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The Domestic Abuse Cycle
Phase 3

The Tension Phase

domestic abuse cycle tension phase

During the domestic abuse cycle, there are many signs to this tension building phase of domestic violence. The abuser becomes increasingly picky about small things. They become more demanding and demand more respect in the relationship. The abuser criticizes things that were once “cute”. The abused begins to feel they are walking on the proverbial “egg shells”. Each day becomes increasingly uncomfortable.

As the tension builds, the words of the antagonist become increasingly cruel. Each day the abuser will seem to find some reason to be angry. Most often, the anger is not justified nor is it necessary. What often happens is the anger increases exponentially as the domestic abuse cycle progresses toward the explosion phase and the next incident of violence.

The abuser makes more comments about the abused's abilities, appearance and demeanor. Some of the comments and accusations can eat at the abused partner. The psychological impact of continuous degradation leaves scars that are often as difficult to heal as the physical abuse. Sometimes they are more difficult to heal. It can take the victim years to recover their self-esteem. There are times when they never heal without professional help.

Again, the abuser feels the loss of control and transfers that fear of loss into verbal abuse. Arguments become louder and more frequent. The abuser may restrict the partner to home. She may be restricted to socializing only with approved people. It can go as far as restricting what she reads. Often the excuse used to justify this is jealousy. According to the abusive partner, the blame for the arguments lies upon the abused. It is their fault. If they behaved and did as they were told, none of these arguments would take place.

When a man is abusing a woman, he usually looks upon the woman as a servant. She will be one that obeys his every command because he is the man. He will define the roles that each plays in their relationship. This is a part of the domestic abuse cycle.

In each part of this domestic violence cycle, the abusive partner will define the process of making up, the length of the periods of calm, and the terms for escalation and tension building. If children are involved, they can be incorporated into the abuse. There can be threats to take the children away from her.

Continuing the tension building will lead to the next stage of the cycle: an explosion or incident of violence.

The only way to prevent the tension from leading to another incident of abuse is to stop the domestic violence cycle before it can progress by seeking domestic violence help from professionals.

Phase 1 - MAKING UP
Phase 2 - CALM
Phase 3 - TENSION BUILDING
Phase 4 - INCIDENT

Return to the Domestic Abuse Cycle Index.