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Effects Of Abuse: 16 Damaging Effects Of Abuse

Effects of Abuse

Have you been seeking answers to questions surrounding the effects of abuse on both adult and children?

Or do you seek to understand the types of abuse as they affect individuals?

Abuse affects different people in different ways and it is important we understand the various factors that influence how each person responds to abuse.

Social/environmental factors as well as biological factors, play different roles on how a person can respond to abuse.

Abusive relationships are toxic in nature, and as with toxic substances, some erode their target swiftly, while some others require a longer time to destroy their target.

This description applies to every form of abuse. It does not serve to build a person in any way; instead, it destroys the person, beginning with their sense of worth, which is underpinned in their subconscious.

The power of the subconscious

The subconscious mind forms the root (the summation of a person’s understanding of the world) from which a person draws up their thought and principles which in turn, produces feeling and behavior.

It informs how each person relates with other people and interpret events in their lives using their own experience, which is also their programming and learning.

Many people are comically out of touch with their authentic selves because of the effects of abuse they have lived with their whole lives.

This is the result of what the subconscious mind produces, given the events (programming, learning and experiences) that have occurred in their lives.

The subconscious mind is like a code. It holds 80 to 95 % of a person’s actions, using their learning and experience from 0 to 10 years of age.

This also means that it entrenches the functioning of the mind and ensures its predictable outcome.

To illustrate this, consider an app installed on a device. The app is able to perform any work at all, on any device, because of the code embedded at its root. This code is the information the app fetches in order to produce its outcome.

This code does not just ensure its effective functionality, it is also responsible for the uniformity and consistency of style on any device the app is installed.

You are the app, and the working of your experience is the predictable and uniform result of code.

Your experiences, which formed your core belief about the nature of yourself and of the world, are at the root of your consciousness.

It is a place from whence you draw up information, interpret your experience, and respond to the environment (society).

effects of abuse

Types of Abuse

There are various types of abuse

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse relates to a bodily deformation or a persistent physical violation a person suffers on the body. Its degree ranges from deformations, body mutilation to ones as low as bruises.

Sometimes, there might not exist any physical mark on the body to prove it.  However, it does not deduce the fact that the body has suffered an objectification or denigration of the sort.

Across the globe there is a larger furor attached to physical abuse. Admittedly, it is because of the visible sign of the damage rendered, as opposed to what it is in other types of abuse.

There is an easily-detectible physical evidence. Also because more persons have turned out research on the effects of physical abuse than there is on other types of abuse.

However, while physical abuse is highly evil in itself, the profundity of its effect cannot be compared to that of emotional and psychological abuse.

Cuts, sprains, burn marks, torn or bloodstained clothes, scars, swollen face, broken bones, etc often mark physical abuse.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is one of the types of abuse that has both long and short term effects on the victim.

It is any persistent attack on a person’s sense of value, which leads to a fundamental distortion on their sense of self and life.

Admittedly, the signs of emotional abuse are subtle and it is quite difficult for a person to understand what is being done to them, especially if he or she lives in that situation.

The effects of emotional abuse hold the adjoining point to other types of abuse, including the physical, sexual and spiritual abuse.

Therefore, it is important to not take for granted, the ‘subtlety’ of emotional abuse as its effect does not just affect the victim, but also the people around him or her.

Sexual Abuse

This type of abuse centers on sexual violence from one person to another. It is violence against a person’s unwillingness to participate in a sexual activity.

Sexual abuse can range from rape, to molestation, both of which can have an equal proportion of psychological damage to a person’s self-esteem and mental function.

Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual Abuse refers to an injustice carried out against a person using spiritual claims and backings. Amongst other types of abuse, spiritual abuse is often carried out using the form of hypnotism. This can range from deceit to forgery; all using spiritual or religious backings.

This type of abuse has its perpetrator often posing as someone who is a revered spiritual or religious head.

Spiritual abuse is exacerbated by a person’s inability to generate their own sense of self, which leads to a difficulty in any constructive relationship with the victim’s target of worship.

As often is the case, these authority figures conjure up baseless claims and backings, often for self-aggrandizement and some other times, for monetary gains.

However, this opens the victim to unquestioned leanings on the spiritual heads, for guidance, which consequently, leads them to wander around for solution for a greater part of their lives.

Spiritual abuse is not commonly talked about or identified, because of the obscurity surrounding its manifestations or effects.

Also, given the kind of power this authority figures command, it is often almost a case of plausible deniability.

Types of Abuse

Examples Of Abuse

There are various examples of abuse, common and prevalent in the society. Some of these examples of abuse are those obscure to some people, while some others deem as irrelevant.

Discrimination. This involves denying a person their rights on the grounds of gender, race, religion or affiliations.

Sexual violence. It involves a person’s attitude towards another’s sexual orientations, preference and values.

Exploitation. Exploitation involves a person’s manipulation on another in order to have their way. It often manifests in the form of blame or subtle coercion into doing the abuser’s bidding.

The aim is to make the victim look all bad, which comically gives the abuser a boost on their self-perception.

Simply put, exploitation is an act of using another for your self-aggrandizement.

Gaslighting. This manifests when a perpetrator controls the victim’s memory of events and replaces them with doubt towards the veracity of the actual event.

Gaslighting reveals in the victim’s constant questioning of their self and agreeing to the perpetrators version of events, without a clear understanding of their motivation.

Hitting or pulling. Attacking a person’s body. The treatment of a person’s body as an object rather than a dignifying carriage.

Criticism. This takes a negative form when the victim is disparaged, berated or belittled. It is also a tool for self-aggrandizement on the part of the abuser.

Your experience or learning forms your subconsciousClick To TweetYour experience forms your subconscious.

