Power and Control Wheel

Spartans for Safety - Healthy Relationships

Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic violence and are usually the actions that allow others to become aware of the problem. However, regular use of other abusive behaviors by the batterer, when reinforced by one or more acts of physical violence, make up a larger system of abuse. Although physical assaults may occur only once or occasionally, they instill threat
of future violent attacks and allow the abuser to take control of the victim?s life and circumstances.

The Power & Control diagram is a particularly helpful tool in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors, which are used by a batterer to establish and maintain control over their partner.

Very often, one or more violent incidents are accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship.


Power and Control Wheel


Making someone afraid by using looks, actions, and gestures. Smashing things. Destroying their property.  Abusing pets.  Displaying weapons.

Emotional Abuse

Putting them down. Making them feel bad. Calling them names. Making them think their crazy. Playing mind games. Humiliating them. Making them feel guilty.


Controlling what they do, who they talk to, what they read, and where they go.  Limiting their outside involvement. Using jealousy to justify actions.

Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming

Making light of the abuse and not taking their concerns about it seriously.  Saying the abuse didn't happen.  Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior.  Saying the partner caused it.

Using Children

Making the other feel guilty about the children.  Using the children to relay messages.  Using visitation to harass them.  Threatening to take the children away.

Economic Abuse

Preventing one's partner from getting or keeping a job.  Making them ask for money.  Giving them an allowance.  Taking their money. Not letting them know about or have access to family income.


Treating one like a servant: making all the big decisions, acting like you "wear the pants" in the relationship.  Being the one to define the roles in the relationship.

Coercion and Threats

Threatening to leave your partner, saying you will commit suicide. Making them drop charges. Making them do illegal things.