Understanding the Abusive Relationship

Domestic violence in a relationship is about the abuser's use of power and control to get his/her way. The batterer has learned that conflicts are resolved with threats or force. When the partner does not behave in the desired way, the batterer uses power to punish the partner.

The relationship may not seem abusive at first. The abusive behaviors appear after the batterer feels that the partner is "hooked" in the relationship. The following behaviors are some of the ways that an abuser misuses power to control the partner.

  • Physically abusing the partner, children or animals
  • Threatening to harm the partner, the children, family animals
  • Threatening to leave or take the children
  • Destroying the partner's property
  • Showing sudden mood changes (nice to explosive anger)
  • Forcing unwanted sexual activity or using force during sex
  • Yelling, using demeaning names and put downs, playing mind games
  • Blaming the partner for causing the abusive behavior
  • Controlling money and bank accounts - may not let the partner have a job
  • Taking away the car keys or phone access Socially isolating the partner from family and friends Watching everything the partner does (checks car mi
  • Treating partner like a servant - makes all the big decisions

Why do people stay in abusive relationships? It takes the partner an average of seven times before successfully leaving the abusive relationship. Listed below are some of the key reasons why a partner stays in the relationship:

  • Fear. The risk of being murdered increases by 75% when the victim plans to leave the abuser. The person may fear losing their children or harming their immigration status.
  • No money. The person has no financial resources to be able to leave.
  • Psychological dependence. The abuser has destroyed the partner's confidence and self-esteem.
  • Lack of social support. The partner has been isolated and feels totally alone.
  • Religious and/or cultural beliefs. The person may be pushed to stay in the relationship and be encouraged to accept it.
  • The abuser promises to change. Many victims don't want to leave the relationship - they just want the abuse to stop.

Link to The Power and Control Wheel