Riding the Wheel

How you became abused 12
  • UPD: 03-17-14
  • AWH
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You have likely kept on trying and trying your best to resolve issues and doing everything in your power to try to stop his abusive behavior... and nothing has worked. Nothing has worked because he doesn't want to stop controlling you and abuse is his method of doing it. One more time just for GPs:

Nothing has worked because he doesn't want to stop controlling you and abuse is his method of doing it. It really is that plain and simple.

Take a look what has happened to you over the course of days, weeks, months and years. Your "failure" to stop the abuse and "failure" to resolve issues, has very likely set up feelings of helplessness within you because you can't seem to make anything better no matter how hard you try. As you keep trying, and "failing", your feelings of helplessness and frustration grow. Your once healthy ego and sense of pride begin to slip away and your sense of self-worth is shattered. You lose confidence in yourself and your abilities.

The combination of abuse and your "failed" efforts to stop it: erode your self-confidence, devastate your self-esteem and destroy your sense of self-worth. You become fearful, insecure and dependent. Everything in your life eventually revolves around him, his moods and his needs. You become a non-person, and as such, you are reduced to existing as his "possession" or "provider."

You can't change him no matter how hard you try. You can't love him enough to make him stop abusing you. Only he can change himself or make the decision to stop being abusive.

The Cycle of Abuse keeps you fearful and off balance both emotionally and psychologically. Look at the diagram of the cycle shown below... you will most certainly recognize this vicious and devastating wheel spinning within your abusive relationship.

In the 1970s, Lenore Walker developed the theory that all forms of abuse occur within a distinct cycle. Once the relationship is established, the same pattern emerges time after time and is constantly repeated, often becoming more intense. Human beings are creatures of habit and routine - we seek out patterns to settle into.

Within an abusive relationship, this pattern of degenerative, progressive behaviour eventually forms a "living, fluid dynamic" between two the people - the abuser and the victim. Through repetition, it becomes a familiar, well-choreographed "dance" in which each person knows their role intimately and behaves accordingly.

Although these repeating cycles of abusive incidents throw you into emotional chaos and send you reeling on an unpredictable emotional rollercoaster ride - they strangely become entirely predictable. Why? Because it's the same pattern time and time again with only the 'reasons' for it changing. You learn what you have to do to make it through yet one more time - then all will be well again.

Episodes Passed Through Generations

Abuse is identifiable as being cyclical in two ways: it is both generational and episodic. Generational cycles of abuse are passed down, by example and exposure, from parents to children. Episodic abuse occurs in a repeating pattern within the context of at least two individuals within a family system. It may involve spousal abuse, child abuse or even elder abuse.

Emotional abuse is:

  • A form of addiction - control and power are self-perpetuating and form a "hunger" needing to be satisfied
  • A habit and routine - a cyclical pattern of behaviour that is repeated until it is unlearned
  • A highly dysfunctional way of relating - it carries on as the default "language" of communication

Not all relationships follow the precise sequence of events within the cycle and individual experiences vary. Some stages, especially the honeymoon or calm periods, may shorten or be left out completely. This becomes obvious as the abuse intensifies over a period of time. For example, he may not even bother to offer you a flat-line "Sorry." or be apologetic in any way after an abusive attack. Also note that each stage of the cycle can last from only a few minutes to a number of months and even years.

Understand how this cycle efficiently destroys you

This insidious, repetitious wheel will break you so smoothly, there's an excellent chance you won't realize you've lost yourself. For some people it may take years... but it will break you.

Each time you take a spin on the Cycle of Abuse you lose a little piece of yourself. You never quite make it back up to your top again. Oh I know, you may think and believe you have... but you haven't. Every cycle of abuse takes you lower and lower and lower until one day, there is nothing left of you. You just don't recover. Look closely at yourself and your life:

Are you really the same person you were before you began riding The Cycle of Abuse?

The heavy weight of abuse crushes you a little bit more each time you travel around the cycle. Down, down, down you go... until you are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually annihilated.

You begin whole and completeYou finish depressed and broken

Rider Beware

Never forget that he, like most abusers, loves a good challenge. His goal is to win you back, at any price. After a big blow-out, when you pull back from him, he perceives you as being emotionally "safe" so he works hard win you back. The harder he has to work, the more he appreciates you. This is precisely the time when you should remain emotionally aware and on high alert - for there lurks a snake in the wood-pile.

