There are many different factors that contribute to domestic violence. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has identified 28 social, community, personality, early childhood, and other individual factors (1). Similarly, a 32-nation study identified 24 risk factors for intimate partner aggression, of which the need for dominance was only one (2).

To assess whether the need for dominance is a factor in the abuse, the counselor can ask the client, male or female, these questions (adapted from the Dominance sub-scale of the Personal and Relationships Profile (3)):

  • “Do you generally have the final say when you and your partner disagree?”
  • “Do you sometimes have to remind your partner who’s the boss?”
  • “Do you insist on knowing where your partner is at all times?”


If a need for dominance is part of the abuse picture, SAVE’s gender-inclusive Power and Control Wheel can be a useful educational tool for both the victim and the offender:  



Kline JA. The Whole Truth about Domestic Violence. Dillon, CO: Swan Mountain Press. 2003. Chapter 3.


(1) Centers for Disease Control: Intimate Partner Violence: Risk and Protective Factors.

(2) Straus MA. Dominance and Symmetry in Partner Violence by Male and Female University Students in 32 Nations. Children and Youth Services Review. Vol. 30, 2008. pp. 252-275.

(3) Straus MA, Hamby SL. The Personal and Relationships Profile. University of New Hampshire. 1999.

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