Patriarchy and male dominant systems create a social structure, a hierarchy, which perpetuates the domination of women and children, ones with lesser power, in society. The structure is maintained by a number of external social forces, one being governing laws. What then occurs is the systematic oppression of women – their feelings, ideas, desires, value, and activity – within society, communities, family, and relationships. The power and control wheel visually identifies the types of behaviour and tactics used by oppressive systems and partners that keep women in an abusive relationship.

Tactics to maintain power and control over women include isolation, intimidation, humiliation, blame, force, threats, and physical abuse. These tactics will follow a systematic pattern used by the abuser. What then happens is the woman will begin to change her behaviours in order to protect herself; yet the abuser will change tactics used and escalate in his abusive and controlling behaviours.

“All I knew was that something was wrong, but I couldn’t fix it no matter what I did for him. There was just so much pain, I had to close my eyes to it to survive. But, my eyes are now open. I clearly see the road ahead and what I need to do to be free. I no longer blame myself for what happened. I have learned to understand abuse for what it is and how it played a major part of my life and marriage.”

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Patriarchy and male domi