Tools of the Attacker - Teen Dating Violence

5 Types of Abusive Behaviors

PHYSICAL ABUSE.    Any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking or using a weapon.


VERBAL / EMOTIONAL ABUSE.    Non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking.


SEXUAL ABUSE.    Any action that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion or restricting access to birth control.


DIGITAL ABUSE.    Use of technologies and/or social media networking to intimidate, harass or threaten a current or ex-dating partner. This could include demanding passwords, checking cell phones, cyber bullying, sexting, excessive or threatening texts or stalking on Facebook or other social media.

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Violence Wheel

How does an abuser gain and maintain control of another person? They use physical, verbal, sexual, and emotional violence over and over again.

Violence Wheel: Teen Dating Violence
This chart is a way of looking at the behaviors abusers use to get and keep control in their relationships. Battering is a choice. It is used to gain power and control over another person. Physical abuse is only one part of a system of abusive behaviors.

Wheel of Violence

Check This Out. Here's an interactive violence wheel that may help in understanding this power and control pattern of abuse.

More Information. For a comprehensive description of wheel models, the history of how they were developed, and why they’re used, visit “The Deluth Model” website:

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The Three T’s

The 3 T's of Sexual Assault is the basic plan of the attacker: Target, Test, Trick.

   The Attacker’s Plan
Stage Characteristics Defense Strategy
1.Target Selection process: Who looks and acts like a “victim”? Predators look for targets that appear weak, distracted, and vulnerable (Vogt, 7). (See, “Cues for Assessment: Body Language”) Prevent successful targeting: head up, eyes open. Be Aware: look around, pay attention. Project Confidence.
2. Test Can also be considered an “interview” (Vogt, 38). The test is a verbal and psychological interaction (conversation) meant to assert dominance; friendly, impersonal; minutes to hours; “threats and intimidation are common during this stage as assailants test their victims for compliance and submissiveness” (Nelson: 14). Interrupt the process of dominance immediately by leaving the vicinity (retreat/avoidance); and/or assertive language and verbal commands; and/or yelling, and/or a strong, clear physical response.
3. Trick Physical aggression (if test phase not interrupted) Respond quickly and with certainty. A key factor to deter an unarmed sexual assailant is immediate and firm resistance (confrontation).
Source: Nelson, 14
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