Recently, your significant other accused you of domestic violence, which led to criminal charges. You did not raise a hand against your partner, but what do you know about verbal and emotional abuse?

With help from the Office on Women’s Health, you can understand the role words and their effects have in domestic assault cases. Use the information to build a defense and understand your charges.

Common examples of verbal and emotional abuse

What does emotional and verbal abuse look like? Abusive partners may:

  • Threaten self-harm when upset with the other person
  • Demand to know the other person’s actions and whereabouts at all times
  • Display anger in a way that frightens the other person
  • Demand to know sensitive information such as email passwords, PINs and social media account passwords
  • Insult their partner

Partners accused of non-physical abuse may stop their significant other from leaving the house for school or work.

Origins of verbal and emotional abuse

Sometimes, abusive relationships begin normally with warm feelings, kindness and mutual attraction. Over time, one person may become abusive. Some abusers try to make victims feel closely connected to them before the threats, abuse and verbal insults begin. A sudden shift in demeanor may throw the victim off, leading to feelings of confusion.

The effects of verbal and emotional abuse

Victims who remain in non-physically abusive relationships may experience depression, anxiety and similar mental health conditions. Some question whether abusive episodes or displays occurred or experience shame or guilt. Abuse victims may change their personality or behavior to appease the abuser and maintain peace, which may lead to intense distress.