The Power and Control Wheel was created in the early 1980s, by female survivors of domestic abuse, in America. It is now used worldwide to help show what abuse is and how an abuser works. It is often used to show the different types of abuse that exist and it can evidence that it is not only physical and sexual violence that can be used by an abuser to gain power and control.

The wheel demonstrates an abuser’s actions. It shows that an abusive relationship has, at its centre, the power and control the abuser needs to maintain dominance. The external ring of the wheel can show the barrier, the actions that an abuser may use to keep the victim in the relationship. Should they try to leave, they may be met with either of those types of abuse. It helps keep the victim ‘in their place’. The other sections are the different types of abuse that are not necessarily physical but emotional, verbal and psychological abuse.

What works to keep you in your place, may not work on someone else, as they may have different vulnerabilities that can be tapped into and used against them.

There are many and varied actions shown, some that people may not realise are abuse. We may all exhibit some of these actions at times, but when carried out with power and control as the motive, as the end result, they are abusive. Some feel that these other types of abuse are more damaging, certainly in the long run, than physical abuse.

Bruises heal, but being told you are useless, fat, ugly, worthless, mad, a bad parent, an awful partner, can all sit in the heart and mind for many years and can destroy other future relationships, through lack of self-worth.

The Equality Wheel suggests a relationship with no barrier. If this relationship is not working, both people are free to leave with no fear of physical or sexual abuse. The sections here hold the attributes we should all have and exhibit in an open, honest, trusting, respectful relationship. Look at each suggestion – are we asking too much? Are we asking the impossible?

All actions will find a place on the wheels.

Not all sections may be met in all relationships but, in all relationships (whether intimate, familial, friendships, professional, governmental), one of the wheels is more fitting than the other…..which one is more your relationship with your partner?

There are many other wheels available on line – same sex relationships, gender neutral relationships, teenagers, different languages, children’s abuse and nurturing, immigrant wheels.