The Power and Control Wheel


Domestic abuse and sexual violence are both patterns of controlling behavior used within a relationship to maintain power and control by one partner over the other. The Power and Control Wheel (also known as The Duluth Model) is a tool that was developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP) In the 1980s based on the experiences of women survivors. This wheel shows the eight different behaviors that an abuser may use to maintain power.


The outside of the wheel represents the physical and sexual violence that ties to all the inner behaviors of control together. The eight behaviors that make up the wheel are:

  1. Coercion and Threats

  2. Intimidation

  3. Emotional abuse

  4. Isolation

  5. Minimizing/denying/blaming

  6. Using children

  7. Economic abuse

  8. Male privilege

Most of these behaviors can feel normal and go on unrecognized, but after looking at the wheel in its context, you can see how toxic these patterns of behaviors are. There are other variations of the wheel that include other behaviors such as spiritual abuse, cultural abuse, and immigration status.


The wheel has been used as a counseling resource, as well as in domestic and sexual violence centers. It shows victims and survivors that they are not alone in their experience. It can also help friends, family members or even someone who may be identified as abusive to understand the different faces that abuse can wear. This can help with explaining the difficulties a lot of victims and survivors have when they are in abusive relationships. You can find more info about the power and control wheel here.