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Battered Men - The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence
Batterer Treatment Programs

The Faulty Duluth Model

The "Duluth Model"
Power and Control Wheel
A version for female perpetrators.

Domestic violence is a people problem, not a gender issue. Women are hurt by not getting the batterer treatment they need.

© 1998, 2002 by Bert H. Hoff


The "Duluth Model Power and Control Wheel" attributes domestic violence to male oppression of women. This is gender-polarizing, as we point out in the MenWeb article What's Wrong with the "Duluth Model"?. MenWeb has modified a model developed by Tom Graves, which he calls an inverted model, designed for female perpetrators and homosexual male perpetrators of domestic violence.

Duluth Model power and control wheel

Duluth Model power and control wheel.
Revised for female perpetrators

Control and abuse (destructive) Equality (constructive)
Using coercion and threats
  • making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt him
  • threatening to leave him, to commit suicide, to report him to welfare
  • threatening to call 911, say he was the abuser
  • threatening to file false domestic violence, restraining order or child sexual abuse charges
  • making him drop charges
  • making him do illegal things
  • Denying or refusing to access to needed medical care or medications
Negotiation and fairness
  • seeking mutually satisfying resolutions to conflict
  • accepting change
  • being willing to compromise
Using intimidation
  • making him afraid by using looks, actions, gestures
  • smashing things
  • destroying his property
  • threatening to falsely accuse him of DV; daring him to phone 911
  • displaying weapons (such as knives)
Non-threatening behaviour
  • talking and acting so that he feels safe and comfortable expressing himself and doing things
Using economic abuse
  • refusing to contribute income to basic expenses
  • making him ask for money
  • giving him an allowance
  • taking his money
  • not letting him know about or have access to family income
  • Forcing him to take higher-paying, more hazardous, less satisfying job
  • preventing him from getting or keeping a job
Economic partnership
  • making money decisions together
  • making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements
Using emotional abuse
  • putting him down
  • making him feel bad about himself
  • using sex as a weapon; withholding sex except as a "reward"
  • calling him names
  • making him think he's crazy
  • playing mind-games
  • humiliating him
  • making him feel guilty
  • listening to him non-judgmentally
  • being emotionally affirming and understanding
  • sharing responsibility for mutually-satisfying intimacy
  • valuing opinions
Using gender privilege
  • treating him like a servant
  • treating him as just a wallet
  • making all the big decisions
  • acting like the 'mistress of the house'
  • being the one to define male and female roles
Shared responsibility
  • mutually agreeing on a fair distribution of work
  • making family decisions together
Using isolation
  • controlling what he does, who he sees and talks to, what he reads, where he goes
  • limiting his outside involvement
  • using jealousy to justify actions
Trust and support
  • supporting his goals in life
  • respecting his right to his own feelings, friends, activities and opinions
Using children
  • making him feel guilty about the children
  • using the children to relay messages
  • alienating children from him
  • using visitation to harass him
  • threatening to take the children away
Responsible parenting
  • sharing parental responsibilities
  • being a positive non-violent role model for the children
Minimising, denying and blaming
  • making light of the abuse and not taking his concerns about it seriously
  • saying the abuse didn't happen
  • shifting responsibility for abusive behaviour
  • saying he deserved it
  • saying he caused it
  • saying it was the only way he would pay attention
Honesty and accountability
  • accepting responsibility for self
  • acknowledging past use of violence
  • admitting being wrong
  • communicating openly and truthfully

Criticisms of the Duluth Wheel Approach



Tom Graves, author
Gender-neutral model

  • It's about blaming and shaming men, more than giving them the insights and support to help them stop their abusive behavior.
  • It's based on ideology, not science.
  • It ignores drinking, drugs, Borderline Personality Disorder and other serious psychological problems.
  • It says there is only one cause for domestic violence, and only one solution.
  • There's no real evidence it works.
  • It ignores domestic violence by women.
  • Women who need help can't get it.
  • It's taught by "wounded healers."
  • It's a gender-polarizing approach that only serves to perpetrate the "battle of the sexes."

  1. It assumes that violence is, in essence, 'male'.
  2. There is an implicit refusal - and in practice generally an explicit refusal - to acknowledge any violence done to men, especially by women.
  3. All responsibility for reducing violence and for creating co-operation is assigned to men - which in effect denies women any power to change their own circumstances, and consequently keeps them trapped in a subordinate 'victim' role.
  4. The methodology is intended to create responsible attitudes by challenging existing behaviour: yet programmes are often presented to men by women in a blaming, punitive environment, which is immediately counter-productive.


Suggested Revisions (Graves)

These problems are addressed in the following suggested revision of the Duluth Wheel methodology.

  1. Violence by both sexes is included in the discussion, by stating that the different gendered forms of violence are opposite sides of the same coin. Violence is acknowledged to be a human problem with some socially-mediated gender-overtones, rather than a gender-problem as such.
  2. The problem of evasion of responsibility by attempting to shift blame to 'the other' is resolved by stating that each person only has responsibility for their own behaviour, but it includes behaviour which may invite abuse by others, as well that which is abusive of others. ...
  3. Wherever practicable, programmes should be facilitated by peers of the participants - people of the same sex, race and socio-economic group. ...

Click here to return to the article on what's wrong with the Duluth model.
Click Here for m ore detail on woman-perpetrator and gender-neutral "Duluth Model" Power and Control Wheels.
Click here to return to the article on the gender-polarization of the Duluth model.

  What's Wrong with the Duluth Model?
     Blame and shame, not help. Ideology, not science. Ignores drinking, drugs, pathology, violence by women. One cause, one solution. Taught by "wounded healers." Gender-polarizing-perpetrates the "battle of the sexes"
  Duluth Model Successfully Challenged
     Programs gets North Carolina regulation mandating Duluth Model set aside
  It's Such Bullshit
     Anger Management for Men is Such Bullshit. It made me suicidal
  It's About Male Oppression of women
     preaches the "Duluth Model."
  Domestic Violations
     Cathy Young. Where there's mutual violence, joint counseling offers the best solution. But it's not allowed.
  Why Women Batter
     "He wasn't sensitive to my needs." "He wasn't listening."


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