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Before I go see a lawyer regarding this I want to know what her options are. This is regarding a family member of mine. Her husband (and his parents) start arguments over small things. All 3 of them gang up on her accuse her doing things that she's not doing. They are basically mentally torturing her. Also they keep track of her (everything that she does), and this prevents her from getting any help. I know all this because she pulled me aside at a large family event and told me all this. They all live together in one house and my family member has 2 children.

They keep track of all phone calls from the cell phone and home phone. The parents don't work so they are always home. They don't like her talking to anyone, and so she's trying to respect their wishes and doesn't call anyone in the family, and she has no friends. Because of their over-controlling nature she doesn't work.

This has been going on for over a year or two. What legal recourse does she have? Is what they are doing to her a criminal offense? As far as I know the husband hasn't hit her, so it's can't be a domestic violence case. But can mental torture count as something? And even though she is respecting their wishes of not talking to anyone, can that count as being held against her wishes?

She wants to make it work because our families are very traditional and divorce is considered very taboo. I don't think at this point she will ask for a divorce, so I'm wondering what other options are there. I told her to call the police the next time they do it and file a complaint. But how far can that go? I know very little about law, but I'm aware laws can vary by state, but for now I want to leave that out.

Thanks

closed as off-topic by chapka, Pat W., gracey209, jqning, jimsug Oct 8 '15 at 5:02

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    This isn't a legal problem. It's a codependency problem. – jqning Oct 6 '15 at 0:28
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    I don't think this is something that can or should be addressed on this Q&A site (and I would vote to close this question). Like you said: If nobody is breaking any laws, this isn't something the law deals with. Many governments, churches, and other civic organizations offer resources and counseling for dealing with domestic abuse of this magnitude. – feetwet Oct 6 '15 at 0:34
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    This is a legal issue. Domestic violence is illegal in the United States (and most other civilised parts of the world). – Dale M Oct 6 '15 at 1:29
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    This is definitely a legal issue, its Domestic Violence – LOSTinNEWYORK Oct 6 '15 at 2:21
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    I agree that unless she wants to make it a legal issue by either filing for divorce, or if the requirements are met, getting a protection from harassment and stay away order (and this usually will only precede a divorce, as if you don't want to leave the guy, you don't want him out!). If she just wants help dealing with a mentally abusive jerk, but won't leave him, she needs family counseling to try to "fix" him and herself, to get the strength to leave. The family can be traditional all they want, but they don't have to live with the guy. – gracey209 Oct 6 '15 at 14:21
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This is Domestic Violence: if often but not always includes "all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence."

What legal recourse does she have?

She can report it to the police, in many states in the US the police are obliged to make an arrest and start an investigation. If she does this the process is entirely out of her hands. The police will decide if sufficient evidence exists to bring charges and your relative will be obliged to testify on penalty of perjury.

Is what they are doing to her a criminal offense?

It is probably a crime in the state your relative lives in.

As far as I know the husband hasn't hit her, so it's can't be a domestic violence case. But can mental torture count as something?

Violence does not mean physical violence: psychological or economic violence is domestic violence.

And even though she is respecting their wishes of not talking to anyone, can that count as being held against her wishes?

This is a matter of degree: doing something you don't want to do is not necessarily coercion. To be coerced you must accede to the request due to force or threats: the threats can be implicit.

But how far can that go?

Jail, AVOs, probation etc. see above.

Think very carefully before involving the law.

  • This answer is very imformative and imperative to me because I know someone that is actually going through the above situation and the law IS investigating her situation – LOSTinNEWYORK Oct 6 '15 at 2:27
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    Does Wikipedia's definition actually match that of the law? Can you point to a criminal law in some state that makes a crime of the conduct described in the question? I found laws that prohibit threats of (physical) violence, but that doesn't seem to be alleged here. At a certain point, I'd think such a law would face First Amendment scrutiny. – Nate Eldredge Oct 6 '15 at 3:11
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    @NateEldredge Which law? There are 196 nations in the world; many of those have sub-national jurisdictions. For my place of residence it is: community.nsw.gov.au/docs_menu/parents_carers_and_families/… – Dale M Oct 6 '15 at 3:32
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    The question is tagged united-states. I'd accept a law of any US state. As for NSW, I would point out that your link says "Many forms of domestic violence are offences" but does not specify which ones. – Nate Eldredge Oct 6 '15 at 3:45
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Options:

  1. Divorce
  2. Informal separation (cooling off period)
  3. Legal separation
  4. Family counseling (joint)

    a. secular based

    b. religious based

  5. Individual counseling (independent)

    a. secular based

    b. religious based

  6. Domestic violence hotline

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