Walker's Cycle Of Abuse: A Case Study

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Walker (1979) proposed that a cycle of abuse initiates with a building of tension consisting of verbal and psychological abuse. Often following the physical abuse there is a period of calm during which the abuser engages in reconciliatory and apologetic behaviour in attempt to sustain the relationship. It’s suggested that this “honeymoon phase” serves to positively reinforce and strengthen the victim’s decision to stay in the relationship. In line with intermittent reinforcement which increases resistance to extinction, it can be inferred that the victim’s decision to stay may be less likely to be extinguished if the reinforcing behaviours from the abuser occurs inconsistently throughout the relationship (Lewis & Duncan, 1958; Kazdin & Polster, 1973).…show more content…
Copel et al., (2006) found women with physical disabilities who were victims of abuse failed to experience a “honeymoon phase” and only obtained a phase of separation from their abuser. Perhaps this cycle of abuse is different for women with disabilities, often they can be increasingly dependent on the abuser making the decision to leave highly difficult. Rhatigan et al., (2006) and Johnson (2011) have noted that Walker’s (1979) cycle may only be applicable to a subset of victims, in particular those who experience more extensive abuse. However, there has also been contrary evidence suggesting that the majority of victims do experience some form of reconciliation and apologetic behaviour from their abusers. Giffing et al., 2002 in a large sample of ninety female residents in a domestic violence shelter, 90% of abuse victims reported experiencing remorse and reconciliation from their abuser. Victims also underestimated their likelihood of returning to the abusive

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