What is Domestic Violence?

Definition of Domestic Violence

A pattern of coercive tactics used by perpetrators to establish and maintain power and control over the victim.

Learn about:

Identifying Domestic Violence Domestic Violence and Children Information on Abusers

Tactics of Power and Control

Abuse is a choice. It’s not about an abuser losing control – it’s about an abuser doing whatever it takes to maintain power and control.

Power and Control Wheel English

Here are tactics of abuse:

Using intimidation

Making victim afraid by using looks, actions, gestures, smashing things, destroying victim’s property, abusing pets, displaying weapons.


Using emotional abuse

Putting victim down, making victim feel bad about her/himself, calling victim names, making victim think she/he is crazy, playing mind games, humiliating victim, making victim feel guilty.

Using isolation

Controlling what victim does, who victim sees and talks to, what victim reads, where victim goes, limiting victim’s outside involvement, using jealousy to justify actions.


Using children

Making victim feel guilty about the children, using the children to relay messages, using visitation to harass victim, threatening to take children away.

Using male privilege

Treating victim like a servant, making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the house,” being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.


Using financial 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.

Using coercion and threats

Making and/or carrying out threats to hurt victim or children, threatening to leave victim, to commit suicide, to report victim to welfare/immigration/child protection, making victim drop charges, coercing victim to do illegal things.


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 behavior, saying victim caused it.

The Cycle of Violence


Love – Hope – Fear

Love, Hope, and Fear keep the cycle in motion.

  • Love for the partner (the relationship has its good points, it’s not all bad)
  • Hope that it will change (the relationship didn’t begin like this)
  • Fear (that the threats to harm or even kill you or your family will become a reality)