01 Mar

March is being used to help better understand what methods and motives at the root of domestic violence.  The abuse of power and control in the context of domestic violence involves systematic manipulation to maintain dominance over the victim.  ARC wants to educate readers about the Duluth Model of the Power and Control Wheel.  The Power and Control Wheel was co-created in the early 1980’s by Dr. Ellen Pence and Michael Paymar, founders of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, MN, to depict the typical patterns of behavior exhibited by those who exert power and control in abusive relationships. 

Dr. Pence, along with other social activists, were facilitating men's batterers groups and women's survivor groups, and while speaking with the survivors, they began to notice some patterns. They asked the women what specific tactics their abusers were using against them, and when one woman shared her story, several other women had stories to match. They wrote down the initial core tactics and created a list.

The wheel consists of different categories of abuse, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as intimidation, coercion and threats, isolation, minimizing, denying, blaming, using children, economic abuse, and physical violence. Dr. Pence also noted that although it wasn't precisely the desire to obtain power and control, it was the sense of entitlement of the abuser within the relationship.

Let's break down the power and control wheel: 

USING INTIMIDATION: includes actions or gestures intended to create fear in the victim. Intimidating behaviors may also include destroying the victim's personal property, displaying weapons, or hurting pets. Coercion and threats typically involve using force or making harmful promises to hurt the victim or their loved one or using blackmail against the victim.

USING EMOTIONAL ABUSE : involves undermining the victim's self-worth and takes a toll on the victim's emotional and mental state. Emotional abuse uses mind games, name-calling, humiliation, or guilt-tripping to establish dominance.

USING ISOLATION: restricts the victim from social interactions, family, and friends as another way to establish the victim's dependence on the abuser. Isolation can cause mental distress, depression, and anxiety. It also eliminates the victim's ability to reach out for help.

USING MINIMIZING, DENYING, and BLAMING: shift responsibility and downplay the abuser's actions. Gaslighting makes the victim feel as if they are wrong, overreacting, or crazy for accusations or facts brought upon the abuser.

USING CHILDREN: as a form of abuse involves manipulation to gain control of the victim. Abusers threaten the victim with not being able to see the children if they separate or even hurt the children if the victim leaves. This creates fear and obedience in the victim.

USING MALE PRIVILEGE: is using male status to exert power and control by reinforcing old-school gender norms, stereotyping, and defining roles in the relationship.  Acting as the master of the home, etc.

ECONOMIC ABUSE: is the controlling of the victim's finances or means of obtaining money of their own. This limits the independence of the victim, again creating dependence on the abuser.

USING COERCION AND THREATS: typically involve using force or making harmful promises to hurt the victim or their loved one or using blackmail against the victim. Threats of suicide or reporting the victim to child protective services is another way to create fear in the victim.


Physical Abuse is the most visible form of abuse and is used on the victim as a punishment or to get the victim to comply with the abuser's demands.

Sexual Abuse of a victim can range in a variety of forms, including rape or sexual assault, or other forms of sexual coercion.

Find ways to heal your heart and soul by seeking traditional alternatives: 

There are Power and Control Wheels for many different forms of abuse.  Here are some to name a few.  More information can be found at the Duluth Model Home Page - Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (theduluthmodel.org) 

There is also a specific model for the LGBTQ+ Community:  

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