Power and Control Wheel (PDF - Online Reading - Download - Printable)

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Power and Control Wheel is a tool used in the domestic violence/interpersonal violence field to understand the tactics abusers use to gain power and control over their victims. The wheel is central to our understanding of how abusers operate. The wheel was created by Domestic Abusers Intervention Programs as part of the "Duluth Model," which focuses on training and education that teaches how communities can work together to blame abusers and better support survivors. To date, it is the most common batterer intervention program in the United States.
 
As the forerunner of the coercive control framework developed by Dr. Evan Stark, the wheel has its roots in feminist theory that recognizes that men use violence and other means of abuse to exert power and control over women and children and “because of their social, economic and political inequality in society”, women and children are particularly vulnerable.
 
Since its inception in the 1980s, the model has been criticized for focusing on women as victims, but not as perpetrators, and for failing to accurately represent the motivations of some male batters. Additionally, there are several complaints that explicitly mention the "using male privilege" section, as some believe this minimizes the fact that men are also abused.
 
It is important to consider these challenges as they point to important distinctions and research has addressed them in recent years. We plan to explore research related to these challenges in the future as they could also be used to challenge a coercive control framework, but for now, we will focus on understanding the basics of the model as we have found it to be incredibly useful.
 
Power and Control Wheel is a heuristic tool that focuses on how eight different types of abuser tactics are associated with physical and sexual violence (or the threat of physical and sexual violence) to dominate the victim. The wheel is made up of these components:
  • Physical and Sexual Violence (outer ring)
  • Using Intimidation
  • Using Emotional Abuse
  • Using Isolation
  • Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming
  • Using Children
  • Using Male Privilege
  • Using Economic Abuse
  • Using Coercion  and Threats

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Power and Control Wheel