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Impacts of Trauma & Abuse

The Impact of Hardship, Trauma or Abuse

Hardship, trauma or abuse at any age can have devastating effects on a person’s being and life.

In the short term, and for years to come it can effect a person’s mind, body, behaviour, thoughts and feelings.

Hardship, trauma or abuse do not always lead to recognised disorders or illnesses.  However, traumatised or abused individuals often develop ‘secondary problems, in addition to the hardship they have endured.  How these symptoms are shown vary, but can include;

  • Mental health problems; sadness, depression, suicidal thoughts/suicide
  • Emotional difficulties; anxiety, irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Behavioural problems; criminal or anti-social
  • Self-harming; have eating disorders or carry out physical self-injury
  • Physiological problems; flashbacks, fear of themselves/others being abused, disturbing thoughts
  • Problems sleeping; insomnia or nightmares when sleeping
  • Relationship problems; family breakdown, dissociation from people around them
  • Sexual problems;  sexual promiscuity or low libido, sexuality confusion, physical/emotional pain
  • Alcohol and drug problems; substance abuse/dependency

In some cases, other disorders can develop such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), transient psychotic episodes, borderline personality disorder, dissociative Identity disorder, somatisation (emotional distress experienced as physical pain). Re-victimisation (when the victim is abused again) can also happen to victims.

However, for each victim, effects will be different – the mix, severity and complexity being a personal experience.

Please Note: these symptoms do not mean an individual has been abused or traumatised. There could be other causes for the above. It also does not mean that every individual who has been through trauma or abuse, will develop any of these symptoms.

For more information on abuse and the effects of abuse see NHS Choices


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