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Agir contre - La violence conjugale

A vicious circle

In a relationship, violence occurs as part of what is called the "cycle of conjugal violence". The cycle is orchestrated and implemented by the aggressor as a way of maintaining dominance over the victim. In a conjugal relationship that includes violence, the cycle is repeated and accelerates over time.

Phase 1 – Tense atmosphere

  • The aggressor has outbursts of anger, gives the victim threatening looks or deliberately remains silent.
  • The victim feels anxious, attempts to improve the atmosphere and speaks and acts carefully.

Phase 2 – Crisis

  • The aggressor uses verbal, psychological, physical, sexual or economic violence against the victim.
  • The victim is humiliated and sad, and feels that the situation is unfair.

Phase 3 – Justification

  • The aggressor finds excuses to justify his or her behaviour.
  • The victim attempts to understand the explanation, help the aggressor change, begins to doubt his or her own perception, and feels responsible for the situation.

Phase 4 – Honeymoon

  • The aggressor begs for forgiveness and talks about therapy or suicide.
  • The victim agrees to give the aggressor another chance, offers help, observes progress and changes his or her own behaviour.

Recognizing conjugal violence

In a relationship, there are several clues to the existence of conjugal violence, for example if the victim:

  • must "ask permission" to go out with friends;
  • is often ridiculed in front of other people;
  • is pushed or shoved;
  • barely speaks when accompanied by his or her partner;
  • gradually stops seeing friends and relatives;
  • often has marks or bruises and attempts to cover them up.

Preventing violence

A person trapped in a cycle of conjugal violence can escape, but often only with assistance from friends or family. You can offer your support to a victim to ensure that these unacceptable and, in many cases, criminal actions cease.

Source: La conjugal violence… C’est quoi au juste?, Éditions du Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de conjugal violence, 1st quarter 2006.