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One of the saddest things I experience when doing counseling is discovering when a wife (and on occasion a husband) is trapped in the cycle of abuse with their spouse. This is also referred to as domestic violence. Maybe you are in an abusive relationship yourself, or maybe you know someone else experiencing this trauma. Many people do not even recognize when their relationship is abusive. Those people in abusive relationships need to know that there is a way out.

The first stage is Tension Building. This is the time when problems are starting to build. There may be minor arguments, or complete shutdown on the part of the abuser. Either way, there is a breakdown in communication, and the stress level is continuously elevating.

The second stage is the Incident. If you think of this in relation to a balloon, the first phase is when the balloon is being filled with air. This phase is the point when the balloon pops. At this point, the abuser has lost control of himself (or herself) and is intentially trying to injure (physically, emotionally, sexually, or psychologically) the other person. The abusee may often feel like deserve this because of a mistake that they made. Please be aware, THE ACTIONS OF THE ABUSER ARE NOT THE ABUSEE'S FAULT.

The third stage is the Reconciliation phase. The abuser can be incredibly "sweet" during this phase. They might be overly apologetic and very loving. Flowers, gifts, etc. are especially common during this phase. During this phase, an abuser may also minimize his or her actions towards their spouse, and deny responsibility and accountability.

The fourth stage is the Calm. At this point, everything is going okay. There is no abuse, and the incident is forgotten. The abusee might think (again), "maybe he has really changed this time," or "maybe things will really be different this time."

The truth is, things will not really be different unless both the abuser and the abusee get some serious help. They will continue going through the cycle (with the incidents continually getting worse) unless both learn how to turn to other people for help. They should also be talking to a number of different people in order to find support and help. Turn to trusted friends or family members. Talk to a pastor (or other religious leader). Get involved with LONG TERM counseling (the costs of counseling with be well worth it). While it will take a lot of time, effort, and outside resources to help an abusee and an abuser, it is very much possible.

For those living in the United States, you can call 211 or go to 2-1-1 Call Center Search and ask for resources in your community who can help with abusers and abuse victims.

Originally posted at Cycle of Abuse in Relationships
 

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I am not discounting abuse cycles or in any way trying to say that people who are abused are don't have legitimate claims of being abused but, I don't fully agree with your post. I know that when physical abuse happens or verbal abuse such as threats of violence and intimidation occurr their is absolutely no excuse for that behavior and certainly the person engaging in it is guilty of abuse.

My problem is with the way the term "abuse" gets thrown around these days and in almost all cases, only one spouse is labled as being an "abuser" with that person usually being the man. It almost always seems like that if a man vents or becomes very frustrated in a relationship that almost everything he says or does is labeled as abuse, usually emotional or mental (like I said with the exception of physical or verbal which would be justified). If a man shuts down from his wife, withdraws his emotions from her, and puts up his "wall" he is guilty of emotional abuse somehow. How dare he be angry or defensive in any way which might cause his wife's feelings to be hurt. Meanwhile, that same wife can check herself out of the marriage, withhold sex and emotion, refuse to show empathy for her husband's feelings on whatever the argument is about and somehow she always is the "abused" one in the relationship. She can be completely wrong but because of her stubborness and refusal to accept responsibility for anything wrong in the relationship and the fact that she may not be as visibly or vocally upset she gets a pass.

My opinion is that more often than not, the "abuse" cycle is going both ways in a relationship but not being recognized as such. Women are masters at catalogging every word said and every deed done by a man in every fight for the last 5 years in a marriage while men cannot remember what they had for lunch last Tuesday. They use this knowledge to build a "case" against the husband and use it repeatedly over and over again in fights and in places like counseling sessions and as a result, the man ends up looking like some sort of monster. The reality is that the woman most often is just as guilty of abuse as the husband but her form of abuse is more passive in nature and less obvious and therefore harder to pinpoint.

It would be refreshing for just once to have the "cycle of abuse" in a marriage to be addressed from a MUTUAL standpoint instead of always coming from the angle that just one spouse is to blame, usually the man. It gets so tiresome....

I also don't agree with this statement: "....when a wife (and on occasion a husband) is trapped in the cycle of abuse with their spouse. This is also referred to as domestic violence." Really? Domestic violence? Maybe in cases of physical abuse or extreme verbal abuse, but other than that I think that is an extreme view. What you essentially end up doing by saying that is watering down the severity of real domestic violence. But, that is my opinion.

