Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence, Domestic Abuse

It's hard to break out of destructive relationships. Learn about domestic violence, domestic abuse, family problems, and breaking the cycle of abuse.

Dr. Jeanie Bein our guest, who is a licensed psychologist and specializes in abuse, trauma, and family problems will be discussing and answering questions dealing with domestic violence and domestic abuse and how to become free from the cycle of abuse.

David Roberts: moderator.

The people in blue are audience members.

Beginning of Chat Transcript

David: Good Evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to Our topic tonight is "Domestic Violence, Domestic Abuse." Our guest is therapist, Jeanie Bein, Ph.D., in Denver, Colorado, who specializes in abuse, trauma, and family problems.

Good evening, Dr. Bein and welcome to We appreciate you being our guest tonight. Why is it that we find it so hard to break out of destructive relationships?

Dr. Bein: I believe that one of the most difficult tasks of humanity, is to become free from the cycle of abuse. People get stuck in the victim role for a number of reasons. Usually fear is a prime motivator:

  • fear of what the abuser will do,
  • fear of being alone,
  • fear of taking a proactive step.

Many people believe that they are bad, and this is what they deserve. They get this message from parents when they are children. They observe their main role models in abusive situations. This is what they know, and it is difficult to change patterns.

David: Is "being a victim" a learned behavior from childhood, or is it something that develops as a result of the fear instilled by the abuser?

Dr. Bein: Sometimes both, and sometimes neither one. Victimhood is often learned from the way parents treat their children and sometimes it happens later in life.

David: What draws these individuals into abusive relationships? On the surface, it seems it can't be attractive for them.

Dr. Bein: Perhaps they are looking for someone like their abusive parent, although, they don't consciously realize they are doing this. Often these folks feel fearful and insecure and find a mate who can give them answers or take charge, not knowing the extent of the taking charge. In the cycle of abuse, one form of abuse is self-abuse. One form of self-abuse is being paired with a perpetrator.

David: Just to clarify here, what is your definition of an abusive relationship?

Dr. Bein: An abusive relationship can mean that one person takes another's power or violates another's boundaries.

David: Dr. Bein's website is here.

Psychologically, what does it take for an individual to break out of an abusive situation?

Dr. Bein: In a word, "empowerment." One must realize that they are in an abusive situation. They must want to make a change. They need to make some personal, internal changes, to increase self-esteem. Some people need professional help and support to make the change. Others are able to do it on their own. Then they need to take action in the most expedient manner possible.

David: What are your thoughts about going to a battered women's shelter or someplace similar?

Dr. Bein: Sometimes that is the best answer. Shelters offer protection and allow the abused person to hide from their abuser. In some situations, it presents a practical problem, in that someone with a career may need to drop out of their job and economic support when making this change. It depends on individual circumstances. Sometimes it is best to call the police and have the abuser physically removed, then take out a restraining order.

David: We have some audience questions, Dr. Bein. So, let's get to a few of those:

bunchie5: Don't they ever see the light and realize that they are abusing us emotionally?

Dr. Bein: A typical pattern is for the abuser to "see the light" after perpetrating the abuse. It's roses then. Often they are just as trapped in the cycle of abuse, as is the abused (not that this excuses them). I think it is more difficult for the abuser to change, and would need more professional help than it is for the abused to change.

secretsquirrel: How do you break the cycle of abuse when that is all you know? I feel so afraid and alone.

Dr. Bein: If one is afraid, alone, and doesn't know how to break the cycle, if they can't afford to seek out private help, they should go to a shelter for help. One can receive counseling at a shelter, even if they are not ready to go there to live.

Alohio: Aren't abusers normally wimps, inside? As such, how does one best deal with them?

Dr. Bein: Abusers are in a cycle. They feel abused themselves. So they need to put others down. You are right! Abusers are usually cowards when they come up against someone more powerful. The domestic abuse builds them up, just for a moment, then they feel even worse about themselves because of what they have done.

David: One of our audience members, NYMom, is being abused by her son. She says he has punched her several times and given her a black eye. He threatens to repeat the physical abuse if she doesn't do what he wants. He received a kidney transplant, as well, and she's afraid to leave for a shelter because she is worried about who would take care of him. By the way, her son is fifteen years old. What would your suggestion be, Dr. Bein?

Dr. Bein: She should call in the authorities, and make them do their job. This has to stop as soon as possible, or it will get worse. She can't stop it on her own, so she has to get help. She should call the police. If he doesn't take the consequences for his behavior, he won't ever learn! Getting tough is the most loving thing she can do! The authorities can and must deal with the medical issues.

bunchie5: My husband can be so nice when he wants, or I should say, when he feels he is losing me. I feel like he throws the line out and reels me in repeatedly. However, this niceness only lasts no more than three to four days. Once he thinks he has me back, he turns into the monster again. I can see the pattern now with him. I want to get out of this, without having to hear the begging and crying from him that he is sorry and will never do it again.

Dr. Bein: If you are really ready to assert your rights, then I suggest that you call the police when he hurts you, then get a restraining order. If you feel that you would be in danger, then go to a shelter. However, you have to stay tough, and not back down when he is nice and goes through the "roses" phase.

secretsquirrel: Can you ever "get over" the effects of past abuse? They seem to be the hardest.

