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Domestic Violence: Relevant Even If Nonphysical or Unreported

This article explaining variations on domestic violence was written by Montgomery County Women's Center


Can I get a protective order against someone when they’ve only threatened me?

According to Texas Family Code chapter 85.001, a court can grant a final protective order if the judge concludes that:

  1. Family violence is likely to occur again in the future.
  2. Family violence has occurred.

Family violence is defined as an act against a family member or household member against another family member or household member that does any of the following:

  1. Intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault; or
  2. Makes a threat that reasonably places the person in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.

Based on the above, a threat is family violence as long as the threat reasonably places the person in fear of harm. A threat without any other supporting evidence may not be enough on its own for a protective order. It is completely dependent on the particular facts of each case. 


The violence was a long time ago and I never reported it. Is it relevant?

As a general rule, any violence that has occurred during the relationship is relevant when pursuing a protective order, divorce, or custody. However, the weight given to the evidence is dependent is many factors, especially how long ago it occurred. The most recent incidents are especially important, but the weight given to the abuse decreases the longer the time span between the violent incident and the legal action being pursued.

The violence does not have to be reported to the police in order for it to be relevant. The fact that it happened is enough to make it important to consider using it as evidence in the case. 


There was emotional abuse. I am leaving. Can I get a "restraining order"?

An individual can ask the court for a temporary restraining order as part of a divorce or custody case. Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 680

In order to grant a temporary restraining order, the court must find that because of the emotional abuse, immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will occur if the order is not signed. 

If granted, the temporary restraining order is in effect for 14 days unless a different time period is set by the court. The court sets the matter for hearing so the judge can hear all of the evidence regarding the abuse. The judge then makes a decision on whether to continue the protection in a temporary or permanent injunction. 



What is emotional abuse?

Scenarios and examples of emotional abuse:

  • Withholding affection. 

  • Denying that certain events, discussions, arguments, etc. ever occurred and trying to make the individual appear to be mentally unstable. This is also known as gaslighting

  • Exhibiting jealousy over the individual having relationships with friends and/or family. 

  • Accusing an individual of cheating. 

  • Threatening to harm the individual or self. 

  • Constantly asking for location or with whom the individual is with. 

  • Name calling, insulting, or trying to humiliate an individual in front of friends, family, or strangers. 

What are my remedies if I’m experiencing emotional abuse?

  1. Seek counseling.

  2. Reach out to a domestic violence agency for more information concerning emotional abuse.

  3. Research the Power and Control Wheels from the Texas Council on Family Violence.

  4. Set safe boundaries with the person who is being emotionally abusive.

  5. Consider safety planning with a family violence advocate.

  6. Call 911 if the threats begin to escalate.

  7. Seek legal counsel to determine potential legal remedies. 

What is economic abuse?

Definition of economic abuse according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

“Economic abuse involves maintaining control over financial resources, withholding access to money, or attempting to prevent a victim or survivor from working and/or attending school in an effort to create financial dependence as a means of control. Victims and survivors are often forced to choose between staying in abusive relationships and poverty or even homelessness. Economic abuse is a very common reason victims stay in abusive relationships. Economic abuse can take many forms, including employment-related abuse, preventing the victim from accessing existing funds, coerced debt, and more.”

Scenarios and examples of economic abuse

  1. Forcing the working victim to hand over their entire paycheck to the abusive partner.
  2. Opening accounts and credit cards in the victim’s name.
  3. Forcing the victim to take out loans, mortgages, etc.
  4. Requiring the victim to be the stay at home parent so he/she becomes financially dependent on the abusive partner.
  5. Providing small allowance for groceries and bills but controlling how it’s spent, where it’s spent, and what it is spent on.
  6. Controlling and withholding household funds. 

What are my remedies if I’m experiencing economic abuse?

  1. If you are employed, try to begin saving money in a separate account that the abusive partner does not know about.

  2. If you are not employed, begin saving allowance money or leftover change either in a lockbox or with a trusted friend or family member.

  3. Check your credit report to ensure no new credit cards or accounts have been opened in your name.

  4. Freeze your credit with the three credit bureaus.