Alex and Steve have been dating for two years. They live together and care for Alex's son from a previous relationship. Two months ago, Steve pushed Alex into the wall during an argument. Alex regularly uses curse words during fights and tells Steve that he does not deserve happiness.
Intimate partner violence occurs every day. An estimated 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 4 men, have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Yet, often people stay in unhealthy relationships long after they become abusive. This creates a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult for anyone to break, but causes short- and long-term trauma. Many people say that they were unaware of the damage being done until they left the relationship.
The Honeymoon Stage: Abusive relationships often start out amazing. It feels like nothing could possibly go wrong and makes a huge investment in your attachment to the person.
Tension Building Stage: Then things get awkward, feeling like you're walking on eggshells. Everything feels like your fault and like you only make things worse.
Acute Explosion Stage: Then all hell breaks loose. This can mean verbal, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Often this involves victim blaming and irrational justifications for abuse.
Then it's back to the honeymoon stage, with a apology and efforts to "make up." Both partners may feel guilty, but are doomed to repeat the cycle without intervention.
What can you do if you notice this cycle in your relationship?
How do you handle conflict in your relationship?
How healthy is your relationship?
Many people find it difficult to discuss relationship problems because they tap into our deepest thoughts and feelings about ourselves, others, and the world. But it is for this reason that people must strive for healthy relationships that bring out the best in you and your partner(s).