The Cycle of Violence Repeats in the Alcoholic Family

A Family in Crisis

Woman Hiding Face
The Cycle of Violence Continues. © Getty Images

When we last visited with our friends David and Glenda of our "A Family in Crisis" series they were back together again as a couple and making plans for their future, in spite of some dark clouds on the horizon.

Previously married to each other and divorced due to escalating substance abuse and violence in their relationship, they had "found" each other again. Although David's drinking was now daily and constant, he was on his best behavior around Glenda and they were in the honeymoon stage of their rekindled love affair.

They seemed happy together and were committed to making their relationship work. When they talked about the future, they said "we" are going to do this, and "we" are planning to do that. They seemed excited, enthusiastic and even giddy about their new lives together.

When we saw them about a month after they had gotten back together, David was drunk, of course, but this time, Glenda was drinking with him. It seemed the cycle of substance abuse and violence in their lives was destined to repeat, but they could not see it; they were still enthusiastically looking forward to the future.

Part of those plans included taking a vacation trip together during the 4th of July holiday week. They planned to visit old friends, go swimming, hiking, and exploring in the mountains. They also planned to go camping in the National Forest; they purchased new camping equipment and planned their itinerary for weeks.

What Happened?

They also planned to include the children -- David's son and Glenda's daughter -- in the week of family adventure. It was to be Glenda's first real vacation away from home in many years and she seemed more excited about it than the kids. It had been years since she had taken time off to just have fun.

Two days before their planned trip, the friend they planned to visit called to find out their exact schedule. The conversation went like this:

"I don't think we are going to be able to make it," Glenda said.

"Why? What happened?" asked the friend.

"We got into a pretty bad one last night," she said. "He hit me. He's leaving and he's not coming back."

"Well, you know you are welcome to come without him, don't you? It might do you good to get away for awhile and take some time to think about things. It might also help if you come spend some time talking to me," the friend suggested.

"I know it would," Glenda said. "But my face is messed up pretty bad. I wouldn't want to go out in public looking like this!"

He Was So Sorry!

"Where is he now?"

"He's here now getting his things. He was so sorry; he cried and cried," she said.

"That's what they always say!"

After much coaxing, Glenda finally agreed to make the trip with just her and her daughter. She agreed it would be a good idea to get away and take a break from the situation. But she called back the next morning and left a message saying she would not be able to make the trip; she blamed it on vehicle problems.

She hasn't answered the telephone or returned calls since.

It took only three months for the cycle of violence to go from the "making up" stage through the building up of tension, and finally to an outburst of violence -- this one much worse than any of the past.

If the cycle repeats again, statistics tell us the next incident will be even more violent. The violence always seems to progress.

If Glenda allows David to talk his way back into the relationship again, she will be in very grave danger.

Next: An Alcoholic's Final Victim

Previously in 'A Family in Crisis'

Part 1: A Family in Crisis
Part 2: An Alcoholic in Denial
Part 3: A Family Disease
Part 4: The Cycle of Violence
Part 5: The Cycle Continues
Part 6: Why Do They Stay?
Part 7: A Progressive Disease
Part 8: Passing It On
Part 9: Another Child Affected
Part 10: The Final Chapter?

Has your relationship crossed the line to become an abusive one? Take the Abuse Screening Quiz.