Post-Separation Abuse Featured in the New Duluth Power and Control Wheel
*Chris Godsey lives, teaches writing, and works as an ally in the movement to end men’s violence against in Duluth, MN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Renita Robinson is a Trainer with DAIP on post-separation violence, and the Executive Director of the Committee Against Domestic Abuse(CADA) in Mankato, MN; she can be reached by email: renitar@ inspire-hope.org/.
This article appeared in Domestic Violence Report, August! September 2013.
In this article, authors Chris Godsey and Renita Robinson describe the Duluth Post-Separation Power and Control Wheel, which depicts the commonplace tactics used by batterers to continue their battering during the post-separation period. These tactics typically involve the manipulation of the children and of the mother’s relationship to them.
Any reader who is familiar with domestic violence custody cases is likely to recognize these strategies in cases they have seen.
Since the post-separation period is the most dangerous time for a victim, it would seem exceptionally important for battered women, along with their lawyer and other allies, to be able to recognize these tactics and do everything to put a stop to them before the batterer is allowed to continue wreaking emotional and psychological havoc on the victims and their children.
Battering survivors, their advocates, and many practitioners know that when a woman escapes a man who abuses her, she and their children usually face intensified dangers. Experience tells them that he will begin using their children, the effects of his past abuse, and his potential for more violence as tools in new forms of force in his efforts to engage systems and institutions in maintaining power and control over her.
In more than 20 years of working to protect battered mothers and their children while holding fathers who batter accountable, the Duluth Family Visitation Center (DFVC) has become well-versed in articulating and accounting for post-separation violence dynamics. DFVC is a division of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP), the organization that in the early 1980s developed the Duluth Model philosophy for responding to domestic violence and the original “Power and Control Wheel.” The Model and the Wheel are now international standards for people and organizations working to understand and end men’s violence against women. DFVC is responsible for supervising and carefully documenting visits and exchanges among violent fathers, their children, and mothers who have survived abuse. This task puts DFVC employees in a unique position to identify tactics that can be easy to miss or misconstrue, and to help other practitioners to better understand these dynamics. DFVC developed vocabulary that eventually became the “Using Children Post Separation Wheel” while supervising visits between fathers and children and working with mothers in their Safe Transitions Healthy Families Program and their Strong Moms and Safe Kids support group.