Is long-term mental abuse serious injury?


Psychological injuries are just as damaging as physical injuries. In many ways the effects of psychological injuries can be more varied and long lasting. Victoria Price is a director of Price Slater Gawne and also Head of our Serious Injury team: she is one of the UK’s foremost serious injury specialist solicitors.

With an extensive background in serious injury, fatal injury and criminal injury claims, she has successfully brought claims against numerous defendants including private individuals, employers, large corporations, Government ministries and NHS Trusts. She is also highly experienced in making claims to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme in respect of physical and psychological injuries, including abuse and historical abuse cases. Here she answers the question: is long-term mental abuse serious injury?

Mental abuse

Mental abuse is usually caused by one person or more against another. The abuser might be a bully, criticising and undermining the victim’s thoughts and decisions; they can be judgemental, controlling, possessive, manipulative, cruel, aggressive and frightening. They can isolate the victim from family and friends, limit their access to money, to the internet, phones and to her kinds of communication.

The victim’s identity can be eroded over time to the point when they rely totally on the abuser. In extreme situations the victim can be so scared and undermined that the abuse takes control of every thing to do with the victim’s life.

Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to this behaviour.

The effects of long-term mental abuse

The effect of fear, and the erosion of someone’s ability to live life as they should be able to, can damage someone’s personality. It can also affect brain function. Some people never break free of the abuser. Some do and they can spend many years in therapy as they come to terms with what has happened to them. Many develop psychological conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder,  anxiety, depression, agoraphobia and hyper-arousal.

Psychological effects and the use of therapy

Therapy is effective and can really help survivors to recover. Some survivors don’t ever fully recover and can need therapy for many years. These psychological effects will effect people’s ability to work, they type of work they do, their ability to socialise and meet new people and their friendships and relationships.

Coercive control and gaslighting

Psychiatry, psychology and the law have made many advances over the last 50 years, The criminal law as well as civil law now recognise the damage that mental abuse causes and acknowledge that here is no place in society for this. The criminal law introduced the offence of coercive control in 2015 and nowadays most people understand what is meant by ‘gaslighting’ and mental and emotional abuse.

Compensation claims for mental abuse

Alongside this compensation claims for mental abuse are increasing. The compensation is for the injury or damage that the abuser has done to the survivor’s mental health, for financial losses they have sustained as a result and sometimes for therapy and rehabilitation costs.

There are a number of ways a claim can be brought. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised here, please contact our Serious Injury team today. They have many years of experience in handling cases of mental abuse, and are here to help you.