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Crime Prevention > Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence | Child Witnesses | Cycle of Violence | Power & Control | Resources | Safety Planning | Domestic Violence Pamphlet (pdf)

The Cycle of Domestic Violence

The Cycle of Domestic Violence usually occurs in four phases: Tension Building Phase, The Incident, Reconciliation and Calm.

The cycle can happen hundreds of times in an abusive relationship. Each stage lasts a different amount of time in a relationship, with the total cycle taking from a few hours to a year or more to complete.

It is important to remember that not all domestic violence relationships fit the cycle. Often, as time goes on, the reconciliation and calm stages may disappear.

  • Any type of abuse occurs (physical, sexual, emotional)
  • Tension starts to build
  • Minor incident begins
  • Breakdown of communication
  • Victim feels the need to placate the abuser
  • Tension becomes unbearable

  • Abuser apologizes for abuse
  • Promises it will never happen again
  • Blames victim for provoking abuse
  • Denies abuse took place or that it is as bad as victim claims
  • Gift giving by abuser
  • Incident is "forgotten"
  • No abuse is taking place
  • Some promises made during reconciliation are met
  • Hope on the part of the victim that the abuse is over

Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
206 West Fourth Street
Duluth, Minnesota 55806

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Power & Control

Power & Control - The Duluth Wheel

This diagram was created by the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, Minnesota, as part of its program to help people convicted of domestic assault learn to identify their violent behaviours and alternatives to violence.

The wheel maps violence into eight sectors:

  • Coercion and threats
  • Intimidation
  • Economic abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Gender-privilege
  • Isolation
  • Using children
  • Minimizing, denying and blaming

The respective target behaviour for each sector is:

  • Negotiation and fairness
  • Non-threatening behaviour
  • Economic partnership
  • Respect
  • Shared responsibility
  • Trust and support
  • Responsible parenting
  • Honesty and accountability



Using coercion and threats
  • making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt
  • threatening to leave victim, to commit suicide, to report victim to welfare
  • making victim drop charges
  • making victim do illegal things
Negotiation and fairness
  • seeking mutually satisfying resolutions to conflict
  • accepting change
  • being willing to compromise
Using intimidation
  • making victim afraid by using looks, actions, gestures smashing things
  • destroying victim's property
  • abusing pets
  • displaying weapons
Non-threatening behaviour
  • talking and acting so that victim feels safe and comfortable expressing oneself and doing things
Using economic abuse
  • preventing victim from getting or keeping a job
  • making victim ask for money
  • giving victim an allowance
  • taking victim's money
  • not letting victim know about or have access to family income
Economic partnership
  • making money decisions together
  • making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements
Using emotional abuse
  • putting victim down
  • making victim feel bad about self - calling victim names
  • making victim think she's crazy
  • playing mind games
  • humiliating victim 
  • making victim feel guilty
  • listening to victim non-judgmentally
  • being emotionally affirming and understanding
  • valuing opinions
Using gender privilege
  • treating victim like a servant
  • making all the big decisions
  • acting like the 'master of the house'
  • being the one to define male and female roles
Shared responsibility
  • mutually agreeable on a fair distribution of work
  • making family decisions together
Using isolation
  • controlling what victim does, who victim sees and talks to, what victim reads, where victim goes
  • limiting victim outside involvement
  • using jealousy to justify actions
Trust and support
  • supporting victim's goals in life
  • respecting victim's right to own feelings, friends, activities and opinions
Using children
  • making victim feel guilty about the children
  • using the children to relay messages
  • using visitation to harass victim 
  • threatening to take the children away
Responsible parenting
  • sharing parental responsibilities
  • being a positive non-violent role model for the children
Minimizing, denying and blaming
  • making light of the abuse and not taking victim's concerns about it seriously
  • saying the abuse didn't happen
  • shifting responsibility for abusive behaviour
  • saying victim caused it
Honesty and accountability
  • accepting responsibility for self
  • acknowledging past use of violence
  • admitting being wrong
  • communicating openly and truthfully

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"An Internationally Accredited Law Enforcement Agency"
Last update: August 19, 2008

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