Tuesday’s blog touched on the difficulty that some survivors of domestic violence have when they try to reconcile the good memories of their relationship with their abuse. In trying to reconcile the good with the bad, victims may start to rationalize the abusive behavior and second-guess themselves.
This tendency of the victim to downplay their abuse (especially while still in the relationship) is reinforced by the abuser’s talent for hiding their behavior. Abuse occurs in a cyclical pattern called the cycle of abuse, and abusers tend to perpetrate abuse only during half of this cycle. During the other half, they attempt to “atone” for their behavior, creating a sort of push-and-pull dynamic where they abuse their partner, then keep them from leaving by promising to change. This dynamic often serves to make the victim even more dependent on their abuser, and the inconstancy of the abuse makes it harder for both the victims and others to identify it.