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.