Verbal Abuse: Is It A Crime?

SS Member Image By drodriguez 01.19.10
Verbal Abuse:  Is It A Crime?

Abusive relationships are not uncommon in any culture.  Whether it be physical, emotional, or both, women are many times the victims of domestic abuse.  Bruises and scars may be more obvious when a woman is being physically mistreated at home, but the inner scars women suffer in verbally abusive relationships can be just as detrimental to their health.  Not only are these psychologically abused women suffering in silence, but there is little in the way of legal action that they can do about it.  One country plans to change this.


France is set to become the first country to outlaw psychological abuse in relationships.  A recent article from Time magazine reports that France is expected to introduce a bill that will ban "conjugal abuse of a psychological nature."  Supporters of the bill, including President Nicolas Sarkozy, feel that if they can target verbal and mental abusers they can put a stop to any physical abuse before it ever begins. 

Domestic abuse is a definite problem within France.  Government statistics show that 157 women and 7 men died as a result of domestic violence just last year.  Prime Minister Francois Fillon talks about why passing this bill will be essential to minimize domestic abuse when he says, "It’s an important move forward, because the creation of this offense will let us tackle the most insidious situations - the ones that leave no physical scars but which still injure the victims inside." 

Though most agree that repetitive verbal abuse is damaging and cruel to the victim, many wonder how this kind of abuse can be proven in a court of law.  Supporters of the bill argue that just passing the law will give victims of psychological abuse the confidence to put an end to it.  And, though difficult, there are ways to collect evidence in such cases if one were to put their mind to it. 

What do you think of the new bill being introduced in France to outlaw psychological abuse in relationships?

Do you think the U.S. should consider adopting such a bill?

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  • 805Therapy By 805Therapy

    Yes, excellent progress! Abuse is Abuse. I work with domestic violence victims and their children - it is a pattern that can be carried on for generations to come. You can learn to break the pattern!

  • bozemanbrooks By bozemanbrooks

    I agree that verbal abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse. The hardest part is to prove it. Where do you draw the line? Some people are more sensitive than others, so would one determine if it's criminal? Nobody deserves to be verbally abused. The abuser should have to pay for what he or she has done to that person. I just don?t think the bill would go over too well in the US. Unfortunately people need hard evidence to be punished.

  • Ambiguoussage By Ambiguoussage

    Many friends of mine have been victims of verbal abuse. Even as someone who plans on entering the field of law it is difficult for me to decide if I think that verbal abuse should be punished legally. IT would be really hard to draw the lines... some people are more sensitive than others, some people just swear regularly, some have no malicious intent, etc. I'm not defending it b no means, however I doubt there will ever be a law dealing with this because it would be really difficult to define what constitutes verbal abuse and since intent is a major component of a crime, how would one be able to prove in a court of law that one person intended to hurt the others feelings? Personally, and if I had it my way, all abusers would get what they deserve and earned!

  • Britnev By Britnev

    It is about time! I have seen both family and friends verbally abused in a relationship and it is heartbreaking. The verbal abuse slowly breaks them down to the point where they have absolutely no self esteem and have lost their love of life. They live in fear and feel they have no worth. The only thing missing are the physical scars that occur in a physical abuse relationship. I have a friend whose husband daily calls her job to tell her he is going to kill her when she gets home. At home, he tells her she is stupid, worthless, ugly and on it goes. He hits the cats, kicks the dog, killed the fish and destorys her stuff. But, he never hits her and she continues to say 'she loves him'. The only thing missing is the physical scars. The crime is still the same and punishment is due.

  • Bella2008 By Bella2008

    It is a good idea but how would they enforce it? If they could enforce it, then physical abuse could be eliminated. It has been my personal & professional experience that verbal, mental, & emotional abuse starts way before any physical abuse. Having finally left a mental, emotional, & physically abusive relationship I know sometimes it can be almost as bad as the physical abuse. After my abusive relationship, I went to graduate school & earned a masters in counseling, & counseled many women in abusive relationships. When you start letting the women talk, they will almost always tell you that the abuser cursed, screamed, put them down, etc. If we could stop this verbal/mental/emotional abuse in the begin with, just think about how much suffering could be avoided!

  • alexisbrooke By alexisbrooke

    This is SO wonderful! I cant imagine how much hope this is giving women throughout the world. I for myself now have hope that there will come a day when mental abuse will be handled the same as physical... becasue in both cases, one can be more harmful than the other. I definatly think US should adopt this bill! We need it.

  • mardel By mardel

    What a great step to show those abusive spouses that even words can hurt someone's self esteem. I think that the US should pass the same bill and make verbal abuse illegal!

  • jemappel By jemappel

    I think if we could better enforce restraining orders in this country, it would also help. One of the reasons people are afraid to leave emotionally and physically abusive relationships b/c the person can still harass them because restraining orders don't work. Even with this law, abused people will be afraid to even bring such a case to court - since it takes such a long time for cases to be heard - if the person could harm them in the meantime.

  • summitqwestcomp By summitqwestcomp

    I think that they should. It would be hard to enforce, but I think with just it's presence in the courts, it will help with the issue.

  • Trinket By Trinket

    I have been there too, and although, as pjclayton57 says, it would be difficult to enforce, it deserves to be punishable. So I think that's great, and that, yes, the U.S. should at least consider the adoption of such a bill.

  • msfriendly By msfriendly

    I think it is a great step in the right direction for these victims.

  • pjclayton57 By pjclayton57

    Anything that will help to deter someone from doing any type of abuse is fine with me. I have been on the end of physical, mental and verbal abuse and each form is serious and painful. I am sure it will be challenging to enforce but hopefully just the thought of it being chargeable will make a difference.

  • hersecretgarden By hersecretgarden

    What a wonderful bill! I know how hard proving mental abuse and the US should definitly adopt this bill!

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