Going through a divorce is an emotional experience. The stress and loss caused by the breakup of a marriage can cause severe emotional distress. Unfortunately, a vindictive or abusive spouse can cause a greater level of emotional suffering.

A spouse does not have the right to abuse you emotionally during a marriage or while you are going through the divorce process. Contact your lawyer immediately if your spouse is emotionally abusing you. Emotional abuse can have an impact on the outcome of your divorce proceedings. 

Emotional Abuse – Know the Signs of an Abusive Spouse 

Emotional abuse can take many forms. Some of the signs of emotional abuse include when your spouse:

  • Accuses you of cheating or acts extremely jealous without a cause
  • Yelling and verbally threatening you
  • Must know what you are doing and where you are at all times
  • Listens to telephone conversations and/or reads your private emails, messages, and mail
  • Discourages you or prevents you from seeing family members and friends
  • Demands that you give up your career to stay at home
  • Humiliates or belittles you in front of others
  • Controls all of the finances and financial decisions
  • Shaming or criticizing you because of your weight, education, appearance, or other physical attributes 
  • Spreading lies on social media or other forms of communication 
  • Demands that you share passwords to all your electronic accounts
  • Calls you insulting names
  • Makes personal decisions for you, including health care, diet, clothing, etc.

Your spouse does not need to harm you physically to be abusive. Emotional abuse can be just as devastating and harmful as physical abuse. 

How Can Emotional Abuse Impact My Divorce Proceedings?

When you file for divorce, you and your spouse negotiate the terms of the divorce agreement. Depending on your situation, it could include spousal support, child custody, property division, and child support

It can be difficult to negotiate fair terms when you are emotionally abused. Your spouse might frighten you and make you feel inferior. You then might be more willing to give in when your spouse demands specific divorce terms.

For this reason, it is crucial that you tell your lawyer about the emotional abuse. Your attorney needs to understand that you are in a vulnerable situation and may need assistance making essential decisions about your divorce.

You may need counseling or therapy to help you overcome the emotional abuse. In addition, your lawyer can take steps to protect you from an abusive spouse. 

Depending on the level of abuse, you might need to request a protective order. Your attorney may arrange for you not to be in the same room as your spouse if the emotional abuse makes you feel threatened or causes anxiety, depression, or panic attacks.

If your spouse refuses to negotiate a fair divorce settlement, the case proceeds to a trial. A judge has discretion when considering factors that impact the outcome of the proceedings. For example, evidence of emotional abuse can impact custody, visitation, and support. 

You May Have the Right to Sue Your Spouse for Emotional Abuse

California law permits victims to sue abusers for international infliction of emotional distress. Victims can recover compensation for compensatory damages and punitive damages. However, you must prove that you experienced severe emotional abuse.

Proving intentional infliction of emotional distress requires you to prove that your spouse:

  • Engaged in outrageous conduct;
  • The conduct was intended to cause you emotional distress or was reckless; AND,
  • You suffered severe emotional distress because of your spouse’s outrageous conduct.

Severe emotional distress is not brief or mild. It is a long-term assault on your emotional well-being intended to inflict distress that a reasonable person could not bear. 

Your spouse’s conduct must be outrageous. Outrageous conduct is more than being mean or rude. It is conduct that a reasonable person would consider as going beyond the bounds of decent human behavior. Reckless means that your spouse knew their behavior could cause you harm, but they did not care about the effects of their conduct. 

A lawsuit for intentional infliction of emotional distress can result in compensation for your medical bills, therapy costs, and lost wages. In addition, you could also receive punitive damages. 

Reach Out for Help When Experiencing Emotional Abuse

If you are suffering emotional abuse, reach out for help. Talk with a lawyer, doctor, or counselor about domestic violence. You can also seek help from a domestic violence shelter near your home or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Be careful when using the internet and other electronic devices if your spouse monitors your actions. If you feel threatened or in immediate danger, call 911 for help. 

Contact Our Divorce Law Firm in San Diego, CA

Contact our experienced San Diego divorce lawyers at San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC today for legal assistance. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 866-3756 to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108