Domestic abuse is a serious issue in Minnesota. A number of court actions may stem from the actions of an abuser, including divorce, child protective services, a petition for an order for protection and criminal charges. The interplay among those cases can have serious consequences in terms of custody and parenting time.

Your partner has been calling you names for a few months. You don’t like it, and you’ve asked him to stop, but he just ignores you, laughs and calls you more names. Or maybe he manipulates you and plays emotional games, teasing you with hurtful jabs before doing an about-face, pretending like he’s joking. You think that since he’s not hurting you physically, his behavior is acceptable. But what if it’s not? What if he has already crossed the line into domestic violence?

Definition of Verbal and Emotional Abuse

The law defines domestic violence as continued abuse in an intimate-partner relationship, when one person tries to control the other. It might include mental, financial, sexual, emotional and physical mistreatment.

According to the federal government, verbal and emotional abuse technically constitutes domestic violence. Acts that isolate, control or scare you can affect your overall health and also presage future physical abuse.

Signs of Verbal and Emotional Abuse

•    Name calling
•    Constant criticism
•    Threats
•    Tearing you down
•    Yelling
•    Humiliates you in front of others
•    Using controlling statements, such as, “If I can’t have you, neither can anyone else.”
•    Blaming you for his or her actions
•    Shouting

Signs of emotional abuse include, but are not limited to, the following:

•    Controlling what you eat or wear
•    Constant monitoring of your activities
•    Questioning your faithfulness
•    Issuing false accusations
•    Using anger to intimidate you
•    Controlling money
•    Preventing or discouraging you from seeing friends or family
•    Using manipulative threats and blaming you for any actions
•    Making you quit school or work or attempting to keep you from going to school or work
•    Attacking your self-esteem or self-worth
•    Attacking abilities, such as cooking or house cleaning
•    Belittling you in front of your children.

Finding Help Fast

If you feel trapped in a relationship characterized by verbal or emotional abuse, call your local police station immediately, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

If you have been the victim of intimate-partner abuse or domestic violence, you might not know where to turn. Fortunately, Minnesota offers numerous state-wide and local resources to assist you during this difficult time.

1.    Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. With more than 80 chapters across the state, the MCBW has promoted women’s safety for nearly four decades. The Coalition emphasizes the need to help women with all aspects of abuse – physical, emotional, financial and sexual – through education and advocating for social change.

2.    Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project. BWLAP provides legal resources across the state for women and children as well as those who advocate for them. In addition, the agency offers help with immigration, stalking, housing assistance, orders of protection, child custody and harassment restraining orders.

3.    Minnesota Day One Crisis Hotline. As a statewide network for domestic violence, the organization refers callers to the closest agency or service. Before Day One, victims had to make as many as 15 phone calls to get proper assistance. Now they can find help from “day one.” The group helps all victims without respect to gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, age or class.

4.    Domestic Abuse Project. Serving the state since 1979, DAP works to break the cycle of domestic violence in the Twin Cities. Services include crisis intervention, helping victims develop safety plans, finding shelter and filing orders of protection. The program also offers counseling for victims via professional therapists.

5.    Tubman Family Alliance. In addition to their other services in the Twin Cities, the Tubman program assists all victims of domestic violence. It helps with shelter, legal advocacy, community information and public education.

6.    Community Services for the Deaf of Minnesota, Deaf Domestic Violence Program. CSD of Minnesota targets the deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind people across the state, offering resources and education. Specific services include restraining orders, safety plans, referrals, education and legal advocacy. The group advocates for deaf victims of domestic violence, empowers clients and prevents revictimization that might occur due to cultural ignorance.

7.    OutFront Minnesota. OutFront Minnesota provides support to victims of same-sex partner abuse. This population generally suffers from domestic violence at a similar rate as the rest of society. The organization provides various services, including counseling, referrals to shelters, protective orders, safety plans.

In a proceeding for an OFP under the Domestic Abuse Act, the court may provide the following relief, upon notice and hearing:

  • Restrain the abusing party from committing acts of domestic abuse;
  • Exclude the abusing party from the dwelling which the parties share or from the residence of the petitioner;
  • Exclude the abusing party from a reasonable area surrounding the dwelling or residences;
  • Award temporary custody or establish temporary visitation with regard to minor children of the parties on a basis which gives primary consideration to the safety of the victim and the children;
  • Establish temporary support for minor children or a spouse and order the withholding of support from the income of the person obligated to pay the support;
  • Upon request of the petitioner, provide counseling or other social services for the parties, if married, or if there are minor children;
  • Order the abusing party to participate in treatment or counseling services;
  • Award temporary use and possession of property and make other orders regarding property;
  • Exclude the abusing party from the place of employment of the petitioner or otherwise limit the abusing party’s access to the petitioner at the petitioner’s place of employment;
  • Order the abusing party to pay restitution to the petitioner;
  • Order the continuance of all currently available insurance coverage without change in coverage or beneficiary designation; or
  • Order, in its discretion, other relief it deems necessary for the protection of a family or household member, including orders or directives to the sheriff or constable.

Relief that is granted by the order is for a fixed period of time, not to exceed one year, except when the court determines a longer fixed period is appropriate.