Domestic Violence: Violence Wheel | Patti Austin Official Website

Domestic Violence: Violence Wheel

By on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 in Blog

Violence Wheel

The Violence Wheel is a chart developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. It is a way of looking at the behaviors abusers use to get and keep control in their relationships. Battering is a choice. It is the conscious decision of the abuser to force his partner in whatever means to submit to his demands. It is used to gain power and control over another person. It is used to prove his superiority. Physical abuse is only one part of a system of abusive behaviors. This system of abuse spans to sexual abuse, emotional threats, verbal abuse, stalking and economic control, etc.

Abuse is never a one-time event. Abusers choose to use violent tactics to gain control his partner. It is not a spur-of-the-moment event. Alcohol and drug use will never be a valid excuse for battering and other abusive behavior.


This chart uses the wheel to show the relationship of physical abuse to other forms of abuse. Each part shows a way to control or gain power.

Using Coercion and Threats

The abuser makes and carries out threats to do something to hurt her. He threatens to leave her, to commit suicide or to report her to welfare. He makes her drop charges against him and makes her do illegal acts.

Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming

The abuser makes light of the abuse and does not taking her concerns seriously. He insists or claims that the abuse did not happen. He shifts responsibility for abusive behaviour, blaming the victim of it, saying that she caused it or asked for it.

Using Male Privilege-

The abuser uses gender-specific roles to gain superiority over his partner. Being the man of the house gives him the privilege to define men’s and women’s roles. He treats her like a servant. He makes all the big decisions and acts like the “master of the castle”.

Using Intimidation

The abuser makes her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures. He smashes things and destroys her property to prove a point, to prove that he can and will hurt her if she is not complacent. Aside from that, abusing pets and displaying weapons are common acts made by perpetrators.

Using Emotional Abuse-

The abuser puts her down. He makes her feel bad about herself by calling her names and by downplaying or undermining her achievements. He makes her think she is crazy for thinking that she is being abused. He plays mind games to gain control. He humiliates her and makes her feel guilty for all of his faults.

Using Isolation-

The abuser controls what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, where she goes. He spies and monitors all her activities. He limits her involvement with people outside the home, like her extended family, friends, and colleagues. To justify his actions, he uses “jealousy” as his argument, which he equates with love.

Using Children-

The abuser makes her feel guilty about the children. He claims that by her leaving or not being submissive will ruin their family and their children’s futures. He uses the children to relay messages. If separated, he uses his visitation rights to harass her. He threatens to take the children away. He threatens to hurt the children to get his way with her.

Using Economic Abuse-

The abuser prevents her from getting or keeping a job since he demands all of time and attention. He makes her ask for money. He gives her an allowance instead of letting her handle her own financial resources. He takes her money and not let her know about the family income. He does not give her access to their money.

1 comments
David Simpson
David Simpson

Dear Patti, as a fan and fellow musician , I am happy that you have taken up the cause of domestic violence and abuse. I have performed benefit shows for this cause as well. However, I am disappointed that your "Violence Wheel" is one sided making the assumption that all domestic violence and abuse is male against female. The current statistics are almost even in regard to domestic abuse and violence as it relates to male /female initiation of abuse. Statistically , men are twice as likely to not report DV as women yet there are equal instances in both sexes. In an urban environment most men will come into at least one relationship with an abusive female partner. My source material and statistics are available upon request. Please change the wording in your violence wheel to be more inclusive of any and all victims of this undeserved behavior. Make it easier for everyone to find information when they are hurt and afraid. We must not tolerate misogyny and misandry both in our society. Thank you for your time and thank you for taking up the cause for all abused individuals. Sincerely , David Simpson