What is Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is an epidemic that affects individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or nationality.  It is often accompanied by emotional abuse, and controlling behavior.  Domestic Violence can result in physical abuse, psychological control and in severe cases death.

Warning Signs

Does your partner?

  • Embarrass you with bad names and put downs?

  • Look at you or act in ways that scare you?

  • Control what you do, who you see or talk to, or where you go?

  • Stop you from seeing or talking to friends or family?

  • Take your money or Social Security, make you ask for money, or refuse to give you money?

  • Make all the decisions?

  • Tell you you’re a bad parent, or threaten to take away or hurt your children?

  • Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?

  • Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?

  • Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?

  • Shove you, slap you or hit you?

  • Force you to drop charges?

  • Threaten to commit suicide?

  • Threaten to kill you?

  • If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you may be in an abusive relationship.

  • Help, support and information are available to you through VOW.

  • Please call our center at 832-377-8134


The Cycle of Domestic Violence


In a relationship the cycle of violence refers to repeated and dangerous acts of violence that follows a typical pattern no matter when it occurs or who is involved. The pattern, or cycle, repeats; each time the level of violence may increase. At every stage in the cycle, the abuser is fully in control and is working to control and further isolate his victim. Understanding the cycle of violence and the thinking of the abuser helps survivors recognize they truly are not to blame for the violence they have suffered and that the abuser is the one responsible. 


Tension builds over common domestic issues like money, children or jobs. Verbal abuse begins. The victim tries to control the situation by pleasing the abuser, giving in or avoiding the abuse. None of these will stop the violence. Eventually, the tension reaches a boiling point and physical abuse begins.


Abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual, psychological, economic, and social. Typically, When the tension peaks, the physical violence begins. It is usually triggered by the presence of an external event or by the abuser’s emotional state—but not by the victim’s behavior. 


The abuser makes excuses and blames the victim for their behavior. Common excuses usually revolve around the abuser being intoxicated or abused as a child. However, alcohol use and being abused as a child does not cause the abuser to be violent. Common victim blaming statements usually focus on the victim's behavior. For example, "If you had the house cleaned, I wouldn't have had to hit you," or, "If you had cooked dinner on time, I wouldn't have had to hit you." The goal of this stage is to avoid responsibility for their behavior. 


During this stage, the abuser may use different tactics to achieve their goal to regain power over the victim. The abuser may act as though nothing happened - everything is normal. This can be crazy making for victims, as they do not understand how they can pretend nothing happened. 

If the victim has visible injuries, they will have to explain how they got them. This is designed to maintain the normalcy of the relationship. The goal of this stage is to keep the victim in the relationship and present the relationship as normal. 

Another tactic an abuser may use after they have chosen to be violent is to become the thoughtful, charming, loyal, and kind person with whom the victim fell in love. This may involve going out to dinner, buying flowers and convincing them they will change. This can be a huge incentive to stay or return to the abuser because they believe that this time they really will change. This is sometimes referred to as the “honeymoon phase”.

The cycle can happen hundreds of times in an abusive relationship. Each stage lasts a different amount of time in a relationship. The total cycle can take anywhere from a few hours to a year or more to complete.  It is important to remember that not all domestic violence relationships fit the cycle. Often, as time goes on, the 'making-up' and 'calm' stages disappear. 

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