I also want to comment about this statement: "THE ACTIONS OF THE ABUSER ARE NOT THE ABUSEE'S FAULT." What about in the case of mutual abuse? So, do you think that it is possible that if two people are mentally or emotionally abusing each other that whatever their response is to that abuse has nothing to do with the other person? Would they have acted that way if they had not suffered abuse from their own spouse? I know people are responsible for their own actions, but I do believe one's actions can produce a response from their spouse that might not have otherwise existed had they not been abusive in the first place.

Well, enough of my rambling....
 

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The cycle of abuse has been studied and documented.

You don't have to believe it....it doesn't make it untrue.

It's VERY true.

And stop talking about women like we're all the same. lol. I don't even remember what my husband and my last fight was...nor do I throw things back in his face.
 

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I never said it it was untrue or that I didn't believe it. Maybe you should get some reading glasses if you're having trouble seeing the post.

"And stop talking about women like we're all the same." This acutally is what I am talking about...women lump men into some category as well and it would be nice to see and hear both sides of the story for once!
 

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I actually agree with Heavyhearted. Both my husband and I have verbally and mentally abused each other. We both shut down. Only difference is I realized it first. I am now trying to help us reconnect emotionally with mixed results. The abuse has stopped after years though. I own my part of the problem and am trying to fix it. Trying to get him to own his part though. He wants to rugsweep and move on. I want everything addressed so history doesn't repeat itself.
 

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It’s very different for men who are abused. Everywhere abused husbands look for help it’s all about women who are abused by their husbands. In fact I think that some 99% of the information and help available re abuse in marriage is focused on the wife, not the husband.

Even Riverside’s opening sentence which includes “(and on occasion the husband)” fits exactly into this mould.

But for example there are as many personality disordered women as there are men and a lot of those women are wives who through their disorder abuse their husbands. It always seems strange to me how women can have mothers who are abusive but there are never any abusive wives.

Somehow I feel if the female were in the majority the stronger than the male of the species there’d be many physically abused husbands. A wives abuse is rarely physical and always emotional and psychological. But it’s hidden inside the marriage and inside the body of the husband. Unlike the bruises on the face of the woman for example.
 

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I actually agree with Heavyhearted. Both my husband and I have verbally and mentally abused each other. We both shut down. Only difference is I realized it first. I am now trying to help us reconnect emotionally with mixed results. The abuse has stopped after years though. I own my part of the problem and am trying to fix it. Trying to get him to own his part though. He wants to rugsweep and move on. I want everything addressed so history doesn't repeat itself.
With the help of close friends and counselors, I finally laid down some boundaries and enforced the concept that my wife was no longer welcome to dump her anger on me, hit me, use profanity on me, or seek inappropriate male attention.

Her response was to move out - and take her children with her.

Apparently, she's only interested in a long term relationship to get her bills paid, have her (and her children's) asses kissed, and to do whatever she pleases.

That doesn't work for me.



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With the help of close friends and counselors, I finally laid down some boundaries and enforced the concept that my wife was no longer welcome to dump her anger on me, hit me, use profanity on me, or seek inappropriate male attention.

Her response was to move out - and take her children with her.

Apparently, she's only interested in a long term relationship to get her bills paid, have her (and her children's) asses kissed, and to do whatever she pleases.

That doesn't work for me.
We sure find out what is what when we put a stop to the abuse by the erection of some impenetrable boundaries. When we become totally intolerant of their abusive behaviour.

It’s only then that we discover what their true motivations are and that they simply (a) either cannot stop abusing in that they have no control over it (b) they do not want to stop abusing or (c) they don’t think their behaviour is actually abusive.

Either way we know exactly where we stand, perhaps for the very first time. And that is the biggest help to a very long term decision and keeps us on the path our decision took us.
 

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We sure find out what is what when we put a stop to the abuse by the erection of some impenetrable boundaries. When we become totally intolerant of their abusive behaviour.

It’s only then that we discover what their true motivations are and that they simply (a) either cannot stop abusing in that they have no control over it (b) they do not want to stop abusing or (c) they don’t think their behaviour is actually abusive.

Either way we know exactly where we stand, perhaps for the very first time. And that is the biggest help to a very long term decision and keeps us on the path our decision took us.
Bob,

I always felt that individual therapy would turn things around for us. Yet, even in therapy, the one I love refuses to ask what/how she should interact differently to get better results in our relationship.

In fact, I don't think she's asked that question of anyone - ever.

Perhaps she's afraid of what they might say.



