Understanding Domestic Abuse

What is Domestic Abuse?

The US Department of Justice defines domestic abuse as, "a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. this includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone."

Is it normal marital conflict? Or something more?

The words "pattern" and "power and control" are the key difference between abuse and normal marriage conflict. Normal marital conflict involves both spouses who are willing to take responsibility for their actions and work on issues that would result in marital harmony in a mutually respectful way. This is NOT the working model with domestic abuse.

An abusive man is typically unwilling to take responsibility for his actions, thus making resolving conflict virtually impossible. It is NOT about having a clearner house, better meals, or quieter kids. Simply put, it is about power and control.

Although there are reasons for abuse, there is NEVER an excuse for it.

Why Couples Counseling Isn't Recommended

Four Important Facts to Remember


1. Abuse is not your fault

2. You don't deserve to be treated in this way.

3. Abuse is NOT normal marriage conflict.

4. Left on its own, abusive behavior will get progressively worse over time.

Tools for Understanding Abuse

Power and Control Wheel


The Power and Control Wheel describes the behaviors mentioned the definition of domestic violence in more detail.

Download Power and Control Wheel

Cycle of Abuse


  • Over time, the cycle repeats itself more often and with greater intensity.
  • The Calm Phase eventually diminishes, and the victim is constantly walking on eggshells and trying to keep the peace in her home.
  • This cycle keeps many women in their abusive relationships.
  • This is just another form of manipulation unless true repentance is being pursued.
Download Cycle of Abuse

Spiritual Abuse


Download Spiritual Abuse PDF