How does Judaism regard emotional abuse in a marriage? (More focused form of this question.)
closed as not a real question by Seth J, Gershon Gold, Isaac Moses Jun 21 '12 at 15:16
It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, see the FAQ.
Let's start by saying that - duh, it's prohibited. Anyone is prohibited from ona'at devarim, wronging others verbally. Additionally the Talmud says "love your neighbor like yourself" is a guiding principle prohibiting going into a marriage likely to be one filled with contempt, so it should be a no-brainer that abusive behavior is out.
The Talmud, in the seventh chapter of Ketubot, lists a series of behaviors that would be grounds for divorce with a financial settlement favoring the wife. It's clearly describing some forms of psychologically abusive behavior.
So emotional abuse certainly can be grounds for a divorce, and will affect the monetary settlement.
Traditionally, Jewish law with regards to torts is limited to actions, not words. (Though testifying in court is considered an action.) I would be obligated to pay for embarrassment for slapping someone in the face, pulling down his pants in public, or spitting on him; but the courts per se wouldn't do anything if I just called him a name (albeit a terrible one that horribly hurt him). Nonetheless, per Rabbi Warburg's article in Tradition (Spring 2012), occasionally Jewish courts have ruled that extrajudicial measures may be necessary as a matter of public policy, and have awarded damages for verbal abuse as well.