After Effects of Abuse Last A Long Time

February 17, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly

My mind would swirl around and refuse to be still during my time with him. I would start a project and then throw it aside, or begin cleaning the bathroom and then find myself folding clothes while the bathroom went unfinished. I'd decide to go to the grocery but somehow forget to go because the mess in my head distracted me and tossed me in another direction.drowning

I was off balance and down on myself for not being able to complete a goal or remember from one minute to the next what was important to me. I blamed myself entirely and wondered what was wrong with me. Fortunately, I only wondered that for short periods of time, too. Unfortunately, I always decided that the answer to that question was that I was hopeless and, without him to provide for me, I would have been dead a long time ago.

I no longer believe that answer.

I see now that my mind was mirroring my external existence. When he and I would talk, the conversation could take off in any direction at any time. It seemed no matter what the topic, the solution to fixing the issue fell on my shoulders. I was to blame for whatever problem we had (and the majority of our conversations were about problems). He seemed to like relieving himself of his responsibilities via placing them one by one onto me. I let him do it. To refuse meant to fight, and his anger was horribly scary.

Like in my external existence, conversations with him left me feeling incapable, unfocused, and just plain wrong. Nothing I said had meaning, or the meaning was twisted into words I'd never said and feelings I didn't feel. My chores were left incomplete just like my thinking processes were left unfinished. I think I was actually unable to follow my thoughts to the logical conclusion that "He was wrong". I stopped short and stuttered internally, and it showed externally in my inability to complete a task.

If you haven't noticed by now, I'm having one of those moments where my mind wants to swirl away and focus on everything else going on in my life, not on writing this post. I've had a tough time of it mentally the past few days.

I think I'm suffering from anniversary anxiety - I left him about a year ago amidst fear and intimidation, and those are the emotions my brain seems to want to focus on right now. I find myself pulled back into the memories, and instead of being able to think my way out of them, I find that my cognitive abilities crumble in favor of the overwhelming emotion. It's almost like it's happening over again.

I am concerned that something bad is going to happen. I tell myself that it is simply the anniversary anxiety scaring me into the fear, but what if it isn't? What if something bad is going to happen?

Paranoia is the gift he's left me with today, and even though I know it's within my power to refuse it, to refuse the memories, a part of me knows that to refuse the memories means to deny they exist. I know that next year this anniversary won't be as horrid, but that thought doesn't keep me sane when my entire brain screams out for relief.

How long will the effects of my abusive experience haunt me? How long will my mind remain attached to the pain? How do I stop this swirling dizziness and focus on what is right and good in my life now that I'm not living under his roof?

I know this will end and I will emerge from it strong and vibrant, just like I was a few weeks ago. But right now, I wish I could fall into a ball and roll away from the heartache and pain, paranoia and fear. The effects of abuse last a long time, and I must be patient with myself while those effects and the memories work their way out of me.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, February 17). After Effects of Abuse Last A Long Time, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

September, 28 2014 at 2:31 pm

I was to in an abusive marriage; I have 2 children with my ex but we've been separated for four years but I have since then remarried. I to was searching for long term effects from abuse by which I'm still suffering. I'm depressed, low self esteem; low self worth, PTSD anxiety etc. I've become so passive with my ex when it came down to the divorce and paper work with the kids. I pretty much haven't put up a fight against anything honestly cause I just wanted that chapter of my life closed but unfortunately it has caused conflict with my husband now thinking that I still care for my ex in which I do not. I only came to find if I was alone with all the things I suffer from and why. I know why but I feel so misunderstood and miserable for making my husband feel the way he feels. He thinks I don't love him because I always went along; I just didn't want to fight because I'm so tired of fighting :(

July, 16 2014 at 6:17 pm

I've been married for 22 years and been together 26 years the first 13 years there was physical, emotional and verbal abuse. In the last 13 years he has changed some of his ways but he continued to be a bully and be verbally abusive, not only did he physcially fight me but it was done in front of our 4 kids and they remember the abuse as well, a few months ago I experienced a tragic death in my family and for some reason I'm finally dealing with all the pain ive hid for years and now I want out of the marriage and have told him this but I can't see myself leaving even though I know I will be happier. What's holding me here?

