Domestic Violence


Abusive relationships are based on the mistaken belief that one person has the right to control another person. When the abusive partner feels that the actions described in the spokes of the Power & Control Wheel are no longer effective, he/she resorts to physical and/or sexual violence. The relationship is based on the exercise of power to gain and maintain control.


  Power & Control in Domestic Violence


When one person in a relationship repeatedly scares, hurts, or puts down the other
person, it is abuse. The Power & Control Wheel lists examples of each form of
abuse. Remember, abuse is much more than slapping or grabbing someone.




  Types of Domestic Violence


Physical abuse includes spitting, scratching, biting, grabbing, shaking, shoving, pushing, restraining, throwing, twisting, slapping (open or closed hand), punching, choking, burning, and using weapons (household objects, knives, guns) against the victim. Some assaults result in physical injury and some do not. Sometimes a seemingly less serious type of physical abuse (for example, a shove or push) can result in the most serious injury. The perpetrator may push the victim against a couch, a wall, down a flight of stairs, or out of a moving car – all resulting in various degrees of trauma.


Emotional/Verbal Abuse

Emotional abuse is abuse that is intended to hurt or destroy another’s feelings and emotional well-being. Emotional abuse is often referred to as verbal abuse. This type of abuse includes name calling, put-downs, ridicule, belittling someone, and constant criticism. Another form of emotional abuse is referred to as psychological abuse. Psychological abuse is the constant intimidation and use of harassment to control someone’s thinking or behavior. There are often mind games and "crazy-making" behaviors included as psychological abuse. The batterer will use emotional and psychological abuse as a means of control over the victim. When the batterer feels that this means of abuse is no longer effective, he will often turn to physical abuse as a threat to reinforce the control the emotional abuse has.



Like physical abuse, sexual battering includes a wide range of behaviors from pressured sex when the victim does not want sex, to coerced sex by manipulation or threat of physical force, to violent sex. Victims may be coerced or forced into a kind of sex they do not want (for example, sex with third parties, physically-painful sex, sexual activity they find offensive) or at a time when they do not want it (for example, when they are exhausted, in front of children, after a physical assault, when they are asleep, when they are not interested).

Sometimes victims will resist and then they are punished, and sometimes they comply in hopes that the abuse will end quickly. For many battered women this sexual violation is profound and may be difficult to discuss. Some battered women may be unsure whether this sexual abuse is really abuse, while for others it is clearly the ultimate betrayal.

Using Intimidation

◘ Making you afraid by using looks, actions, or gestures

◘ Smashing things

◘ Destroying property

◘ Abusing pets

◘ Displaying dangerous weapons


Using Emotional Abuse

◘ Putting you down

◘ Making you feel bad about yourself

◘ Calling you names

◘ Making you feel guilty

◘ Making you think you are crazy

◘ Playing mind games

◘ Humiliating you


Using Isolation

◘ Controlling what you do, who you see and talk to, what you read and where you go

◘ Limiting your outside involvement

◘ Using jealousy to justify actions


Denying, Minimizing, Blaming

◘ Making light of the abuse and not taking your concerns about it seriously

◘ Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior to other people or circumstances

◘ Saying the abuse didn't happen

◘ Saying you caused the abuse


Using Children

◘ Making you feel guilty about the children

◘ Using the children to relay messages

◘ Using visitation to harass you

◘ Threatening to take the children away


Using Male Privilege

◘ Making all the big decisions

◘ Acting like the "Master of the Castle"

◘ Being the one to define men’s and women’s roles

◘ Treating you like a servant


Using Economic Abuse

◘ Preventing you from getting or keeping a job

◘ Making you ask for money

◘ Giving you an allowance

◘ Taking your money

◘ Not letting you know about or have access to the family income


Using Coercion and Threats

◘ Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt 

◘ Threatening to "out" you

◘ Threatening to leave you, to commit suicide, to report you to welfare or INS authorities

◘ Making you do illegal things