About Power and Control in Aggressive Relationships


  • Gabriela IRIMESCU Associate Professor,PhD, „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”University of Iaşi, Sociology and Social Work Department
  • Mihaela RĂDOI Associate Professor,PhD, „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”University of Iaşi, Sociology and Social Work Department
  • Atena GASPAR de ALMEIDA SANTOS Presidente of AFECT Organisation


power, control, aggressiveness, “learning helplessness”.


Power denotes the ability to take decisions for you and for the others, to influence, to control. Power is manifested in any type of relationships; it creates patterns, hierarchies, rules and models. Distributed inequitably, owned by only one family member, the power and imbalance created by it can lead to a tense, unhealthy, frustrating environment for the one or those who do not hold power. Gambling with power and the desire to control the partner, the relationship and the family life will lead, in units of time subjectively perceived by the involved actors, to an intra- marital war, a battle with no winners but only with losers. The present study is based on both the theory of learned helplessness, as it is presented by Lenore Walker (1988, 2009, 2012) in her studies about the Battered Woman Syndrome as well as the theory of the power and control wheel, described by Dutto and Starzomski (1997) and used in the Duluth model. In this paper the power is analyzed as a form of capture of the woman in a model of control used by the man to dominate her. In this algorithm the power is not singular but preceded, accompanied or followed by other techniques such as intimidation, isolation and threat. Within the control-power dynamics investigated in the present study the fear is a winner: it takes the shape of loss, mistrust, blackmail, manipulation or compromise, fear is creating dependence, is blocking or freeing the victim from the power and control game, fear is also the key element in learned helplessness


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