Based on La politique d'intervention en matière de violence conjugale (Gouvernement du Québec, 1995) and reiterated in the Plan d'action gouvernemental en matière de violence conjugal (2018-2023), "domestic violence is characterized by a series of repetitive acts, usually of increasing frequency and intensity. Specialists refer to this progression as the cycle of violence.
In the person committing the abuse, it proceeds according to a defined cycle, through successive phases marked by mounting tension, abuse, rationalization, reconciliation and a calm period. For the victim, these phases correspond to fear, anger, a feeling of responsibility for the violence and, lastly, the hope that the situation will improve. It should be noted that not all of these phases are always present and they do not necessarily follow that order.
Domestic violence includes psychological, verbal, physical and sexual abuse as well as acts of financial domination. It is not the result of a loss of control, but is a means chosen to dominate another person and assert one's power over that person. Domestic violence can be experienced in a marital, extra-marital or dating relationship, and at any age".
The cycle or walls of violence
The woman fears and anticipates the worst and attempts to reduce the tension. The spouse directs the responsibility to the woman. He is rigid and maintains unrealistic expectations. He feels anger, jealousy, impatience, etc.
The 5 forms of violence erupt! The woman is in shock and likely to feel sadness, hatred, fear, anger, etc.
The spouse avoids remorse shame and guilt. He minimizes or justifies his actions. The woman feels responsible and minimizes her own emotions such as fear, anger and shame.
The spouse expresses regret and wants to reconcile. He adopts behaviours likely to regain the woman's confidence. The woman agrees to give him another chance. The advantages of staying outweigh her losses and fear of leaving.
The 5 forms of violence
(Making someone believe they are worthless, that everything is their fault and that they can't do anything right)
Manifestations: Criticism and humiliation, blame, sulking and ignoring, degrading and disrespectful attitudes, negligence, blackmail and threats, being violent towards objects and animals, etc.
(To speak in a threatening manner. In other words, hidden threats may be implied in the tone of voice)
Manifestations: Insults, yelling and screaming, sarcasm, degrading and humiliating comments, blackmail and threats, etc.
(Related to financial and material resources)
Manifestations: Depriving or controlling someone's financial assests and/or personal belongings, monitoring and controlling someone's financial activity, creating a situation of financial dependance, buying gifts to compensate for violent behaviour, etc.
(Forced or non-consensual sexual activities)
Manifestations: Sexual aggressions, imposing degrading acts (forcing someone to wear erotic clothing, to watch pornography, or to impose sexual positions), manipulation or brutality in the face of a non-consensual sexual relationship, pushing someone to have unprotected sex or with other people, degrading someone's physique and sexual ability, etc.
(It is the easiest to recognize. Psychological violence has already been present when physical violence is manifested)
Manifestations: Push or shove, clasp arms, pull hair, throw objects on a person, threaten with a weapon, burns, fractures, bites, immobilisation, murder, etc.
The walls or cycle of violence
Domestic violence is found in every social, economic and cultural group.
This is a social problem that everyone must act on because everyone is concerned. Futhermore, many acts committed in a context of domestic violence, are infractions of the Criminal Code.
Certain characteristics in a relationship can indicate the existence of domestic violence. Unequal power (control over the other one), the cyclic and repetitive aspect, fear, isolating, can be among some of these indicators. A lover's quarrel is a disagreement, between two people, manifested by anger or aggression however the relationship remains egalitarian, unlike domestic violence. Discussion, mutual exchange and compromise are possible in a couple's quarrel but not in a relationship of domestic violence.
There are no provocations in conjugal violence - only events that trigger an aggressive response and are then used as "excuses" for this violence. An aggressor is always responsible for his/her actions No situation or event can justify resorting to violence.
The excessive consumption of alcohol (or drugs) is among one of the factors in the risk of committing violence against a partner. The consumption of alcohol is, however, not a sufficient justification to explain conjugal violence. It cannot excuse the aggressiveness and violence.
Although some abusive men have mental health issues, violence is not explained by mental health issues because not all people with mental health issues are violent.
Domestic violence is not a loss of control; rather, it is a means to exert control or dominance on another person.
Source: Plan d'action gouvernemental en matière de violence conjugale 2018-2023 (2018).
Several complex reasons can explain why a victim may stay with their aggressor. We have to remember that victims who are in the cycle of violence may stay out of fear, embarassement, guilt, doubt and helplessness. Furthermore, religious beliefs, personal values and cultural values may limit a victim from leaving their violent partner.
Here are a few more examples: the fear of vengeance and threats made by the partner; The fear to undertake legal action (to denounce the partner or to separate); The absence and the lack of knowledge concerning available resources; The concern for the children; The lack of support from family and friends; The constant hope that the partner will change, etc.
The partner with violent behaviours is not necessarily violent in all spheres of their life (for example: at work or towards strangers) and may in fact not have any criminal record. For example, he can be a very good neighbor.
Domestic homicide is a murder, often premeditated. It's the outcome of a relationship of violence and domination. The separation period is the most risky for homicide.