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How an Abusive Relationship Harms Your Mental Health

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

Abusive relationships, whether physical or emotionally harmful, can have a detrimental effect on more than just our romantic life. We’d like to think that abusive relationships only happen on the big screen or to other people, but the reality is that it’s an actual part of many people’s lives around the world. According to the American Psychological Association, over 4,700,000 women experience physical violence by an intimate partner every single year. This number becomes even more shocking when you consider emotional abuse.

We all can read these numbers and recognize there’s a problem. However, how many of us really understand the impact of this abuse in our populations? Abusive relationships do a lot of damage. It turns out, there’s harmful to your mental and physical health as well. Keep reading to see just how these numbers play out into the real lives of men and women around the country.


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A Lasting Impact

While everyone can understand how violent relationship lead to physical scars, the mental damage is usually more significant. While many women are able to leave an abusive relationship and regain confidence and self-esteem, others are less fumbling for their old lives. Below are the exact ways in which violent and harmful relationships cause ongoing pain for their victims.


While most people think it would be natural for victims to feel relief and joy after escaping an abusive relationship, the most common feeling is grief. Many live years or even a lifetime without realizing how harmful their relationships are in reality. This recognition causes a lot of grief since they need to come to terms with a new perspective of their relationship. The loss of any relationship is always hard.


Carrying anger is bad for your health. Chronic anger is shown to lead to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. It’s hard for victims to regain their own feelings of control, and this resentment can build in a dangerous way. Not only are abuse victims prone to angry outbursts, but they might develop a weaker immune system as a result of it.

Loss of Trust

Losing your trust in your partner is catastrophic for your understanding of relationships. It can take years or even a lifetime to rebuild the trust lost after a broken relationship. Your partner is someone you’re supposed to trust with everything, and learning that they are the one causing the pain in the first place can taint all of your future relationships.

Panic and Anxiety

Anyone who’s ever experienced a panic attack knows how it disrupts your entire life. While panic attacks and ongoing anxiety can impact your daily routine and ability to do basic things like hold a job and go out in public, it can also lead to darker implications for your health. Chronic anxiety, like anger, can lead to things like rapid heart rate, dizziness, and even headaches. Finding a way to manage this anxiety is a key step for victims.


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Recognizing Abuse

The first step to recover is recognizing signs of abuse. If you or a loved one are suffering from abuse in one of your relationships, you can take steps today to notice the signs. Many struggle with the idea that abuse does not take one single shape. It comes in many forms, and this leads many to live in denial or avoid escape because they come to accept these things as normal. Have you seen any of these signs below in your own life?


One of the most subtle signs of abuse is gaslighting. This is a form of emotional manipulation in which your abuser will convince you that you’re the one with the real problem. Because the abuser will do their best to pin problems in the relationship on you, it’s easy to start to believe them. You can learn more about the signs of gaslighting in this article: https://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2017/11/50-shades-of-gaslighting-the-disturbing-signs-an-abuser-is-twisting-your-reality/.


While gaslighting is easier to ignore, threats should never be taken lightly. If your partner threatens you, your belongings, or a loved one, this is not something that should be left in the dark. Many abuse victims are able to convince themselves that these words are only sparked by the “heat of the moment,” but in reality they are a dangerous warning sign to be taken seriously.


Finally, the most dangerous sign is violence itself. This can be as extreme as hitting and as minor as damaging property. Any type of violent outburst should be handled with caution. At this point, the situation has already escalated. There is no such thing as “only” this once. Violence is never an acceptable solution in a relationship, and support resources should be utilized. If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline today for help.

It’s up to you to protect yourself from the harmful effects of an abusive relationship. Remember that abuse comes in many forms. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask for help. As you can see, abuse has a lot of harmful lasting effects. While there should be sufficient resources for those who have already suffered from one form of abuse, it’s best to keep yourself from an escalated relationship in the first place.

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