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August 15, 2022 | Fact/Tip Sheet, Infographic, Practice Guidance

The "Cycle of Violence:" Why It Is No Longer Widely Used to Understand Domestic Violence

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The “cycle of violence” is a model that describes a pattern of predictable repeated domestic violence. Psychologist Lenore Walker, Ph.D., formulated it as part of the “battered woman syndrome” in an influential book
published in 1979. The model describes a three-stage cycle that repeats itself. Over time, violence increases and the length of time between stages becomes shorter.

This document explores why this model has become outdated and explores new frameworks and language that can be used to better describe the patterns of behavior in relationships where a person uses violence.