What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.

Here at The Hotline, we use the Power & Control Wheel* to describe most accurately what occurs in an abusive relationship.

Think of the wheel as a diagram of the tactics an abusive partner uses to keep their victim in the relationship. While the inside of the wheel is comprised of subtle, continual behaviors, the outer ring represents physical, visible violence. These are the abusive acts that are more overt and forceful, and often the intense acts that reinforce the regular use of other more subtle methods of abuse.

*Although this Power & Control Wheel uses she/her pronouns for the victim and assumes a male perpetrator, abuse can happen to people of any gender in any type of relationship.

Power and Control Wheel

Click image to enlarge.

Copyright by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
202 East Superior Street, Duluth, MN, 55802
218-722-2781