Do the Effects of Abuse Change You Permanently?

September 6, 2012 Kellie Jo Holly

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?

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2012, September 6). Do the Effects of Abuse Change You Permanently?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

August, 8 2016 at 4:31 am

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

May, 29 2016 at 4:43 pm

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??

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
May, 30 2016 at 10:38 am

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 3 2022 at 2:44 pm

Women survivors, are actually way more fortunate than they may realize, compared to Male survivors. Do you know how many domestic abuse hotlines specifically intended for males there are in the whole of USA? One.
How many domestic abuse hotlines spefically for women? Countless. We are invisible victims with inviible scars in a blind society. Remember the stereotype has more power than truth. Yet, male or female, abuse of any kind is never OK.

andrelina bispo
April, 12 2016 at 6:06 am

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!

January, 4 2016 at 5:07 pm

I have been verbally abused now for years. Yup - how do i get the courage to leave? Don't laugh because it is hard to get help being a man in the relationship. Men are abused too! Does abuse affect men differently? because, i feel depressed and hopeless. i keep going back to her because we had a baby girl last january and i have always stayed in relationships too long. Does anybody know if a women can change for the better? I am a huge family man and i dont want to raise my daughter in a broken home, u know? Someone please help me - for some reason i cant find the courage to leave even though i know, and people tell me that it won't change - someone give me caring advice please - i don't now where to turn

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
January, 6 2016 at 10:16 am

Craig, I don't think abuse affects men differently. I do think men react differently, in some psychological ways, to abuse, just as men react differently to depression than women do. Part of the reason for this is that stigma works against abused men to a large degree. Admitting to being abused is socially equivalent to admitting to being weak. It is not true that abuse victims are weak. However, for a man to be "weak" has more damaging social consequences than for a woman. Also due to stigma, there is less free domestic violence help available to men.
My advice to you is to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline ( AND start individual counseling. The NDVH will be a great support to you even if there are no male-friendly DV programs in your area. The therapist can help you reform the courage you already have into the energy needed to leave the abusive relationship. You don't need more courage to leave, you need more support. That's it. It takes a great amount of courage to withstand abuse (so you are already courageous). You just need to stop wasting it on a woman who cannot love you and turn that energy into the force needed to free yourself from harm.
I didn't want a broken home for my sons either. In time I came to understand that a broken home that results in one emotionally healthy home is better than having only one home that is ridden with abuse. You have the opportunity to give one healthy home to your daughter - but not if you're in this relationship with her abusive mother. In hindsight, I wish I'd left my husband years earlier before so much damage was levied against my boys' hearts and minds.
I can't remember the Patricia Evans book, I think it is "The Verbally Abusive Man: Can He Change?," in which she says she has seen many men stop abusing, but never ever a woman who changed. She is an expert in verbal abuse, and since verbal abuse plays a part in every abusive relationship, I feel her opinion holds true no matter what type of abuse you experience.
You can leave. You choosing to stay is all right until you are educated enough about abuse and come to believe you'll be a better person and father without abuse in your life. Go see a therapist, call the NDVH, and begin creating a support system to help you get out of this horrible situation.
Understanding Male Depression:…
Important Depression Symptoms In Men:
Men Are Victims Of Emotional Abuse Too:…
Effects of Verbal Abuse on Children, Women and Men:…

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 18 2018 at 5:42 am

Mam, your abovementioned words were right on the money. Craig has to get away sooner than later for his life and sanity. I have been there to the up most degree. I expected nothing in return for my side but it gets to a point where one if he decides he wants to live the support is out there. It's crucial

December, 23 2014 at 4:45 am

I've been with an abusive person for 8 years now only broke up a month ago and unfortunately still live together for 1 more month we have a 5 year old. He constantly shouts and verbally and emotionally attacked me in front of our child. I kept taking him back believing that all them things he says I am are true and living in fear of saying the wrong thing. So I became a shell of what I once was. On anti d meds for years began self harming and drinking etc then about a week ago I had a man say to me you're none of them things you're the opposite and anyone in the world would be lucky to be with you. For the first time in 8 years I heard positive comments and I ended up sleeping with him. Unfortunately that person was his brother. And now I feel like I don't want to live anymore surely I am everything I have been told I am for 8 years if I can do something like that. I feel like I am totally fuct up and will never get better. I suffered a stroke lady year and am vomiting every day for I can't remember how long. Will this or will I ever get better or live a normal life??

