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Effects of Abuse on Victims and Survivors

Uploaded 10/20/2010, approx. 4 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Repeated abuse has long-lasting and pernicious and traumatic effects, such as panic attacks, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, flashbacks, intrusive memories, suicidal ideation, and psychosomatic symptoms.

The victims experience shame, depression, anxiety, embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, abandonment, and an enhanced sense of vulnerability.

Complex PTSD, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, has been proposed as a new mental health diagnosis by Dr. Judith Herman of Harvard University to account for the impact of extended period of repeated trauma and abuse.

In an article titled Stalking: An Overview of the Problem, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in 1998, the authors Karen Abrams and Gail Robinson wrote.

Initially, there is often much denial by the victim. Over time, however, the stress begins to erode the victim's life and psychological brutalization results.

Sometimes the victim develops an almost fatal resolve that inevitably one day she will be murdered.

Victims unable to live a normal life describe feeling stripped of self-worth and dignity.

Personal control and resources, psychosocial development, social support, premorbid personality traits, and the severity of the stress may all influence how the victim experiences and responds to it.

Victims stalked by ex-lovers may experience additional guilt and lower self-esteem for perceived poor judgment in their relationship choices.

Many victims become isolated and deprived of support when employers or friends withdraw after also being subjected to harassment or when they are cut off by the victim in order to protect them.

Other tangible consequences include financial losses from quitting jobs, moving and buying expensive security equipment in an attempt to gain privacy. Changing homes and jobs results in both material losses and a loss of self-respect.

Surprisingly, verbal, psychological and emotional abuse have the same effects as the physical variety, at least according to Psychology Today, the September or October 2000 issue.

Abuse of all kinds also interferes with a victim's ability to work.

Abrams and Robinson wrote in an article titled, Occupational Effects of Stalking, published again in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in 2002.

Being stalked by a former partner may affect a victim's ability to work in three ways.

First, the stalking behaviors often interfere directly with the ability to get to work, for instance, flattening tires or other methods of preventing leaving home.

Second, the workplace may become an unsafe location if the offender decides to appear there.

Third, the mental health effects of such trauma may result in forgetfulness, fatigue, lowered concentration and disorganization.

These factors may lead to the loss of employment, with accompanying loss of income, security and status.

Still, it is hard to generalize.

Victims are not a uniform thought.

In some cultures, abuse is commonplace and accepted as a legitimate mode of communication, sign of love and caring, and a boost to the abuser's self-image. In such circumstances, the victim is likely to adopt the norms of her society and thus avoid serious trauma.

Deliberate, cold-blooded and premeditated torture has worse and longer-lasting effects than abuse meted out by the abuser in a feat of rage and loss of self-control.

The existence of a loving and accepting social support network is another mitigating factor.

Finally, the ability to express negative emotions safely and to cope with them constructively is crucial to healing.

Typically, by the time the abuse reaches critical and all-pervasive proportions, the abuser had already, spider-like, isolated his victim from family, friends and comics. She is catapulted into a Neverland, kind of a cult-like setting, where reality itself dissolves into a continuing nightmare.

When she emerges on the other end of this wormhole, the abused woman, or more rarely men, feels helpless, self-doubting, worthless, stupid, and a guilty failure for having botched her relationship and abandoned her family of friends.

In an effort to regain perspective and avoid embarrassment, the victim denies the abuse and minimizes it.

No wonder if survivors of abuse tend to be clinically depressed, neglect their health and personal appearance and even personal hygiene, and succumb to boredom, rage and impatience.

Many end up abusing prescription drugs or drinking or otherwise behaving recklessly.

Some victims even develop full-fledged post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Abuse Victim's Body: Effects of Abuse and Its Aftermath

Abuse and torture have long-lasting and frequently irreversible effects on the victim's body, including panic attacks, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, flashbacks, intrusive memories, and suicidal ideation. Victims experience psychosomatic or real bodily symptoms, some of them induced by the secretion of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Victims are affected by abuse in a variety of ways, including PTSD, which can develop in the wake of verbal and emotional abuse, in the aftermath of drawn-out traumatic situations such as domestic divorce.


