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Bob Livingstone, LCSWBob Livingstone, LCSW
Healing Emotional Pain and Loss

New Eminem-Rhianna Video - Does it Sanction Domestic Violence or Does it Speak Out against Battering? Part Three

Bob Livingstone, LCSW Updated: Oct 25th 2010

Part One of this series critiqued this controversial video and Part Two had a more detailed discussion about the effects of domestic violence. This blog will continue that dialogue and include songs that stimulate conversation about battering.

angry coupleWhat is the cycle of violence and what can you do to prevent it?

According to, the cycle of violence is as follows:


  • Any type of abuse occurs (physical/sexual/emotional)

Tension Building

  • Abuser starts to get angry
  • Abuse may begin
  • There is a breakdown of communication
  • Victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm
  • Tension becomes too much
  • Victim feels like they are 'walking on egg shells'


  • Abuser may apologize for abuse
  • Abuser may promise it will never happen again
  • Abuser may blame the victim for causing the abuse
  • Abuser may deny abuse took place or say it was not as bad as the victim claims


  • Abuser acts like the abuse never happened
  • Physical abuse may not be taking place
  • Promises made during 'making-up' may be met
  • Victim may hope that the abuse is over
  • Abuser may give gifts to victim

The cycle can happen hundreds of times in an abusive relationship. Each stage lasts a different amount of time in a relationship. The total cycle can take anywhere from a few hours to a year or more to complete.

It is important to remember that not all domestic violence relationships fit the cycle. Often, as time goes on, the 'making-up' and 'calm' stages disappear. Adapted from the original concept of: Walker, Lenore. The Battered Woman. New York: Harper and Row, 1979.

Preventing the abuse from occurring involves picking up the "red flags" that the woman observes during the early stages of the relationship. These "red flags" may include the man: always portraying himself as a victim in relationships, having a hair trigger temper, not taking responsibility for any of his actions, having a hateful attitude towards women, encouraging or not allowing her to not spend time with any of her support network, gradually attempting to control all aspects of her life, not introducing her to his friends and family, constantly blaming others for his anger, suffering from low self esteem, being jealous much of the time moving too quickly into the relationship(wanting to move in with her after their first date) and displaying substance abuse issues.

Another way to prevent the abuse from occurring is for the woman to make sure she is not isolated and talks to her friends and family about her concerns. There are resources available and safe places to go. Therefore it is important to reach out to others and know where these resources are and how she can contact them.

In order for the cycle of violence to stop, men must take accountability for their actions and not blame others for their battering behavior. Men must change their belief systems that they have the right to dominate and control women; that somehow this is their birth right. They must also learn that anger is not the first emotion felt before hitting a woman. The first emotion experienced is not anger. It is fear that the woman is becoming independent and not needing him one hundred percent of the time. It is the fear of abandonment that ultimately needs to be dealt with in a therapeutic way.

The man needs to learn what the underlying cause of this fear of abandonment is and to be aware of his feelings; to not push them away. He needs to accept that he hurts deep inside and that he is a batterer. He also needs to sincerely want to change his behavior. This process will be assisted by individual and group therapy.

I have been teaching an Emotional Healing Class to incarcerated men and women at the San Francisco County Jail. I have found that listening to music while reading the lyrics is a great tool. This process triggers discussion- healing on personal, family and societal levels.

Here is a short list of songs about domestic violence and/or about being in dysfunctional relationships

Black and Blue by Raheem DeVaughn
Willing to Forgive by Aretha Franklin
According to You by Orianthi
Independence Day by Martina Mcbride
Goodbye Earl by The Dixie Chicks
Behind the Wall by Tracy Chapman
Call me Guilty by Jazmine Sullivan
Stole by Kelly Rowland
How Come, How Long by Babyface and Stevie Wonder
Coffee by Ledisi

Please feel free to post other songs that may be relevant.


Bob Livingstone, LCSWBob Livingstone, LCSW, has been a psychotherapist in private practice for twenty-two years. He works with adults, teenagers and children who have experienced traumas such as family violence, neglect and divorce. He works with men around anger issues and with adults in recovery from child abuse. He is the author of two critically acclaimed books: Redemption of the Shattered: A Teenager's Healing Journey Through Sandtray Therapy and Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain Through Exercise and his newly released book Unchain the Pain: How to be Your Own Therapist. For more information visit

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Songs to add to the list - Amber - Apr 22nd 2011

Evangeline by Little Big Town--about emotional abuse

Face Down by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Gunpowder and Lead by Miranda Lambert


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