Power and Control Wheel

Intimate partner violence is at once a very common yet very misunderstood experience. It affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men worldwide. However, many survivors do not have the education or experiences to recognize their relationship is abusive. Similarly, friends, family, and colleagues of survivors are often unable to recognize basic warning signs of abuse that could allow them to better support the survivors in their lives. Because intimate partner violence stems from our culture, it will take all of us to turn the tide on this form of violence.

The first step is to understand the dynamics of intimate partner violence, also known as domestic violence or dating violence. The Power and Control Wheel is particularly effective because it focuses on the psychological elements of abuse, in addition to those of physical and sexual violence. Intimate partner violence can be physical, can be sexual, but is always psychological. The wedges on the Power and Control Wheel illustrate the psychological tactics abusers use to gain and maintain power and control over their intimate partners. Investing just a minute or two of one’s time to read this resource will increase one’s understanding of why it is exceptionally challenging to leave an abusive relationship, foster greater empathy for survivors, and gain the tools one needs to recognize abusive relationships in one’s own life and the lives of one’s loved ones and colleagues.


Contributed by Emma Rouda, Policy Intern, CALCASA