Over the next few weeks, I would like to discuss the phases of domestic violence. The first phase is known as the Honeymoon Phase.

This phase takes from the old adage “the honeymoon is as good as it gets.” Picture the early stages of a relationship. The couple is still getting to know each other. To them, their partner seems warm, charming, and endearing. They share interests and make each other laugh. At this point, there are no red flags. The abuser in this scenario creates a sense of love and security that they hope their partner will love and appreciate. The hope is that, over time, the victim will become so dependent upon the security the abuser provides that they will begin to ignore concerns that begin to creep up. The victim may rationalize these concerns as being a result of their actions.

They may think it’s what they deserve for being difficult to love. They may hope that, by changing themselves, they may be able to change the behavior of the abuser. But by that point, the honeymoon is over, and the reality of the relationship takes hold.


In Phase Two, the tensions begin to build. Often, some outside stressor begins to cause strife in the relationship. Maybe they’re having trouble at work, money is tight, or someone is dealing with physical health issues. An obvious tension begins to linger in the room when they’re together. The abusive partner begins to lash out in one way or another. Some use belittling words. Some use physical or sexual violence. Some use isolation from social support.

Some use controlling finances or electronic use. These are just some of the possibilities. The victim may find themselves becoming anxious and hypervigilant at the sight of their partner. They may try to appease and placate their abuser in the hope of not setting off their anger. At times, they may feel frightened, helpless, and numb. They may begin to fear for their safety. The abuser likely makes excuses for their behavior and blames the victim for bringing this treatment on themselves. This phase is often the most fluid and changing of the phases.


In Phase Three, the simmering tensions reach their boiling point. The abuser, feeling they have the upper hand, begins to escalate their behaviors to a new level. More name-calling, public and private humiliation, controlling the victim’s actions, destroying property, physical and sexual abuse, and abuse to others in the home such as children or pets may occur. The abuser may follow up their actions with shows of affection or apology, or they may compound their actions by insisting that the victim deserves it. They may use their social clout to pit members of the victim’s family or community against them.

At this point, the victim likely feels powerless and isolated. They may feel that they cannot trust their support system due to its proximity to their abuser. They may also be confused by the continued mixed signals they get from their abuser. Often coinciding with the violence phase is the “Make Up Phase,” wherein the abuser tries to calm tensions and often tries to make the victim believe their concerns are in their head. In many cases, however, this make up phase is temporary, and the manipulation occurring during and after it is often just another part of the abuse.


The final phase, the Leaving Phase, seeks to break the continuing cycle of abuse. This can often be when the victim is at their most anxious. They may worry in the lead up about the repercussions of being caught or by the prospect of upsetting their abuser. Stopping abuse is often not as simple as just leaving. In most cases, the abuser makes it difficult for the victim to leave because they starve victims of the financial and social resources they may need to get out.

No two situations are the same, but one thing is clear. We need to work harder to stop the cycle of abuse. We need to engender more support for victims of domestic violence and provide opportunities for victims to break the cycle for themselves and their children.


A Different Point of View:
I became involved in Reach Out Speak Out because I know firsthand the long-lasting effects of domestic violence.  I am the male spouse of a domestic violence survivor.  I say male spouse as a matter of context only as I am certainly aware that males can and be victims as well.  My wife of 30+ years was in a domestic violence relationship during high school and several years after high school.  Yes, it can and does start that early.  Her abuser did terrible things to her.  He was not only verbally and physically abusive but was also psychologically abusive.  She shared a story with me, a re-occurring one at that where her abuser, while raging over something petty would drive his vehicle at a high rate of speed toward fixed objects like telephone poles and mailboxes.  He would always swerve out of the way at the last minute, but at the time she didn’t know if that’s what he would do.  He would also drive at extremely high rates of speed on the highway and slam on his brakes or would get into road rage situations with other motorists and tailgate them.  Can you imagine the effects this has on a teenaged girl?  She has told me that as a result of this abuse she dreams, or should I say nightmares that she will die in a traffic crash. 

To this day, 30+ years later my wonderful wife is still deathly afraid to drive on the highway.  She is as nervous as a cat even when I drive on the highway.  So much so that if we are going somewhere close by and have an option to take the highway or talk surface roads, she prefers to take the surface roads.  Of course, I tell her I’ll take whichever route she wants me to take.

I could go on and on and provide many other examples of how her domestic violence has had a lasting effect on her.  It breaks my heart.  The bottom line is that if you find yourself in a relationship where your partner was the victim of domestic violence, please, please listen to their story and have compassion.  Your love and understanding may heal those wounds but keep in mind it may last a lifetime.     