Dr. Bein: Yes, you can! Some people do, and some people do not. It may be wise to seek professional help for this one.

Lumpyso: I was abused many times as a child. Recently, I was assaulted by a stranger and I want to know how these people find me. Why am I susceptible to this kind of treatment?

Dr. Bein: This may be hard for you to hear. I must first say, Lumpyso, that it is not your fault! Yet somehow, and you probably don't know how you are doing it, but you are sending out messages that you are fearful. This may be your body posture, closing yourself in front with your arms, the way you look at someone, or other non-intentional ways that you show you are powerless, however, this is correctable!

David: By the way, Lumpyso, and everyone else here tonight, we had a great conference on just that subject -- why those who have been abused are open to re-abuse and what to do about it. The transcript is from our conference on "The Damage Caused by Sexual Abuse."

Here are some audience comments on what's being said tonight, then we'll continue with a few more questions:

Goodmomma2000: I surely know that one! I found out after my husband died, that he was a child sexual abuser. I'm so mad that if he weren't already dead, I would bump him off!

secretsquirrel: I understand what Lumpyso said. It seems like child sexual abuse makes you a target for life.

cosset: I was told that since I didn't leave the house and go to a women's shelter that I was not afraid of my husband. So, the abuse my husband dished out was not accepted by the courts in the divorce process.

Dr. Bein: Hey Cosset, that makes my blood boil. That is the old way of blaming the victim!

David: When is it time, Dr. Bein, for someone to say to their abuser, "I'm not giving you any more chances?"

Dr. Bein: Now is the time! It is time when one realizes that one just can't stand the abuse any longer, enough to want to do something about it. For me, I would not give someone a second chance if I were hit.

Alohio: How many abused women feel they "deserve" what they get because they are females? How can they find they deserve better?

Dr. Bein: Alohio, I think that a lot of abused women feel they deserve it. The abuser tells them it is their fault. They may have heard this from their abusive parent. This idea that the victim deserves the abuse, somehow brought it on her/himself, is changing. But it is difficult to break out of a mindset one has had all their lives.

David: Here's the link to the Abuse Issues Community. You can click on the link and sign up for the mail list at the top of the page so you can keep up with events like this.

Dr. Bein's website is here.

Here's another audience question:

julybaby: Dr. Bein, my twenty-two-year-old daughter is in an abusive relationship. She has been physically ill and is afraid that if she doesn't have sex with her boyfriend, he will go find it somewhere else, so she gives it to him. How can I get her to understand this is unhealthy?

Dr. Bein: It may be hard to get through to her. Because at her age, she may feel that she has a right to live her life the way she chooses. However, you can point out to her that she deserves more. Explain that her body is hers and hers alone, and that no one has a right to take anything from her that she isn't comfortable giving. Tell her that she is setting herself up for more abuse. She is making a statement to him that he can treat her this way. If he loves her, he wouldn't make her do what she does not want to do. So, therefore, he must not love her. Somehow, you need to help her feel loveable and worthy, and furthermore, sex is not love.

julybaby: I agree. I have told her, and she had witnessed me being abused. You would think that she would learn from my experiences.

Dr. Bein: Actually, she may have learned to be a victim from watching you. This is what she saw and learned as an impressionable child. The best thing you can do is to be a role model of empowerment to her.

milkman: Dr. Bein, I am a victim of domestic violence and can't seem to find any help. You see, I am a male and the abuser is my sister. Can you direct me?

Dr. Bein: How old are you? Do you live in the same house as your sister?

milkman: I am forty -two years old, and no we don't live in the same house, but we both work for our parents on their dairy.

Dr. Bein: There are several ways you could approach the situation. First, try talking with her and confronting her. Tell her that you will not put up with it any longer. You could ask for your parents to intervene. You may then wish to call the police and charge her with assault and battery. You may also consider getting another job.

David: What kind of abuse is your sister inflicting on you?

milkman: Verbal, physical, and mental abuse.

Dr. Bein: Perhaps with some professional help, you could learn how to confront her in an effective way to stop the verbal and mental abuse.

starlight05: A few months ago, I told my husband that I wanted a divorce. He has not paid our mortgage since, even though he has the money. I think he is doing this to show me who is in control. My home went into foreclosure and he paid all back payments, but not after letting me know that if I ever left, me and our children would be in the streets. What are my options?

Dr. Bein: He is trying to scare you and intimidate you. You have rights and I suggest that you see a lawyer to find out what the rights you have. For example, he is required to pay child support, and perhaps alimony. If you take him to court, you can also ask for him to pay court costs.

David: I know it's getting late. Thank you, Dr. Bein, for being our guest tonight and for sharing this information about domestic violence, domestic abuse with us. And to those in the audience, thank you for coming and participating. I hope you found it helpful. We have a very large abuse survivors community here at If you found our site beneficial, I hope you'll pass our URL around to your friends, mail list buddies, and others.

Thank you again, Dr. Bein.

Dr. Bein: Thank you for inviting me onto your program. Thank you all, and Bless!

David: Good Night everyone. I hope you have a good weekend.

Disclaimer: We are not recommending or endorsing any of the suggestions of our guest. In fact, we strongly encourage you to talk over any therapies, remedies or suggestions with your doctor BEFORE you implement them or make any changes in your treatment.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2007, May 10). Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence, Domestic Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Last Updated: July 9, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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