September, 18 2013 at 1:48 am

It's been 3 years now that I've been free. Is it really free though? The insecurities, do they ever go away? I dated a wonderful man for 4 months. He is a true gentleman that treated me with respect every second I was with him. The sad part though, is I'm too afraid to let go sexually. Too afraid that I can't handle the emotions of being let go again, either by infidelity or by plain rejection. This wonderful man has issues of his own from a narcissistic marriage...I think he wants love, but I don't think he's ready for love. We had to part ways, but he'll always be a reminder to me that not all men are narcissistic sociopaths. Yes, most have a problem of some sort... some problems so deep they'll never live a happy life.
I don't want that for me. I don't want my past to have affected me so deeply that I'll never live a happy life. I move on. I miss this wonderful man's smile so much I cry, but right now, I miss my smile more.
Regardless, I'm glad I let myself love again. Glad I now know I can feel for another man again. The pain is deep from the break-up, but not scarring like the abuse from a narcissistic sociopath.
Ladies (and gentlemen), I encourage you to free yourself. Find love again, even if it's brief. There's not a feeling as wonderful as love. Go find it. I will.

Lisa Nashes
July, 5 2013 at 6:37 am

"I HATE you!" He screamed accross the bed, as I challanged him with the evidence of yet another affair. "If you weren't so fat -I wouldn't go looking for other woman" Then he swore and punched the cupboard hard, causing the lock to break away and fall to the ground. My heart jumped and I cringed and withdrew. Not to mention it again.If I really was so unattractive, why did he pin me down almost nightly (coersion I think it's called) where they apply just enough pressure to keep you in place, I'd lie there and make noises pretending to enjoy it... So not to trigger his anger,so as not to cause a fuss and wake the children. In fact he dominated me in every area. I blamed myself, I was so scared he would leave me...alone. So insecure, so anxious, so lacking in self confidence that I'd stand by the window and wait for him to return from his night out- usually after instigating a fight. Worried sick I'd sometimes phone the police or hospitals for reports of accidents or worse. He played with my mind, my emotions - he either screamed or kicked and punched things or twisted what I said, or ignored me, only to suddenly be all remorseful and seemingly desiring to change... His abuse of drugs (crack), alcohol, pornography, his high sex drive, the affairs... Almost destroyed me. What made it worse was nobody believed me, they thought I was just being dramatic and over-emotional. They still don't acknowledge the depths of what I lived through for... 10 years. I alone had to seek answers, find Alanon, find my escape. The Church, even didn't want to get involved. I sought truth and the more I learned, the more I challanged, the worse the abuse became. I needed to understand. I needed to know why? He finally left the home for another City (and another woman). He left me pregnant with two other little ones. He left me in a broken down flat, with no security. No garden, no light. Upstairs from a pub and bottle store. This is what I still don't understand. Still, not after 12 years of marriage (10 together), not after a year past the divorce that I initiated and walked through alone, not after "divorce care", deep introspection, into myself and past and his early childhood abandonment. Not after so many steps of healing. I stopped drinking when I fell pregnant with my first child and never touched it again, I went to Church, believed, I never cheated on him, worked a full days job. I gave and tried and kept it all together. I know of my co-dependance, I am healing in the area's of my self worth and anxiety. Yet what I still don't understand is why do I still feel if I was prettier, thinner, less emotional, more "fun"...perhaps he wouldn't have abused me...perhaps he could have loved me. I know it makes no sense but in a way I still blame myself and judge myself harshly. I haven't been able to "move on". I'm not at all fat, I'm pretty attractive. I have moved my kids and I to a better home, I have a really good job and I am trying. Yet I panic at the thought of a man seeing me naked. I get anxious when they try to get too close to me. I then usually just withdraw or get all "emotionally authentic" and ruin it. I want to "get better" in this area, I'm trying to understand but even the healing books seem conflicted. They say you are not to blame, then they also say You must accept the blame for the "part" you played. You are to forgive and set boundaries and somehow build your self confidence, support kids, work and not show emotion ever. You got to be so strong as you drag around this weight of being a 33 year old single Mother of 3. I guess I really just haven't found a place where I fit in. Not at church - not with other single mums, most seem to drink and sleep around. Not with single people, not with married people. These are things I am still trying to figure out. Fragile as a butterfly but free. Lonely but free. A bit unsure but free. Free to finally be me...

