Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Intimate Partner Abuse of Older Adults

Power and Control Wheel for Elder Abuse

This is the Power and Control Wheel for Elders.  You can use the wheel to identify tactics an abuser is using to maintain power and control over their victim.  If you are noticing a pattern of abusive behaviors that are impacting the way your client thinks, feels, or acts, they are probably a victim of abuse. Abusers will often minimize the impact of their behaviors, deny that they have done such things, and blame their abuse on the victim, stress, alcohol, drugs, and other factors.  One excuse they may give for their actions is caregiver stress.

Caregiver stress is a risk factor for abuse and neglect of older adults. The demands of daily care and support for even a more independent older person can cause significant caregiver stress.  Abusive behavior is sometimes blamed on resulting frustration and anger.  However, caregiver stress does not excuse abusive behavior.  Abuse is always a choice.  Many times the abuser of older adults need their victims for transportation, housing, financial assistance, and more.3  This can make such situations unique as both the victim and abuser may need the other to help fulfill their needs. 

Graphic: Control Wheel for elder abuse. Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. Adapted by Sojourn Services for Battered Women and Their Children.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Project

202 East Superior Street

Duluth, Minnesota 55802

218-722-2781

Adapted by Sojourn Services for Battered Women and Their Children. A project of OPCC

Used with permission


  1. “Domestic Abuse in Later Life,” Bonnie Brandl and Loree Cook-Daniels, 2002, pg. 6