When people talk about abuse, they usually think about physical abuse. The reality is that a person can be charged with domestic violence for anything from emotional abuse to physical violence.
Emotional abuse is sometimes more significant than physical violence in terms of how it shapes a person's future and health. Emotional abuse doesn't leave physical marks, but it can be a sign that physical abuse may become possible. Often, those who are abusive in one manner or other will begin to increase abusive activity and advance to physical abuse from non-physical forms.
As someone accused of emotionally abusing another person, you still need to defend yourself. You could wind up having to defend yourself and/or your actions, particularly if there is evidence that you caused emotional harm to your accuser.
Here are a few signs of emotional abuse that another person could try to use against you in court:
- Mood swings
- Possessive behaviors
- Pressuring him or her to have sex
- Belittling the other person
- Showing extreme jealousy
- Checking someone else's emails, cellphone or or social networking accounts without permission or cause
What should you do if you're accused of emotional abuse?
Every time you call someone a name or lash out verbally because of a bad day is not necessarily indicative of emotional abuse. The same is true about looking at someone's cellphone or social networking sites. What the prosecution will to try to prove is that your actions were intended to restrict your accuser. If a person has just cause, then it makes sense. For instance, if you looked at your partner's social networking chats to learn the name of a friend whom they met for after-work cocktails because there was a hitch in the babysitter's plans to watch the kids, that might be reasonable. Finding the name and information to stalk or track your ex or present partner would not be.
Similarly, answering your partner's phone because you see it's a family member calling when your spouse is indisposed is very different from screening every call or checking call logs to make sure your partner isn't talking to people you don't like.
Judges are reasonable and likely to understand real reasons behind incidents of so-called emotional abuse. As a defendant, you have no obligation to say anything that could incriminate you further, but you do have a right to explain your actions if that will help your case.