June, 30 2013 at 5:54 pm

I've left my home, kids, dogs and him. I've been at my parents house for a couple of days now and all the pain I have been holding in, to survive, is slowly coming to the surface. I have been so numb for so long, keeping crazy busy and then bedridden with exhaustion/body pain and now I am feeling so much at once. Disbelief that this is my life, uncertainty of my own mental status, anger at the unfairness of my situation, anger that I know I'm going to have to go through the process and cry a lot and talk a lot to get through it, worry that no matter what decision I make, it will be the wrong one. I can so relate to having all the decisions put on you and then being criticized if they don't come out perfect. My husband abused me in many ways that are probably not recognized by a lot of people. He wont answer me when I ask a question he doesn't want to answer, he wont talk to me other than yes an no type answers, he repeats back what I have said and gives me a blank look, he criticizes everything I did and everything I am. He walks into a room where I'm watching tv and says, "your watching that? that's stupid ". Your listening to that music? Why do you have to do this, or that? He slams doors. He never leaves the house except for work, 9-5 M-F. He never wants to do anything with me or the kids. He never wants me to spend any money, even on the bills. He plays chicken with the rent every month, we have it he just wont let me pay it and I worry every month about the roof over our heads. I'm also so ashamed as I realize that I have to come clean about these things and admit that I allowed it to happen, I have to admit that for reasons still unknown to me I allowed myself to be victimized for years.

April, 3 2013 at 9:57 am

So I Googled after effects of an abusive relationship and stumbled upon this. I left my initial abusive partner oh about 4-5yrs ago and I still suffer from the after effects still to to this day. I had child to this "man" if u could even call him that and I don't know if it makes things worse or not. I suppose since I can't just sever the tie completely since he tries to play dad a couple times a year. He was mentally, emotionally, and a few times physically abusive almost from the start. I always thought I was too smart to fall for an abusive man but the.gradual "grooming" and exploiting my fears and securities was so subtle that I never saw it coming till it was too late. So much for being smart huh?
The comment about thoughts constantly floating round in my head rang so true instill plague me to this day. the paranoia and insecurity are some of the many gifts lovely gifts he gave me. And the part about always making me repeat what what I said word for word is so true and I have since been in other relationships where this has happened and it immediately makes me run away. Maybe it's coincidence or paranoia but Im not gonna sit around and wait to experience that kind of hell again. It has impacted my current relationships because I can'tnoid and i don't know. tellif it is rational or if everything is my fault or not. My bf now says i am a spoiled brat but when i ask close friends and family ithat's true of me they all say that is the last way theyddescribe me and i don't think i am at all either. i am pretty good at looking within and accepting blame when i am at fault but again this is put on me and he says im a miserable human being which i do suffer from depression but i try to not let anyone see that. I can't help but feel this is a mild form of abuse always being blamed but of course he.doesn't see that and thinks Am i completely at fault? My sons father did a real number on me soil don't know if im coming or going. And if all my since then have been in some way abusive then y the hell do i keep ending up here? I just wanna b over this and be healthy.

March, 29 2013 at 6:31 pm

My husband left on Dec. 19th, he took down all the Christmas decorations, wreaths, outdoor lights, everything just to hurt me. I did not hear from him for 12 days. When he did call, he asked "when he would be served". We were married 29 years. I am 56, no kids, on disability for my back and alone. After doing alot of research on line. I found him to be Passive Aggressive. He would blow up at me for the littlest things, and call me horrible nasty names, screaming them at me. He puts his parents ahead of me. He tells his mom everything that has happened in our life together. His parents started verbal abusing me 6 years ago. I told my husband that they have hurt my feelings and I do not care to see them as they attack me. He says "I'm too sensitive, and get over it". He says that I dont get along with them, when it is just the opposite.
I did file for divorce, I could not take anymore of the verbal, emotional and mindgames abuse.
He has been gone now over 3 months, with no contact,except for lawyers. As I distant myself from our relationship, I see how beat down I got by this toxic family. I should have left along time ago. I just feel sad...dont know why...but I worked my whole life for our future. Now it's gone...pooof.
I feel so alone now. He has hurt me so bad, I did not know a person could hurt so bad. I also did not know people could be so cruel to other people.
I have found meditation to help. Deepak 21 day is good. Bless all who are going through this hell.

March, 7 2013 at 2:12 am

Wow...I've been divorced from my narcissistic sociopathic ex husband for two years. I sometimes wonder why I'm so "all over the place" with everything. When I read this post, my emotions took over and I started to cry. Your words made me realize what I'm living. Thank you.
Yes, I'm away from the abuse. I'm free. I sleep at night now.
Through God's grace I live each day with a smile and love. When I start to get down, I remember, and I thank God that I'm not in that relationship any more, and that I'm not a part of his narcissistic family. I pray that every person in this type of abusive relationship has the strength to get away. The effects of abuse last a long time. The sooner you get away, the sooner you can start to heal.

Robin Simms
December, 26 2012 at 7:02 am

Wow.. Reading your posts has mad me remember the word for word comment like it was yesterday.. I was in a verbaly and physically abusive marriage for 25 years. I was very affraid to leave he made me believe nobody would ever want me and I would not be able to survive with out him.. I got out its been 2 years I lost my family my kids and my grandkids because I left. I have moved 10 times since I left because he kept finding me. He swore if I left him he would kill me. I am still very scared. My daughter and granddaughters have just recently come back into my life they live right behind my place. I just found out that my ex is living with her. he can see my place from their windows. I have lots of nightmares still I am very scared when I go out.... I think I just need someone to talk to that understands.

