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domestic violence

Power and Control Wheel

The Power and Control Wheel shows the different types of tactics abusers use to maintain dominance in a relationship.  Click the image below to open a larger version in a new tab.

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors that one person inflicts upon a significant other for the purpose of gaining or maintaining power and control over that person.  A significant other may be a spouse, an intimate partner, an adult child/parent, adult siblings, and in-laws.  


Signs of an Abusive Relationship

An abusive person may exhibit the following attitudes and behaviors:

  • Extreme jealousy;

  • Maintaining strict control over finances or appearance;

  • Setting limitations on significant other's ability to work, go to school, or have contact with friends or family;

  • Restricting the use of the car or phone;

  • Putting significant other down with insults and criticisms.


Victims of abuse may:

  • Have unexplained injuries;

  • Have fear or anxiety about pleasing their significant other;

  • Check in often with their significant other to report where they are or what they are doing;

  • Receive frequent, harassing phone calls or text messages from their significant other;

  • Talk about their significant other's temper, jealousy, or possessiveness;

  • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident.

Types of Abuse

  • ​​Physical: Physical abuse, or battering, is the use of physical force in a way that injures, endangers, or causes fear to the significant other. Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, punching, pushing, shoving, kicking, hair-pulling, biting and other physically violent behaviors.

  • Sexual: Any unwanted sexual contact is sexual abuse.

  • Emotional: Verbal abuse, such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming.  Additionally, abusers may isolate their significant others from friends, family, or other contacts outside the home. Abusers may use intimidation tactics, such as threats to harm their significant others or those that the significant other cares about (i.e. children, parents, siblings, pets, etc.)

  • Economic: Controlling all financial aspects of the relationship, including denial of access to money, refusal to allow significant other to work, and/or restricting significant other to an allowance.

Protection from Abuse Orders

A Protection from Abuse (PFA) order is a civil order of court that one spouse, intimate partner, or family member can file against another to stop abusive behaviors.


A PFA may:

  • Order the abusive person to have no contact with you;

  • Order the abusive person not to abuse, threaten, stalk or harass you or your family members;

  • Evict or exclude an abusive person from your home;

  • Provide temporary custody of minor children to the non-abusive parent;

  • Order the abusive person to relinquish firearms.


While a PFA is a useful tool in stopping abuse, it is only one part of a safety plan. A PFA alone may not keep you and your children safe. Talk to a Transitions advocate to create a comprehensive safety plan.


Additional Resources about Domestic Violence

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