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Emotional and psychological abuse as domestic violence, part one

Acts of domestic violence often trigger the decision to get a divorce. Prior acts of domestic violence also have a huge impact on the divorce-related issues of child custody and visitation. Mention the term “domestic violence,” however, and most Las Vegas residents will think only about physical violence committed by men against women. Yet according to many organizations and individuals who have worked on this issue, emotional and psychological abuse is both the worst type and most common type of domestic violence affecting women and children today.

One reason for this is that media coverage of domestic violence cases tends to focus on incidents of physical violence involving male abusers. Although we discussed the issue of men as victims of domestic violence in a previous post — another reason is provided by the simple statistical fact that most reported cases of domestic violence involve physical violence committed against women by male perpetrators.

Fortunately, lawmakers in Nevada and throughout the U.S., the United Nations and other individuals and organizations around the globe have taken a broader view and included acts of emotional and/or psychological abuse within their definitions of domestic violence.

The United Nations, for example, defined domestic violence in its 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women as including psychological harm caused by intimidation, persecution, threats of abandonment or abuse, confinement to the home, surveillance, threats to take away custody of the children, destruction of objects, isolation, verbal aggression and constant humiliation.

In Nevada, using force or the threat of force to compel a person do something or not do something they have a legal right to refrain from or engage in is defined as domestic violence, as is a “knowing, purposeful or reckless course of conduct intended to harass,” which can include emotionally and psychologically damaging acts such as stalking, trespassing, the destruction of property, harm inflicted on pets and other behaviors not listed in the state statute.

We’ll continue this discussion in our next post, with more of an emphasis on recognizing these types of abuse and the realities of domestic violence as it relates to Nevada divorce and family law.

Source: GMA News, “Emotional abuse: The most common type of domestic violence,” Veronica Pulumbarit, March 8, 2012

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