Dianna Bellerose
June, 20 2012 at 1:48 pm

Hi, I know what are you talking about all of the comments are traits of a vicious abuser. This people never change and the only way is to leave them. I wrote my First book based on abuser and if you wish, you can check it out here.
Fire and Ice
In Fire and Ice, Nancy, a naïve but resourceful, kindhearted woman, marries her high school sweetheart. As a working wife and mother, Nancy perseveres, despite having an abusive, alcoholic husband.

Nancy June
February, 22 2011 at 12:51 pm

Thank you for your blog here. I relate whole heartedly to this form of verbal attack from my ex-partner. He believed he had a photogenic memory or close to it and constantly told me the way i saw or recalled a conversation or circumstance was not the way it was.
I understand our memories are selective in all situations. The problem with this abuser though, his was not. There were times though he could not deny it's truth and brushed it off with .. oh well.. it happens or i thought it was so and so..I too came to the point of taping a conversation. Just wish I had done it on many occasions ... the other abusive phrase I received a lot from him was, " I told you already, you don't get it", "I have been trying to tell you, but you never let me speak". He was notorious for blaming me for interrupting and not allowing me to speak and naturally when I did try , he interjected with his comments of what i was saying was wrong, and therefore I was left as mentioned above, could not think straight.
I am 50 and he 63. I am convinced at this point I was with a classic narcissistic/( many forms) anti-social, and other psychopathic personality disorder personality. I sadly became a counter- abuser. Most often, if not always, triggered. I stayed in this for five years until three weeks ago. Again being left to look like and was , "the abuser". Although there is no excuse for abuse,mine was more the lying, head games, verbal attacks, and taking things..and thankfully in all the years three minor physical brushes , that is if there is such a thing as minor,all of which was triggered by his actions..
I have found many avenues of healing both in books and web sites such as this over the years. I am looking forward to an appointment at shaman healing center in my area. Or it was a trip to peru, I think I'll do that too. I would agree with Kelly's question to Holly, concerning your planning this trip. I went back n forth for years in , hope of , lord knows does not work.
Kelly, I too have struggled before with the thought and memory of the past and struggle with non productiveness.. or nothingness... i have found often, it is, turning my thought, to, a better thought. I have also recognized it ( those yearnings) as my desire to escape the somewhat chaotic world we live in and that is exactly what this relationship was for me.. my weird sense of escape and excuse to not take responsibility. The man I was with is about to be 63 this next month. I was his longest relationship at an, on and off ,5 years. Most of his others did not last a year. I have come to understand he probably had at least 40 or more short lived flings..if not double that. He also has lived only once, in a place for more than a year since he was 18. And that was only about 3 & 1/2. Yes, he had a terrible un-loving upbringing , military.. as he once said his father was Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino although his father would have done nothing in the end.. he ( my ex) admitted how much he feared he would become his dad and you know the end to that fearful thought..
I too, was and am a bubbly , bright , energetic woman with a 16 year marriage behind me ( civil divorce to this day) I allowed myself to be drained and bleed of spirit. I am the pieces, I am picking up.. and happy once again re-creating the life I truly desire. As a student of metaphysics, I am the happiness, and as i live , know and breath, that, happy things, thoughts and people will be drawn to me.
I chose every thought and action and take responsibility for all that I am. Thank you agin for this blog . nancy

margaret claudell
February, 20 2011 at 2:51 pm

I am 67 and I left my verbally abusive husband 8 months ago. He calls me constantly and tells me how much he needs me and loves me. He came for a visit and for a few days we had a wonderful time together. Then I agreed to visit him at our home. I went for a two week visit and after just two days he threw a violent fit demanding that I sign off the deed to our jointly owned home. I gave in and agreed. I signed the papers. On my last night with him he went into another of his emotional tyrades. While he was all involved with his upset, I secretly switched the papers on him and brought the original deed back to my new home leaving him with the useless photocopy. I felt guilty for a few days but I got over it. He had bullied me into signing off on the property and I felt like I was shooting myself in the foot. I am no longer sorry about my decision to look out for old number one. Count your blessings!

