Is It Abuse?

Domestic violence doesn’t only happen in marriages between a man and a woman.  It can happen with couples who are living together or just dating and between male couples and female couples.  Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate by age or socioeconomic status.  Women in the 20-24 age category are at the most risk.

abuse relationship emotional

When people think of domestic violence they often think of bruises and broken bones.  But there is more to it.  A lot more.  Domestic, or intimate partner, violence comes in many forms including physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse. Abuse is a repetitive pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. These are behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. Abuse includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of abuse can be going on at any one time.  Often times the abuser will use other forms of abuse to break down the victim before it ever becomes physical.  At the center of it all is a need to exert power and control over the victim.
The Power & Control Wheel is a tool used to help understand the pattern of abusive behaviors which are used by a batterer to establish and maintain control over his partner. One or more violent incidents are accompanied by a broad spectrum of these other types of abuse. These other forms of abuse are more difficult to identify but they establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship.



Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her. Threatening to leave her, commit suicide, or report her to welfare. Making her drop charges. Making her do illegal things.


Making her afraid by using looks, actions, and gestures. Smashing things. Destroying her property. abusing pets. Displaying weapons.


Putting her down. Making her feel bad about herself. Calling her names. Making her think she’s crazy (gaslighting). Playing mind games. Humiliating her. Making her feel guilty.


Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes. Limiting her outside involvement. Using jealousy to justify actions.


Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn’t happen. Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior. Saying she caused it.


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


Preventing her from getting or keeping a job. Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance. Taking her money. Not letting her know about or have access to family income.


Treating her like a servant: making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle,” being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.

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