Under a new French law, which has made "psychological violence" a criminal offence, couples who insult each other can now end up being jailed.
The law, which is a first of its kind, is applied to partners who make insults or threats of physical violence, and it means that they could end up facing up to three years in prison and a 75,000 euros fine.
Advertisement"We have introduced an important measure here, which recognises psychological violence, because it isn't just blows (that hurt), but also words," the Telegraph quoted Nadine Morano, junior family minister, as telling the National Assembly.
Morano said the primary abuse help line for French women got 90,000 calls a year, with 84 percent concerning psychological violence, but now even men will have the right to report their wives' verbal abuse.
The bill, which has been unanimously approved by French MPs, defines mental violence as "repeated acts that could be constituted by words", including insults or repeated text messages that "degrade one's quality of life and cause a change to one's mental or physical state".
French judges are however "deeply sceptical" about the new legislation, as they argue the definition of what constitutes an insult is too vague and verbal abuse too hard to prove.
"How can you define what is 'a reiterated insult'?" Virgine Duval, national secretary USM, France's biggest magistrates' union, told The Daily Telegraph.
"This is just a poster law pushed through to please women's rights lobbies - but it's inapplicable in practice and if anything will increase conflicts in families.
"Men who beat their wives can exploit the new law by saying: 'Yes but I was the victim of psychological violence'," she added.