Effects of abuse on adults

The effects of abuse on adults cannot be over-emphasized as they affect every facet of  adulthood if not recognized and given adequate attention.

Abuse increases the likelihood of one or more emotional and mental disorders including various medical ailments or a bad physical health.

They are:

Anxiety and hyper-vigilance- Abused people can develop susceptibility to malignant sensitivity towards rejection, perceived harm or threat. They would often interpret actions around them from a place of mistrust and unlovable feeling.

This often leads to aggression and behavioral misconducts.

Sex aversion and Sexual promiscuity- In the case of sexual abuse, a child can develop aversion to sex in the future, given their unpleasant experience. Alternatively, it can trigger sexual promiscuity for some others, as an adverse way of craving acceptance.

This can also increase the chance of sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Personality disorder- Personality disorders such as borderline, histrionic, narcissism, etc. can arise because of the child’s inability to deal with the adverse situation given their young mind.

Therefore, their personality becomes a tool to arrive at the best way their mind can resolve the boggling circumstance they are faced with.

Decision Making- An abused person may find it difficult making rational decisions, because of the shame they feel or the unending barrage of unworthiness embedded in their subconscious.

This can also lead to losing opportunities, short-changing and under-valuing of self,  or absconding from a well-adjusted setting.

Re-victimization- Once a victim, always creating other victims. Unless otherwise recognized and treated. Also, a victim, victimizes others often because they do not understand what informs their actions.

Multiple Personalities- This effect of abuse knock them out of their authentic feeling, therefore, they present what they perceive to be acceptable (according to how other people react towards them) without understanding the powerful factor underpinning their behavior.

Substance abuse- The major reason people take substances like alcohol or drugs is to generate a good feeling, which they cannot generate for themselves due to the effects of abuse at work within them. Eg. Self-hate, low self-esteem, anxiety etc.

Poor hygiene- Hygiene is often a thing of question when a person is dealing with abuse. Self-hate leads to inattention to self. Things as little as neglect towards oral or body care.

It is worthy of note that for some others, abuse leads to an obsession over body-care. In which case, there would exist a compulsive and obsessive drive to maintain cleanliness at all times.

Depression and negative/suicidal ideations- Abuse also leads to generation of negative and suicidal ideations. Personality and biological factors play a huge role here, in which case for some others, they have no business with negative or suicidal ideations, but resort to other means to drown their pain. Eg drinking, binge eating or shopping etc.

Bad physical health/constant ailment- Self-neglect can lead to obesity or other ailments like diabetes or heart failure. This is because prolonged exposure to abuse can disrupt the brain development, which gives rise to malfunction of the immune and nervous system. The corresponding behaviors adopted by these victims can then lead to chronic illness later in life.

Learned helplessness Over-parenting as well as remaining in adverse situation for a period without help, can lead to a child adjusting to the undesirable situation or even refusing help when it comes along.

Difficulty in maintaining relationships- Just as with hyper-vigilance, the child learns mistrust, as they perceive themselves to be inherently unlovable.

Therefore, even if the victim experiences love in subsequent adult relationships, their fear of rejection catches up on them quickly that they resort to absconding as a way to protect themselves from reliving the pain of their abuse.

Effects of abuse on children

While the effects of abuse on children can be glaring, the child is often blamed for the difficulty they experience. This can be seen in the difficult treatment the child receives from adults around him  or her. Or the deliberate negative label given to the child, like ‘stubborn’, ‘lazy’, etc.

Poor academic performance- An emotionally unstable child lacks the coherence to perform at their optimum academically, given the disruption in the cognitive function of the brain. This could also lead to an eventual drop out from school.

Low self-esteem and poor self-image- One of the effects of abuse on children is the inability to generate their own sense of self-worth.

Self-harm- An aversion to self, leads to a deliberate infliction of injuries on the body, as a way to draw attention to self or express self-hate. Drugs, STis, teen pregnancy and  unsafe abortion are all examples of self-harm.

Bullying- Both child bullies and adult bullies spring from the same source. The behavior of bullying is a means to ward off perceived threat from predators. This is the person’s way of protecting themselves and also control other people.

Frequent illness- A child dealing with abuse experiences a frequent release of cortisol (stress hormone) to the body. This hormone is responsible for the suppression of antibodies which help fight infections.

Factors that influence a child’s response to abuse

Relationship between the victim and abuser


The length of time the child remains with their abuser

The type of abuse the child is exposed to


Note: The movement of a child from their abuser to a healthy environment, is likely to increase the chances of recovery and slow down any of the effects of abuse.

These effects of abuse are however transmitted into adulthood often without the knowledge of the victim.

In some cases, the victim is unable to recognize what he or she suffers usually because of their prolonged exposure to negative circumstances, which they have considered normal or inherent to them.

The effects of abuse on a child as they transcend into adults are enormous. It is a plague that accompanies one all through their lifetime, if not addressed.

Denial in response to abuse

It is important to note that the greatest obstruction to recovery from these effects of abuse is denial.

Denial keeps the person from seeing what is, because of his or her vehement preference for reality.

In all honesty, the people who are the source of these frustrations the victim experience are often the primary caregivers and trusted relatives.

Continuous or prolonged suffering of a victim becomes the price for denial.

If it helps, acknowledging the parents’ fundamental role does not translate to speaking poorly of them. It in fact, means that you are speaking factually of them because it is a reality you cannot evade.

Acceptance does not just benefit you, it also helps the perpetrators see what they need to fix. While it constitutes a healthy means of gratitude towards them and deal constructively with the source of influence.


The effects of abuse bears heavily in the life of the victim.

Understanding the source of pain helps to deal with the existing pain. These effects of abuse commonly present in virtually everyday life.

Did this article strike a chord?

How have you been unknowingly dealing with the effects of abuse?

Share with us using the comment section.

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