To identify what is domestic violence and the signs that it is occurring, it is important to understand how the cycle of abuse occurs. Livestrong advises that there are four classic stages of domestic violence, based on a theory developed by psychologist Dr. Lenore Walker in the 1970s. These stages include:
1. Tension Building Stage
This may include passive-aggressive behavior, poor communications, and escalating stress and strain in the relationship. In this stage, it is not uncommon for victims of domestic violence to feel they are ‘walking on eggshells’ to prevent a violent episode from occurring.
2. Acute Explosion
Known as the incident of abuse stage, this is where the abuser acts out against the victim. Under Georgia domestic violence laws, abusive acts may include assault and battery or threatening and harassing behavior such as stalking, unlawful restraint, damage to property, and criminal trespass.
3. Reconciliation or ‘Honeymoon’ Stage
During this stage, the abuser is likely to apologize profusely and express remorse for what they did. They may act overly affectionate and caring, and may attempt to ‘make up’ with the victim by showering them with flowers, cards, or other gifts.
4. Calm Stage
This is an extension of the honeymoon stage, where the relationship settles into a calm routine before the cycle of domestic violence repeats. Victims may begin to believe that the abuse will finally stop but unfortunately, in most cases, this is just a short lull before the cycle of domestic abuse begins again.