February, 17 2011 at 8:23 pm

Hi Kellie again, I forgot so much, but one of the things I forgot was mentioned his anger. I see you experienced it too. It is scary and yesterday, yes only yesterday, he was fussing the dog and she growled at him and he violently and angrily said "If you don't do something with the dog within one second I'm going to ram this beer mug down her throat". I was protecting the dog and I removed her from the situation, and he then accused me of siding with the dog!! Later I told him how scared he made me feel and he told me that he had been brought up to protect himself etc etc. and this was of course an excuse or reason for his behaviour and of course it was totally twisted around and it was my fault. Nothing I said made any difference, that was his mind set. Then this morning, we were talking and he said "My therapist told me that we would end up killing each other on this trip and this is why we're separating, because one of us is going to die"!!! After all the foregoing, he is now making me a cuppa. It will be as though nothing happened later on and he will be asking "What's the matter with you"? after having put me through the ringer with his words and anger and attitude. Do we have an answer Kerrie? It looks as though we should make a decision, but it's so hard.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
February, 18 2011 at 1:35 am

It's hard to make a decision because we "allowed" them tell us what to think for so long that we don't know what to think. You mentioned your age in your previous comment, and I would like to tell you that your age does not matter here. You know what your life will be like if you continue on with him. I can tell you that your life without him will be so much sweeter.
I've been "out" for a year. I do struggle with the memories, and I do fall prey to the bad seeds he helped fertilize in my mind at times. HOWEVER, this past year has been the most joyful year of my life. If you think about the four years you were separated from him, what do you remember? I've often thought that if I somehow went back to him, life would be a honeymoon for maybe three weeks, then the blinders would come on and I, we, would be right back in the thick of it. I think I would fall right back into that role and life would become confusing and horrid - that I would blame myself somehow for "it". I'm wondering if this is what planning this trip with him is doing to you. Are you right back in the thick of it as if you never left?

February, 17 2011 at 8:10 pm

Kellie, I empathised with you immediately. I feel as you do. My partner, who was once my husband (!) yes married 25 years, divorced for 4 and now reunited for a few months doing a trip together, has not changed. He left me 4 years ago (yes it was supposed to be my fault) because of what he called our 'bickering', this was as you said was being unable to have a normal conversation, and always seemed to be about arguing about arguing, or going on about something I had done, the blame game, and me constantly trying to stand up for myself, but having it all twisted and me finally getting so confused I believed it was my fault. I was asked often to repeat what I had just said, but sometimes couldn't remember. Normal people don't ask for repeats of conversation or statements word for word. There was the silent treatment, the glaring, the put downs, the withdrawal of love and kindness, which alienated me and made me feel so abnormal and alone. He never treated me badly ever in front of anyone else, and for years I kept quiet and never spoke about it. Even finally my therapist was disbelieving as we both had therapy sessions separately, and he was an absolute charmer. Today 18th Feb, wehave reached the point of going our separate ways again. No empathy, no acknowledgment of my emotional pain and confusion brought by his irrational behaviour toward me, he is in total denial of course and it is all my fault. I am now 69 I love the guy I cannot imagine my life without him in it, but I feel I owe it to ME to find out finally who I am still and once again be the bubbly lovely woman I once was, without living in fear or even a cough or a laugh or saying something that he would put me down for and even mimick me. Perhaps living on my own would be the kind thing to do for me. Now I'm feeling selfish, because he has a problem. When I have said that in the past to him, he has said "I know who has the problem".......innuendo.....

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
February, 18 2011 at 1:29 am

Oh my - I had forgotten about the "word for word" bit. He would do that to me, too. I always wondered why, if he remembered my exact words so well, did he want me to repeat them?! I'd tell him that I didn't remember my exact words but I certainly remember what I meant and I could tell him again if he was confused. OH NO! That was not what he wanted. He wanted me to remember those exact words because attempting to do so put a distraction into the conversation. How many times did you fall quiet, trying to remember exactly what you'd said, only to have him move forward in the conversation or hop over into another issue? It wasn't about the exact words, it was about confusing and attempting to humiliate us.
Geesh. That "exact words" request was practically a building block in the way we communicated. Toward the end, I started using a digital recorder so I could go back and listen to the insanity. Guess what? More often than not, he got my exact words wrong when he repeated them back to me, or he got the words right, but twisted their meaning out of context. I was always explaining myself, always saying, "That's not what I meant!" So frustrating.
As far as you feeling selfish, I think that may be a universal theme abusers want their victims to buy into. I wrote about it on my other blog here:… and in a separate post, I wrote, "The word “selfish” keeps running around in my mind. I think I’ve been called selfish so often that it’s hard to know when I’m being selfish and when I’m being true to myself."
Keep that thought in your mind, Susie. Self-interest is much different from selfishness. Be true to yourself.

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