WATCH: The 4 Stages of the Cycle of Abuse

You might think that “abuse” means just physically-abusive situations, that crazy couple in the neighborhood who fight so loud everyone can hear it, kids screaming and crying, too, and they nearly burn their house down…but before it gets to that, the cops show up and shove an angry man into the back of a squad car…

Sure.  That’s abuse.  Of course.  But that’s not all, folks.  Abuse can take many forms, and to varying degrees of severity and frequency.  Here are key types:

Bullying/Hate Crimes

As you can imagine, these types blend, overlap and fuse together; for example, physical abuse also has psychological aspects–as does sexual abuse.  Think of it as a spectrum.

Here’s a video that illustrates very simply the 4 Stages of Abuse, which are:

1 – Tensions building
2 – Incident (the attack, scene, battle, abandonment, rejection, rage, etc.)
3 – Reconciliation (apology, justification, pretending it’s no big deal)
4 – Calm (“forgetting,” “amnesia,” “honeymoon period”)


Cycle of Abuse
(c) YinYangBalance>

Because it’s so nice when things are good and everyone’s getting along–when you’re in Calm–it’s tempting to dismiss The Incident when it comes around. It’s tempting to ignore it quickly, brush it away, under the rug, ignore that nagging voice, etc. It’s impossible to understand why things can’t be Calm all the time. Why? Because the Cycle of Abuse doesn’t make sense. But know that it’s a cycle true to itself; no matter how delicious your amnesia (Calm), it’s only temporary.

Abuse is a dynamic. Whether it occurs once a week or every three-four months, if the dynamic exists, the cycle will play itself out and its participants will go through all of the 4 Stages.


Over and over and over again.


  1. [...] hating one another in alternating cycles of chaos. (This cycle happens unconsciously, just like the cycle of abuse, a form of chaos, that revolves in families with one alcoholic [...]

Leave a Reply