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Do the Effects of Abuse Change You Permanently?

Physical effects of abuse have the potential to change your personality permanently because chronic illness can change your personality permanently.

I’ve often wondered if the effects of abuse changed who I am permanently or temporarily. I run into trouble with this question because I was in the abusive relationship for almost half of my life. If I compare myself to how I was at 20-years-old (after I married him), I’m not sure I can answer that question. After all, in any normal relationship I would naturally change across the span of two decades.

The Effects of Abuse Change You, but You Decide Who You Are

Despite the abuse, I think I gained wisdom and the ability to express myself. During the abuse I couldn’t see those changes because I was trapped in the cycle of explaining myself, self-analysis for problem areas, and giving weight to his thoughts that I was naive, selfish, confused, and worthless.

In short, the work I did on myself paid off, but I didn’t value it because I valued his opinion over my own. In this new life, absent of the abuser, I’ve come to realize that I’ve changed for the better over the course of the abuse in ways that matter to me.

This morning, a Facebook friend asked a question about relationships after abuse and his question reminded me that it’s time to see where I stand on some important issues of Self. Have I changed for the better or worse? Does the abuse continue to affect my personality, and if so, how?

Effects of Abuse Can Change You In Many Ways

Thoughts on Physical Symptoms of Abuse

physical effects of abuseThe list of effects of abuse is a long one ranging from impaired emotional and mental abilities to physical symptoms. I believe physical symptoms manifest in the body after severe or prolonged abuse, and physical pains effect our personalities by causing angry outbursts and appearance of laziness due to inability to focus or constant fatigue.

In the bigger picture, what you think is what you get when it comes to symptoms of abuse. Heart problems could come from thinking your heart is breaking. Fibromyalgia (chronic widespread muscle pain and fatigue) could result from damage to every neural connection as you deal with chronic and painful psycho-emotional attacks.

One of my physical effects of abuse could be depression (the result of thinking my abuser will never love me so I am unlovable?). The doctor diagnosed me with depression six years into my marriage. I am uncertain whether the abuse caused depression or if it was genetic. There is no question that depression affected my personality!

I’m left to wonder whether or not marrying an abuser amplified my genetic leanings toward depression. If I ‘d married a non-abuser, would depression have withered in the shadows? I’ll never know. Perhaps my depression’s slow-growing onset forecasts its slowness in leaving my body. It took six years to develop after marrying, so it may take six years after leaving him to leave me, too.

The brain leads the body everywhere it goes – even into the manifestation of physical symptoms to mirror our thought processes. Lesson I learned: Be careful how I describe my mental/emotional pain! Keep body references out of it. After I recognized abuse in my marriage, I started saying and thinking, “This whole situation makes me sick to my stomach!” Guess what? A year after leaving I had to deal with the physical effects of that statement, culminating in gall bladder removal surgery.

Long-term and severe abuse changes our bodies. When our bodies are in disrepair, our personalities suffer along with it. The physical manifestation of abuse takes on a life of its own. Even if you leave the abuser, these diseases may follow you permanently. On the other hand, reducing the stress in your life by leaving the abusive partner can significantly improve or eradicate any physical symptoms.


During the past week I’ve learned some startling things about physical abuse from you readers. I had no idea how long lasting the effects of choking, shaking, and blows or penetrating injuries to the head could be. Some women suffer from traumatic brain injuries resulting in epilepsy, emotional and behavioral problems, cognitive defects, communication problems, sensory defects and multiple physical complications.

Please, please consider leaving your emotionally/verbally abusive partner before physical abuse begins – and it will happen eventually! Even one blow to the head can permanently damage your body’s ability to heal from abuse. Do we even need to discuss bullets, knives, bats, or counter-top corners?

Next up: Do the emotional effects of abuse ever disappear?

Author: kholly

Kellie Jo Holly advocates for domestic violence and abuse awareness through her writing. You can find Kellie Jo on her website, Amazon Authors, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

16 thoughts on “Do the Effects of Abuse Change You Permanently?”

  1. I been in a crazy relationship to the part where he’s on drugs and not caring for his kids which he emotionally made me believe he was going to take care of us . I been with 1 year and half almost two . And it barely change a lil I don’t know if it means something but I try listen to him for the fact of him noticing what he does wrong on his own while I suffer I knew I decided to take the risk but now I feel I’m at the end but it’s hard when I have feeling for him. I feel alone with three babies .and now I got find a job and work. To provide for my lil ones I feel like live just keeps getting rudder then ruff but I do know I hoped and wasted time believe in someone who always takes off and comes back when they ready to come back fuck that I am a emotionally messed up but I know I can make it out

  2. I am a male victim of emotional, psychological and physical abuse. Talk about confusion. Imagine trying to come out of the FOG with a target on your back. Being male typically means being weak if abused. It also means not being believed. Her gaslighting brought me to despair, and nobody will believe me. This woman stabbed me and gave me a black eye, and I still can’t tell anyone close to her what she did because I have hope for her. It all stays between me, God, my therapist, my family, and the internet. Oh yeah, the judge knows. Guess what the judge said? “I don’t see how this effects her ability to be a mother. “. Do you think a man would have any chance at custody after stabbing his wife??

    1. I know men who have choked their wives and it “doesn’t have an effect on his ability to be a father.” WHAT?! I agree with you – the family court system needs an education.

      I don’t think you’re weak at all. Weak people aren’t survivors of abuse as you are. You have to be strong to live with evil.

      Stay the course. Your kids need you, no matter who believes you.

  3. I read everyone of these comments and believe me every single thing they have said i went through. I was 21 everything seamed to be going well, then one day one of my husbands male friends came over and we ALL were talking nothing over the top. I had a very outgoing personality and started talking about what ever was being said, something about our families. For some unexplicable reason my husband got up came right over to me and punched me in the face. I was so embarased and hurt that i went into the bathroom and just cried and cried. From that day on things got worse, smashing my head on the wall, punching me ( i was 5ft and weighed 100 lbs)he was 6’2 250 lbs. He even picked up a coffee table and threw it at my back knocking me to the ground. I tried calling 911, he ripped the cord out of the wall. I knew i had to find a way to leave and tried and each time he sweet talked me back, i actually believed he would change or i somehow could change him. When that didn’t work i decided maybe having a baby would cause him to stop. That worked for the first 2 1/2 yrs of our daughters life. I could go on and on, but i think everyone gets it. Bottom line i didn’t leave until i had another child and he said if i left he would hurt my family. I believed him. Please women and men in a abusive situation ,please seek out someone who you trust( at this point there is literally no one and i didn’t want to involve my family. My parents were elderly and my mother ill.) I was eventually rescued by a neighbor, who after .many years is now my husband. I have fractured bones and a severe neurological disorder due to this abuse. This is something that will never go away. I’m in a wonderful place now in my life , have an awesome man, my best fried, by my side. Two beautiful daughters and three gorgeous grandchild and my faith in our heavenly father is what get’s me up everyday. It is not easy to just LEAVE, but keep your faith and if you have children or grandchildren, do it for them,please!

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