- In 2003, Lundy Bancroft and Jay Silverman’s “The Batterer as Parent,” listing the traits and tactics of an abuser as an intimate partner, became the inspiration for the “glue” holding the Power & Control wedges together, becoming the “Batterer Traits.”
- From 2003-2005, the language of “co-occurrence,” meaning the dual family dynamics of domestic violence and child maltreatment, informed my understanding of other family system issues (such as substance abuse, mental illness, incest, divorce, blended families, etc.) adding a layer of confusion, necessitating “Family Dynamics.”
- In 2004, Praxis International distributed an “expanded” Power & Control Wheel laid out in three concentric circles, capturing the fact that victims have to break through cultural and institutional barriers to be safe. This was an essential break-through in visualizing the maze.
- In 2007, I created one-page “refresher” tools for a domestic violence curriculum that child welfare workers could reference for best-practice casework with families living with an abuser. “Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?” listed both life- and system-generated risks to victims leaving violence, and became the basis for two more layers of the finished wheel (“Victim Barriers” and “Social Ties”).
- In 2009, “Coercive Control” by Evan Stark was published, giving me the label for my wheel, as “coercive control” better illustrates the reality of the abuser’s intentions and the victim’s experience.
- In 2010, analysis with a close sister advocate helped me deconstruct the “honeymoon phase” from the “Cycle of Violence” into “Luring and Grooming.” Just like pedophiles use manipulation, charm and bribery to exert power and control over their child victims, perpetrators of domestic violence do, also; their charm is NOT an effort to change. Another wedge was added to the wheel.
- The original Power & Control Wheel included “Using Children” as a wedge in the wheel. The reason I chose not to do so is because it is important to recognize that perpetrators of family violence use the exact same tactics of coercion and control on the children as they do on their adult victims. Making “Using Children” as a slice in the bigger pie, to me, felt like children’s experiences were minimized. For more information on how perpetrators use tactics of coercion and control on children, see the brochure titled, “Children Who Live Domestic Violence.”
- In finalizing the wheel in 2011, I switched the order of “Institutions” and “Culture” from the expanded Duluth wheel, as the court system is ultimately the universally recognized authority and barrier that victims must safely navigate to get themselves and their children out.
- In 2011, I truly thought my wheel was “done.” But then in June of 2017, I attended a conference on using creative arts in healing from interpersonal violence, and reflection on a workshop in which I participated made me realize that “Systemic Oppression” was missing, and crucial in understanding the total victim experience.
Each layer of the wheel is “incomplete,” as it is not possible, with the limits of page size and computer program, to enumerate ALL of the factors that go into each layer (for example, “Systemic Oppression” is missing “victim blaming,” and “police brutality”). But each should have enough examples to allow the viewer to mentally add in their own, making the wheel illustrative of their individual experience.
The wheel is confusing and overwhelming to look at, but that’s the point: if it is confusing and overwhelming for people with no traumatic experience to wade through, how much more intimidating must all of this be for victim/ survivors?
The original Power & Control Wheels were created by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP), 202 E Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55802; Phone number: 218.722.2781; Web site: www.theduluthmodel.org.
For permission to reprint this tool, please contact Kathy Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.