Emotional abuse is a type of abuse that often plays a role in many family law cases. Basically, emotional abuse involves exposing a person to behavior or language that can result in the psychological trauma for the witness. Emotional abuse can lead to anxiety, depression, and other psychological symptoms that may result in physical manifestations. It is sometimes referred to as psychological abuse or mental abuse, although these terms can have slightly different connotations.

There is no set standard definition of emotional abuse. However, emotional abuse can often contain components such as:

  • Verbal aggression (often including false statements or lies)
  • Dominating or repressive behavior
  • Implanting ideas of jealousy or slander of another person
  • Forcing the person to view disturbing or negative images or behavior

In What Settings Does Emotional Abuse Occur?

Emotional abuse most often occurs in the context of spousal abuse and child abuse. The abusive behavior is often one way that a parent or a partner in a marriage demands control in the relationship. Intimidation and threats can sometimes cause emotional abuse to go unreported.

Psychological or emotional abuse is often only one factor in a situation that is one-sided in terms of power and influence. The emotional abuse may be accompanied by physical violence, threats of violence, or sexual assaults. A cycle of abuse can exist over long periods of time, resulting in emotional damage or psychological imbalance in the victim.

Emotional abuse can also occur in other settings, such as those involving elder abuse or nursing home violations.

Can I File a Legal Claim for Emotional Abuse Issues?

Many family law cases involve emotional abuse. In some jurisdictions, a person cannot recover damages for emotional distress unless they also manifest some sort of physical symptoms, such as stomach illness or nerve-related illnesses. However, emotional abuse can often lead to increased penalties for physical abuse cases.

Also, emotional abuse can be a factor when the court is determining whether or not to issue a restraining order. Courts generally look at the totality of the circumstances when determining legal remedies for emotional abuse cases.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Emotional Abuse Issues?

Emotional abuse is a serious issue and may require the assistance of a family lawyer. You may wish to hire an attorney if you need to file a lawsuit or a case with the court. Your attorney can help you understand your rights and can offer you a course of action for proceeding. Also, your lawyer can explain how emotional abuse laws may apply to your particular situation.