Research: The Power and Control Wheel


Recently I came across a tool used to describe abusive behaviors. It is called The Power and Control Wheel. I was poking around the internets looking for information on abusive relationships and came across the website Love is Respect. From there, I navigated to The Power and Control Wheel and was shocked to find the extensive information on abusive behaviors and how they can be categorized.

As a part of my research paper, I have been conducting interviews with victims of abuse. I lead the interview with going through every aspect of the relationship(s) and asking if any of the aggressors behaved as described on the list. From there, I am collecting data about abusive relationships to form my thesis.

Other questions following this initial portion of the interview include: self esteem, self worth, personality traits of the aggressors, the childhood of the victim, how the victim felt about relationships and love prior to the first abusive relationship, how the abusive relationship altered how the victim feels about relationships and love, relationship role models growing up (parents and other authority figures), the relationship between abuse and drug/alcohol use, how the victim defines abuse, how the victim feels society defines abuse, thoughts about the aggressors, the victim’s depression before or after the abuse occurred, support systems while abuse occurred, support systems after the abuse occurred, the length of the abusive relationships and at what age the abuse occurred (for both the victim and the aggressor), boundaries prior, during, and after the abuse occurred, trust, how long the relationship lasted before the first abusive incident, and what led to the eventual breakup of the abusive relationship.

Needless to say, it has been a very emotional several days for me. Likely, it has been an emotional process for everyone. I have more information than I need for my paper, and I am beginning to think that I will take these interviews and write a book. And that I will conduct more interviews over time (not just until the end of my semester) and try to cover a wider demographic.

In the meantime, I have decided that the best thing for my creative and intellectual process is to write blog posts about different aspects of my research and then assemble pieces of the blog posts for my final paper. At the very least, it will help me sort out my thoughts and feelings on the topic.

That being said, I start with The Power and Control Wheel. There’s not much explanation needed, I think it speaks for itself. Here is a list of abusive behaviors, divided into categories. I should mention that, as you read this, bear in mind that if it is on this list – it’s abuse. A lot of these things surprised me.

Using Social Status/Peer Pressure
Examples of Using Social Status

  • Treating you like a servant
  • Making all the decisions
  • Acting like the “master of the castle”
  • Being the one to define men’s and women’s roles

Examples of Peer Pressure

  • Threatening to expose your weakness or spread rumors
  • Telling malicious lies about you to your peers

Anger/Emotional Abuse

  • Putting you down
  • Making you feel bad about yourself
  • Name calling
  • Making you think you’re crazy
  • Playing mind games
  • Humiliating you
  • Making you feel guilty

Intimidation/Threats/Sexual Coercion
Examples of Intimidation

  • Making you afraid by using looks, actions or gestures
  • Smashing things
  • Destroying property
  • Abusing pets
  • Displaying weapons

Examples of Threats

  • Making and/or carrying out threats to hurt you
  • Threatening to leave, commit suicide, report you to the police
  • Making you drop charges
  • Making you do illegal things

Examples of Sexual Coercion

  • Manipulating or making threats to get sex
  • Threatening to take children away
  • Getting your drunk or drugging you to get sex
  • Repeatedly making sexual advances after you’ve said no


  • Making light of the abuse and not taking your concerns about it seriously
  • Saying the abuse didn’t happen
  • Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior
  • Saying you caused the abuse


  • Controlling what you do, who you see, who you talk to, what you read, where you go
  • Limiting your outside involvement
  • Using jealousy to justify their actions

2 thoughts on “Research: The Power and Control Wheel

  1. Pingback: The Seven Principles Project: Myths, Truths, and Predictions | Some Kind of Clever

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s