What Is The Domestic Violence “Power And Control Wheel?”

The experience of the domestic violence victim is scary, debasing, and humiliating. If you are a victim, your life may even be in danger. As you remove yourself from the power of your abuser, you may find it helpful to understand the dynamics behind why a person can believe that they have the right to hurt someone else, especially someone they say they love. 


Understanding the motivations will help you also understand the pain that may have been inflicted on your abuser at some point in their lives – and those unresolved issues may then have become part of the twisted reasoning of an abuser. 


The Domestic Violence Power and Control Wheel was developed to help foster an understanding of abusers and their victims. Let’s discuss the Wheel and how it is used to help people heal and move on. 


How Does The Domestic Violence Power And Wheel Describe The Motivations Of Abusers?


  • The Domestic Violence Power and Control Wheel identifies power and control as the goal of a perpetrator’s abuse tactics. Victims’ experiences indicate that the behavior of their partners is not random or arbitrary but systematic and purposeful on a consistent basis.
  • The goal of the abusers’ behavior is to exert control over their partner and seems to reflect a belief that they have a right to control the life of their intimate partner. 
  • Some various forms of abuse described in the Wheel are: 
    • Coercion and threats: making threats, making the victim commit crimes
    • Intimidation: displaying weapons, destroying property, hurting children and pets
    • Emotional abuse: name-calling, humiliation, mind games
    • Isolation: keeping the victim from family and friends, jealousy
    • Economic abuse: keeping the victim from getting a job, withholding funds, stealing, giving the victim an allowance


How Can The Domestic Violence Control Wheel Help Me Manage An Abusive Relationship?


The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project created the Domestic Violence Power and Control Wheel in 1984


  • The Power and Control Wheel gives us a comprehensive illustration of what occurs in an abusive relationship, which helps advocates to serve victims’ specific needs.
  • It reveals the pattern of abusive and violent behavior, which allows victims to see that domestic violence (or intimate partner violence) isn’t just about one incident. Such insight can enable the victim to decide to remove themselves as they understand the seriousness and danger of the situation.
  • Viewing these actions as part of a broader pattern also helps victims see how their abusers control them and why it is so difficult for them to leave. 


Bridges Domestic Violence Center offers help for victims through our support groups, crisis intervention, court advocacy, temporary shelter, child advocacy, and much more.


If you have realized you are in an abusive relationship, don’t hesitate to seek help now. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You are not alone. Call us at (615) 599 5777.


We are a member agency of United Way of Greater Nashville.

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