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How Can Physical Abuse Affect Someone Emotionally?

A small girl with long blonde hair is at the front of the camera looking down at the ground with a sad face. In the background, fuzzy couple arguing

It’s easy to picture someone injured from physical abuse. But how can physical abuse affect someone emotionally? How can someone get help to deal with the effects of physical abuse?

This post explains:

  • What physical abuse is
  • Types of physical abuse
  • The emotional effects physical abuse can have on a person
  • How to get help if you or someone you know is experiencing the emotional effects of physical abuse 

What is Physical Abuse?

It’s helpful to understand what constitutes physical abuse to understand how it affects someone emotionally. Physical abuse is actions that intentionally cause harm to someone’s body.

Examples of physical abuse include:

  • Punching
  • Slapping
  • Kicking
  • Choking
  • Pushing

Anyone can be the victim of physical abuse. Unfortunately, some specific types of physical abuse are common in society, including child abuse, partner abuse, and abuse of older adults. 

Can Physical Abuse Affect Someone Emotionally?

Can physical abuse affect someone emotionally? The short answer is “yes.” The long answer involves having an understanding of the brain. Experiencing repeated physical abuse causes a change in stress response in the brain, potentially contributing to various mental health issues.

Short-Term Effects

Specifically, someone dealing with physical abuse can experience a range of emotions immediately following the abuse, including anger, sadness, fear, confusion, and guilt. It’s common to feel intense emotions when someone who’s supposed to provide love or care hurts you physically. 

Some questions someone experiencing abuse might ask themselves include: 

  • Why is this person choosing to inflict violence? 
  • What did I do wrong? 
  • Why is this happening to me? 

Survivors of physical abuse need to remember that abuse is never their fault. Counseling helps survivors untangle the emotions that arise during and after physical abuse. 

A white man and woman are in an intense conversationLong-Term Effects

Abuse is one of the most common causes of trauma in children and adults. It can be traumatic when someone is repeatedly physically abused, specifically by someone in their home or family. Sometimes, the effects of trauma don’t show up for people until years after the abuse ends. Trauma can negatively affect the brain. Psychological issues are more common in individuals who experience trauma. 

Mental health issues common to people who experience trauma include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Substance use disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The negative effects of trauma can be debilitating, but they do not have to define a person. With therapy, people can work through this trauma and cope with their emotions in more healthy, positive ways.

Living with the Effects of Physical Abuse

Depending on the circumstances, people may be unable to go to work or school because of an injury. They may be scared to go to work or school because of visible bruises. Not being able to go can affect someone’s life in many ways, like losing their job and income, not seeing friends or coworkers, or a lack of education.

Part of healing from the effects of physical abuse involves addressing barriers to daily living. Mental health professionals can assist in making a plan for people to help them manage emotions that might come up that make everyday life more difficult. 

Why Healing is Important

Each person’s journey to healing from the emotional effects of physical abuse is different. Some effects are common to people healing from abuse. But each person has different needs, responses, and coping mechanisms. 

Mental health professionals can assist people in various ways of healing, including:

  • Working through emotions of sadness, guilt, and anger
  • Relieving pain and depression
  • Feeling more in control
  • Addressing relational issues that result from the abuse

These steps can help people heal from the emotional effects of physical abuse. They can also help people address their trauma and learn ways to grow despite what happened to them in the past.

How ILC Can Help

The mental health professionals at Integrative Life Center have various therapeutic approaches that allow people to work through their trauma and emotional pain. 

Integrative Life Center emphasizes healing the root cause of trauma, not just the symptoms. People who experience physical abuse and deal with the emotional effects get innovative, trauma-informed, high-quality mental health care at ILC. 

The therapists at ILC make individualized plans based on people’s specific needs. Dealing with the emotional effects of physical abuse can seem daunting, but Integrative Life Center has the tools and resources to help you begin the healing journey. Contact us today to get started. 

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