Is verbal abuse considered domestic violence?

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The National Domestic Violence Hotline just moved into a new space in South Austin in June 2016. (KXAN / Dani Guerrero)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Physical harm is not the only avenue used by abusers. Domestic abuse can also be in the form of financial, sexual, and emotional abuse.

And yes, verbal abuse is considered domestic violence said Equinox Director of Domestic Violence, Christine Rodriguez. Unfortunately, some victims may be under the wrong impression when it comes to domestic violence and verbal abuse.

“Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive and controlling behavior that one person uses to maintain power and control over their intimate partner. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence regardless of sex, race, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and social or economic status,” Rodriguez said.

Verbal abuse may be looked over by a victim in an abusive relationship because it doesn’t leave a physical mark. It can also involve subtle behaviors by abusers like blaming a partner for things out of their control, trivializing their actions or ideas, judging or criticizing, and hurtful jokes. Abusers will also deny their behavior, resort to name-calling, or threaten their victims according to Psychology Today.

“Anyone that is being verbally abused should know that the abuse is not their fault and help is available,” said Rodriguez. “There are domestic violence programs in every county across New York State with trained advocates ready to talk with you and answer any of your questions, safety plan, counseling, assist you with safe shelter, file for an order of protection, or provide support and information and referral.”

Victims of verbal abuse have rights and are protected by laws, Rodriguez said. “Someone being verbally abused is protected by certain laws because they are domestic violence victims. For example, victims have workplace and employment protections, victims can mail in their votes during election time, and they can report to any law enforcement agency statewide.”

Verbal abuse Q & A

Q: Can someone call the police if their partner is verbally abusing them?
A: Yes. They can also contact their local domestic violence program or file for a family offense petition. If they are in immediate danger they can also call 911, Rodriguez said.
Q: When does verbal abuse rise to the level of harassment or what protections does someone being verbally abused have under the law?
A: Rodriguez said, in New York, harassment is defined as having the “intent to harass, annoy, or alarm” someone. This includes attempting to strike or striking someone, as well as attempting to or making physical contact and following someone in public.
Q: Can an order of protection be placed on verbal abusers?
A: In criminal court there must be an arrest made and charges filed before a judge will grant an order of protection. However, that’s not true in family court. An order of protection can be requested without police said Rodriguez. There is other criteria that must be met.

Additional signs/forms of verbal abuse

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline verbal abuse can look like the following:

  • Telling someone that they never do anything right.
  • Showing extreme jealousy of friends or time spent away from them.
  • Preventing or discouraging someone from spending time with friends, family members, or peers.
  • Insulting, demeaning, or shaming, especially in front of other people.
  • Preventing someone from making their own decisions, including about working or attending school.
  • Controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses.
  • Pressuring someone to have sex or perform sexual acts they’re not comfortable with.
  • Pressuring someone to use drugs or alcohol.
  • Intimidating someone through threatening looks or actions.
  • Insulting someone’s parenting, threatening to harm or take children or pets away.
  • Intimidating someone with weapons like guns, knives, bats, or mace.
  • Destroying a persons belongings or home.

Rodriguez said Equinox Domestic Violence Services has a domestic violence advocate at the Albany County Family Court at 30 Clinton Avenue, on weekdays to help victims. The Equinox Domestic Violence Hotline is also available 24 hours a day at (518) 432-7865.

The Rensselaer County Unity House Domestic Violence Hotline is also available 24 hours a day at (518) 272-2370 and the Schenectady County YWCA Domestic Violence Hotline is as well at (518)374-3386. The New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline is 1(800)942-6906.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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