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Emotional and psychological abuse as domestic violence, part two

Last week, we started to discuss emotional and psychological abuse as forms of domestic violence in a general way. This week, we’d like to give that conversation a more practical focus by talking about specific kinds of emotionally and psychologically damaging behavior and how these forms of domestic violence tend to play out in Las Vegas and Nevada family law cases.

As we noted in our previous post, many experts and organizations feel that emotional and psychological abuse is the most common type of domestic violence, and also that living with an emotional or psychological abuser can have a tremendously negative impact on the abused person’s own happiness, health and values.

Ultimately, this often leads abused persons to begin identifying themselves as victims, which in turn makes it difficult for them to feel good enough about themselves, worthwhile enough or capable enough to do something to stop the abuse or leave their relationships. In fact, the “victim” identity often prevents abused persons from even recognizing their partner’s behaviors as abusive at all.

Women’s Aid, a non-profit organization focused on ending domestic violence, lists several tactics commonly used by psychologically or emotionally abusive partners, including:

  • Criticizing, publicly or privately (e.g., calling a partner names, putting a partner down in front of others)
  • Sulking whenever his or her demands are not met
  • Pressuring the abused partner to do or not do certain things
  • Lying
  • Refusing to ever listen or respond to the abused partner
  • Isolating partners from friends and family, not letting them go out alone
  • Monitoring the abused partner’s communications or whereabouts

A Women’s Aid spokesperson also noted that because these types of behavior don’t generally qualify as criminal acts, it is often difficult for victims to prove such abuse and to obtain protection orders that can give them the breathing room needed to stop the abuse and leave the abuser.

The key word in that last paragraph is “difficult” — which is another way of saying that it can be done. An experienced family law or divorce attorney can help an abused person who is ready to take that step. At the same time, we realize that many people who have experienced these forms of domestic violence may need to take other steps such as joining a support group or seeking private counseling first.

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

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