End Mental Violence in Virginia


Dear Lawmaker,

"Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can be only forgiven, not forgotten." -Unknown
"..life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."
― Charles Swindoll

I am a survivor. I've survived physical, psychological, and emotional child abuse and domestic abuse. The physical violence left visible, permanent scars and damage, including a permanent right arm paralysis. The psychological scars are less visible, but have a complex, destructive impact on my life. Virginia laws and regulations fall short in establishing psychological abusive behavior as a deplorable.

Virginia laws convey more protection and value for inanimate objects. The intrinsic value of one's sense of self has no recognized value. Here are two statutory examples to illustrate exactly that. Graffiti on property valued over $,1000 is a class 6 felony, while slander, damage ones reputation, is a class 3 misdemeanor. What's the implied moral message here?

Looking back at the extensive history of abuse, that describes my life, I can see where a law criminalizing mental violence, would have deterred many situations or offered me protection. Many times I felt abandoned because I had no protection from mental abuse from the state.

Can you place a monetary value on your sense of self-worth, your integrity, or your reputation? Unlike property there are no replacements or a standard to determine being made whole; an outcome without the abuse is unknown I feel by criminalizing psychological abuse, Virginia would recognize mental health has stature and the inherent value of one's self. A sense of self is far more valuable than any piece of property.

Sincerely,
Dorothy Miranda Collins
1121 Jim Rowe Hollow Rd
Grundy VA 24614
276-935-2250


I am asking the 2020 General Assembly to consider the following:
Psychological abuse is only recognized in conjunction with other statuary crimes, such domestic violence and stalking. I feel by establishing this type of abuse as a stand alone crime society would be kinder and more respectful of individualism.

§ 18.2-416. Punishment for using abusive language to another..
If any person shall, in the presence or hearing of another, curse or abuse such other person, or use any violent abusive language to such person concerning himself or any of his relations, or otherwise use such language, under circumstances reasonably calculated to provoke a breach of the peace, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Proposed Additions:
Mental Violence: Repeated Verbal Abuse, coercive behavior, and/or coercive acts which could be constituted by words or other actions, to degrade one's quality of life and/or mental well-being and cause a change to one's mental or physical state".
Mental Abuse: Repeated acts of Mental Violence subjecting or exposing another person to actions and/or behaviors that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

1. Only general intent should be required. Since the conduct is in contradiction of the social norm, only that the act or behavior was performed need to be established by the complainant.
2. Actions or expressions including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.
3. The burden of proof should be 'what a reasonable person would think".

Psychological abuse extends to areas: school house bullying, stalking, libel, slander, domestic violence, harassment, and situations involving race, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation. Psychological damage is not visible and the severity is often delayed providing lawmakers cover; if you can't see it, it does not exist.

Update #13 days ago
I was questioned about this proposal being covered by other statues and it is if that crime can be proven. However that is not my goal, I want to have psychological abuse recognized for its own merits. After consulting with several people I have made changes to the proposal in order to reflect this idea.
I appreciate everyone's support and encourage you to share. The road blocks established by the state and by businesses make it very difficult for me to make others aware.
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