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How Does Physical Abuse Affect A Person Long Term?

* 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 abuse can have both immediate and long-lasting repercussions. A bruise or a cut may result from physical abuse right away, but the long-term effects could be severe. So, How Does Physical Abuse Affect A Person Long Term?

The repercussions of physical abuse can be both physical and psychological. Family members, particularly children of the victim and abuser, can also be affected by physical violence.

How Does Physical Abuse Affect A Person Long Term

To help you understand these effects better, we’ve created this article explaining everything you need to know about the long term effects of physical abuse.

What Is Physical Abuse?

According to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, physical abuse is defined as: “the intentional use of force that causes pain, suffering, or disability to another person’s body.

This involves being hit, burned, injured, bruised, or wrongly restrained physically, but is not restricted to those things.”

Physical abuse can occur to adults of any age and is not just a problem for children. Neglect is also regarded as a form of physical abuse, and it frequently occurs when one adult is caring for another, as when an adult child is looking after a parent.

Physical abuse happens frequently, along with other types of abuse such as financial, sexual, and emotional abuse. Physical abusers attempt to dominate their victims by using abusive tactics.

The severity of physical abuse can vary from relatively mild, like a slap, to severe, like breaking bones. Some examples of physical abuse include:

  • Being burned.
  • Being cut.
  • Being stabbed.
  • Being shot.
  • Being physically restrained.
  • Being beaten, such as punched, slapped, kicked, or choked.
  • Being denied sleep.
  • Being drugged.
  • Being deprived of food.
  • Being deprived of medical attention.

Who Suffers From Physical Abuse?

It should be known that anyone can be a victim of physical abuse. However, there are groups of people that are more likely to be affected by it. These include:

  • Women.
  • The elderly.
  • Developmentally disabled people
  • Substance abusers.
  • Mentally ill people
  • Physically disabled people
  • Intimate partners
  • Children.

Even though it is never the victim’s fault, those who have been physically abused frequently experience guilt and shame and try to cover it up.

Victims frequently worry about what would happen if the physical abuse was discovered. Sadly, this frequently enables physical abuse to go unnoticed.

Physical Effects Of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse usually has immediate visible symptoms that can be treated by emergency room doctors or other medical professionals.

They can include bodily ailments including cuts, bruises, shattered bones, and others. However, these wounds of abuse also have long-term repercussions.

Unfortunately, a lot of the physical abuse-related injuries the victim experiences have an impact on them as they age. The following are some long-term impacts of physical abuse:

  • High blood pressure and hypertension.
  • Arthritis.
  • Chronic pain syndromes.
  • Heart disease.
  • Sexually-transmitted disease where part of the physical abuse was also sexual.
  • Lung disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Heart attacks.
  • Brain damage.
  • Back and joint pain.
  • Visual impairment.
  • Migraine headaches.
  • Stroke.
  • Bowel disease.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Chronic bronchitis.
  • Emphysema.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Due to physical abuse, other physical conditions like diabetes could get worse because the sufferer was not given access to care. Physical abuse is also frequently linked to suicide and homicide.

Future pregnancies can also be impacted by the physical abuse suffered by women. The effect of this abuse on pregnancy include low infant birth weight, poor weight gain, pre-term labor, and miscarriage.

Psychological Effect Of Physical Abuse

Psychological Effect Of Physical Abuse

Unfortunately, psychological issues are some of the most severe, long-lasting impacts of physical violence.

The main psychological reaction to physical abuse is depression, but drug and alcohol misuse are also widespread.

When compared to non-abused women, abused women have a 16-times higher chance of alcohol abuse and a 9-times higher risk of drug misuse. 

Among the additional psychological repercussions of physical abuse are:

  • Suicidal thoughts and ideation.
  • Panic disorders.
  • Self harm.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
  • Diminished cognitive skills
  • Social difficulties
  • Inability to regulate emotions
  • Eating disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sleeping problems
  • Self-sabotaging behaviors.

Effects Of Physical Abuse On Children

Even when they themselves are not the victims of violence, children who experience physical abuse suffer grave consequences.

According to research, one-third of kids who see their mother being abused have serious behavioral and mental issues. In fact, children who witness physical abuse are more likely to be victims or perpetrators of it as adults.

The following are possible outcomes of physical abuse on children:

  • Psychosomatic disorders.
  • Anxiety.
  • Compulsive behavior.
  • Stuttering.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Depression.
  • Excessive emotional response.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Anger.
  • Self-destructive behavior.
  • Difficulty trusting others.
  • Issues at school.

Signs That Someone Is Being Abused

Physical manifestations of abuse are often obvious. These may consist of:

  • Cuts.
  • Bruises.
  • Grip marks.
  • Burns.
  • Unusual patterns of injury and frequent trips to the ER.

While the aforementioned physical abuse warning signs are obvious to onlookers, there may be additional, less obvious warning signs. The less obvious indications could be:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Isolation
  • Vague medical complaints, like fatigue or stomach pain.
  • Unwanted pregnancy.
  • Sexual issues.
  • Fearfulness.
  • Depression
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that while these symptoms may point to physical abuse, they could also point to other issues in the victim’s life, so it’s important to avoid making snap judgments.

However, local authorities should be informed if actual physical abuse is thought to have occurred by getting in touch with the police or your county social services office.

Signs That Someone Is An Abuser

If you believe that someone you know might be a victim of physical abuse, you should also take note of the signs their abuser might show. These include:

  • Jealousy.
  • Possessiveness.
  • Controlling behavior, like telling the victim they need permission to do things.
  • Rapid relationship progression, like quick engagements or phrases like “love at first sight.”
  • Blaming others for their own issues.
  • Hypersensitivity.
  • Disrespect towards others.
  • Verbal abuse.
  • Mood swings.
  • Threats.
  • Breaking objects.
  • Violence towards animals.
  • Over-sharing.
  • Manipulative behaviors.

How To Get Help

You should get medical help right away if you or someone you know has been hurt due to physical abuse.

Depending on how bad the damage is, you might need to call your doctor, visit the emergency room, or dial 911.

It’s important to keep in mind that medical professionals are on your side and wish to assist you in escaping physically abusive circumstances. Doctors and other medical professionals can direct you to the source that is best for your present circumstance.

If you don’t need urgent medical attention but still want to get help, you can also:

  • Ask your doctor for a referral
  • Confide in your friends and family.
  • Speak with a psychologist.
  • Get in touch with mental health professionals at your local hospital.
  • Report the abuse on a non-emergency line.

Final Thoughts

Abuse can be extremely damaging to a person, especially if it began when they were very young. It profoundly influences both who we are and how we feel.

The effects of physical abuse on a person can be long-lasting and disastrous on the body and psyche. It’s important to know what can happen if you or someone you love is in such a situation so you can do the right thing and get the right help.

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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