THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
Read 1 Samuel 19:1-10
In this passage we see the beginning of a cycle that occurs in some domestic violence relationships: after abuse comes a “honeymoon” phase, then a building up of tensions, then another abusive incident. The cycle repeats itself over and over and its severity may increase each time. In Saul’s case, we see the cycle repeat in chapters 19, 24 and 26.
In the honeymoon phase of the cycle, the abuser may promise to stop the abuse, or to get professional help. He may ask for forgiveness or apologize profusely. The abuser may also try to win back his victim with presents, favors, or charming behavior, in an attempt to maintain his control over her. In Saul’s case we see that his honeymoon phases included:
1 Samuel 24:16tears
1 Samuel 24:17apologies
1 Samuel 26:21promises
1 Samuel 26:21confessions
Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase usually doesn’t last. Without intervention and help by a domestic violence specialist, the abuse doesn’t usually stop. Things may deteriorate to the point that the victim is “walking on eggshells” as she sees the abuser’s attitude and behavior worsen again. Eventually abuse erupts in a violent incidence, and the cycle repeats.
Wisely, David did not blindly trust Saul’s promises, confessions, and apologies. He cautiously kept a safe distance from Saul, waiting to see fruits of repentance (Luke 3:8; Matthew 7:15-16). He quickly found that Saul was merely going through the honeymoon phase of the Cycle of Violence. Victims of domestic violence should not feel obligated to immediately trust their abuser until they have proven their sincerity. In Matthew 10:16 Jesus tells us we are like sheep among wolves, and must be shrewd as serpents.
Have you noticed a cycle in an abusive relationship? Were there behaviors that repeated themselves? How did you feel during the different phases of the cycles? How did you react?