The Cycle Theory of Violence

Battering: A 3-Phase Cycle

The cycle theory of violence is a term used in domestic violence research to describe the pattern of battering over time. Developed by Dr. Lenore Walker in 1979, this theory identifies three distinct phases associated with a recurrent cycle of battering: (a) a tension-building period, (b) an acute battering incident, and (c) a reconciliatory, loving period. Because this theory was based on Walker's observations of battered women, the language used to describe each phase is gender specific.

Phase 1: Tension Building

During this time, the battered woman feels as though the pressure is mounting and anticipates that a severely abusive incident is imminent. Although it is not unusual for physical abuse to take place, this stage is characterized by primarily verbal abuse, with minor ...

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