Mental abuse is sometimes called psychological abuse or emotional abuse. When mental abuse occurs, it’s usually an indication of a power imbalance. This imbalance manifests itself not physically, but psychologically. A person who is being abused mentally may be the subject of constant criticism, may be routinely manipulated or intimidated and may experience name calling or shaming. For the victim, the result is a loss of self-esteem, living with chronic depression and anxiety or dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Depending upon the circumstances, the victim may be able to sue their abuser.
The evidence that results from emotional abuse is not as easy to quantify as that which typically comes with physical abuse. Rather than the bruises, broken bones or burns that can occur with a physical attack, emotional abuse doesn’t usually leave visible wounds or scars. Nonetheless, such mistreatment can take a physical toll, causing the victim to seek therapy. The victim may be prescribed drugs that help them cope with anxiety or depression. Some mental abuse victims may suffer a miscarriage because of emotional anguish. Others will have different physical manifestations related to living in a chronic state of stress like heart disease.
The key to successfully suing a mental abuser is finding sufficient evidence. In these cases, evidence can include medical records and the records maintained by a therapist or other counselor. Documents showing missed days at work may also be helpful. Essentially, anything that ties the victim’s emotional or physical injuries back to the abuser can be used as evidence.
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Suing someone for mental abuse is basically the same as suing for emotional distress. A personal injury attorney may be just the right professional for taking on this case. Even with experience in this area, winning a suit for emotional abuse is never a foregone conclusion. It may take months or years to bring such a matter to trial. Attorneys generally take this type of case on a contingency basis, meaning that they get no money unless their client wins a settlement. Because mental abuse can be so difficult to prove, there may not be many lawyers willing to take the case. Moreover, the victim must be prepared for a long battle during which many intensely personal matters will be discussed openly. Suing for emotional abuse can bring a sense of power to the victim, but it is a difficult journey.