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I actually agree with Heavyhearted. Both my husband and I have verbally and mentally abused each other. We both shut down. Only difference is I realized it first. I am now trying to help us reconnect emotionally with mixed results. The abuse has stopped after years though. I own my part of the problem and am trying to fix it. Trying to get him to own his part though. He wants to rugsweep and move on. I want everything addressed so history doesn't repeat itself.
Thanks for sharing that...I have read some of your other posts and I find them to be inspirational! My wife and I are going through a very similar situation.....
 

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It’s very different for men who are abused. Everywhere abused husbands look for help it’s all about women who are abused by their husbands. In fact I think that some 99% of the information and help available re abuse in marriage is focused on the wife, not the husband.

Even Riverside’s opening sentence which includes “(and on occasion the husband)” fits exactly into this mould.

But for example there are as many personality disordered women as there are men and a lot of those women are wives who through their disorder abuse their husbands. It always seems strange to me how women can have mothers who are abusive but there are never any abusive wives.

Somehow I feel if the female were in the majority the stronger than the male of the species there’d be many physically abused husbands. A wives abuse is rarely physical and always emotional and psychological. But it’s hidden inside the marriage and inside the body of the husband. Unlike the bruises on the face of the woman for example.
I don't think this could have been said any better. I think you really kind of drove my point home and I thank you for that. I have felt like the abuse in my marriage has been mutual between my wife and I. We even went to a counselor for awhile who seemed to agree. Unfortuately, my wife did not agree and wanted to stop going because she said she didn't believe anything he said. I have looked far and wide for resources that could possibly help our situation but yes, I too have found that most of it only seems to look at abuse from the standpoint of the wife. It is very frustrating to say the least.
 

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This wasn't even close to how I lived with my abusive husband. He never apologized, but rather put the blame on me. He even said it was my fault for his infidelity. He claims I set him up to cheat. He always had to justify why he was treating me so poorly. He would scream at me if I didn't make his lunch the next day or if I didn't clean the kitchen well enough. He would always tell me how worthless I was and how fat I looked. Mind you, I worked 2 jobs, paid the bills, cleaned, cooked, and took care of the baby while he would get dressed up to go out after sleeping all day. I never met such an angry man. He held me hostage in my home for hours, when I finally left to get out of there, he nearly killed my daughter and I. This was my fault too. When we were having sex(only in the beginning), he would secretly tape me. It was all my fault.

The only time I saw him remorseful, is the day after I left. He begged me to come back, he bought me a few gifts, which I took. I said no and one of his mistresses moved in 2 days after that. He stole my checkbook, credit card and license out of my car 3 days after I left and handed then to me a week later. He took a credit card in my name and maxed it. He maxed the other credit card that I had never used. Identity theft. He sat back and laughed in my face. I couldn't do anything about it at the time. It was hard to prove since he had my signature on my license and we had just split up and still married. He had 5-7 maxed credit cards of his own, so I had the option to claim my own that he maxed(one credit card I knew about at the time), or take on 1/2 his debt, which was enormous. He was working very part time to pay for his pot.

My ex has turned his abuse towards my daughter,, which he no longer sees. He refuses to allow her to talk to her siblings. He hangs up when she calls. He abuses his wife and cheats on her too. I don't understand why she puts up with it. She believes him that I was the problem in our marriage and that I screwed him, which is all lies. He's worse now then he was 17-18 years ago. I'm so glad I did not stay. I married the polar opposite and my husband now puts my needs before his own. I learned my lesson. That year I was married to that abuser was pure hell. When I would cry while he was attacking me with those nasty words, he thought it was funny and laughed. He even took pictures to prove it was my fault for his actions. I never got an apology ever. There never was any calmness either.
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Bob,

I always felt that individual therapy would turn things around for us. Yet, even in therapy, the one I love refuses to ask what/how she should interact differently to get better results in our relationship.

In fact, I don't think she's asked that question of anyone - ever.

Perhaps she's afraid of what they might say.
I don’t know what it is with some people Conrad. Why they don’t look to themselves to change. My wife would never go to individual or marriage counselling. She had a slight introspective epiphany moment while reading a self help book some 6 months after we’d separated. It was nowhere near enough and way too late by then.

I don’t know if they are afraid of what people may say. I did think at one time that my wife suspected a third party would see right through her and not engage in her dysfunctional games. I suspect my wife has a personality disorder that shows itself under stress, so it’s episodic. If it is the pd I suspect they rarely seek help.
 
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