How to Prove Verbal & Emotional Abuse

Children are often witnesses to abuse between parents.
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Proving verbal and emotional abuse can be very challenging. Unlike physical or sexual abuse, there are no marks or scars that can be seen by a doctor or police officer. The damage is just as severe to the abused person. Most emotional abuse occurs in familial relationships; between parents and children or spouses/partners. One increasingly common area for emotional and verbal abuse is between adult children and their elderly parents. Abuse can also occur in work relationships between co-workers, or from a boss to an employee.

Document every incident. Keep a journal and record the date, time, location, description of the incident, circumstances leading up to it and names of any witnesses present. To prove verbal or emotional abuse you need to be able to establish an on-going, consistent pattern of behavior over a period of time.

Make recordings of abusive phone calls. Save any voicemails, emails, memos, notes or other physical documentation of abusive behavior.

Read More: Legal Options for Verbal Abuse

Ask witnesses to the abuse to note their observations. Keep this information with your journal documenting the abusive behavior. This is particularly helpful in workplace abuse cases.

Speak to someone about the verbal and emotional abuse. Adults can talk to a doctor, lawyer, counselor or faith leader. Children should be encouraged to speak to a teacher, coach, activity leader or trusted family friend. In a workplace, talk to your boss or a human resources professional. Give the individual permission to share your information if they are contacted by the police.


  • Contact a domestic violence crisis line or seek safety at a family violence shelter. The staff at shelters and crisis lines are trained and have access to information and resources you may need. They can help you determine what your next step should be, including pursuing criminal charges.

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