Dynamics of Abusive Relationships

Power and Control Wheel



​The Power and Control Wheel is a tool used to show the many ways an abuser may work to control their partner. Although physical and sexual violence may be the easiest to identify, they are far from the only tactics an abuser may use.

The Cycle of Abuse


Domestic abuse often falls into a pattern, or a cycle, of abuse.

The first phase is tension building, when you may feel that you are walking on eggshells. In this phase, the abuse is often emotional/mental. There is an overall feeling of tension. You may try to appease the abuser by being especially quiet and easygoing.

The second phase is when the abuser tries to increase their control over you through aggressive or violent behavior. The abuse may be emotional, physical, sexual, financial, or all of the above, but the common factor is the abuser’s need to control you. This phase is the most dangerous.

The third phase is a reconciliation period. The abuser may make excuses or rationalizations for their abuse.

The fourth phase is often referred to as the honeymoon phase, or calm period. During this time the abuser may try to convince you that they will change, that that was the last instance of abuse.

*The cycle of abuse does not apply to all victims of domestic violence. For example, not everyone experiences a calm, or honeymoon phase.

If you or someone you know is being hurt, we can help.   Call our 24/7 helpline/hotline: 908.453.4181 or 888.988.4033

The Mission of the Domestic Abuse & Sexual Assault Crisis Center is to help, serve, and advocate for those impacted by interpersonal violence, to be proactive regarding its prevention, and to create positive change.  DASACC is a registered 501(c)(3).

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