Controlling relationships

Controlling behaviour happens over time. It is a pattern of behaviour that a person uses to have power over another person and to control them. It is a violation of trust. Controlling behaviour is not always obvious and can be a sign of an abusive relationship.



Signs of Controlling Behaviour

The below are some signs of contolling behaviour to look out for in a relationship. Domestic and family violence usually starts slowly. It is about power and control, which is why controlling behaviour is often the greatest warning sign. 

  • Ignoring you or refusing to talk to you. This could be for any length of time, an hour, a day or more
  • Continuous criticism. This could be about your life choices from the past, or your appearance, 
  • Isolating you from your family and/or friends. Telling you who you can and cannot spend time with. Eg: I don’t like you hanging out with your sister/specific friend
  • Going through your text messages, emails and social media
  • Telling you what you can and cannot wear, and/or using derogatory language about how you look when you wear certain clothing
  • Telling you were you can and cannot go
  • Controlling how much money you have
  • Threatening to disclose things about what you have done in your past that family/friends may not know of
  • Threatening to publish private information ie photos, video
  • Emotional blackmail, for example “If you loved me, you would …”
  • Rape
  • Threats to hurt or kill


    The Power and Control Wheel

    Power and control are at the centre of physically and sexually abusive relationships. The Power and Control Wheel demonstrates this. It shows the various tactics an abusive partner uses to maintain power and control in a relationship. Controlling behaviours can be one sign of domestic violence and abusive relationships.

    Power and Control Wheel


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