Power and Control: The Anatomy of Domestic Abuse

By Nancy L. Rommelmann, Family Law Attorney –

Domestic violence has been identified as one of the major causes of emergency room visits by women in recent times. The following behaviors are symptomatic of the anatomy of an abuser/victim relationship. If you see yourself in the following behaviors, seek professional help immediately to get out of the abyss of abuse.

Using Intimidation – Making her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures, smashing things, destroying her property, abusing pets, displaying weapons

Using Emotional Abuse – Putting her down, making her feel bad about herself, calling her names, making her think she’s crazy, playing mind games, humiliating her, making her feel guilty

Using Isolation – Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, where she goes, limiting her outside involvement, using jealousy to justify actions

Denying, Minimizing and Blaming – Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously, saying the abuse didn’t happen, shifting responsibility for abusive behavior, saying she caused it

Using Children – Making her feel guilty about the children, using the children to relay messages, using visitation to harass her, threatening to take the children away

Using Male Privilege – Treating her like a servant, making all of the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle,” being the one to define men’s and women’s roles

Using Economic Abuse – Preventing her from getting or keeping a job, making her ask for money, giving her an allowance, taking her money, not letter her know about or have access to family

Using Coercion and Threats – Making or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her, threatening to leave her, to commit suicide, to report her to welfare, making her drop charges, making her do illegal things

Emotional abuse is far more common than physical abuse, and its consequences are equally devastating. A great book on this topic is Anger Busting 101 – New ABCs for Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them written by Houstonian Newton Hightower.


“Please don’t ever blame yourself  or feel like you deserve it.”