The Cycle of Violence

Sometimes it can feel like you never saw this coming. What were the signs? What should have clued you in? Then things start becoming predictable. Abusers always follow a pattern or cycle in their violence and abuse. Once you recognize the cycle, it is very easy to notice these characteristics in your relationship. Hopefully this will become a good tool for present or future reference.

 

1. Honeymoon Phase

He (I use he generally because statistics show primarily males abuse) is the most charming, sweet, loving, attentive, and affectionate man you’ve ever met. He brings you flowers at work. He has dinner waiting at home. He sends cute texts just to make you smile. He tells you you’re the love of his life and could never live without you. There’s so much love and attention here you almost forget about anything else that’s ever happened and think maybe you can forgive him and just maybe he might really change and be this guy from now on.

 

2. Tension-Building Phase

Then things start to get edgy. You feel like you’re walking on egg shells around him. Suddenly he starts getting upset at little things. He’s not so attentive anymore. He’s more likely to patronize you than to dote on you. Things start to escalate. You do everything you can to not make him angry but it seems like there is no escape from it. You are late with dinner so he yells at you. The next night you’re early and he yells because it’s too cold. Then he says this isn’t what he wanted and you should know what he likes by now. There’s no winning here and any second you’re terrified of it becoming worse.

 

3. Violent Outburst

It happens. He’s hit you. He’s made you forcibly have sex with him again. He screams at you and says the most hurtful things he can think of and then accuses you of making him do this. “If you had just done what I said…” “If you hadn’t made dinner late…” “If you had just answered your phone…” “If you hadn’t made me so mad I wouldn’t have hit you.” The finger is always pointed at you even though you did everything you could to avoid this. And somehow he always makes you believe it was your fault.

 

4. Remorseful Phase

After the violence has ended, he comes to on his knees apologizing profusely. He says it’ll never happen again. He says he can change. He says he loves you and wouldn’t be able to live without you. He’ll say whatever he has to to make you forgive him and he’s very convincing. He knows your soft spots and knows how to make you vulnerable. He’ll remind you of the past and all the wonderful things he did for you and how happy you were. He promises things will be better from here on out and you almost begin to believe him…

 

This cycle then keeps repeating itself over and over. It’s extremely rare for this cycle to end and normally takes a strong outside force to make him change. The biggest thing I can offer as advice is to make sure you watch what he DOES not what he SAYS. Is he actually changing or is he only saying he will? Is he just giving you flowers to make up for what he did or is he seeking help for his problem? This cycle keeps getting shorter and more violent as time goes on. The honeymoon phase will begin to not last as long (if it even happens at all anymore) and his violent outbursts happen sooner and are much worse. The cycle of violence rarely ends, so be cautious about believing him when he’s in the remorseful phase and promises to change. Often your best option is to leave. If not, please make a safety plan. Your well-being and safety, and that of your kids if you have any, is most important thing. It’s hard to leave and even if you want to it may not seem feasible. Just remember there are options, but make sure you plan plan plan. Also, always remember that NONE of this is your fault. He’s the one with the problems, not you. Stay strong and safe my purple hearts!

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Warning Signs & Red Flags

There can be many warning signs to watch out for when you suspect you may be involved in a potentially abusive relationship. While all or even any may not apply to each particular person, this is concerned to be a generally accepted list amongst counselors, psychiatrists, officers, lawyers, and any other professional involved in domestic violence. Please keep in mind these are red flags and if someone shows one or two signs from this list it does not automatically make them an abuser. Use discretion when reviewing this list.

