An awareness advocacy campaign recently launched by Save the Children, a Mexican organization, depicts the cycle in dramatic photographs that graphically illustrate the vicious cycle of parental abuse. It features the photography of Ale Burset in work for the Mexican agency Y&R.
Lenore Walker in the 1970s developed the theory to explain patterns of behavior in an abusive relationship. The term cycle of abuse was coined to refer to this. Walker theorized that once abuse is established in a relationship, there will be predictable patterns of repetitious and similar maltreatment. This would be relevant to all kinds of abuse, whether it pertained to the emotional, the physical, or the psychological. Psychological abuse was theorized to always precede or accompany physical abuse.
Walker also suggested that prolonged periods of being in such a cycle eventually led to helplessness and a battered person syndrome. The cycle of abuse is much applied in domestic violence programs, especially in the United States. Statistics bolster this theory as 70% of those abused during childhood mature into adults manifesting the same abusive behavior, turning their own issues on their children.
The advocacy campaign was first published in May of 2012. Each photograph shows a character at different stages of growing-up, until reaching full maturity. The pictures depict a young child at the receiving end of some form of abuse from an adult, presumably a parent. The child in the same image slowly matures, shown walking in the background in developmental stages. From late childhood, to adolescence, to early adulthood and finally into full maturity, transforming into the abusive character. The picture series portrays many forms of abuse children suffer at the hands of uncontrolled adults. The models are skillfully directed, bearing facial expressions of seething anger, devious intentions, and emotional instability. Physical, verbal, and even sexual abuse are very powerfully communicated in this disconcerting dramatization of how maltreatment, cruelty and violence makes its deep-seated mark on such young, innocent and helpless victims.
“70% of abused children turn into abusive adults. Donate at savethechildren.mx,” the advocacy campaign states.