Battered woman syndrome is a "psychological and behavioral pattern displayed by female victims of domestic violence" according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Since the concept was first introduce in the 1970s many theories have been developed in an effort to explain why women continue to return to violent abusers. One way of understanding the pattern of domestic abuse is the cycle of violence.
The cycle of violence has four stages. The first stage is the "Incident". This is when any type of abuse occurs. The second stage is "Making-Up". During this stage, the abuser may apologize for the abuse and promise it will never happen again. The abuser may also, as part of this stage, minimize the incident by saying it was not as bad as the victim claims or that the victim is to blame for causing the abuse. The third stage is "Calm". The abuser will act like the abuse never happened during this stage. The fourth stage is "Tension Building". During this stage, the victim begins to feel they are "walking on egg shells". The abuser becomes angry and communication begins to break down in the relationship. The circular cycle then returns to the "Incident" stage.
Victims of domestic violence can go through this cycle hundreds of time during the course of the abusive relationship. Going through the cycle can take over a year or just a few hours. Generally, the more times the victim has gone through the cycle the shorter the cycles last. This means that at the being of the abusive relationship it might have been a year between incidents, but by the end of the relationship there may only be weeks or days between incidents.
The cycle of violence was developed by Lenore Walker. Walker hoped that by understanding the cycle of violence victims of abusive relationships would be given the tools necessary to notice the pattern of abuse and break the cycle.
For more information on domestic violence, please feel free to contact The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.