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How To Break The Cycle Of Abuse

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

One of the hardest things a person can go through is being in an abusive relationship. This doesn’t just mean a romantic relationship, but any type of relationship. 

Abusive relationships can completely change a person’s life, and they might feel as though they are extremely difficult to get out of. Especially when you become trapped in the cycle of abuse. Keep reading to learn how to break the cycle of abuse.

How To Break The Cycle Of Abuse

However, there are ways to end this cycle. It might take time and feel like a lot of effort, but it is possible to break the cycle of abuse.

In this guide, we are going to help you by walking you through some of the steps you can take in order to break the cycle of abuse. 

What Is The Cycle Of Abuse?

Before we look into how to break the cycle of abuse, we need to understand what the cycle is. This will help us to understand how the cycle can be broken. 

So what is the cycle of abuse? Well, the cycle of abuse has four stages to it. Here are the four stages of the cycle of abuse:

  • Tension
  • Incidents of abuse
  • Reconciliation
  • Calm

To help you understand the cycle of abuse, we are going to look into each stage with more detail


The tension stage of the cycle of abuse is where the abuser might become stressed. There are other factors that could be causing this stress such as their job, money, or it could just be that they are feeling tired. 

When the abuser starts to feel the tension rise, they tend to become extremely frustrated and angry. The victim of their abuse usually tries to ease the tension as a way to stop the abuse from happening.

The victim of the abuse might feel anxious during this stage and will often do tiptoe around their partner to avoid triggering the abusive episode. 


Unfortunately, the abuser will eventually need to release the tension that has been building inside of them. This might be a way for them to feel as though they have regained control. During the incident stage of the cycle, the abuse will begin. 

There are many different types of abuse the victim could receive. It could be verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse

The abuser might manipulate the victim into believing that the abuse was their fault for making the abuser angry. 


After the abuse comes the period of reconciliation. This usually happens after a period of time has passed since the abusive incident occurred.

The reconciliation period is where the tension slowly declines and the abuser will attempt to make things better. The abuser might buy the person who was the victim of the abuse gifts. The abuser might be more affectionate towards the victim. 

The reconciliation stage of the cycle of abuse is sometimes referred to as the ‘honeymoon stage’. This is because this part of the cycle of abuse imitates the start of a new relationship, where every party is being their best self. 

The reconciliation stage can often make the victim of abuse feel closer to the person who abused them.


The next stage is the calm stage. In the calm stage of abuse, both parties might try and rationalize the abuse. The abuser might say there was an outside factor that caused them to behave in such a way in order to justify their actions. 

However, the calm stage might also include the abuser ignoring the abuse or dismissing how bad the abuse was. Some abusers will try to get rid of any blame by putting the blame on the victim, stating reasons why it was the victim’s fault. 

Most abusers will promise that the incident will never happen again. Since the abuser is very loving at this stage, the victims might often downplay how bad the abuse was. 

Breaking The Cycle Of Abuse

Breaking The Cycle Of Abuse

Breaking the cycle of abuse is something that can be difficult to do. However, it is not an impossible thing to do. Here are some things you can do to help you break the cycle of abuse. 

Acknowledge The Abuse

The first thing you need to do in order to break the cycle of abuse is to acknowledge that you are being abused. Instead of viewing the abusive incidents as a one-time thing or a blip, you need to recognize this is a pattern.

Acknowledging the abuse also means realizing that the honeymoon stage is not how your abuser really is. Understanding that the honeymoon stage isn’t your abuser’s love but their way of controlling you can be difficult.

However, acknowledging the abuse and realizing this is an abusive relationship, gives the victim the first bit of control they need to break the cycle of abuse. 

Get Help

Once you have realized that you are in an abusive relationship, you need to get help from professionals, family, or friends. 

This might be something that is hard for you to do, especially admitting to others that there is a problem. However, by getting the help you have more support that can make leaving feel less scary.

Leave Your Abuser When It Is Safe

This is something that feels scary and seems like something that cannot be done. However, with the help of others around you, find a time when it is safe to leave your abuser.

Try to leave the abuser when they are not at home. Ensure that you will have plenty of time to gather what you need such as important documents. 

If you decide to leave a note saying you have left, make sure you do not state where you are going. If you happen to be in immediate danger from your abuser, contact the police. 


Breaking the cycle of abuse can be difficult to do so, but it is not impossible. In order to break the cycle of abuse, it starts with acknowledging the abuse.

We hope this guide has helped you understand how to break the cycle of abuse. 

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

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