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C. Eric Schmidt - Attorney at Law


Marilyn Gale Vilyus - Founding Attorney - Semi-retired - of counsel to C.E. Schmidt and Associates, Attorneys at Law

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Battered Spouse Syndrome -– “The Cycle of Abuse”

By: Marilyn Gale Vilyus

Let’s talk about physical abuse and how these situations tend to occur and then repeat themselves over and over again!

We refer to chronic abuse situations as “the cycle of abuse” because it involves a series of behaviors that tends to occur repeatedly in a similar pattern!  (We also call this the “Battered Spouse Syndrome.” 

The pattern goes as follows:

            Abusive incident

            Regret/guilt by abuser

            Apology/promise never to do it again

            Brief period of “relief”

            Tension starts getting bigger

            New abusive incident  -- and so on, and so on.

You can go online or to your local library or bookstore to find lots of information to help you determine if these situations apply to you – and what you should do next if they do!!!!

First of all, it is often very hard for a battered woman to leave her spouse.  This may be for one of the following reasons:

 -- because you have such a strong attachment to your husband or boyfriend;

 -- because you may not have your own source of income;

 -- you may not have any money saved –- or a car to help you leave;

 -- you may not have any idea where to go;

 -- you may be afraid your spouse will “retaliate against you” if you leave;

 -- you are worried the abuser will show up at the place you run too and that he will terrorize your family or friends;

 -- you are embarrassed that you have been in an abusive relationship;

 -- you don’t want your family or friends to know what has been happening to you;

 -- you are still hopeful that your spouse “will change” and so you don’t want to let others know because they will then think badly of him.

Research shows that it is common for a woman to leave an abuser five times before she actually feels like she can “stay gone for good!”  Why would a woman ever return to someone who has hurt her?

Well, this is about that “cycle of abuse” thing we mentioned above!  You see the cycle goes something like this!

 

            AN ABUSIVE INCIDENT HAPPENS.

                        Wife hurt and afraid.

                        Abuser “crazy” and irrational and “out of control.”

                        You want to leave him but don’t know where to go.

                        You are afraid for your children – and they are afraid for you.

                        Depending on the age of your kids, you begin to worry that they will retaliate against your husband.

            THEN, ABUSER “SNAPS OUT OF IT.”

                        He realizes what he has done.

                        He feels terribly guilty.

                        He is afraid you will leave him.

            THE ABUSER “APOLOGIZES.

                        He seems very sorry and sincere.

                        He tells you how much he loves you.

                        He may try to justify his actions –- he might say he wouldn’t do anything except for the fact that you provoked him by whatever it was you did.

                        He promises “never” to hurt you again.

                        He may even promise to “get help.”

            THINGS GO ALLRIGHT FOR A WHILE.

                        You are cautious, and try to do “everything right.”

                        You try hard to please him, and avoid doing things you know will make him mad.

                        He has you convinced that these episodes happen because of you and not because of him!

                        Everything would be okay if you would jus (fill in the blank:  keep the kids quiet, keep the house cleaner, etc.)        

            THINGS START TO ESCALATE.

                         The tension starts building.

                         He starts to look like he is “stressed out.”

                         He begins to lose patience over small things and is becoming annoyed more often and to a larger degree.

                         You try as hard as you can to “do everything right” and to anticipate and avoid doing anything that might upset him.

                         Nothing you do seems to be enough.

                         You are now frantically trying to please him, and keep the peace.

                         You start to get that “sinking feeling” that something is going to happen.

            HE SUDDENLY “SNAPS!” – NEW ABUSIVE INCIDENT OCCURS!

                         He hurts you again! 

                         No matter what you do, it is never good enough. 

                         No matter how hard you try, you can’t predict what will “set him off!” 

Now, you are right back where you started from, and the cycle goes on and on.  He’s sorry; he asks you to forgive him. . . . .  Please remember, that this is HIS problem!  No matter what you may or may not do, there is never a justification for hurting you! 

 You are not in this alone!  We are here to help you – and your children!!!!!

 We know how hard it is to “make the call!”   But, we promise you that we will work with you to figure this out!  Call 281.550.6650 for a free attorney consultation!

 If you are in imminent danger, please get out of the house immediately!  After you do, please call a shelter, a family member or friend – or check into a hotel!

 Your safety –- and the safety of your kids –- is the most important thing!

 See also my article on “How to Get Help if You Are Being Physically Abused” on westhoustonattorney.com for some handy tips and guidance!

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