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Bartering with life (“I brought you flowers, man.”)
Bartering with life (“I brought you flowers, man.”)

Bartering with life (“I brought you flowers, man.”)
Sumi ink, pastel, wax on linen on wood panel.
20 x 15 x 1-3/4 inches

A closer look at the 4-part cycle
The cycle of abuse, also sometimes called the cycle of violence, helps illustrate common patterns of abusive behavior in relationships. It also helps provide clues toward a deeper understanding of why people experiencing abuse often find it difficult to break free.

3. Reconciliation

After the incident of abuse, tension gradually begins to fade. In an attempt to move past the abuse, the abuser often uses kindness, gifts, and loving gestures to usher in a “honeymoon” stage. This devoted behavior can trigger the release of dopamine and oxytocin, helping you feel even more closely bonded and leading you to believe you have your “real” relationship back.

4. Calm

To maintain peace and harmony, both parties generally have to come up with some sort of explanation or justification for the abuse.

The abusive partner might:
apologize while blaming others, point to outside factors to justify their behavior, minimize the abuse or deny it happened, accuse you of provoking them.
They might show plenty of remorse, assure you it won’t happen again, and seem more attuned to your needs than usual. You might begin to accept their excuses, even doubt your memory of the abuse.

This reprieve offers relief from the physical and emotional tension and pain.

You might feel certain that whatever upset them and triggered the abuse has passed. You can’t believe they’d do anything like that again.

This cycle repeats over time.

This “cycle” happens over and over within abusive relationships, though. The length of time between each repetition can vary. It often shortens over time as the abuse escalates.

As time goes on, the calm period may become very short or even disappear from the cycle entirely.