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Is it Possible to File a Lawsuit for Psychological Abuse?  

Posted on May 22, 2023 in Blog

While the majority of personal injury claims in California revolve around physical or bodily injuries, it is possible to file a lawsuit for psychological abuse and related intangible harm suffered by a victim in some cases. You may be eligible for financial compensation for psychological trauma, emotional distress and mental anguish if you have been psychologically abused by a perpetrator in Los Angeles.

psychological abuse- can you sue?

What Is Psychological Abuse?

Psychological abuse is a form of emotional abuse. It describes mental harm or trauma caused by verbal or social tactics meant to humiliate, undermine, taunt, torment or control a victim. The goal of psychological abuse is often to make the victim dependent on the abuser emotionally or psychologically. It generally occurs over time due to a long-term pattern of emotional abuse, although it can be caused by an isolated incident, as well.

Examples of psychological abuse include:

  • Insulting a victim
  • Name-calling
  • Making a victim think he or she is worthless or stupid
  • Abusing or threatening to abuse a pet
  • Threatening to harm loved ones
  • Threatening to self-harm
  • Isolating the victim from others
  • Making the victim think he or she is crazy

Psychological abuse may involve many other types of abuse, including physical violence or sexual abuse. It may also be only emotional or nonphysical, with tactics such as making the victim financially dependent on the abuser, insulting or berating the victim, and breaking down the victim’s self-esteem and self-worth. It can be difficult to recognize psychological abuse because there is often no clear physical evidence.

Symptoms and Long-Term Effects of Psychological Abuse

The dangers of psychological abuse should not be underestimated. Living in an emotionally or psychologically abusive situation for a long period of time can have a major impact on a victim’s mental and physical health. If left unchecked, psychological abuse can lead to physical harm, injuries, illnesses, mental health disorders, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or actions, and reduced overall quality of life.

A victim of psychological abuse can experience a wide range of serious signs, symptoms and problems. Many victims suffer long-lasting trauma that must be treated with medication and/or therapy. The effects of psychological abuse can include feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness, powerlessness, confusion, depression and anxiety. In severe cases, psychological trauma can manifest physically and cause effects such as weight loss, fatigue, chronic pain and organ damage. It may also cause post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Filing a Lawsuit for Psychological Abuse in California

In California, a victim may be able to file a lawsuit for harm suffered due to psychological abuse. The technical term for this type of case is “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.” This type of lawsuit requires a victim or victim’s attorney to prove that the defendant is more likely than not guilty of outrageous conduct, that this conduct caused emotional distress (either intentionally or recklessly), and that the victim suffered severe emotional distress as a result.

In a case involving emotional elder abuse, for example, a nursing home staff member or another defendant must have caused harm to the elderly resident through psychological abuse. This may include yelling at, insulting, berating, threatening, humiliating or withholding care from the resident. If psychological abuse causes emotional, physical or financial harm to the victim, he or she can file a claim against the nursing home in pursuit of financial compensation.

Contact an Attorney for Help

Lawsuits filed for psychological abuse can be difficult to win in California, as there is often a lack of physical evidence. Hiring an attorney can make it easier to build your claim. An experienced emotional abuse attorney can search for evidence to support your case, such as eyewitness statements, expert testimony and mental health records. To learn more about a potential lawsuit for psychological abuse in Los Angeles, contact Rose, Klein & Marias, LLP to request a free consultation.