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Intimate Partner Violence and Elder Abuse: The Basics

Course Number: 674

Dynamics of Power and Control

The Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs’ Power and Control Wheel12 is a common framework for understanding the dynamics between abusers and victims of intimate partner violence. This framework highlights that the foundation of abuse is due to wanting to gain absolute power and control in the relationship. It is a common tool in counseling and advocacy groups to help women identify tactics their partners have used against them. The power and control wheel also may be used in counseling services with the abusers themselves so that they can see that their behavior is not a norm and then can explore their believes that contribute to the atypical behavior. The power and control wheel highlights various aspects to IPV, some of which health care professionals may not have considered to be a part of abusive relationships. It can also provide an explanation as to why a victim may not want to reveal the abuse or proceed with either leaving or legal action against their abuser. An abusive partner may exhibit some of these patterns of behaviors but not others in order to maintain the power and control in the relationship.12

Diagram documenting the most common abusive behaviors or tactics that were used against these women.

Figure 1. The Duluth Model.12