Is Psychological Abuse a Form of Domestic Violence?

St. Charles domestic abuse defense lawyer

When people hear the term “domestic abuse” their thoughts immediately turn to physical injuries that are purposefully inflicted on someone by a partner or another member of the household. However, domestic violence can take a psychological form, and verbal or emotional abuse can turn to physical harm. Illinois law defines domestic violence as one member of a household choking, hitting, pinching, or causing injury to another member of the home purposefully. The action can happen out of rage or just to control the other person. It is important to understand what the law considers abuse and its consequences in the event you or someone you know is charged with domestic violence. 

Mental/Emotional Abuse

Psychological abuse may be seen as the early stages of behavior that can lead to physical violence. While these actions will not leave behind physical scars, the emotional toll they take can leave lasting wounds on a person’s mental health. Some of the following actions may be considered emotional abuse:

  • Name-calling

  • Yelling

  • Giving the silent treatment

  • Telling lies about someone to family or friends

  • Keeping a person from seeing family or friends

  • Criticizing sensitive topics such as weight or appearance

  • Destroying another’s possessions

  • Threatening suicide if the other person leaves the relationship

  • Attempting to control certain parts of another’s life

  • Humiliating someone in front of their children

  • Threatening to harm family or household members 

While emotional abuse can be harmful, determining whether these types of actions fall under the legal definition of domestic violence can sometimes be difficult. If the alleged abusive acts take the form of harassment or intimidation, or if they cause a person to fear for the safety of themselves or their family members, they may result in criminal charges.

What Happens After Abuse Is Reported?

Once a victim reports domestic violence to the proper authorities, the family court system will do everything in their power to make sure the abuse stops, whether it is psychological abuse or has escalated to physical abuse. Victims can ask the court for an order of protection, which limits the amount of contact an alleged abuser has with his or her alleged victim. The order can also:

  • Stop the alleged abuser from making threatening calls or emails.

  • Require the alleged abuser to attend counseling.

  • Specify visitation rights for children involved.

  • Ban the alleged abuser from a shared household.

If an order of protection is violated, the alleged abuser will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and face a one-year prison term and/or a $25 fine for the first offense. A second offense for violating an order of protection will result in felony charges.

Alleged abusers will be impacted negatively if charged with domestic violence. For those with children, they will lose special bonding moments with their young ones. This is why anyone accused of domestic violence should seek legal counsel to defend against such charges.

Contact a St. Charles Domestic Violence Attorney

Any type of domestic violence, regardless if it is physical or psychological, is taken very seriously in Illinois courtrooms. If you or someone you know is facing accusations of domestic violence, hire a lawyer from the Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa to help defend your rights and avoid a negative outcome. Our experienced attorneys will work hard to build a strong defense on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Illinois domestic abuse defense lawyer, call 630-232-1780.