  1. Extreme jealousy & possessiveness
  2. Controlling behavior
  3. Name calling, derogatory remarks, put downs, and other verbal abuse
  4. Isolating (or the attempt of) those close to them
  5. Cruelty to animals
  6. Lack of communication and/or coping skills
  7. Alcohol and/or drug abuse
  8. Anti-female attitude
  9. Blaming others for their own failures or mistakes
  10. Male superiority
  11. Previous/family background of domestic violence
  12. Proud, superior or self-righteous attitude
  13. Push for a quick commitment
  14. Unrealistic expectations
  15. Hypersensitivity
  16. Jekyll-Hyde personality
  17. Threats of violence
  18. Breaking or striking objects
  19. “Playful” use of force in sex
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Calming the Storm

meditating3

During my healing process, I desperately needed ways to calm my mind and keep sane. If I let myself go too much, I felt like I was slowly going to fall apart. As a survivor, we all are struggling with the experience we went through and I know that I depended on the activities and people I had in my life to support me through it. One of the best activities that I actually took up to help me was meditating. It really is one of the best things for anyone to do whenever they need to settle their thoughts and hectic/crazy life. I am blessed to know that I am at the closing of my healing process, but still use this practice whenever I am stressed or simply need some quiet time. If you’ve never meditated before, here is a good beginning exercise to get you started.

 

– First off, sit in a comfortable position or lay down fully stretched out (I recommend you put a pillow under your knees for support). Make sure you are in a quiet, peaceful place. No distractions! Turn off the computer, turn off your phone, turn off your TV, do what you must to eliminate distractions.

– Next, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Take deep, purposeful breaths. Breathe completely in, hold for a few seconds, then breathe complete out. Feel your lungs and diaphragm completely fill up and then empty. After a few minutes, your breathing should become more natural.

– Focus your mind on absolute silence. Thoughts are going to pop in, don’t feel exasperated when they do and that you must give up. It took me many, many times to be able to silence my mind quickly or even immediately during meditation. When thoughts enter, recognize them then put them aside for later noting that you’ll give them your full attention then. Wait until you have totally cleared your mind. It may take up to 5-10 minutes but don’t give up!

– After your mind has been cleared, focus on making your body weightless. Begin at your feet, think of them being as light as air and being entirely relaxed. Next your calves, then your thighs. Then your waist and hips. Then your stomach. When focusing on your stomach, picture your organs becoming weightless as well, as if they are gently floating in a calm ocean current. After that, relax your chest. Then your hands, arms, and shoulders. Then your neck and your face. Finally relax all the way to the crown of your head. You should feel completely weightless and relaxed.

– Immerse yourself in this absolute peace and relaxation. Think of nothing and simply let your body and mind be. After about 5-10 minutes, begin to slowly bring yourself back to your body and awaken your mind. Focus again on your breathing. When you’re ready, get up slowly and enjoy the new peace you will feel! There are many different meditation exercises you can do, this is just a beginner one to practice clearing your mind. Best of luck! Keep strong my fellow purple hearts!

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Learning to Move Forward

The process of moving on and letting go seems almost impossible. How do you just get over what’s been done to you? In a way, I’m not sure you ever truly can. A part of it will always be with you. I feel, though, that you need to learn to let go as much as you can and then take what’s left and use that for good. Here’s some tips I have (from my own experience) for doing that:

 

In letting go, I think the number one thing you must do for yourself is to first accept what happened. Burying it deep within you will never really solve anything, it’ll only fester and slowly tear you apart inside. As excoriatingly hard as it is, you must be able to face it in order to move on. It is by far the hardest step to take. If you can do that, then you’ve already conquered the biggest obstacle! But like any good garden that has become overgrown with weeds, you have to spend the time pulling every last stubborn plant out. Finding someone to talk to will be a major help for you. It doesn’t have to be a therapist – try calling your local Domestic Violence shelter or the National Hotline. They are always available, free and well trained. If you can, talking to a friend or family member can be quite relieving too. This time is going to be difficult, you will need to have a strong support system. With them, it’ll never be as hard as it seems. Mine kept me grounded and strong in my most darkest hours, I really don’t know what I would’ve done without them. Find yours! They will be your lifesavers. Also, if you had old passions and hobbies that were kicked to the side, pick them back up! Discover new hobbies and interests, experience the fun that life can bring. Finding these small but supremely beneficial things will help keep you positive and revitalized during your healing process.

