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Domestic Violence

Emotional Abuse Law Solicitors

Abuse comes in many forms but all are unacceptable. Nobody has the right to hurt you, whether they use their hands or their words. Our expert domestic abuse solicitors can provide friendly, confidential advice and help you get legal protection to keep you and your children (if you have any) safe.

Recognising that certain words or behaviours are abusive is the first step towards leaving a toxic situation. Emotional abuse often starts so gradually that you don’t even notice it; a small comment here, a snide remark there. The abuser will often test the boundaries of the victim and amp up the abuse only when they are sure the victim will not or cannot leave. If you're not sure you're in an abusive relationship but you've noticed some red flags, you can take our abusive relationships quiz to find out.

At Crisp & Co, we are a team of specialist family law solicitors who can help you seek protection from the abusive person in your life. People sometimes say that emotional abuse isn’t ‘real’ abuse because it involves words and non-physical behaviours rather than physical acts, such as hitting. We say that view is incorrect – emotional abuse is extremely serious. Whether the perpetrator specialises in shouting and screaming or they use subtler behaviours to control you, emotional abuse is real and it is always wrong.


We can provide a safe, non-judgmental environment for you to open up and talk about what is going on in your life. You have many legal options available to you; we will set out all your available options and recommend the best course of action, drawing on our years of experience to guide our advice. This could include:

  • Applying to court for an Injunction/Non-Molestation Order to keep the abusive person away from you
  • Applying to court for an Occupation Order to stop the abusive person coming near or living in your home
  • Starting divorce or civil partnership dissolution proceedings
  • Providing advice if you want to leave your abusive partner but are not married
  • Providing advice about keeping your children safe

Domestic violence can affect any person, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, religion or background. We will help you whether you are a woman, a man, or non-binary. We have particular experience advising LGBT+ individuals.

Our team can also help you access other support services and liaise with the police if there are criminal proceedings ongoing.

Our advice is 100% confidential – we will not disclose anything you say to us to anyone else unless you ask us to, for example, to apply for a protective court order.

If you are experiencing or have experienced emotional abuse from a partner, former partner or relative, get in touch with our specialist domestic violence solicitors by giving us a call or filling in our online enquiry form.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse – also known as psychological abuse or mental abuse – occurs when someone uses words and behaviours to try to gain power and control of their partner or relative. It can often be difficult to spot because it typically starts gradually and does not leave physical marks. Examples of emotional abuse include:

  • Making threats
  • Shouting
  • Making you feel worthless
  • Ignoring you or being emotionally distant
  • Humiliating you
  • Controlling what you say, do and wear
  • Gaslighting and emotional blackmail – making you question your own thoughts, words and actions (making you feel like you are ‘crazy’, unreasonable, over-emotional or even that you are the abusive one)
  • Insisting that you spend all your time together and isolating you from your friends and family
  • Always being dissatisfied, no matter how much effort you put in
  • Dismissing and invalidating your feelings and opinions
  • Sudden and unpredictable mood changes
  • Treating you like you are inferior – talking down to you, doubting everything you say, making jokes about you, and blaming you for their own mistakes

When emotional abuse is ongoing, it is common for the victim’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth to be significantly damaged. When a person is constantly being criticised, dismissed or intimidated, eventually they begin to internalise that treatment and start to believe that they are worthless or stupid, even though it is not true.

It is common for victims of emotional abuse to suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, they often start withdrawing from family and friends, they may experience physical ailments as a result of the stress, and they may start having problems at work.

Choosing to leave an emotionally abusive situation can be extremely difficult when the victim’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth have been damaged so severely. Taking the first step and recognising that your partner or relative’s treatment of you is not right is incredibly brave.

Once you have recognised that you need to leave or you have already left, our mental and psychological abuse law solicitors are here to support you and help you put in place vital protections.

Non Molestation Orders / Injunctions

A Non Molestation Order or Injunction (sometimes also known as a Restraining Order) can protect you and your children (if you have any) from your abuser. It can stop the abusive person from harassing, threatening, or even talking to you and your children. Injunctions can also carry a power of arrest, so if the abuser ignores the Order, you can call the police and get them arrested.

Getting an Injunction is possible even if the police have told you they cannot prosecute because you do not have to provide as much evidence in civil cases as in criminal ones. We can help you gather the necessary evidence and handle the application process on your behalf.

We can also help you get an Emergency Non Molestation Order if there is an immediate threat. Emergency Non Molestation Orders can be made without notifying the abuser – they will not know you are seeking protection until the Order is in place. The Order will then last 28 days and can be turned into standard Injunction after a court hearing.

Occupation Orders

An Occupation Order sets out who is allowed to live in or come near your home. Your abuser can be banned from living in your home and if they breach the Order, you can call the police and get them arrested. The court can make an Occupation Order even if you do not own the home you live in.

Divorce and civil partnership dissolution

We have an expert team of separation and divorce solicitors who can help you officially end your relationship with the abusive person, including filing the application, fairly sorting out finances and making arrangements for children. We will take all possible steps to secure you an appropriate financial settlement that allows you to move on with your life as swiftly as possible.

For more general information, visit our Divorce page.

Cohabitation and domestic abuse

If you want to leave your partner but are not married or in a civil partnership, we can provide advice about your legal rights. For example, sorting out who owns what and ensuring that you are able to keep everything from before or during the relationship that you personally own.

Although unmarried couples do not have automatic property rights, we can also provide advice about any financial claims you may be able to make, such as a claim under a law called TOLATA which allows a person to claim a share of someone else’s property in certain circumstances.

For more general information, visit our Cohabitation page and scroll down to the Cohabitation Dispute Resolution section.

Protecting children from domestic abuse

If your children are at risk of being harmed or have been harmed by your former partner, we can help you take steps to protect their welfare. This could include getting a Child Arrangements Order to name you as the resident parent and control any contact between the children and abusive parent or getting a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the abusive parent from taking the children out of your care.

What is coercive control?

As well as your civil options, the police may be able to take criminal action against your abuser under mental abuse law.

After successful campaigning by Women’s Aid, ongoing emotional and psychological abuse is now a criminal offence called coercive control. Coercive control is a pattern of controlling behaviour that isolates the victim, takes away their independence, and regulates their everyday behaviour.

Coercive control is almost like taking a person hostage – the abuse reduces their options and limits their freedom. Examples of coercive behaviour include:

  • Monitoring your actions, where you go, what you do, and who you see
  • Stopping you from seeing friends and family
  • Telling you what you can and cannot do
  • Controlling what you wear
  • Depriving you of basic human needs, such as food, water, warm clothing and sleep
  • Threatening you or intimidating you
  • Insulting you and putting you down
  • Controlling your finances
  • Monitoring your phone, computer and communication devices
  • Stopping you from seeking medical treatment
  • Controlling your birth control
  • Coercing, guilting, or forcing you into sexual activity you do not want to do

A person who commits the crime of coercive control can be arrested by the police and prosecuted.

Get in touch with our emotional abuse law solicitors

If you are experiencing or have experienced emotional abuse from a partner, former partner or relative, get in touch with our specialist domestic violence solicitors by giving us a call or filling in our online enquiry form.