What are the Roots of Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence and other types of violent relationships are based on power and control. If one partner feels the need to dominate the other in any shape or form, it is significantly more likely a relationship will turn violent. Research has shown that people with abusive tendencies generally turn violent when they feel out of control. The Power and Control Wheel, originally developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, Minnesota, shows the abusive and violent pattern perpetrators use to get and maintain power and control.

Childhood experiences

It is possible an abuser may have witnessed domestic violence during childhood and understood violence to be a way to maintain control within a family.

Major life changes

An increased risk of domestic violence may occur during a significant shift in life, such as pregnancy or a family member’s illness. The perpetrator may feel left out or neglected and looks to find control in these situations.

Economic circumstances

Job loss, housing foreclosures, or debt can increase stress levels at home, which can lead to violence. Financial difficulties can also limit options for survivors to seek safety or escape.


Victims may try to leave the relationship causing the perpetrator to become more abusive to maintain control. The abuser may feel abandoned or insecure creating a greater risk for abuse for victims.

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