What is psychological abuse in Spanish Law?

Psychological abuse is a specific form of aggression or abuse, characterized by intentional acts or behaviors that produce devaluation, suffering or psychological aggression, placing the victim in a climate of anguish that destroys her/his emotional balance.

We cannot ignore that our Spanish Criminal Code, in its article 153, does not distinguish between physical or psychological violence, that is, legally they are equally reprehensible, an issue that, as noted above, is often overlooked.

The problem that might be encountered with this type of abuse is conceptual in the first place, since there is a broad doctrinal debate on the matter, although it is mostly understood that not all verbal expression constitutes psychological violence, but only that which, more or less relevant, it directly affects the person's psyche, directly endangering their mental health.

This means that if it is already difficult to determine the scope of psychological injuries, it will be much more complicated to determine when psychological violence implies a danger to mental health.

We also have to take into account that violence in the family sphere already punishes behaviors and/or behaviors that outside of this, would not be criminally reprehensible, and this, from the point of view of psychological abuse, is even more complicated to assess, because it is more difficult to define the contours of this type of violence compared to what can still be inserted within the limits of what is admissible or tolerated.

On the other hand, let's point out article 173.2 of the Penal Code that punishes those who habitually exercise physical and psychological violence on whoever is or has been their spouse or on a person who is or has been linked to them by a similar affective relationship, even without living together.

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