January, 7 2014 at 6:53 am

After 10 years away from him...why am I still such a mess. Where am I? Why cant the me I loved come back? I am as worthless today as he said I was then

Lee Ann
March, 26 2013 at 5:05 pm

I was in an abusive relationship for 16 years. I left when my 13 year old daughter punched me. It has been 17 months and I still don't sleep well, am extremely depressed, don't want to get out of bed. I feel like a failure, no home, lost custody of my daughter, no money, feel like I will never be loved again and will be alone forever. I do not feel better off. I really wish he had killed me, because I am dead inside.

November, 20 2012 at 4:03 pm

The support..and knowledge here is perfect

October, 8 2012 at 2:08 pm

It's a vicious circle. Since feeling unloved and rejected emotionally and physically, my energy levels plummeted and I've had an increase of health problems. Things went rapidly downhill in 1999. I've been seeing a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist since 2009. In turn, my husband is irritated and impatient, thinks me lazy and 'weak minded' and that I have 'the problem'. He also resents my medical and therapy bills. He is obviously annoyed if I get sick and likes to compare me to him- never taking a sick day "working through it". When I've been really ill, he tells enquiring family members that I'm better, making it difficult for me later when I have to say I'm still unwell. The CBT has helped me to see the link between the mind & body and it is helping but I still have a way to go.

Ashley Shute
September, 7 2012 at 5:24 am

as a survivor, I know that the abuse has taken its toll on my well being even after the years. I was with a "man" for the better part of 8 years and of course, like most abusive relationships, it didnt begin right away... but as the years progressed, so did the abuse. I still suffer from social anxiety because of his inability to allow me to be myself... I was molded into the "person" he wanted me to become. Although, now that I am on the path of becoming who I should have been a long time ago, I realze that its his loss! I AM A AMAZING HUMAN BEING. I have so much love to give and thanks to gaining the strength to leave that situation, and thanks to the support of "New Hope For Women", I have found the TRUE love of my life. A TRUE man who loves me for who I am, a man who boasts me every day and tells me how wonderful and beautiful I am, a man who has given me 2 beautiful, happy, and wonderful children.
There is always a way out of a bad situation, and although I can never forget the sickness that took place in my life many years ago, I can move forward and live a life filled with love and happiness

Suveera Amin
September, 7 2012 at 4:20 am


In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
September, 7 2012 at 4:29 am

Hallelujah, Suveera! I am both happy you've joined the Survivors Club and saddened to know what you went through to gain membership.

A wife who is abused
September, 6 2012 at 9:39 am

Every time I read your posts, it is like reliving those horrid moments I spent with my husband.
For me, the physical impacts were weight fluctuations.
I am just about out of an abusive relationship. It requires good amount of counseling I would say to feel better. Also, reading up other's stories of abuse and impact, makes you realize that just like abuse is a pattern, the effects and impact are also similar for the survivors.
I would say talking to close friends and family, taking up a hobby and occupying yourself with work and leisure activities is the best bet in the near term.

Vicky Mull
September, 6 2012 at 4:44 am

I was diagnosed with post-partum psychosis when I gave birth to my second son in 2002. I've had panic attacks all my life, and when I married my husband and was admid his family, it was a constand heavy black energy. I had a miscarriage and then tried to get pregnant. But the whole pregnancy, I was on egg shells. Then 9/11 happened. I sell Avon and while on my deliveries, one of my customers asked me what it was like to be pregnant in the "end times." I never thought of such a thing, but then, my mind hooked onto this and I couldn't let it go. After the birth of my son, I went into treatment for panic disorder and overly relgeous thoughts. My ex husband didn't like me being in treatment. Didn't like the medications, didn't like the dr. telling me what to do. One time my husband came into my appointment so he could tell on me. No my dr. knew what my husband was like from the beginning. He said to me that sometimes the person in treatment isn't really the one who needs the medication. The person who wants to be healthy goes for help. Like when you injur a nerve, it takes time to heal and you have to focus on the whole body, not just where the pain is located.

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