Our family has always been a charitable family.  I was taught at a young age no matter what you think someone always has it worse than you.  Just read the paper or watch the news each day.  Violence, diseases, and sickness make up most of what we see and read.

There is a saying that goes like this:

If you and group of people threw all your problems in a pile, after reading them you would take yours back because theirs are just as bad if not worse than yours.  Also, you do not know what happens in my house and I do not know what happens in your house.

I really believe this is true as I have witnessed so many others suffering whether it is from child abuse, domestic violence, or some other form of abuse. 

When I began to get involved with Reach Out Speak Out, I really didn’t realize the extraordinary need for faith-based people to come together to end the cycle of domestic abuse.  I’m astonished that some religions suggest that when you get married, no matter what happens, you cannot leave your spouse.  Obviously, this is not the case, and God would never want someone to be abused for any reason. 

When I was a victim of domestic violence, my devout Irish Catholic mother was my number one advocate.  She did everything in her power to make me see that this was not right, and I needed to get away.  It took more than a year, but she never gave up and was finally able to break the cycle.  So many others are either alone or afraid to leave.  Getting involved is so important in breaking the cycle of domestic abuse and getting the help these victims need.  Remember someone always has it worse off than you do.

Warning Signs

STOP - Warning Signs of DV


Being the victim of domestic violence makes you very sensitive to the warning signs that others might not see.  As a mother, seeing the warning signs against your daughter makes the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up.  Well, that is exactly what happened in my family.  I am the mother of twins, a boy, and a girl.  They are both grown now.  This is relevant because the initial red flag was my daughter’s boyfriend.  Not against my daughter, rather against her twin brother.

We were having a family gathering and the twins were arguing like siblings do.  My son made a joke to his sister which her boyfriend did not like.  In front of the whole family, he started screaming at my son threatening to hit him.  I walked into the room and he was beat red in the face, very angry.  I asked what was going on and he yelled at me as well.  He immediately left the house.  Both my son and daughter were very upset. 

We continued on with the family dinner and a short time later he returned with a big sob story about his past deeds in life and some far-fetched story about his family.   My husband and I explained to him that this behavior was unacceptable and would not be tolerated in our family ever again.  I had many reservations, but I wanted to give him a chance hoping it was an isolated incident.  I continued to see little things that gave me pause throughout the next few months.  Having been a victim myself I was starting to get worried. 

Fast forward to our family vacation that summer when he joined us on vacation.  For a five-day period, there was sign after sign after sign.  My husband and I decided this was a real threat and we had to take a stand.  When we arrived home from vacation, we explained to our daughter that this was not acceptable, and he was no longer welcome in our home.  She was so blind to it she said we only noticed because I had been a victim myself.  She was angry at first and said she would keep seeing him and just not bring him to our house.  He even called my husband telling him that he had disrespecting him.  She tried this for a week or two but then began seeing the signs herself and left the relationship. 

I am happy to report she is now very happily married to a wonderful man that we have great confidence will make her happy for the rest of her life. 

Getting Involved

Getting Involved

I began getting involved in Reach Out Speak Out about five or six years ago.   Full disclosure Jan, the founder, is my cousin.  Unfortunately like many others it was close to my heart having been the victim of domestic violence myself.  Thankfully, with the help of my family I was able to leave the situation and move on to have a wonderful life with my husband and three children.  Although I moved on, the scars never go away.  Most people do not understand that part of it.  It lasts forever.  The simplest things can remind you of the past.

I was very open with my children about my past history of being a victim domestic violence.  I wanted them to know the warning signs and be prepared if they were ever in the same situation.

I Began With…

I began with a family gift card drive for Reach Out Speak Out every Christmas.  My children were all in high school and had jobs.  I explained to them about the importance of the charity, and they became willing participants in the gift card drive.  You would think it took some prodding, but I must say they would be the ones who’d end up saying when are we sending the gift cards to Reach Out Speak Out.  Now as my children get older and get married and become more established in their lives, they have really taken their role in the charity very seriously.    They have involved their significant others and their families as well.  They all understand the importance of helping people get out of these situations and getting their lives back on track.  So now we do the family/extended family gift card drive and we also contribute to the Purple Passion by contributing to the gift baskets that get raffled off.  I think this year we sent 6 or 7 baskets to help our friends in need.  I even got my boss involved by paying the FedEx cost to ship the baskets as I live in Cleveland, Ohio.

Victims Need Help

Victims of domestic violence are often unable to help themselves.  My family and I are proud to be able to assist them by giving to Reach Out Speak Out.