What is Domestic Violence?

When people think of domestic violence they often picture someone who is beat up, limbs broken, etc.  However, domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors that are meant to exert power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate relationship.  The power and control wheel will show that physical abuse is certainly part of domestic violence, but there are other behaviors that aren’t as widely recognized.

The Power and Control Wheel: Abuse can include any, some, or all of these behaviors. 

Domestic Violence – The Wheel of Power and Control

Download the Power Control Wheel print version (pdf)

The Pattern of Domestic Violence: At first, possessive and controlling behavior may be subtle.

Domestic violence also has a pattern.  The relationship can go through a period of calmness, then the behavior tends to escalate and there is an explosive situation, and then can enter the “honeymoon” phase.  The “honeymoon” phase is a period of time where the abuser returns to a very loving state, they are remorseful and apologetic and promise that it will never happen again.

Domestic Violence – The Pattern of Love, Hope, Fear, and Denial

(Click to enlarge the Pattern of Domestic Violence)


If you or someone you know thinks they may be in an abusive relationship, please call Phoenix Project.  A counselor will help you find a way to talk about and explore your relationship.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE. ABUSE is NOT your fault. We are here to help.