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Domestic Violence Is Not Always Physical

Domestic Violence Is Not Always PhysicalAt this point, most people are familiar with the term domestic violence. Hearing it conjures up thoughts of bruises, broken bones, and wondering how damage like that can so easily remain hidden. Other facts that people are just beginning to understand is that not all domestic abuse is suffered by women, nor is it just a problem reserved for low-income families.

Another reality is that domestic violence doesn’t always result in a tell-tale physical sign being left on the victim. It may not even include the abusive spouse or partner raising his or her voice. Forms of non-physical domestic abuse absolutely exist and are inflicted upon significant others every day. The marks are psychological rather than physical, although long-term abuse suffered by victims can certainly manifest in physical reactions such as nervousness or even through body language. The term coercive control has become part of the fabric of domestic violence in very recent years.

While physical injuries may be easier to see, victims of psychological domestic violence also feel fearful, diminished, and hopeless. With help, some of these abuse survivors are able to find the courage to eventually initiate divorce proceedings and end the cycle of intimidating behavior.

What does coercive control look like?

There are many types of coercion and control tied to domestic violence, such as:

  • Causing your spouse to become isolated from friends, family, and coworkers.
  • Making sure you know where they are and who they are with every minute of the day by limiting their activities.
  • Monitoring social media accounts and tracking their cell phone to keep tabs on their location.
  • Installing video cameras inside and outside your home to see what your spouse is doing at any point during the day.
  • Controlling what your spouse wears and their physical appearance such as hairstyle and weight.
  • Depriving them access to support services, such as healthcare.
  • Repeatedly putting them down both in private and in front of others to break them down and cause humiliation.
  • Controlling the finances by giving a spouse a small ‘allowance’ and/or forcing them to take on debts to prevent them from qualifying for loans to keep them trapped.
  • Damaging or taking away household goods and valuable personal items.
  • Preventing a spouse from having access to transportation, and even requiring he or she quit working.
  • Making verbal threats to coerce a spouse into having sexual relations.
  • Having children in order to use them as leverage to keep a spouse under control to protect them.

Can you even seek a Domestic Violence Protective Order for coercive behavior?

If the violence perpetrated against you is not physical, can you file for a Domestic Violence Protective Order? In North Carolina, you can. However, there are some things you should know about the potential effects a DVPO can have on a child custody case.

If you are a parent who is simply angry that your privacy was invaded by your spouse and feel that seeking a DVPO is a justifiable means for lashing out, you may find that it can backfire on you. A judge who is hard pressed to find evidence that your spouse’s behavior rose to the level of abuse may see your attempt to keep your child from your spouse as parental alienation. It can cost you the custody you so desperately wanted.

Just the same, if you actually did engage in spousal abuse that warranted the DVPO, you also stand to lose custody of your children. At the very least, you may be required to have periodic supervised visits with your kids until such time as a judge is satisfied that you have earned the ability to exercise regular visitation with them.

Finally, if your abusive spouse intends to use his or her manipulative tactics to file for a DVPO in order to take your child away from you, seek legal advice immediately. Your attorney needs as much information as possible to protect your position in court.

When your spouse resorts to behavior that instills fear to gain compliance with his or her requests, you are being subjected to domestic violence. You have a right to exercise your own free will and our determined Charlotte domestic violence attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC can help you remove yourself from the situation by seeking a DVPO while guiding you through the divorce process. Schedule your confidential consultation in our Charlotte, Boone or Weddington office now by calling 704-321-0031, or by reaching out to us through our contact page.