Going through a divorce can be a challenging and emotionally draining time. Unfortunately, some spouses resort to emotionally abusive behaviors to gain leverage or get their way during divorce proceedings. 48.4% of women and 48.8% of men say they have experienced psychological aggression in a relationship, with 23.5% of divorces citing domestic abuse as a factor.

When a relationship ends and emotions are running high, some partners resort to abusing their partner to ensure they get what they want from the divorce settlement. If you feel you have been the victim of emotional abuse by your soon-to-be ex, you’re not alone. Talk to a family law firm with experienced divorce lawyers.

Hossein Berenji, an experienced family law attorney in Beverly Hills, CA, shares what steps you can take to protect yourself:

Acknowledge the Abuse

First and foremost, acknowledge that you have been abused and do not deserve to be treated that way under any circumstances. Emotional abuse can take many forms, including verbal attacks, intimidation, manipulation, and more. Financial abuse, where a partner withholds money or steals money, occurs in 98% of abusive relationships. Your spouse may have said cruel things, threatened you, tried to control or isolate you, or purposefully done things to make you feel diminished. One in seven women are stalked by a partner – you do not have to tolerate this kind of behavior.

Recognizing that these harmful actions constitute abuse is essential. You may be inclined to excuse their behavior because of the stress of divorce, but abuse should never be tolerated or ignored, no matter what the underlying cause.

Create Emotional and Physical Distance

Once you identify the abuse, take steps to create physical and emotional distance. This may mean moving out of shared living spaces for the time being and limiting contact. Divorce lawyers can establish temporary orders related to the use of property, finances, custody arrangements, etc.


The less direct interaction you have with your abusive spouse at this time, the better. Leaning on close friends and family for support can also help provide a healthy perspective during this transition.

Speak to a Divorce Lawyer to Know Had to Proceed

Be strategic in your divorce proceedings going forward. Speak to your divorce attorney about the best legal strategies to pursue in light of the abuse you’ve endured. This may have implications related to the division of assets, alimony, child custody arrangements, and more. Make sure your divorce lawyer and the court are aware of the emotional abuse, providing documentation and evidence whenever possible.

Many partners escalate the abuse once the person tries to end the relationship. Leaving an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time, and it takes an abuse victim around seven attempts before they stay away for good.

Courts generally take abuse allegations very seriously. Having it on record will help protect your interests moving forward.

You may also benefit from speaking to a counselor or therapist during the divorce process. The emotional trauma inflicted by an abusive partner can be significant. Seeking professional support and guidance can help validate what you’ve been through. It can equip you with healthy coping strategies and constructively work through lingering emotional wounds. Don’t underestimate the value of this step. Healing from emotional abuse, even after separation, takes time and focused effort.


Going through a divorce is complicated enough on its own. Coping with abuse by a spouse at the same time is exponentially more difficult. Just know that you can get through this – the abuse is not your fault and does not need to define your future. By leaning on the legal system, your support network, counseling, and your own inner resilience, you can make it to the other side and start fresh. You deserve to feel safe, stable, and cared for, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.