 

Next, learning to turn your horrible experience into a positive outcome can be tricky, but if you think you’re up for it there’s so much you can do! Sometimes it can feel like you’re all alone and no one understands or can help. Unfortunately, many other people are feeling the same. Abuse is a horrible cycle and it only seems to be getting worse. Volunteering at my local DV shelter helped me heal so much. I saw these broken and troubled women come to the shelter and I was able to share with them my story and we were able to bond and truly help one another. Sometimes knowing that what you went through can be enough to help another person overcome their own tragedy can mean everything. In some way, it’ll make it feel like some good was able to come from it and it’ll help you move on a little more as well. Sadly you’ll probably have friends and family who will go through something similar as well – talk to them! Let them know they aren’t alone because that can be the worst part. You shouldn’t have to be a victim of your abuser, you should be a survivor. A person who went through something so traumatic and came out stronger and better afterwards. You can still take back your life and even be greater than before! I’ve seen it so many times, I hope to count you in as another.

 

Writing poetry and painting were my most helpful outlets. Here’s one of my poems that I wrote during my healing process. Hope you enjoy!

If wishes could be bought

For a pretty penny and a little soul

I think I would keep on walking

And save what’s left of me now

 

I could wish to turn back the clock

To teach myself how to let go

But then the triumph of true victory

Would be lost to me forever

 

What is there to be done now

The past has already come and gone

All I can do is learn to move on

Instead of dwelling like I have

 

You hurt me in ways unimaginable

Scarred me past the point of repair

I escaped with barely anything left

And I still feel you feeding off me

 

For so long I held resentment

A bitter blackness inside my heart

Tainting all my other actions

Whether intended to or not

 

My created Black Plague

Has served me no purpose

The time has come to do the impossible

And allow my heart to forgive

 

I don’t want to thank you

For lessons learned or battles won

I simply want to forgive and forget

And look forward to a new tomorrow

 

I see you have done the same

As hard as it is I wish you well

I hope you find the happiness

Like what I’ve found now

 

So much in my life to smile for

To make me realize my ignorance

To oversee such blessings

Due to past unchangeable damages

 

Goodbye to you and my sorrows

I think I can finally see the light

I look forward to my future now

To accepting and even loving my past

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My Story

My story seemed fairly normal at first: there was a boy and a girl who were amazing friends. They talked every day and knew each other’s deepest secrets, darkest fears, greatest hopes, and most precious memories. They could always make each other laugh and were always there for each other in times of need. And then like most stories that start like this, one day they realized that their friendship began to develop into something a little more. Their feelings grew even more beautiful than before and they couldn’t believe their luck at falling for their best friend.

Everything seemed so perfect at first. I can hardly think of a time where I was more happy with life. It seemed to just make absolute sense and as though nothing could stand in our way. I had no idea how fast I would realize that that would not be the case…

The evening he told me he no longer had feelings for me started off so normal and great. I was enjoying a great phone conversation with him, during which I felt I was really opening up to him about very personal matters. Then the most dreaded comment any woman will ever hear: “I think we need to talk…” Of course, I was young and naïve and in love, who was I to think something like this could happen to me? For many weeks I didn’t believe him when he said it was over and he didn’t have those feelings anymore. I stood by him, telling him I’d wait for him to realize just how wrong I knew he was. The days got harder for both of us from there. He became cold and distant and I became desperate and emotional. It didn’t take long for us to eventually part ways.

