Power and Control

Abuse is a matter of choice.  People who batter, are not “out of control”, instead they want to be in control.  By introducing victims to the power and control wheel and the tactics that abusers use to establish and maintain power over their intimate partners, victims can begin to identify the dynamics that are present in their relationships.


The wheel was developed in 1984 by the staff at the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) who began developing curricula for groups for men who batter and victims of domestic violence.  They convened focus groups of women who had been battered, listened to heart-wrenching stories of violence, terror and survival. After listening to these stories and asking questions, they documented the most common abusive behaviors or tactics that were used against these women. The tactics chosen for the wheel were those that were most universally experienced by battered women.


Many women’s groups use the Power and Control Wheel. Battered women can point to each of the tactics on the wheel and clearly explain how these behaviors were used against them. They are able to see that they are not alone in their experience and more fully understand how their batterer could exert such control over them.

 Why is it called the power and control wheel?

Battering is one form of domestic or intimate partner violence. It is characterized by the pattern of actions that an individual uses to intentionally control or dominate his intimate partner. That is why the words “power and control” are in the center of the wheel. A batterer systematically uses threats, intimidation, and coercion to instill fear in his partner. These behaviors are the spokes of the wheel. Physical and sexual violence holds it all together—this violence is the rim of the wheel.

In understanding these dynamics, Victims can begin to take steps to safety, regardless of whether they chose to stay with their partner or chose to leave.