1 Controller Builds Up Tension
Non-compliance causes the Controller to start building up tension. Controllers are rigid, easily angered, and deregulated.
For the Controller, compliance and control create predictability, while unpredictability is a reminder of childhood trauma that can leave them feeling vulnerable. As a defense against those vulnerable feelings, the Controller falls back to anger. It’s safer to control the other partner than connect, and the Controller has no empathy for themselves or others.
2 Controller Vents
having built up tension to a breaking point, the Controller vents and/or rages.
When a Controller’s control is threatened or stress is high, they tend to vent by rage.
3 Victim Triggered (Fear)
Having learned to tolerate the intolerable during childhood, the Victim attempts to placate the controller. However, the Victim has little or no voice in the relationship; they are child-like.
4 Controller Escalates
Detached from their own childhood trauma, the Controller lacks empathy for themself or others, and may become physically or emotionally abusive. They are likely to resort to addictions to numb their pain.
5 Victim Freezes
Following the “incident”, the Victim freezes or disassociates. They become depressed and/or detached, and may even threaten to leave the Controller.
6 Controller Compensates
Controllers dislike the Avoider’s increased distance since it limits the Controllers ability to monitor them. To compensate, the Controller may:
- Apologize while excusing, blaming, and minimizing the severity of their reactivity
- Promise it won’t happen again
- Temporarily become an underdog, begging for another chance
- Never actually admit wrongdoing
7 Temporary Power-shift
The Victim now holds power for a short time. Denying reality, they tell themselves that the “calm” means the Controller will change. However, this “calm” only lasts until Controller’s tension builds once again.
Eventually, this cycle starts all over again or destroys the relationship.