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The consequences of abuse

    Being abused by the person you are together with often has a profound effect on you, and can be really hard and difficult in many different ways. The consequences of abuse can be physical, psychological and social in nature. Sometimes you may react to the abuse immediately, such as in the case of physical abuse, but many consequences and difficulties can also emerge at a later stage.

    Your body and brain reacting to abuse is a sign that what you have experienced is not okay, and that you should take it seriously. It is important not to blame yourself for the consequences of the abuse, but to understand that it is your body and brain that are reacting to the abuse and that help is available. Remember that it is never your fault if you are a victim of abuse.

    Exposure to abuse and physical health

    Exposure to abuse can lead to various forms of physical and mental illness, and can have both short- and long-term effects. For example, being physically abused can leave you with bruises, swelling, injuries and scars on your body. The abuse can also have more long-term consequences, including lasting pain and psychosomatic symptoms, i.e. symptoms that are both physical and psychological, that can affect you for a long time. Maybe you often have headaches, digestive problems or pain in your back or other parts of your body. All of these may be consequences of being subjected to abuse, even if you have not been subjected to physical abuse or abuse against those particular parts of your body. Pain can occur in different parts of the body anyway, as a reaction to what you are being subjected to.

    It is important to seek medical care and try talking to someone if you are being subjected to abuse, or have been in the past. If it feels scary to talk to someone you know or to an adult, you can always contact us anonymously through the chat.

    Exposure to abuse and mental health problems

    Being exposed to abuse can affect your mental health. It is common to feel a lot of stress, anxiety and fear if the person you are in a relationship with uses abusive behaviour against you. It is also common to have lower self-esteem and often feel angry, sad and insecure.

    Here are some examples of how being subjected to abuse can change the way you think about yourself:

    • You think it’s your fault that the person you’re with behaves the way they do
    • You think that you deserve to be treated the way you are or that it wouldn’t happen if you were a better person or did things differently
    • You are ashamed of how the person you are dating treats you and don’t want anyone else to know about it
    • You start to believe what your boyfriend/girlfriend says, for example that you are ugly, stupid or worthless
    • You think you can’t live without your boyfriend/girlfriend. That only they can make you feel good

    Being subjected to abuse can also lead to mental health problems such as:

    • Depression
    • PTSD
    • Anxiety
    • Self-harm and suicidal thoughts
    • Sleeping problems
    • Eating disorders
    • Substance abuse
    • Panic disorder/panic attacks

    Here you can read more about what panic disorder, PTSD and other mental health problems means. Remember that what you are going through is never your fault and it is important that you talk to someone. You can always contact us at

    Other consequences of exposure to abuse

    Being a victim of abuse can affect a person’s social life and emotional bonds with other people. You may feel ashamed of what you are experiencing, fear that no one will understand, or be afraid to confide in those close to you for other reasons. It can make you feel more alone and distance you from friends and family. Your boyfriend/girlfriend may also tell you not to spend time with certain people, which is never okay.

    If the person you are in a relationship with is subjecting you to abuse, it is not uncommon, for example, to:

    • Become isolated from family and friends
    • Feel that you are betraying your partner if you tell someone about the abuse. Worry that your partner will get into trouble with friends or the police
    • Have difficulty feeling trust and security in other relationships, such as with friends or other future partners
    • Have difficulty with new intimacy/sexual relationships, especially if you have been subjected to sexual abuse
    • Develop various types of behaviours to cope with the anxiety caused by the abuse, for example by using sex as a self-harming behaviour, harming oneself in other ways or by starting to sell sex or sexual images

    Being subjected to abuse by a partner can affect a person in many different ways – above we have listed some of the most common consequences, but there are many more. Regardless of how you feel you are affected, you have the right to your feelings, and you have the right to get help and feel better again.

    You can always contact us anonymously at if you want someone to talk to. We listen to you and believe in you.