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If abuse is verbal or emotional, is it considered domestic violence?

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2022 | Family Law |

It can be. Some types of emotional or verbal abuse are considered serious enough to be included in North Carolina’s domestic violence statute. It depends on the relationship you have with the abuser and what they have done.

In order for abuse to be considered domestic violence, it must be perpetrated by someone with whom you have a “personal relationship,” such as a spouse, a romantic partner, or a family member, including an ex-spouse, ex-romantic partner, or stepparent.

As far as our civil laws are concerned, someone who has a personal relationship may be liable for domestic violence when they do any of the following:

  • Attempts to cause or intentionally cause bodily injury
  • Places someone or a member of their family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury
  • Places someone in fear of continued harassment so serious that it inflicts substantial emotional distress on the person
  • Torments, terrorizes or terrifies a person

In other words, you can seek a domestic violence protective order against a person with whom you have a personal relationship does any of those things. You can also file a separate lawsuit for damages sustained as a result of their conduct.

For the purpose of criminal law, a wide variety of crimes can be charged as domestic violence offenses when the perpetrator has a personal relationship with the victim. This could mean jail time and fines, but also required psychiatric treatment, rehabilitation, counseling, drug or alcohol treatment, orders for drug or alcohol monitoring, anger management classes, restitution, probation or home confinement, among other things. Some examples of crimes that are often charged as domestic violence offenses include:

  • Assault on a female
  • Assault by pointing a gun
  • Assault in the presence of a child
  • Assault inflicting serious injury
  • Domestic criminal trespass
  • Injury to personal property
  • Making harassing phone calls
  • Stalking
  • Violation of a protective order
  • Rape and other sexual offenses
  • Violation of a domestic violence protective order

These crimes can be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the statute and the circumstances surrounding the event.

Non-physical violence can still be very serious

Having a gun pointed at you is a terrifying form of assault. Destruction of your property or threats to your family or pets can be petrifying. A campaign of verbal harassment, telephone harassment or stalking can be terrorizing. These things are all illegal and can form the basis for a domestic violence protection order or criminal charges.

These cases can be difficult for everyone involved, and substantial evidence may be required. Work with a compassionate lawyer who will go the extra mile for you.


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