An unhealthy relationship is characterized by a cycle of abuse. The abuser uses
disrespect, fear, jealousy and possessiveness to create an imbalance of power. This
Mental health professionals increasingly recognize that many factors contribute
to violence beyond a need to dominate, including stress from a variety of sources,
substance abuse, childhood attachment deficits, a history of trauma, lack of emotional
control, and brain injuries. But none of these excuse the abuse of another.
The cycle of abuse is difficult to break once in motion. so it is vital we learn
to recognize unhealthy relationships, and to do something to interrupt the cycle
before it gets worse. Mouse over the circles containing the words “fear,”
“control,” and “power” to see how each contributes to the
cycle of abuse.
Look for cycles of abuse and violence to include these elements:
Tension: Criticism, yelling, swearing, angry gestures, coercion,
Violence: Physical and sexual attacks, or threats.
Seduction: Apologies, promises to change, or gifts
These are some of the elements that keep the cycle in motion:
Love for the abuser: Believing that the relationship is not entirely
Hope: Thinking things will change or it’s just a phase
Fear: Worrying that threats will become a reality
(Adapted from Dr. Lenore Walker's "Cycle of Violence")