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How Does Abuse Affect A Woman?

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

Physical and emotional health issues can develop over time as a result of violence against women. But how does abuse affect a woman?

How Does Abuse Affect A Woman

Children, families, and communities are also impacted by violence and abuse, in addition to the women who are victims.

These negative consequences include impairment to a person’s health, long-term damage that may be done to children, and harm to communities like job loss and homelessness.

To get a clearer picture of how abuse can affect women, this article will tell you everything you need to know about both the long-term and short-term effects of abuse.

Short-Term Physical Effects Of Abuse

Violence’s immediate bodily impacts might range from simple illnesses to life-threatening disorders. Bumps, wounds, shattered bones, and organ injuries are among some examples.

Without scans, x-rays, or other tests carried out by a doctor or nurse, it can be difficult or impossible to see some physical ailments.

Among the immediate bodily impacts of sexual violence are vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, unwanted pregnancy, trouble sleeping, night terrors, and sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV or herpes.

A physical injury can harm both you and the unborn child if you are pregnant. In some instances of sexual assault, this is also true.

Consider your children’s safety if you are sexually or physically attacked by the person you live with and you have kids in the house.

Child abuse is a common component of domestic violence. Many children who witness domestic violence also experience abuse.

Long-Term Physical Effects Of Abuse

Numerous long-term health issues have been associated with violence against women, including sexual and physical assault. These may consist of:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Heart problems
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Digestive problems, like stomach ulcers
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Pain during sex
  • Stress
  • Problems with the immune system

Following violence, many women also experience mental health issues.

Some women start abusing alcohol or drugs, or engaging in dangerous activities like having sex without protection, to cope with the impact of the violence.

Sexual assault can alter a person’s image of their own body, which can result in extremely unhealthy eating habits or eating disorders.

You are not alone if you’re going through these difficulties. You can overcome these challenges with the use of resources on overcoming abuse.

Mental Health Effects Of Abuse

If you have been the victim of physical or sexual abuse, you may feel a range of emotions, including fear, confusion, rage, or even numbness and little to no emotion at all.

You might experience guilt or humiliation for being attacked.

By hiding bruises and rationalizing the abuser, some people attempt to downplay the violence or conceal it.

Know that it is not your fault if you have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

Getting help for abuse or assault might help avoid negative long-term impacts on one’s mental health and other health issues.

The following are possible long-term mental health impacts of violence against women:

  • Anxiety – This could be all-encompassing general worry or a quick, severe panic attack. Over time, anxiety might worsen and interfere with your daily life. You can get assistance from a mental health professional if you’re feeling anxious.
  • Depression – Despite being a serious illness, depression may be treated and relief is possible. Speak with a mental health professional if you are experiencing depression.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – This might follow from a traumatic event or a startling or frightful encounter, like a sexual assault or physical abuse. You can be easily spooked, feel tense or on edge, have trouble falling asleep, or lose your temper easily. Additionally, you can have problems remembering things or bad ideas about other people or yourself. Speak with a mental health expert if you believe you suffer from PTSD.

Other impacts may include withdrawing from others, giving up activities you formerly enjoyed, losing your ability to trust people, and having low self-esteem.

Many women who have experienced violence turn to drugs, alcohol, smoking, or overeating as a coping mechanism.

According to research, 90% of women with substance use disorders have been the victims of physical or sexual abuse.

In the short term, using drugs or alcohol may make you feel better, but in the long run, it just makes you feel worse.

Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or binge eating won’t make the event go away or help you move past it. If you are contemplating or have used alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, seek help.

Abuse And Traumatic Brain Injury

Concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) from being hit on the head or falling and striking your head are major risks of physical abuse. TBI can cause:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headache or head pressure
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating

Some TBI symptoms could take a few days to manifest. Long-term TBI effects include depression and anxiety. 

TBI can affect your capacity to think clearly, which can affect your ability to establish and follow through on plans.

A woman who is in an abusive relationship may find it more challenging to leave as a result.

If you have any of these symptoms after hurting your head, consult a doctor or nurse even if you feel fine. 

Other Effects Of Abuse

While violence against women has many effects on physical and mental health, it can also affect a woman’s life in other ways too:

  • Children – Because they are afraid of losing custody or contact with their children, women who have children may continue to live with an abusive partner.
  • Work – A traumatic event like sexual assault may make it difficult for someone to function at work. In the first year following a sexual assault, half of the women who experienced it were forced to quit or were made to leave their jobs. For these women, the total lifetime income loss is close to $250,000.
  • School – When a woman is sexually attacked in college, she might be reluctant to disclose the incident and carry on with her studies. However, Title IX rules mandate that colleges offer additional support to college-age victims of sexual assault. Schools can offer mental health therapy, academic tutoring, and assistance with enforcing no-contact orders with an abuser.
  • Home – Violence against women often forces them to flee their families in search of protection. According to research, half of all homeless women and children were attempting to flee violence from an intimate partner.

Violence against women can sometimes be fatal. An intimate partner kills more than half of the women who are killed each year.

Violence was encountered by one in ten of these women in the month before their deaths.

Who Can Help?

A mental health expert can assist you in coping with emotional issues after you receive treatment for physical wounds.

How Does Abuse Affect A Woman (1)

You can work with a counselor or therapist to improve your self-esteem, learn healthy coping mechanisms, and cope with your emotions.

You can either look up a list of mental health services online or ask your doctor for the name of a therapist.

Final Word

Experiencing abuse can be a life-changing event in a woman’s life, and with that come many after effects, including impacts to mental and physical health, as well as other facets of life. 

If you’re a victim of abuse, there are many resources and people out there that can help you, so long as you reach out.

Doing this will help you avoid the effects of abuse that you might experience for the rest of your life.

Read More about Narcissist Abuse and Domestic Violence

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

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