Closure with Abusers

Closure is necessary for victims of abuse to heal their traumatic wounds. There are three forms of effective closure: conceptual, retributive, and dissociative. Conceptual closure involves a frank discussion of the abusive relationship, while retributive closure involves restorative justice and a restored balance. Dissociative closure occurs when victims repress their painful memories, leading to dissociative identity disorder. Victims pay a hefty price for avoiding and evading their predicament. Coping with various forms of closure will be discussed in a future video.


Physical Abuse, Rape, Battering: Victim, Perpetrator, Society Collude

Physical abuse, battering, and assault have long-lasting and often irreversible effects on both the victim and the abuser. The victim's relationship with their body is severely damaged, as they may feel betrayed by their own body and develop a dependency on their abuser. This can lead to psychological regression, dissociation, and a loss of self-worth. Society's denial and lack of understanding of abuse, as well as the manipulative nature of abusers, often leads to further re-traumatization of the victim.


Psychology of Torture Victim

Torture causes victims to lose their mental resilience and sense of freedom, leading to alienation and an inability to communicate or empathize with others. The victim may identify with the torturer, leading to traumatic bonding and a craving for pain. Torture is an act of deep, traumatic indoctrination that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other psychological sequelae. Victims often feel helpless and powerless, and bystanders may feel guilty and ashamed for not preventing the atrocity. The victim's attempts to repress memories can result in psychosomatic illnesses.


Why People Torture and Abuse

Torture can be functional or sadistic. Functional torture is calculated to extract information or punish, while sadistic abuse fulfills the emotional needs of the perpetrator. Perpetrators often feel out of control and resort to torture to reassert control over their lives. Many offenders derive pleasure and satisfaction from sadistic acts of humiliation, and sadism is rooted in deviant sexuality. Torture rarely occurs where it does not have the sanction and blessing of the authorities, especially in totalitarian societies.


Intimate Partners Who Were Sexually Abused in Childhood

Julian Ford discusses the unique dissociative symptoms of sexual violation in complex post-traumatic stress disorder. He describes the conflict between the need for touch and intimacy and the intense disgust or terror experienced by individuals with a history of childhood sexual abuse. Victims of childhood sexual abuse often dread intimacy, sexualize love, and struggle with setting boundaries in adulthood. They may employ defense mechanisms such as self-objectification, dissociation, and self-punitive choices in intimate relationships. These experiences can lead to a complex and challenging dynamic for intimate partners of childhood sexual abuse survivors.


When Loved Ones Murder YOU (English Interview Ukrainian TV)

The text discusses the complexities of domestic violence, including the reasons victims may stay with their abusers, the psychological dynamics of abuse, the legal and cultural aspects of domestic violence, and the distinction between victims and survivors. It also addresses the rare instances when victims may resort to violence against their abusers and the potential consequences.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Victims and Survivors of Abuse

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is typically associated with the aftermath of physical and sexual abuse in both children and adults. However, PTSD can also develop in the wake of verbal and emotional abuse, providing it is acute and prolonged, and in the aftermath of drawn-out traumatic situations such as a nasty divorce. The diagnostic and statistical manual criteria for diagnosing PTSD are far too restrictive, and hopefully, the text will be adopted to reflect this. PTSD can take a long time to appear and lasts more than one month, usually much longer.


Hypervigilance and Intuition as Forms of Anxiety

Anxiety is a complex emotion that shapeshifts and invades every cell of the psyche, causing cognitive distortions such as catastrophizing and leading to comorbidities such as depression. Anxiety is closely associated with multiple mental health dysfunctions, including hypersexuality and psychopathy. Intuition and hypervigilance are examples of anxiety, which feed on bodily inputs and involve catastrophizing. Hypervigilance is a symptom of PTSD and other forms of anxiety disorders, and when intuition and gut feeling become the foundation for decision-making, they always lead to hypervigilance.


The Four Mantras of Victims of Abuse

Victims of abusive relationships often stay in them due to negative automatic thoughts that they have adopted from their abuser. These thoughts include "I am lucky to be with my abuser," "life doesn't get much better than this," "my partner is not worse than others," and "life is a serious business." These thoughts are more common in non-Western societies, where the pursuit of happiness is considered selfish and risky, and the family is centered around procreation and property. Women in these societies often tolerate abuse and domestic violence and act meek and subservient to accommodate their bullying husbands.

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