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House of Abuse: Understanding Violence in the Home

House of Abuse
A Diagram of the House of Abuse by Michael McGrane. More about Michael below.

The main purpose of this diagram is to show how the batterer, who lacks self esteem and confidence, uses power and control to abuse their partner. Each room in the House of Abuse diagram represents a form of abuse that the abuser utilizes. These include subtle forms of manipulation all the way up to physical abuse. None of which are acceptable in healthy relationships. Abusers use power and control to build their house of abuse so that they can gain superiority in their relationships at the cost of making their partner scared, controlled, and placed in a submissive position. 

The most important section in the diagram is the foundation, which represents the feelings of the batterer such as who is inadequacy, insecurity, and low self esteem. The foundation is the base of the control.

Gaining power and control over the partner is the main goal of the abuser, who believes that they can manage their own feelings this way. The abuser believes that if they can manipulate and control the partner, then their feelings of inadequacy will go away.

The 8 Main Rooms (Abuse Tactics) in the House are:

Religious abuse

  • Quotes Bible – This is where the batterer will quote biblical verses as a way to abuse and demoralized their partner.  They will shun their partner with guilt and shame and utilize religious persecution to minimize their self esteem and control them.

Male Privilege

  • “A man’s home is his castle” – The abusive man will demoralize his female partner because he feels that being a woman makes them lessor.  He believes that since he was born male, then he is superior to women.
  • Male chauvinists live in this room.  Their masculine belief structures are synonymous with patriarchal societal views.

Sexual abuse

  • Withholding sex from their partner – The abuser will use sex as a tool to claim dominance over their partner.
  • Affairs- The abuser will have multiple affairs as a way to claim dominance and make his partner feel inadequate.  They will cheat on their partners and then blame their partners for their cheating.  They will tell their partners that it was their fault or that the partner made them do it.  This can include phrases such as: “If you only gave me sex more often, then I would not have to cheat on you!”

Verbal and Emotional Abuse

  • Name Calling – The abuser will use derogatory terms or make their spouses feel inadequate.  This can include phrases such as “You are a piece of sh@*t and you are worthless.”
  • Yelling – The abuser will use their voices to intimidate or scare their partners.
  • Belittling – The abuser will put down their partner and make them feel worthless or inadequate.  This can include saying that the partner never can do anything right and that they are pathetic and worthless.
  • Withdrawing – The abuser will withdraw from their partner. They will do this to elicit their partner’s abandonment fears and to make their partner scared that they will leave.

Social Isolation 

  • Economic control – The abuser will keep all of the money, they will control bank accounts,  and control their partner’s finances by only giving them allowance and no other finances.
  • No friends – The abuser will keep their spouse in isolation.  They will not allowing their partner to go out, have friends, or socialize with others.
  • No Family – The abuser will exclude their partner from seeing their family, will control their partner’s social calendar and/or social media, and will actively destroy relationships between their partner and their partner’s family.
  • Monitor phone, email, calls – The abuser will steal their partner’s phone and go through it ad/or will force their partner to share their passwords.

Physical Abuse

  • This can include slapping, spitting pushing, threatening, hitting, shoving, and grabbing.

Intimidation Tactics

  • This can include glares, throwing items, grunting, and threats.
  • It can also include passive aggressive or overtly aggressive ways of scaring their partner into submission.

Child Abuse

  • The abuser will use their children as pawns in divorce proceedings.
  • They can also threaten to take the children away from their partner.
  • This can also include anything that improperly involves the children or anything that is meant to scare partner using the kids.

Acknowledgement: This article was inspired by the book The House of Abuse: Understanding Violence in the Home by Michael F. McGrane. The book is available for purchase on Amazon here.  Email Michael at

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