Welcome to Chapter Three of
Not All Sharks Bite: Learning To Recognise The Signs Of Abuse
You can’t surf with a Shark biting your board. The Negative effects of Abuse
No one can reach their full potential as an individual or function at their best when they are experiencing an unhealthy and abusive relationship. Such relationships are damaging to one’s self worth and self-esteem. Prolonged negative relationships can affect all aspects of one’s life, having a negative effect on mental, physical and social wellbeing. The abused partner can develop false beliefs about themselves, lose all confidence and self-respect. Such is the enormity of negative and unhealthy relationships.
Physical and Mental Health
The effects of abuse upon the body are extreme. When one’s boundaries are being constantly pushed they begin to experience tremendous amounts of stress. Unhealthy levels of stress in the body can result in negative physical symptoms such as exhaustion, muscular tension, high blood pressure, headaches, nausea, neck pain, back aches, indigestion, muscle spasms, Insomnia and sleeping difficulties.
Prolonged stress as a result of constant abuse can result in one becoming anxious, being constantly on edge and entering into a depressive state.
Having experienced abuse over an extended period of time, I certainly became unwell. I began suffering many serious physical symptoms including regular pain, headaches, tiredness and nausea. I also developed anxiety. As a result, I was constantly exhausted. I struggled to keep up with everyday chores, care for my needs properly and cope with the everyday tasks of life. I was too tired to cook healthy meals and ate comfort food, gaining a lot of weight in the process. I stopped wearing makeup and nice clothing. I even struggled to brush my own hair.
Due to abuse I became an extremely anxious person. Unhealthy relationships can keep you on edge as you are constantly worrying about upsetting your partner. You literally are walking on egg shells.
My partner was very controlling over the food I ate. As we entered the supermarket, I’d be stressing in my head, thinking, ”I hope I don’t put the wrong food in the trolley”. I’d be watching for ‘the look’ of disapproval as we walked around the isles.
One week my husband would have no problem with me putting a packet of biscuits in the trolley, other weeks he’s be really mad, comment on my weight or give me the silent treatment. Other times, he’d start driving dangerous in the car on the way home, punishing me for my unhealthy choices and taking the food off me at home, throwing it in the bin.
Developing anxiety is certainly a huge effect of being in an unhealthy and abusive relationship. Not knowing when your partner is about to explode or whether they approve of your actions can be very worrying.
This led me to develop what I term the ”Permission complex”, where I began asking permission to do everything. Permission to put that item in the trolley, permission to go to the toilet, to leave the house and to make that phone call. Getting permission was my way of preventing adverse reactions from my spouse. Though completely wrong, it was a learnt behaviour I developed in response to the unhealthy relationship I was experiencing at the time.
Unhealthy and abusive relationships often result in the abused partner becoming depressed, needing to go on medication, requiring counselling, ending up in hospital and wanting to end their lives. It is extreme but real. This should never happen but so many times it does. Unhealthy relationships most certainly effects one’s mental and physical wellbeing and can do for many months or even years following the end of the relationship. Victims of abuse can suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome and may need extensive therapy or counselling to help recover from traumatic, unhealthy and dangerous experiences.
The good news is that whether you have been swimming with the sharks or even been bitten, it is possible to get out of that water, for your body to heal, to become aware of danger and to surf the water of love once more.