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.