You never put your hands on your significant other, yet you find yourself in handcuffs facing domestic violence charges. Does the accusation hold any legal merit? 

The Office on Women’s Health examines emotional and verbal abuse. Understand how your words and actions can prove just as harmful as physical blows. 

Signs of emotional abuse 

Constantly contacting your significant other, acts of extreme jealousy, public humiliation and threats of self-harm are all examples of emotional abuse. Sometimes, emotional abuse may shift to physical abuse, but not always. 

Origins of emotional abuse  

Maybe things started well when you and your significant other started dating. Then, after you two entered a relationship, your mannerisms, speech patterns and behavior may have taken a turn for the worst in your partner’s eyes. You could have what you feel is a valid reason for this shift, a reason you have yet to express to yourself and your significant other. 

Impacts of emotional abuse  

The trigger for the domestic violence charge could be the resulting depression, stress, anxiety or other mental health conditions your partner experiences. Emotional and verbal abuse may even impact a person’s memories and perceptions of reality, or force him or her to change personal habits or personality. 

Diving a bit deeper into how emotional abuse affects memory and a person’s concept of what is real, this is “gaslighting.” This type of abuse is intentional on the accused’s part to exert her or his influence on the other person. 

By knowing more about the definition of emotional abuse, you can mount your defense against the charges.