”Domestic violence involves a range of behaviours which can include physical and sexual violence; using coercion and threats; using intimidation; using emotional abuse, using isolation; minimizing, denying and blaming; using children; using male privilege; and using economic abuse. These forms of abuse do not occur in isolation from each other, but rather occur simultaneously.”
The Power and Control Wheel theory is based on research gathered from working with domestic abuse victims, which shows that the behaviour of abusers is not random or arbitrary, but purposeful and systematic. The goal of abusers’ behaviour is to exert control over their partners. They believe it is their right to rule every detail and movement of their partner. The various forms of abuse, the different behaviours, are all used as tactics of control.
This model also has a separate, contrasting wheel called the Equality Wheel, which shows the balance and harmony that exists in healthy relationships where both parties are equal. The Equality Wheel model illustrates equality at the center of a healthy relationship. When both partners in a relationship believe they are equal, and neither tries to gain power and control over the other, the result is a non-violent and healthy relationship.
The Cycle of Violence theory says that domestic abuse follows a certain pattern. This does not only apply to husbands but can also apply to your in-laws and own family.
• Abuse – Your abuser shows aggression towards you verbally, physically or sexually. He wants to show you he is in control and he owns you.
• Guilt – Having abused you – your abuser now feels guilty out of fear that you will tell someone and he will get into trouble with his/your family. He is less worried about mistreating you and more about what others will say.
• Excuses – Your abuser tries to rationalise his abusive behaviour by making up excuses in his mind so he can blame you for his actions. This is so he doesn’t have to shoulder responsibility for what he did.
• “Normal” behavior — The abuser realises the way he treats you is not right. Now, he does everything he can to make sure he can control you to prevent you from leaving him. You will find him acting completely normal, as if nothing has happened and he may even go out of his way to be nice and kind to you. This is to give you the false hope that he feels bad about what happened and he has changed. Do not be fooled by this act. A good way to tell if he has really changed is to see if he acts abusive towards you again. If he does, then you know it was an act.
• Fantasy and planning – Your abuser gets pleasure when he thinks about abusing you again. He makes you ‘walk on eggshells’, watching your every move, or perhaps having his family spy on you. He wants to find excuses to make you pay so he can complete his fantasy about hurting you.
• Set-up – This is where your abuser deliberately sets you up. He makes a plan, creating a scene to make you do something he can later punish you for. He wants to make sure he can convince you later on that ‘it was your fault’.
Whether you are newly married or in a long-established relationship, it is understandable that the ‘normal behaviour’ (apologies, gifts, loving gestures) between the instances of abuse may make it harder to leave. You might feel pressured because everybody tells you how great your husband is, or you don’t want to bring shame to your family. Whatever the reason, remember: men who abuse like abusing. They can stop whenever they want. You may think you can change him but the reality is that if you stay, you may be putting yourself in grave danger.