The University of Bonn in Germany recently conducted research on why this cycle of abuse happens, which resulted in some interesting findings.  You can read about the study here:

When you’re angry, how do you react? Do you take it out others? Do you make subtle, smart-aleck remarks? Do you punch something? Do get quiet, sullen, and withdrawn? Remember, anger is not the problem — it’s what we do with it that can lead to hurtful behavior toward others. There are ways to redirect our frustrations in ways that are healthy and productive, which may take a little more work, but can help stop this domino effect. Taking a self-assessment and working with a life coach is a good place to start. Consider taking a course in social and emotional intelligence. Or, simply begin by talking to a friend or writing in a journal when the emotions are running high.

“According to career-life coach and social worker Brad Waters, venting pent-up emotions through writing is one of the crucial steps towards building emotional intelligence that helps people maneuver through situations that may otherwise trigger negativity.” — Samantha Olsen