Universally, abuse undermines the self-esteem of its victims, often destroying self-worth entirely. This applies whether victims are male or female, children or adults when the abuse takes place.
We view ourselves as deficient, defective, often as responsible for the abuse (which we definitely were not), and sometimes as deserving of it (which no one is).
Predators rely on this erosion, actively seeking to engineer it. Damaged self-esteem makes victims more vulnerable, more pliant, increasing a predator’s power over his/her victims.
We may be told that we are “ugly, stupid, worthless turds” and “whores” at the age of 3. Reality has no bearing on the insults and accusations hurled against us. And the closer our relationship is with the abuser (a parent, for instance), the deeper the wound.
Pain and Misperception
The pain can be unbearable, leading many victims to drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, eating disorders, and other self-destructive behaviors. All too often that pain clouds our perception of ourselves. We can see only the negative, our mistakes and shortcomings…even when they are non-existent.
Self-loathing will persist long after the physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect has ended. The self-hatred stemming from abuse can interfere with subsequent relationships, and contribute to suicide years later. Continue reading