Domestic violence in relationships follows a pretty common pattern. This pattern begins with violence and includes blaming, the victim trying to leave, and then being punished. Sometimes, the violence turns deadly. But more often than not, the cycle repeats itself over and over until the victim gets out.

The focus of a report from The Republic in Arizona is this pattern and the commonalities between domestic violence cases, and what sets those deadly cases apart from the rest.

Experts say there are risk factors, that when present indicate a higher likelihood of the relationship turning deadly. Those risk factors include things like:

  • Abuse during pregnancy
  • The presence of a step-child
  • Threatening use of a gun
  • Drug use
  • Unemployment
  • Instances of choking
  • An age difference of more than 10 years

These factors so often raise the risk level of homicide in a domestic violence relationship, that shelter workers ask victims if any of them are present when doing an intake interview, all to establish how in danger of attack the victim is.

The more controlling and jealous an abuser is, the more likely the relationship will turn deadly as well. Abusers often maintain control over their victim’s social lives, their contact with friends, and even their contact with family. They can be insanely jealous and set off by any evidence that they are “losing control” of their victim.

What begins with a slap and occasional berating, can escalate over time, until the abuser is doling out violence and emotional abuse on a regular basis. Threats become more common and the abuser often starts threatening to kill the victim.

The report notes that about 100 people are killed in domestic violence situations in the state of Arizona. But thousands more are involved in abusive relationships, and the patterns are clear. The vast majority of these never turn deadly, though they may escalate in severity over the years.

Much attention is given to the victims of domestic violence, on getting them out of the situation and protecting them, and rightfully so. This should be the first concern for law enforcement and community officials. But treating the aggressor should also be important.

Abusers don’t usually like being abusive. They struggle with guilt and a severely damaged self-esteem. For them, breaking the cycle of violence doesn’t often happen until someone else (like the police) steps in and forces it.

If you are accused of a domestic violence offense, this could be your opportunity to get help. Courts can order anger management classes and counseling for people accused of such crimes.