Domestic abuse can happen against anybody and anyone can be a perpetrator of abuse.

There are different kinds of abuse but it always stems from the perpetrators need to have power and control over the other person.

Perpetrators often believe their feelings and needs should be the priority in the relationship and the abuse allows them to remove the equality in the relationship , making their partners feel less valuable and undeserving of respect.

The important thing to remember is the abuse is their fault, not yours and nothing you have done has caused it. You are never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions.

Can a perpetrator change?

Perpetrators need to want to change their behaviour to stop abuse and no change in behaviour of the abused person will make any difference.

Some things can make the abuse worse such as the perpetrator using alcohol or drugs, being stressed , having money worries etc but these factors are not excuses to abuse. The perpetrator is still choosing to abuse. Lots of people experience these issues but choose not to abuse their partners.

Perpetrators have learned to use violence and abuse to control their partner .This behaviour can be unlearned . Counselling wont work unless the perpetrator accepts the fact their behaviour is due to their need to be in control and its is not the relationship or partner that must change but their behaviour.

After an incident of abuse perpetrators often appear to change their behaviour but after a period of time abuse occurs again. This is because abuse often follows a pattern or cycle.

This cycle of abuse has 4 stages.

  1. The building stage- tensions simmer, the abused partner may feel like they are walking on eggshells waiting for something to happen. They may try and placate the perpetrator , trying not to set them off and to prevent the abuse from happening.
  2. Explosion- Incident of abuse which may involve physical violence, threats , insults or name calling , emotional manipulation by the perpetrator attempting to gain power and establish control. The perpetrator may blame the abused person for their explosion.
  3. Reconciliation- The making up or honeymoon period. The perpetrator may use kindness, gifts and loving gestures to “make up” for their abuse and to help the abused person get over the experience and re-bond , leading the partner to feel that things are better and the relationship will work out. This feeling is reinforced by chemicals released in the brain in response to the kind loving behaviour.
  4. Calm period- To move forward and maintain peace and harmony the perpetrator may apologise , assure their partner it wont happen again. Both parties have to come up with an explanation to justify what happened. The perpetrator may blame the partner or make excuses of outside factors influencing their behaviour. They may minimise what happened  and because the partner wants relief from the physical or emotional pain they believe the perpetrator and accept their explanation or apology so things can go back to “normal” at which point the cycle begins again.

The length of time between each stage of the cycle can vary and is often different for each new cycle. The abuse doesn’t always happen in the same way , even in the same relationship.

In all cases the though, the abuse remains the fault of the perpetrator, no matter what the partner did or didn’t do.