Domestic violence is defined by a pattern of abusive behaviors used to establish and maintain power and control over another person. This abuse can affect intimate partners in a current or past relationship as well as family members from different households.
The violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial, or psychological. It can include any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, place of residence, or socioeconomic status.
Domestic violence consists of a combination of abusive tactics and different sets of behaviors that an abusive partner uses to establish and maintain power and control.
An abuser may present any of these tactics and behaviors at any one time to enforce power within the relationship. Often, physical or extreme violence that is more overt reinforces routine, more subtle methods of abuse. That is why it is important for everyone to be informed about the warning signs of relationship violence.
The Power and Control Wheel can help you better understand the dynamics of abuse. It is a tool that can help survivors realize they are not alone in what they are experiencing and can help convey to bystanders the insidious nature of abuse, the complexities of domestic violence, the many forms it can take, and the difficulties and dangers that survivors face in ending their abusive relationship.
View the Power and Control Wheel (Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, The Duluth Model).