Emotional abuse can be extremely destructive for marriages. This is even truer if there are children present. When divorce occurs, however, it is often not the end of the mental torment, anguish, and suffering. Here’s how to protect yourself and your children from emotional abuse in divorce.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse does not leave the visible wounds that physical abuse does. That does not mean, however, that it is not extremely damaging to those who are the victims. Emotional abuse, also known as pathological abuse, can be understood as an attempt to control a spouse or partner using words and emotions as a weapon. This abuse can take many forms, including, but not limited to:

  • Verbal abuse, including name-calling, taunting, insults, or other forms or harassing speech.
  • Isolation, or restricting the person’s freedom of movement or interaction.
  • Manipulation, gaslighting or making the person vulnerable through playing with their emotions.
  • Using children as a weapon, by turning them against the other parent, or attempting to do so.

Most of the time, the individual who is the emotional abuser fails to recognize that they are being abusive. Rather, they believe that they are doing what is best for the other person. Or, he or she is scared their partner may leave them. So they feel compelled to do whatever it takes to keep the relationship going.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Children from Emotional Abuse

When an abusive relationship ends in divorce, the same dynamics may often continue into the divorce proceedings. Fortunately, there are techniques which you can utilize to protect yourself and your children should emotional abuse be present during a divorce.

Disengage Emotionally

Disengaging yourself from your ex-spouse and their attempts at emotional abuse is one of the best things to do should they attempt to manipulate your feelings or actions during divorce proceedings. While it is easier said than done to simply shut off and distance yourself from abuse that is likely years in the making, doing so can be liberating for both you and your children. Instead of focusing on the negativity present in an abusive divorce or relationship, place greater emphasis on those which are more nurturing and loving in nature; especially with your children.

Set Communication Boundaries

Setting boundaries, especially when it comes to communications, are a great way to encourage your abusive ex-spouse to act more appropriately. Instead of replying to constant abusive texts, disregard them and do not retaliate. If the person will not cease being emotionally abusive, consider getting a temporary court order against them; limiting their abilities to communicate with you. You can even request a temporary custody order, so that they cannot attempt to manipulate your children.

It’s Them, Not You

The main goal of any emotional abuser is to make you feel that you are worthless. However, the fact is that they are more often than not projecting their own self-esteem issues onto others in an attempt to validate themselves. By realizing that they are the weak ones – the one who is inferior – you take the power away from them and reclaim it for yourself and for your children.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer Today

Divorce is never enjoyable – especially if emotional abuse and children are involved. If you are the victim of emotional abuse and are seeking a divorce, it is always advisable to talk with an experienced divorce lawyer beforehand. Contact the Law Offices of James C. DeZao today at (973) 358-6134 today for your free consultation.