How to recognize you are in a punishment cycle:
1. You are plotting and planning your punishment in anticipation of the other person's actions
2. Delivering the punishment brings you a sense of satisfaction, not sorrow
3. You feel the other person has "learned" when they show signs of submission and regret
How to break a punishment cycle:
Start caring more about behavior change than punishment. It's really that simple. If you start looking at things from the perspective that you want to do what makes things better, you will start seeing the situation differently. YOUR behavior will change, and eventually the other person's will too.
If you are being "punished"
Don't "stand up" for yourself, that's just confrontational and bringing war to a war just causes more war. Speak the truth, about how you feel, about what is happening, about what you want as firmly and as clearly as you can.