Thursday Thought — The Cycle of Abuse
In his book, Unholy Charade:Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church, [affiliate link*] Pastor Crippen describes each phase of the cycle of abuse. Understanding each phase and how they work in sequence may help victims be able to avoid or lessen the confusion that abusers want to create.
Some people call this the ‘normal’ phase or even the ‘honeymoon period,’ but in an abusive relationship, nothing is ever really normal, and any honeymoon feeling is a deception. ‘Buy-back’ names what the abuse is doing: trying to manipulatively buy back, through apparent peace and pleasantness, the affection and loyalty of the one he seeks to control. When it suits his purposes, he can pretend to be quite caring, even loving. The buy-back phase will give the victim false hopes that thing are better now, that he really does love her, that he has truly changed. But like almost everything the abuser does, this is ultimately all for himself.
In this phase, tension builds. The abuser begins to see everything his victim does as a challenge to his power and authority. He begins to plan how he will deliver his next explosion of abuse to bring her back under his control.
The abuser looks for ways to set up his victim, an excuse to strike. Like an evil dictator looking for an excuse to start a war, he may create the incident, using one of the tactics described in the next chapter. Because his ultimate desire is to exercise control, the victim will fail in all her attempts to please him.
The abuser now launches his all-out attack in one of several ways. His goals will be to intimidate the victim to remain small and in her place of subjection and servitude, and to convince her that she is entirely at fault for his abuse.
An abuser at this state may put on displays of guilt and remorse. He may feign empathy, shame, and sorrow for his wrongdoing. He may express his love for his victim in what appears at first to be a very genuine way. But it is a sham, often simply mimicked and mirrored from outward behavior that he has observed in others. One giveaway is that there will almost always be some form of excuse and blame directed toward someone else, usually his victim.
The abuser will cycle back to the beginning, to what some call the ‘normal’ phase, only to repeat the cycle over and over again. But remember, what some call ‘normal’ is really manipulation in disguise, or ‘buy-back.’ Great damage can be done to victims during this state, as it increases the victim’s confusion.
Just remember, in every phase of this abuse cycle, abuse is operating.
[From Unholy Charade, pp36-37]
Here is a diagram of The Cycle of Abuse developed by ARMS (Abuse Recovery Ministry Services) that may be helpful.