My Partner

It seems to get better then something just sets them off

This is a normal part of the abuse cycle. The abuse cycle has six parts and, at any given time, a relationship may be in any one of these parts however, it generally begins with the “Standover phase – control and fear”.  That is, the abuser starts or continues to make demands, exerting their power and control over the other person.  That can take many forms depending on that person’s behaviour of choice. It can however, include demanding to see the grocery receipt with accusations of overspending, checking phone records, etc.

This is followed by the “Explosion phase”. The abuser, physically hurts the other party, threatens to hurt, breaks items, yells, sexually abuses or dramatically increases emotional abuse and so on.

After the explosion, the abuser enters the “Remorse phase” and drags the other party along with them. This is the time they justify their behaviours by blaming stress, anger, trouble at work, bad childhood, anything that will remove the blame for that behaviour from the abuser. 

Then comes the “Pursuit and promises phase”. The abuser may promise to get help and may even make an appointment to see someone. During this phase, the abuser will do almost anything to get things “back to normal”. They may buy presents, continue to say sorry and pursue the other party to the point it may feel like they are falling in love again.

This then flows into the honeymoon phase in which the couple are getting on well because the abuser is choosing to control their abusive behaviours for a period of time.  Previous appointments made in the “Pursuit and promises phase” are often cancelled due to everything going so well and the abuser claiming intervention is no longer needed.

This often leads into the “Build-up phase” in which the other party may question the decision to cancel the appointment (or any justifiably questionable power and control based behaviour).  The abuser becomes tired of not being in a position of power and makes the choice to begin to re-engage in abusive behaviours such as controlling, questioning and blaming the other party for their behaviours.

As the build-up continues to grow, the abuser moves back into the “Standover phase”, thus, beginning the cycle again.

This cycle may occur in a matter of days, it may occur in a matter of weeks or even months.  The underlying issue with the cycle is that, unless the abuser takes responsibility for their behaviours and makes a real effort to change them, the cycle will continue unabated, often for years and even generations.

My partner needs counselling but won't go. What do I do?

Trying to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do may cause them to dig their heels in and resist your best efforts. A tip for influencing your partner in a respectful and more effective way is to use the DARN principle:-

Desire – what is it that they want?

Ability – what are they able to do right now?

Reason – what is the reason for attending the course / counselling?

Need – how could it help to get their needs met? (E.g. a need may be for a more satisfying and intimate relationship)

DARN will sound less like giving advice to your partner, and more like gentle conversation.

Learn about what your partner wants, and their unmet needs. Then explore with them how the counselling or course may benefit them. This approach may increase their motivation to attend counselling or the course but it might also be helpful to consider your needs and coping. 

If you are in need of support please feel to contact 1300 364 277

Sometimes I make them really angry

Anger is a normal and healthy emotion, it is not the cause of abuse. Many people get angry and never engage power and control, many people who use power and control in a relationship are not angry when they do so. When abusers state they act in an abusive manner because they are angry, they are refusing to take responsibility for their actions and their choices. Rather, they choose to blame an emotion and deflect responsibility for their choices.

You are not responsible for your partner’s choices, only they can be responsible and take control.  To state anger is the cause of abuse places the responsibility on the victim, blaming them for causing the anger and therefore, somehow, being responsible for the abuser’s actions. This is never the case.

Talk to someone

For more information or to make an appointment please call us on 1300 364 277.

What if my partner doesn’t want to come?

You can access counselling on your own and this will ultimately impact on your partner, as change in one person in a relationship will also affect the other.  Also sometimes when one person accesses counselling, their partner can see the positive change and can be encouraged to attend.