There have been many debates on gender-based violence in recent days on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Held November 25. Through this article, we want to easily convey some of the psychological sequelae suffered by victims of gender violence, without daring to say that there is a psychological profile of women victims of abuse, but given that there is a series of sequelae or psychological consequences that are repeated in many women who have experienced this violence.
Women victims of gender violence suffer specific damage from the situation of abuse, which usually occurs regularly in all victims, but we must highlight the heterogeneity of people and stress that each situation has different nuances and therefore, the consequences that we will explain below will not be presented to all victims with the same intensity or in the same manner.
The 4 types of sequelae in victims of gender violence
We will classify the consequences suffered by victims of gender violence into four blocks:
- Emotional and affective sequelae: These are related to the self-esteem, emotions and feelings of the victim.
- cognitive sequelae: They usually highlight problems with concentration, memory loss, difficulty thinking about the future and planning or imagining the future, confusion, etc.
- behavioral sequelae: Reduction of social interaction behaviors (giving and receiving), communication difficulties, negotiation problems, etc.
- physical sequelae: Violets and injuries, physical exhaustion, general pain in the body, etc.
However, in this article we will focus on explaining the emotional and emotional consequences suffered by women victims of gender-based violence, as they are often the most difficult to detect and are one of the many targets for intervention. fundamental for psychological treatment.
Emotional and affective sequelae in victims of gender violence
Although multiple symptoms can present themselves at the psycho-affective level, we will focus on the 7 most common emotional sequelae.
1. Low self-esteem, identity issues and distorted self-image
their vision of themselves is totally distorted in negative. They often doubt their own abilities and possibilities, they report that they are a totally different person than they were at the start of the toxic relationship. In general, they are seen as helpless, helpless, and lacking the skills to take responsibility for their lives. They minimize their abilities and skills and maximize the chances of making mistakes and “failing”.
They have a hard time trusting their intuition (it is believed that they have been made to doubt themselves constantly, Thinking that they are wrong or that what they think or say is absurd and that they are wrong), therefore, they can become very dependent on outside opinions.
2. Feelings of guilt and a lot of fear
These feelings result from the messages of constant guilt they received from the abuser.. They feel guilty about everything, even if it apparently has nothing to do with them. They think that they are not good as a person (if they have children they may come to think that they are a bad mother). The guilt they feel usually paralyzes them and prevents them from looking forward and forward. Due to the abuser’s threats, they develop constant tension, hypervigilance and fear.
3. Emotional isolation
Due to the social isolation caused by the abuser, the victim feels that she is completely alone and that no one can understand what is happening to her.. They believe that they cannot trust anyone and therefore no one can help them. At the same time, they are increasingly dependent on the abuser. They may also come to believe that what they are going through only happens to them and that no one would understand them.
4. Difficulty recognizing and expressing emotions
Due to the situation of absolute control by the abuser, there is a denial of the feelings and emotions of the victim. They think their feelings are irrelevant, exaggerating, or wrong (they are suspicious of their own feelings). This way, they usually choose to hide their emotions.
They can often show poorly channeled anger: we believe that the victim must be able to control all of their emotions so as not to “irritate” the aggressor. This causes the perfect culture broth for the woman to express her feelings in a more uncontrolled way later. Sometimes the contained anger is directed at themselves.
5. Post-traumatic stress disorder or associated symptoms
These women are or have been through very difficult and stressful situations, with recurring trauma in many cases, so typical symptoms of PTSD can occur. (Anxiety, nightmares, depression, hypervigilance, emotional dullness, irritability, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, exaggerated emotional reactions …).
6. Feeling of having betrayed the abuser
For denouncing it, for having separated, or for having explained it to another person. They feel like they are betraying their partner. This would be one of the factors that would lead many women victims of gender-based violence to withdraw their complaints. They feel guilty for speaking badly of him, even though they ultimately explain what happened. In addition, women who have been victims of gender-based violence for a long time may come to integrate the ideas and messages they have received from the abuser. They end up becoming what the abuser wants them to be.
7. Affective disorders
It is common to find it difficult to trust others, they feel that they do not deserve to be loved or respected., They keep away from the environment for fear of suffering again, they perceive the environment as a threat …
Above all, there is affective ambivalence: we cannot give “the luxury” of giving in a totally authentic and open way to people who show them affection, as in the past, and the consequences have been disastrous. Somehow, they try to protect themselves from future situations of violence. This ambivalence situation also occurs with the abuser, because in part of the cycle of violence the abuser apologizes to him (honeymoon: they feel affection for him and perceive him as someone who is worthy of being loved) and in the following phases the phases of build-up of tension and explosion return (they feel hatred towards him).
Lorente Acosta, Miquel. (2009). My husband strikes me as normal: assault on wife. Realities and myths. Planet: Barcelona.
Echeburúa, E., and De Corral, P. (1998). Handbook on Family Violence. 21st century Spain: Madrid.
Official College of Psychology of Guipúzcoa (2016). Manual of psychological care for victims of gender abuse.