The Power and Control Wheel

The Power and Control Wheel was so powerful in my journey. When I saw it for the first time, I was stunned. How did someone know what was going on in my marriage? It wasn’t like someone was “reading my mail”; it was like someone was living my life. I knew the insults, put downs, and name calling from my spouse were “bad,” but for those behaviors to be called abuse was both validating and overwhelming. And then everything else on The Wheel…how did someone know all this stuff?! (How they knew was that The Wheel was developed by listening to the individual stories of abuse survivors and identifying common behaviors and patterns.) The crazy-making was in full force, so I often didn’t know which end was up. How can a relationship be so confusing and disorienting? But here it was in black and white. These behaviors were tactics; they were strategic, not random.

My eyes went to the “using emotional abuse” section. Each of those strategies was being used. Then I read “using economic abuse” because that had always been a deeply painful and shaming area of my marriage. I had not recognized the unrelenting patterns of financial control were not about me or about money; they were about maintaining power and control over me. As I read my way around the wheel, a new understanding was awakening inside me. This researched information gave me answers I desperately needed, and it raised so many more questions.

I would encourage you to start with a section or two on The Wheel. If a couple of sections resonate, then stop at that point; there is no value in overwhelming yourself. If you find your relationship described on The Wheel, I’d be honored to have a conversation with you. Or you can share it with a trusted friend or counselor. Revelations like this are easier to process with someone you trust alongside you. Seeing your relationship clearly can be painful, but it is a necessary step for healing.

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