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What Is “Non physical” Domestic Violence?


When most people think about domestic violence, they imagine one partner physically abusing another member of the household. While this tragic situation occurs all too often, it is not the only form of domestic violence. Nonphysical domestic violence can be just as harmful to victims. Nonphysical violence, abuse and harassment can harm a person mentally, emotionally and psychologically. Nonphysical domestic violence is still just as much a crime as physical violence in Colorado. Survivors may still call the police about nonphysical domestic violence, and perpetrators can face criminal charges. Learn what constitutes nonphysical domestic violence to understand your rights.

Colorado’s Definition of Domestic Violence Is Broad

Each state has its own statute defining the crime of domestic violence. Colorado Code §18-6-800.3 says domestic violence is an act or threatened act of violence between a perpetrator and victim who are in an intimate relationship. A threatened act of violence does not necessarily have to be physical. In the eyes of the law, violence or threats of violence can be verbal, mental or emotional. Any act that places the victim in fear of his or her safety, or the safety of a family member or pet, can constitute domestic violence.

Nonphysical domestic violence can lead to criminal convictions and penalties just like physical violence in Colorado. The sentence for a conviction could include fines, jail time, probation and mandatory treatment programs. Survivors of nonphysical domestic violence may also apply for protective orders against the perpetrator. A protective order such as a restraining order could prevent the offender from contacting or seeing the victim and his or her family for a specific period. This could help protect the victim from physical and/or nonphysical abuse.

Types of Nonphysical Domestic Violence

Colorado does not restrict its definition of domestic violence or abuse to only physical injury or assault. While kicking, punching, slapping or sexual abuse can constitute domestic violence, so can many nonphysical acts. If a nonphysical act between two people in an intimate relationship inflicts mental harm, psychological trauma or emotional distress on the victim, it could fulfill the legal definition of domestic violence. Several nonphysical acts could be domestic violence according to the state’s definition.

  • Stalking
  • Verbal threats
  • Harassment
  • Coercion
  • Control
  • Isolation
  • Intimidation
  • Identity theft
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Destroying property

An abuser does not have to lay a hand on the victim for the courts to convict him or her of domestic violence. Any nonphysical act that causes the victim distress, emotional harm or economic losses (including loss of job) could be a crime. Domestic violence does not only have to target the victim. In Colorado, a domestic partner threatening or committing a crime against the victim’s property, pet or child could also constitute domestic violence.

Do You Have a Case?

If your spouse, domestic partner or another person in your household is guilty of yelling, screaming, belittling, humiliating, stalking or otherwise harassing you, he or she could face charges for domestic violence. The same is true if someone in your household made you feel a real fear of imminent bodily injury or death to you, a loved one or a pet. Even without any physical injuries, you could have a case against someone for domestic violence in Colorado.

Call the police if you believe someone is guilty of domestic violence in your household. Realize, however, that once you call 911, the case will be out of your hands. The law enforcement officers and the prosecutors will be the ones who decide whether to press charges, regardless of whether you want to proceed with the case. Your lack of cooperation during a criminal investigation, however, could lead to the courts dismissing the case. Colorado has resources available for victims and survivors of domestic violence, including nonphysical domestic violence.  If you have been a victim of domestic violence, consider hiring a divorce lawyer in Fort Collins and contacting authorities.


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