When Does Emotional Abuse Rise to the Level of Domestic Violence?

By: Susan E. Block

Whenever I meet with a new client about a possible dissolution of marriage, I always do a safety assessment. I want to know if she (or he) will be at risk if and when they seek to end their relationship, what their specific concerns are, what the past relationship has been, whether they have been injured, and whether they have children. When a client reports verbal, physical, or even non-physical abuse that rises to the level of their sustaining substantial emotional distress, they may want to consider filing a petition in court seeking for an order of protection. It is best that they consult with a mental health provider to evaluate the extent of the abuse and to determine if there is sufficient evidence of abuse as defined by the law.

Nina Balsam, former leader in the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence stated that the most dangerous time for a person who has been abused is when they try to leave the relationship. Many abused persons believe that the law will only protect them from further abuse is when there has been physical abuse, but that’s not always the case. Verbal, emotional, and financial abuse can be some of the most insidious and controlling forms of domestic violence.

The Adult Abuse laws in Missouri provide some legal relief for victims of domestic violence. This relief can include an award of the residence, specifics for exchanges of child custody at the courthouse, and orders covering financial responsibilities, in addition to ordering a person to stay away from a victim. And while individuals can apply for these orders of protection without a lawyer, the chances for success are greatly enhanced by legal counsel.

The lawyers at Paule Camazine & Blumenthal have the skills and knowledge to provide representation in abusive matters. We work as a team to help provide protection to our clients. Their emergency is our emergency.

Disclaimer

Susan E. Block

Susan E. Block

Susan Block returned to the practice of law after retiring as a Circuit Judge in 2004, with 25 years of judicial service. In her last judicial assignment she was appointed to serve as the Administrative Judge of the Family Court with the authority to manage the policies and practices of this division, while maintaining a full caseload of abuse, neglect, delinquency and adoption matters.