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Is verbal abuse a type of domestic violence in California?

On Behalf of | Aug 24, 2023 | Domestic Violence |

California recognizes verbal abuse as a type of domestic violence. Verbal abuse involves using one’s words as a weapon, whether that’s in the form of name-calling or giving the silent treatment. There are a lot of ways that someone can verbally abuse you.

Examples of verbal abuse

Threatening to hurt you, your pet or someone whom you love counts as verbal abuse in California. Whether they are threatening physical, emotional or social harm, this is domestic violence. It also counts as abuse if they warn you that they will break, ruin or get rid of your belongings. Using their words to control you with a reasonable fear of harm to you, your property or your loved ones is abusive.

A consistent pattern

It’s important to note that the rare occasional of calling someone a name during a heated argument isn’t verbal abuse. The law looks for a consistent behavior pattern of verbal violence to consider it domestic violence.

In contrast, if someone hits you, this is a major red flag of worse abuse to come. Most abuse victims say it started with one slap and escalated over time until they were hospitalized from a severe beating. Another important note is verbal abuse may begin to include physical violence. If you plan on talking to a partner or family member and letting them know that the way they are treating you counts as domestic violence, then you might want to brace yourself for a possible intensification.

Proving verbal abuse

You need audio recordings, video recordings, text transcripts or email transcripts to prove verbal abuse. Otherwise, it comes down to a he-said-she-said situation. You can call upon witnesses who were there when the perpetrator used verbal violence against you for additional proof.

Can a verbal abuser change?

Verbal abusers can only change when they admit they have a problem and work on fixing it. They must put a genuine effort in. You’ll know the effort is real if they make progress over time and take actionable steps, such as seeing a therapist and reading self-help books.

Verbal abuse is sometimes the prerequisite for physical abuse. Some people can realize that they need help to overcome this problem, but others will escalate to maintain their control over you and punish you. They use fear to get their way.