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Symptoms of Abuse
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Worried you may be suffering from some type of abuse? Check here for the symptoms you should look for before consulting a mental health professional.

There are many ways to be a victim of abuse today. There is spousal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, and parental abuse (parents who are abused by their own children). There are also adults who were abused as children who continue to deal with the symptoms of abuse throughout adulthood.

The following descriptions are to help you identify whether or not you are in an abusive situation or were in an abusive situation in the past.

Spousal Abuse

The cluster of following symptoms does not happen for every spouse who is abused. Each spouse who is abused will have his/her unique experiences and cluster of symptoms. The following symptoms of spousal abuse do tend to be the most common ones experienced.

  • Being physically, sexually, or emotionally hurt and/or violated by spouse.
  • Being called hurtful names and/or being put down by spouse.
  • Being controlled by spouse, such as spouse demanding that you are not allowed to have friends, leave the house without his/her permission, or told you are not allowed to pursue you own growth, such as school or work.
  • Becoming more withdrawn so that you do not spend much time with others who may clue in to the fact that abuse is happening to you.
  • Making excuses for spouse's behavior so that you won't have to accept the fact that abuse is happening.
  • Realizing that there is a cycle in which you tell spouse that you will not tolerate the abuse anymore, but then forgiving him/her when your spouse apologizes profusely or provides gifts to make up for his/her behavior.
  • Blaming yourself for his/her behavior, such as telling yourself you really are difficult to live with so you deserve to be hit.
  • Feeling trapped in your own home and being fearful when you know spouse is coming home.

Child Abuse

The cluster of following symptoms does not happen for every child who is abused. Each child who is abused will have his/her unique experiences and cluster of symptoms. The following symptoms of child abuse do tend to be the most common ones experienced.

  • There are physical signs that the child has been hurt, such as bruises and/or cuts on the child's body.
  • The child becomes withdrawn
  • The child seems to suddenly become more fearful
  • The child seems depressed, which may manifest in irritability and agitation
  • The child has difficulty sleeping at night
  • The child's appetite changes
  • The child complains of pain in the genital region
  • The child appears to have very low self-esteem
  • The child has difficulty concentrating
  • For older children, the child displays behaviors of promiscuity

Adults Who Were Abused As Children

The cluster of following symptoms does not happen for every adult who was abused as a child. Each adult who was abused will have his/her unique experiences and cluster of symptoms. The following symptoms of adults who were abused as children do tend to be the most common ones experienced.

  • Difficulty developing healthy, long-term relationships
  • Sexual dysfunction or discomfort with sexual intimacy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-blaming
  • Difficulty expressing or modulating anger
  • Tendency to put everyone else's needs first besides your own
  • Symptoms of anxiety, panic, depression, or recurrent suicidal thoughts
  • Disordered eating habits
  • Overuse or dependence on alcohol and/or illicit drugs
  • Promiscuity <
  • Intrusive thoughts or images about past abuse
  • Moments of dissociation in which a person mentally "checks out" from their current situation
  • Difficulty with trusting others
  • Chronic pain in specific places in the body
  • Self-inflicted harm or cutting on oneself
  • May end up in relationship with an abuser
  • May abuse own children
  • May retrieve memories from the past during adulthood about abuse that is painful. HOWEVER, be very careful with this. Many of the "repressed' memories that people thought they had concerning past incidents of abuse turned out to only be false memories that were created through strong suggestion while under hypnosis. A good rule of thumb to follow here is to not go searching for memories of experiences that you are not sure about. It is more important to just know whether or not you were abused and get appropriate treatment, rather than to remember specific details of every experience of abuse you may have had.


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