Psychological abuse in couples is much more common than we think in today's society, and is considered to be another type of partner violence.
Abuse can be both physical and psychological, the latter being more difficult to prove.
The effects of psychological partner abuse are shown in the short and long term, and can have destructive consequences in the same way as physical partner violence.
Since psychological partner abuse is not reported as often as physical abuse, our Penal Code protects the victims of such behaviour as a crime.
What is psychological abuse in a relationship?
Psychological abuse is another form of violence along with physical violence, and it can be even worse because it gets worse over time.
Psychological abuse is a type of violence related to aggressive behaviour that does not cause physical harm, but does cause harm to the other person.
The essential element is intentionality, i.e. the person who engages in psychological violence does so knowingly and with the intention of causing psychological harm to his or her partner.
When we speak of psychological abuse by a man towards a woman, we call it gender-based violence, and if the abuse is committed by a woman towards a man, we are dealing with domestic violence.
Psychological abuse is more difficult to identify and may be imperceptible, but it develops over time, increasing its impact and severity on the victim.
The environment surrounding a partner where there is psychological abuse is usually aware of what is happening, which is not the case with the victim of the abuse, who either does not want to see it or justifies it in some way.
Thinking "it's my fault because I said or did something wrong" is one of the normal behaviours of a person who is a victim of psychological abuse by a partner.
This situation is not exclusive to heterosexual relationships, it also occurs in homosexual relationships.
Signs of psychological abuse in a relationship
It is usually difficult to determine when there is psychological abuse in a couple, but there are some signs in a relationship that can indicate the presence of this form of mistreatment.
Below, we explain the verbal and non-verbal behaviours that can be the starting point to detect the existence of a situation of psychological abuse:
A. Non-verbal language: the way of looking and posture indicate an abusive attitude. For example, a person may verbalise understanding and make disapproving gestures at the same time.
B. Verbal language: verbally there are many ways to diagnose the presence of psychological abuse in a couple, for example:
- Dismissing opinions of the partner by considering that one is always right.
- Feeling jealousy in a constant and inexplicable way. This feeling leads a person to ask related questions without feeling any satisfaction with the answers and, of course, without believing anything the other person says.
- Emotional blackmail" with the aim of getting what one wants.
- Making destructive criticisms against the partner based on verbal attack.
Apart from these signs, the one who exercises psychological abuse on his/her partner tends to establish situations of control and domination, denying the other person the possibility of making independent decisions.
Legal consequences of psychological abuse in a relationship
Can I report my partner for psychological abuse?
This is a common doubt when you are a victim of this type of abuse.
The first thing you need to know is that our Penal Code considers actions against abuse that you can use to defend yourself.
Therefore, you can and should report the situation through criminal proceedings, where the most important thing is to be able to prove the existence of the psychological abuse.
To achieve this, the following aspects are important:
-Your own testimony as a victim: the criminal conduct of the abuser usually takes place in private, which is why your testimony is essential to obtain a conviction.
-Witnesses, who may be eye witnesses or from your family, friends or neighbours who have witnessed this behaviour towards you on a repeated basis.
-Documentary evidence, such as photos, messages, other reports, etc.
-Expert reports from specialists, especially psychologists who ratify and confirm the presence of psychological abuse and its effects on your emotional balance.
Punishments for psychological abuse in couples
Articles 153 and 173.2 of the Penal Code take into account psychological abuse as a crime and the penalties are applied according to the complexity of the acts committed by the aggressor.
The other difficult part of these cases is to agree on how to quantify the damage for the purpose of claiming compensation.
However, for an offence of psychological abuse to result in the person responsible being ordered to pay compensation, there must also be a criminal conviction of a fine or imprisonment.
If you are a victim of psychological abuse in a relationship, you can protect your rights and integrity, and at Audacia Abogados we can help you.