Let's take a spin:

  • He rages at you - you become emotionally distant from him
  • Your distance is "emotionally safe" for him but he doesn't want to lose you
  • He works hard to win you back - the harder he has to work - the more he appreciates you
  • He showers you with love, flowers, smiles, dinners and whatever else he knows will work
  • He wears you down - you begin to warm up to him - he keeps up his efforts
  • He wins - you're hoovered [sucked] back in
  • You try to close the emotional gap between the two of you - to restore an "emotionally normal" relationship
  • He feels you closing in on him emotionally - his innate sense of mistrust rises up
  • He becomes fearful and pushes you away - destroying all the "tender feelings" he was showing you to win you back
  • You keep trying harder to get close to him - he knows he's got you right where he wants you
  • He blows up and rages at you because he knows he "hooked" you again and you'll take it
  • Your feelings are hurt, your mind is messed up and you wonder WTF?
  • You pull back from him - becoming emotionally distant
  • He doesn't want to lose you so, once again, he turns on the charm
  • And the cycle has begun again
The wheel spins - the next round of tension begins to build

As the relationship progresses, the abuse cycle typically escalates in intensity and in the temporal contiguity of its negative aspects. The abuse lasts longer and becomes more pronounced, while the loving remorse dwindles.

His rage is not your fault

So, now you see the truth behind all his raging and blaming - it has nothing to do with you. You are simply a convenience for him. A readily accessible and emotionally reactive scapegoat - door-mat - garbage dump - sparring partner for:

  • his immaturity
  • his childish temper
  • his selfish behaviour
  • his need to blame you (or the next woman) for childhood issues and trauma
  • his attempts to work out baggage from a previous relationship
  • his need to feed off you if he's a narcissist (Vaknin refers to this as Narcissistic Supply)
Destructive Effects of The Cycle of Abuse

Isolation from others, withdrawal from family and friends, avoid the public

  • Spending more and more time at work, not wanting to come home
  • Low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness
  • Depression, thoughts of suicide
  • Emotional problems, shame, emotional highs and lows, emotional numbness
  • Illness - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually
  • Increased alcohol or drug use, addictions
  • Withdrawal from real life into an alternative reality - perhaps the Internet
Co-dependency & abuse are bed-mates

Some types of women are attracted to men who are emotionally abusive. [ Say what?? ] They complain, blame and try to control, yet they continue to allow others to hurt them. Why do they do this?

Co-dependents push their thoughts and feelings out of awareness by focusing all their energy on other people. They stay busy so they won't have to think about things and face reality.

They ignore problems and pretend they aren't happening. They pretend that things aren't as bad as they really are. Are you a co-dependent?

See also:

  • The Terminator - inside the cycle of abuse. Take a closer look at each individual stage of the cycle of abuse. Gain an in-depth understanding of how it works and how it affects you.

A random selection of posts from our site:

Detecting lies » - Many abusers have a specific body language. It comprises an unequivocal series of subtle - but discernible - warning signs. Pay attention to the way your date comports himself - and save yourself a lot of trouble ...

Why do we stay? » - Only those of us who are being abused can understand why we've stayed. We have a million reasons why we can't stay and million reasons why ...

Male Menopause » - Male Menopause, Irritable Male Syndrome, and Male-type Depression. With a little understanding and help from those we love, we don't have to let them do us in ...

Feeling good about you » - Healthy self-esteem means feeling good about yourself. When you have high self-esteem, you create energy in your life to make things happen ...

VIDEO: Sensitive People: HSPs in Love » - An Interview with Elaine Aron Ph.D. One of my reasons, corny sounding but so true: The world needs love. And I believe HSPs are meant to bring much of that love to light ...

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Courtesy of Political Humour About

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These people are here for you. Call them. Explain your situation honestly and openly. This is not the time to defend or protect him or to downplay the extent of abuse you are living with. The bottom line is that abuse is abuse - you don't deserve it.


If you need immediate help contact your local police department or emergency services. Hold him accountable for his actions. DV laws protect everyone. This includes you and all abused women. Claim your rights.

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Of Special Interest
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  • Loving and fulfilling or controlling and stagnating. Which relationship are you living with?

  • The quiz results will provide you with valuable pieces of your puzzle - leaving you no doubt.

  • Do you seem to have a pattern of abusive relationships? Find out what might be going on.