Domestic violence occurs when one person in an intimate relationship exercises power and control over the other through a pattern of intentional behaviors, including psychological, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. There is no way to define a “typical” victim of domestic violence - it can affect anyone from any socioeconomic, demographic, geographic or educational background. The greatest risk factor for victimization is simply being a woman.
While most people are able to recognize an abusive relationship when it involves physical violence, relationships involving psychological or emotional abuse are more subtle, but no less destructive. If allowed to continue, these behaviors can escalate to include more physically dangerous abuse over time. It is important to recognize key characteristics of domestic violence so that abuse can be stopped before it becomes threatening.
The Power and Control Wheel helps us understand the different ways an abusive partner can use power and control to manipulate a relationship. Each part of the wheel explains different tactics perpetrators use both physically and mentally.
The progression of violence is outlined below, and includes repeated use of one or more of the following behaviors: