Different Types Of Abuse And Their Impact On You

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated July 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Abuse, in any form, may have a profound and long-lasting impact on an individual's life. The effects of abuse can be both physical and psychological, and they may range from minor to severe. 

Coping with the aftermath of abuse can be a challenging and often overwhelming experience, but it can be important to remember that there is hope for recovery and healing. One way to receive professional support may be to match with a licensed therapist through an online therapy platform.

This article explores types of abuse, the lasting effects of abuse, and resources for individuals who have experienced abuse or are currently experiencing any form of abuse. 

It can be possible to heal after experiencing abuse

Types of abuse

Abuse encompasses various actions within an abusive relationship, extending beyond physical violence to include emotional, psychological, sexual, and financial abuse. In today's digital age, social media has become a platform for perpetrators to exert power and control over others, perpetuating abusive behaviors such as monitoring, harassment, and manipulation. 

Here are some of the most prevalent types of abuse an individual might experience:

  • Physical abuse

  • Emotional abuse

  • Psychological abuse

  • Sexual abuse

  • Financial abuse

  • Neglect

  • Verbal abuse

  • Digital or online abuse

  • Spiritual abuse

  • Cultural or identity-based abuse

These abusive tactics often serve to isolate individuals experiencing abuse from support networks and amplify feelings of fear and dependency within the abusive relationship. They can perpetuate the cycle of abuse and domestic violence, making it difficult for the individual experiencing the abuse to identify it and leave the situation even with resources like the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Understanding the effects of abuse

Below, learn about the range of effects that can stem from abuse.

Physical effects

Physical abuse generally involves using physical force to cause harm or injury to another person. It can result in a range of physical symptoms, such as bruises, broken bones, and other physical injuries. In severe cases, physical abuse may lead to permanent disabilities or even death. The physical scars from abuse may be a constant reminder of the trauma, potentially causing physical and psychological pain and discomfort. These physical scars might make it difficult for individuals to move on from the abuse and start the healing process.

Psychological effects

The psychological effects of abuse may be just as damaging, if not more so, than the physical effects. Psychological abuse might cause feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, and low self-esteem, and it might result in depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Psychological abuse can also lead to a loss of trust in others, potentially making it difficult for individuals to form healthy relationships in the future. These psychological effects can impact an individual's ability to lead a fulfilling life and achieve their goals.

Emotional effects

Abuse can leave an individual feeling hopeless, helpless, and isolated. It may cause feelings of anger, guilt, and shame and can lead to a loss of trust in others. Abuse may result in difficulty forming and maintaining relationships and may impact an individual's ability to create healthy attachments. These emotional effects may be long-lasting, possibly making it difficult for individuals to heal and move forward.

Long-term effects

The long-term effects of abuse may last for years or even a lifetime. They may include chronic physical pain, ongoing psychological distress, and a decreased ability to form healthy relationships. The long-term effects of abuse may also impact an individual's ability to lead a fulfilling life and achieve their goals. Understanding the potential long-term effects of abuse can be essential to take the necessary steps toward recovery and healing.

Coping with the effects of abuse

Read on to learn about how you may cope with the impacts of abuse.

Seek support

It can be crucial to seek support from loved ones, friends, or a licensed mental health professional if you are experiencing or have experienced abuse. Talking to someone about your experiences can help you process the trauma and begin to heal.

Practice self-care

Self-care can be an essential part of the healing process. Taking care of yourself may include exercising, journaling, and engaging in hobbies. Taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being can help you feel stronger and more resilient in the face of trauma.

Seek professional help

It can be beneficial to seek professional help to cope with the effects of abuse. A mental health professional may be able to provide guidance and support throughout the healing process. They may use a range of therapy techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or trauma-focused therapy, to help you come to terms with your experiences and start to rebuild your life.

Consider medication

In some cases, medication may manage the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or PTSD resulting from abuse. Speak to your doctor or psychiatrist to determine whether medication may be appropriate for you.

Join a support group

Joining a support group may provide you with a community of individuals who can understand what you're going through and offer support and encouragement. Support groups may be an effective way to connect with others and feel less isolated.

Educate yourself

Educating yourself on the effects of abuse and how to heal may help you better understand the impact that abuse has had on your life. This knowledge may help you advocate for yourself and make informed decisions about your recovery.

Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, may help you manage the symptoms of trauma and reduce stress. These techniques can also help you feel more in control and better able to cope with difficult emotions.

It can be possible to heal after experiencing abuse

Benefits of online therapy

One benefit of online therapy related to coping with the effects of abuse may be that it can provide individuals with a safe and supportive environment to process their experiences and emotions. Those seeking help through an online therapy platform may attend sessions from the location of their choice, potentially helping them feel more comfortable as they discuss vulnerable topics.

Effectiveness of online therapy

A large body of research generally reports that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy. One study investigated the efficacy of internet-delivered cognitive therapy for PTSD, which can often be experienced by people who have survived abuse. It generally found that this type of therapy could be an acceptable and efficacious treatment for PTSD.

Takeaway

The effects of abuse can be profound and long-lasting, but individuals may recover and heal with the proper support and resources. Coping with the aftermath of abuse is often a difficult journey, but help and support are available. Taking steps like seeking support, practicing self-care, and working with a mental health professional may contribute to a positive outcome. Additionally, educating yourself about the effects of abuse and practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques may help you gain a greater sense of control over your life and begin to heal.
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