Wheel of Intimate Partner Power and Control in the African American/Black Community

A significant gathering of individuals, stories and information led to the development of the Wheel of Intimate Partner Power and Control in the African American/Black Community (Wheel). The Wheel was developed from 2013-2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana, by the New Orleans Blueprint for Safety Disparate Impact Strategic Planning Committee. A list of organizations and individuals on the Committee is listed under the Acknowledgments section below.

In 2012, New Orleans was selected as one of three Demonstration Sites by the Office on Violence Against Women to adapt and implement Praxis International’s Blueprint for Safety Model. The Blueprint for Safety, a comprehensive approach to coordinated community response and criminal legal system reform, is guided by six foundational principles, including “Act in ways that reduce unintended consequences and the disparity of impact on victims and offenders.” During the adaptation phase of the New Orleans Blueprint for Safety the project focused attention on the city’s disproportionately high arrest rate of Black women for domestic violence incidents[1].

The Blueprint project brought together Black women who had been collectively advocating and organizing for Black women and families in the New Orleans community for 30+ years to form the Disparate Impact Strategic Planning Committee (Committee) to address the arrest of Black women for domestic violence. At its first meeting in 2013, the Committee set several goals and priorities. One was creating a Power & Control Wheel adaptation to represent Black women’s experiences with abuse. At that time, there were many adaptations of the original Power & Control Wheel for many culturally distinct communities, but no adaptation could be found for intimate partner violence in the African American community. The Committee wanted to break down the myths and misunderstandings about Black women’s experiences with intimate partner violence and create a domestic violence resource for Black women, created by Black women.

The Wheel captures information from local and national sources. The Committee pulled core themes and examples to use on the Wheel from a national literature review on Black women’s experiences with intimate partner violence.

The five most common shared experiences of Black women were:

  • stereotypes
  • mistrust in the criminal legal system and social services
  • re-victimizing of victims
  • lack of cultural competency
  • resistance to victimization

The Committee also held listening sessions with over 40 Black women in New Orleans who identified as having experienced abuse and for many, arrest for domestic violence. The listening sessions reflected the five shared experiences found in the literature review. The  women also described how various other systemic, social, economic, and political barriers impacted how they navigated intimate partner violence. They described a historical legacy of trauma that is inextricable from Black women’s experiences of domestic violence. The Committee added an outer circle to the wheel to demonstrate the intersection of race, gender, violence, and  historical trauma for Black women experiencing abuse. The inner spokes of the Wheel incorporate direct quotes and phrasing that were commonly voiced by or resonated with the women in the listening sessions to honor their perspectives and lived experiences.

Another important lesson that emerged from the listening sessions was the legacy of Black women’s resistance and resilience. The numerous ways Black women have resisted violence, racism, sexism, and the challenges in their lives with strength, love, and determination is a powerful legacy the Committee believed should be illustrated in a separate wheel of resistance. Within this legacy is a resistance to victimization. Many Black women do not identify as a victim, as their strength and resilience are a source of pride. And many also do not identify as a survivor because even if the abuse has ended, they are still navigating the other challenges in their life, represented by the outer circle of the Wheel.

The Committee created the first iteration of the Wheel with information from the literature review and listening sessions with local Black women, and then shared the Wheel with national experts on domestic violence in the Black community for peer-review. All feedback and suggested modifications were considered and incorporated, including the title of the Wheel[2]. The Committee then shared a revised version of the Wheel at local community gatherings and additional listening sessions with local Black women survivors before finalizing the content and design of the Wheel[3].

The Wheel of Intimate Partner Power & Control in the African American/Black Community (Wheel) was created to encourage awareness and cultural understanding of Black women’s experiences with intimate partner violence. To learn more about the concepts on the Wheel, the intersectionality of Black women’s lived experiences, and their legacy of resistance and resilience, see the list of resources provided after the Wheel.

For questions about the development or use of the Wheel as a resource, please contact Amalfi Parker Elder at


New Orleans Blueprint for Safety Disparate Impact Committee

Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies:

  • Dr. Lisa Richardson
  • Danielle Wright
  • Rheneisha Robertson
  • Chloe Walters Wallace

Women With A Vision:

  • Deon Haywood
  • Ashley Bernel
  • Rebecca Atkinson
  • Shaquita Borden
  • Nia Weeks

Ashe Cultural Arts Center:

  • Gwendolyn Richardson

Kali Red Take Your Life Back Foundation:

  • Yana Sutton

New Orleans Family Justice Center:

  • Deanne Bowman
  • Sharon Henry
  • Dianne Hookfin
  • Pam Albers
  • Eva Lessinger

Total Community Action:

  • Cherita Harris

Orleans Parish Criminal District Court:

  • Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier

Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office Crime Victim’s Unit:

  • Sergeant Stephanie Minto

Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Unit:

  • Shaundra Haynes

Court Watch NOLA:

  • Simone Levine

Harmony House:

  • Caroline Tilton

Golden Change:

  • Mariana Montero

University of New Orleans:

  • Dr. Pamela Jenkins

Tulane University:

  • Catherine Haywood
  • Ashley Winnerstrom

New Orleans Health Department:

  • Amalfi Parker Elder
  • Kati Bambrick Rodriguez
  • Johnetta Pressley
  • Amy Jackson
  • Nelle Noble
  • Ashley Bernel
  • Hilary Ervin
  • Nhu Ngoc Pham
  • Maura Fitzgerald
  • Aubree Thelen
  • Amara Stafford
  • Kendra Davis
  • Carly Smith

National Reviewers of the Wheel:

  • Tanya Lovelace
  • Jacquelyn Boggess
  • Oliver Williams
  • Beth Ritchie
  • Sandra Pilgram-Lewis
  • Greta Gardner
  • Aisha Battle
  • Bree Adams Bill
  • Sue Katt  

Technical assistance on the development of the Wheel was provided by:

Amalfi Parker Elder and Denise Eng at Praxis International

Dr. Hillary Potter at the University of Colorado-Boulder

Gratitude and appreciation for each of the Black women who shared their stories and truths with the Committee.

[1] From 2013-2016, Black women were approximately 89% of the women arrested for domestic violence, but the population of New Orleans was only 60% African American.

[2] The Committee provided a survey of questions to the national experts who agreed to peer-review the Wheel. One question was if the title of the Wheel should refer to the “Black” community or the “African American” community. There was consensus that to be inclusive of the many ways that people self-identify within the community, both terms should be used in the title.

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