Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic violence. They are usually the actions that allow others to become aware of the problem.
Regular use of other abusive behaviors by the batterer, when reinforced by one or more acts of physical violence, make up a larger system of abuse. Although physical assaults may occur only once or occasionally, they instill the threat of future violent attacks. They allow the abuser to take control of the woman’s life and circumstances.
The Power and Control diagram is a particularly helpful tool in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors. These are used by a batterer to establish and maintain control over his partner. Very often, one or more violent incidents are accompanied by an array of other types of abuse. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship.
The Power and Control Wheel (PDF)