Time passed so fast as it always does in high school and before I knew it we were talking again just like the old days. We were laughing at our stupid jokes and texting each other every night. I thought if I could forget everything that happened before then THIS time it would be different. I think we all know that is never the case in these situations… We went through endless bouts of loving and hating each other, kissing then screaming, holding hands then clenching them. Our friends quickly lost sympathy with either of our stories and pleas of how the other was being so unreasonable or unfair. I look back and am amazed that more ties weren’t severed than could have been. Nothing at this point crossed the line into abuse though – we were just wrapped up in an unhealthy relationship neither of us knew how to get out of. It seemed endless and I often wondered at my sanity for putting up with our rollercoaster of emotions for each other. In the end, though, I still loved him and just couldn’t walk away. Then things started to get really bad…

In his frustration, he often resorted to poking jabs at me in very personal ways. He knew how to hurt me and would often use it to his advantage very subtly. At the time, I just thought he was a jerk, I never knew to recognize this as anything more. He later began sabotaging any of my chances to try to move on. He’d tell me one day he didn’t want me anymore, then when I would begin to talk with others, would come and beg me to take him back. And of course I always did. He refused to let me talk to any friends about our problems – he would often threaten to leave if I did. He would yell at me almost every day and then would say any romantic thing he could later to pull me back in. I felt like his yo-yo, where he constantly played with my emotions and mental stability through his manipulative and underhanded ways. I kept trying to leave but somehow he always drew me back with his promises of commitment, love, and affection. Things really began to become complicated when we started to develop a sexual relationship as well. He was the first sexual encounter I had of any sort and every time we kissed or touched it just made my mind soar! But we could only ever do anything on his terms, if I approached him in this manner he constantly shut me down saying I was smothering him. But if I waited long enough, until I became almost mad with anticipation, then he surely came around with something – never enough to fully satisfy me but always enough to keep me coming back for more. The mind games were driving me crazy! I had no idea what to do and constantly questioned what I was doing wrong. If he wasn’t giving me love or attention, I figured it was become I did something to upset him and therefore deserve it. He never took any blame for our fights and always told me how selfish or ignorant I was being. He made me feel so worthless and low. I began to distance myself from my friends – they were so frustrated with all our fighting anyways. I didn’t know who to go to, so I inevitably always went back to him. I figured if I just loved him enough, things would change. He would become nicer and our relationship would become so much better. If I was loyal and devoted and obedient, then he would be happy and treat me better. I had no idea then that I should have been running for my life, that is until one day…

We were talking for a while after school when we began to go further sexually than we ever had before. He had been telling me recently that he had strong feelings for me again (after telling me months before that that he never would again) and I couldn’t have been happier. I thought things were finally going right and that he finally loved me now. However….in the middle of this encounter he stops and tells me (again) that he had to talk to me about something. “The truth is…I just don’t feel for you that way. I have been telling you otherwise because I wanted to get physical with you. I didn’t think you would if I said we were still just friends. But just so you know I am only using you here. I hope that doesn’t change anything.” After that day, my life seemed to sink into utter ruin and despair.

I attempted to leave him several times after that. He never believed I would. He would openly mock in front of others how I was only saying that and would be back tomorrow. I never thought so little of myself before and probably since. It took everything I had within me to finally severe that last remaining tie and say goodbye forever. I haven’t talked to him since.

Life hasn’t always been easy for me since this. He was my first love and I loved him so intensely. I figured because my love for him was so pure and unconditional that everything would be fine in the end, but life doesn’t always work that way. We did this for three years. Three years of my life wasted to this guy! I spent so long distrusting everyone and building barriers between everyone who attempted to connect with me from there. It wasn’t for many years later before I finally started feeling his presence and grip over me begin to fade away. You never completely forget though. And life is never quite the same from then on. But I’ve found hope and peace through helping others who have gone through experiences like this and worse! I’ve been in other abusive relationships since this, I was even raped in college by my boyfriend who was almost 10 years older than me. But I’ve taken these experiences and used them to help others going through it too. That’s what I hope to accomplish with this blog – to offer hope to you who may be reading this that life does go on, no matter how horrible it seems right now. We purple hearts must stick together and we can do this by spreading awareness and support! I hope to all who read this that they feel inspired, relieved, hopeful, or aware and want to do or make a change for themselves or others. These abusers don’t define our lives – we do!

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