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Abuse Wheel

Using one of the tactics included in the wheel does not make one an abuser; however, it does show that there are problems in the relationship. If multiple tactics are being used, or if the behavior shows an ongoing pattern, there is deep cause for concern. If these tactics are used for the purpose of maintaining power and control over the partner, this would represent domestic violence. Remember, domestic violence includes a much broader range of behaviors than physical abuse.


Developed by:

Duluth Abuse Intervention Project
202 E. Superior, St.
Duluth, MN 55802
If you, or someone you love, is a victim of domestic violence, or if you fear they may be, please contact us or contact one of the many resources available.


Susan was repeatedly told that: She was “stupid”, “did not understand”, “could not understand”, “was an unfit mother”, ” a bad mother”,” bad house keeper”,  “foolish”, “worthless”.  She was intimidated by threats like “If you leave me…..”, “I will kill myself”, “I will never let you get the kids”, “you will have nothing”, “I will never give you a cent”, “you’ll have no place to go”, “your parents can’t help you”, “No one will believe you”.  All of these are lies, and abuse, intended to isolate and control the abused person.

Susan was successful as a full-time Cosmetologist (until she was forced to quit to help Josh get a new job), She was an Assistant manager with Josh for an assisted living facility, (a job they lost due to Josh), a Stock Broker providing investment advice to the public, a real estate agent (at Josh’s insistence), made enough money to pay all the bills, yet she was told by Josh that she was “not smart enough” to be given access to the family finances.  Her income paid all the bills, but she was told “if She left she would have nothing”  Susan’s abuser Josh believed what he was saying, he could not see the truth that he was the problem.   Abusers are masters of blaming everyone for everything, never for a minute considering their own problems.

It is often those who want to rescue and help people who are most vulnerable to the abuser.  Beware if you are the kind of person that feels sorry for the lost puppy, even though the puppy is sitting there looking sad, kicked to the curb along with a pile of garbage.  What you don’t know is that pile of garbage was once a brand new blanket provided by the last loving person to take pity on the puppy.  But you are sure you can do better because you are so loving and caring.    You may be right, or not.

The other person that is more susceptible to the abuser is the normal person, who excuses the oddities of the other person, and is sucked in by their “Aire of Superiority”, they seem so smart, they know everything about everything.  remember you know a lot too, just because you don’t talk all the time, doesn’t mean you don’t know anything.   Just because someone does talk all the time doesn’t mean they are right.  Beware the “used car salesman” or you might end up buying a lemon.

An average or normal person, has insecurities because they look in the mirror and know that they have faults, the abuser uses these normal feelings, by exaggerating them reinforcing them to make themselves superior.   Remember that although you are not perfect neither is anyone else.  Remember there is help.