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Side Effects of Abuse

author image Alia Butler
Alia Butler holds a Master of Social Work from Washington University, St. Louis, concentrating in mental health, and a Master of Arts in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University. Currently, Butler is a freelance writer, penning articles focusing on mental health, healthy living and issues surrounding work-life balance. She is the principle/owner of ALIA Living, LLC, providing residential interior design services, professional organizing and life coaching.
Side Effects of Abuse
A woman presses her hands and head against a window inside an office building and looks sad. Photo Credit YanLev/iStock/Getty Images

The effects of abuse depend on the personality of the victim, the length and intensity of the abuse, the relationship with the abuser and treatment. Abuse can have lingering side effects, including emotional, health and financial problems. They can damage family life, relationships and careers.


Physical abuse can often be seen in the form of bruises and broken bones. Abuse that is emotional tends to be less noticeable. The person who is emotionally abused may be belittled, patronized, threatened, ignored or rejected, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sexual abuse occurs when someone is forced to engage in any sexual act to which she did not consent. Neglect is a form of abuse that generally victimizes children, the elderly and those who are dependent on others. It involves depriving someone of her basic physical and emotional needs.

Side Effects

A victim of abuse may develop a mental health problem, such as depression, substance abuse, self-injurious behavior or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Someone who has been physically or sexually abused may have an STD or a worsened chronic condition, such as hypertension or diabetes, according to the Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection.
Abusive situations can leave a person without the finances to support herself or her family, possibly because she was cut off from marital funds by her husband, or she was not allowed to work. Many times, victims of abuse must flee an abusive situation with very limited funds and no job .

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Abuse of a child can increase the risk that the child will become an abuser later in life, according to the Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection. Children who experience abuse may feel the effects long into adulthood. They may have trouble trusting others, maintaining relationships and being intimate with others. They may develop mental health issues, such as anxiety, eating disorders or substance abuse.
Abuse can leave an adult with low self-esteem and trauma that is hard to overcome. According to the website Help Guide, the trauma of abuse can leave an adult feeling isolated and disconnected for a significant period of time after the abuse has ended.


Both leaving an abusive situation and remaining in it can result in significant injury or death of the victim, according to Help Guide. Those who remain in abusive relationships are at risk of sustaining repeated injuries. Those who leave must take all precautions to keep themselves safe, as there is a likelihood that the abuser will try to find her.
Thousands of children actually lose their lives to abuse, according to the Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection. Therefore, every step to protect the child must be taken when someone suspects abuse or the child says she is being abused.


It is important that abuse be identified and treated early on in an effort to lessen the side effects, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Treatment will help ward off some of the lingering consequences that abuse can have and rebuild the person’s self-confidence and trust in others.

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