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Pervasiveness and Complexity of Domestic Violence

Universally, domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that develops power and control over another individual by intimidation and fear. However, while exerting violence on a person, it often encompasses the threat of violence. In daily living domestic violence occurs in numerous dimensions, including physical and emotional abuse, threats, isolation, and economic control. Power and control are described to be more dangerous than physical abuse because of their role in domestic violence. Based on power, an abuser uses various tactics such as coercion, manipulation, and intimidation.

On the other hand, control restricts the autonomy of the victim, whereby the abuser uses techniques to control the victim’s behavior. According to the perspective, it is reinforced by the assertion that power and control cause long-lasting effects compared to physical abuse, which leaves visible scars on the victim. The essay aims to evaluate how power and management can be as or more dangerous than physical abuse by exploring insights delivered by several sources.

Consequently, power and control are regarded to be more dangerous when compared to physical abuse because it is associated with coercive control. However, coercive control involves a state whereby a close person consistently behaves, making one feel dependent, isolated, and controlled. Coercion control always aims at monopolizing and subjugating a partner. According to Frankland & Brown et al., power and control are more harmful than physical abuse because of the impacts of coercive control(Frankland & Brown, 2013). The authors suggest that coercive control, which has catastrophic effects, is composed of tactics that target exerting power and control over a person in an abusive relationship. As such coercive control stretches beyond the isolation level whereby an individual is restricted from interacting with friends and family. Also, coercive control goes beyond the level of surveillance, whereby abusers can use numerous surveillance methods to control and track their victims. It can occur by monitoring social media accounts and text messages and installing hidden cameras. Therefore, coercive control tactics gradually eliminate the victim’s autonomy and self-worth, leading to long-term psychological harm.

The power and control dynamic always propagates a cycle of abuse to intimate partner violence. Through the exertion of power and control over the partners, the abusers dominate and manipulate their victims, creating surrounding conducive to abuse. The article” Family Violence: Through the Lens of Power and Control” explores family violence that is composed of abusers who apply the maneuvers of economic control, intimidation and threats, and imbalance of power(Straka & Montminy, 2008). Delving on financial control, abusers exert control over their partners’ finances, which restricts them from escaping. Abusers can decide to limit their partners from accessing employment and education, making them vulnerable. In the instance of intimidation and threats, these are potential tools that are helpful to the abusers to control and instill fear in their relationships. Abusers use these tactics to generate an environment full of fear to control the behavior of their partners(Straka & Montminy, 2008). An imbalance of power is whereby the abuser is superior to their partner, therefore, controlling the victim’s actions, thoughts, and decisions. These tactics used by the abusers establish an atmosphere of fear that causes the victim to have anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

Gaslighting entails psychological manipulation whereby an abuser tends to underrate the victim’s sense of reality, which leads to doubts regarding sanity, thoughts, memories, and perception. Power and control are associated with gaslighting, which is dangerous because it functions in a psychological position that undermines the reality of a person. Sweet et al. argue that various tactics are involved in gaslighting, whereby abusers always practice, making the victims doubt the truth (Sweet, 2019). First is denial, whereby any gaslighted often denies participation in particular communication and events. Rejection makes the victim or the partner have various questions about their recollection. Secondly, is contradiction such that the abuser tends to confuse the thoughts and feelings of the victim. the contradiction is done through phrases such as “you are overeating.” Manipulation of others is another tactic whereby the gaslighter can turn to other individuals against the victim leading to isolation and doubts(Sweet, 2019). In addition, misdirection is applied by a gaslighter to divert the attention of the victim against their matters, which propagates doubts about their judgment. Besides, there are reasons why gaslighting is more harmful than physical abuse. For example, it is hidden in nature, has long-lasting effects, and is difficult to prove abuse.

Power and control are more dangerous than physical abuse because it encompasses tactics that quickly escalate over time. However, it is affirmed that abusers always regularly participate in the gradual selection of controlling behaviors which accelerates dominance and control over the victim. As such, some factors significantly contribute to the escalation, such as competition and scarcity, reinforcement and normalization, phycological aspects, and technological advancement (Walby & Towers, 2018). According to competition and scarcity, it is believed that in daily living, competition for the available resources is a norm. During the process in which people vie for help, the techniques used to acquire advantage become manipulative. Reinforcement and normalization posit that tactics used in power and control are supported in a particular context. Individuals sometimes can witness the successful tactics of others, which drives them to adopt them, therefore perpetuating a cycle of escalation. Psychological aspects entail human psychology, which helps escalate power and control tactics. Some people desire to control, which directs them to use coercive strategies consistently. Technological advancements have escalated the tactics of control and power because of various innovations that occur frequently. Technology provides tools purposely for exerting control and influence. Therefore, the daily progressions are challenging for the victim to identify the extent of the victimization bringing long-term exposure to phycological harm.

The perspective of power and control being more harmful than physical abuse is evident because its tactics have long-term effects on the victim’s life, even after abandoning the abusive relationship. According to Ditcher and Thomas et al., survivors of intimate partner violence continue to face emotional and psychological effects of power and control after the abuse ends (Dichter, Thomas, Crits-Christoph, Ogden, & Rhodes, 2018). As such, the psychological effects are composed of depression and anxiety, which affects the overall being of the victim; for the emotional effects, the authors claim that power and control encompass manipulative behaviors like blame-shifting, which affects the sense of reality. From the authors’ perspectives, there are other reasons why the victims are affected after the abusive relationship is over. For example, repeated cycles of abuse, lack of support, trauma bonding, and financial obstacles (Dichter, Thomas, Crits-Christoph, Ogden, & Rhodes, 2018). Following the factors or reasons that profoundly affect the victim indicates that the dangers of power and control are far-reaching. Hence, addressing the lasting effects of power and control is crucial through delivering comprehensive support to the survivors.

In summary, although physical abuse is readily acknowledged, the devastating impacts of power and control on a victim should not be underestimated. Power and control significantly disclose its sense of devastation compared to physical abuse in various ways. However, power and control are accompanied by coercive tactics, which have a psychological and emotional effects leading to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Various authors have presented their supportive ideas about the issue of power and control towards partners and in relationships. Power and control propagate the cycle of abuse, which is why the victims are affected for their entire lives. The repeated process makes it difficult for the intimate partners to elude the relationship. Besides, power and control are associated with gaslighting and manipulative tactics that influence the sense of self of the victim and support the authorities of the abuser. To recommend, it is vital to identify and find solutions to the nature of power and control among intimate partner violence to deliver reinforcement and shields for the affected persons.


Dichter, M. E., Thomas, K. A., Crits-Christoph, P., Ogden, S. N., & Rhodes, K. V. (2018). Coercive control in intimate partner violence: Relationship with women’s experience of violence, use of violence, and danger. Psychology of Violence8(5), 596–604.

Frankland, A., & Brown, J. (2013). Coercive Control in Same-Sex Intimate Partner Violence. Journal of Family Violence29(1), 15–22.

Straka, S., & Montminy, L. (2008). Family Violence: Through the Lens of Power and Control. Journal of Emotional Abuse8(3), 255–279.

Sweet, P. L. (2019). The Sociology of Gaslighting. American Sociological Review84(5), 851–875.

Walby, S., & Towers, J. (2018). Untangling the concept of coercive control: Theorizing domestic violent crime. Criminology & Criminal Justice18(1), 7–28.


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