. The emotions of shock, denial, and disbelief are experienced by both batterer and victim.
Phase Three– calm stage. The storm is over.
This phase is as welcome as when a thunderstorm is over and everyone goes outside to see the rainbow. Even though the batterer and victim welcome this stage, this cycle completes the victim’s completion of the cycle. The batterer is charming and loving and conveys his remorse for his actions. The batterer promises to never be as destructive or injurious again. The batterer also feels the lesson has been learned. The victim sees a glimpse of the beginning of the relationship. The victim sees the love and romance and remorse from the batterer and thinks the batterer will change. The victim is happy and hopeful.
The more cycles a couple completes, the victim lowers her self-esteem and begins to realize she is trading her well-being (physical and emotional) for the batterer’s loving behavior. When drugs and alcohol are involved, or in longstanding relationships, phase three may completely disappear.