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Battering Ė Itís Power and Control

Many myths surround domestic violence.  People think that batterers are violent because they have low self-esteem, a genetic defect, a drug problem, or because they lose control of their emotions.  Even though any one of these may be true, the primary cause of battering is learned behavior.

Abusive partners use violence to gain power and control.  When they want something, they know how to get it Ė violence.  Abuse works because it maintains control over a woman.  She lives in fear of further violence and will later alter her behavior to accommodate her abuserís moods, whims, and needs in order to protect herself and/or her children.  The batterer knows how to use other behaviors in addition to violence to keep the woman isolated and subordinate.  Backing up these behaviors with violence makes her escape near impossible.  An abuser chooses to batter because the choice is there to make and until quite recently, there have been no consequences for these actions.

The Power and Control Wheel was developed by the Duluth Abuse Intervention Project.  It describes behaviors that are used together as a system by batterers.  The Power and Control Wheel is drawn with violence as the rim and other behaviors as the spokes.  Just like a wheel, they depend upon and reinforce each other.

Each of these tactics help the batterer to maintain control over the woman.  The tactics are backed up and held together by violence and the threat of violence.  The woman is forced to comply with the abuserís demands because of the threat of physical harm.  Each action by the batterer puts another obstacle in place to prevent her escape.  All together, this system of behaviors builds barriers to a womanís escape far beyond the physical violence alone.

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