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Mental and Physical Abuse in a Relationship and the Development of Depression E-mail


The goal of this website is to give support to people who are feeling depressed and unhappy with their lives. I am living in Europe and English is not my native language, I wish you will excuse me if I make some grammatical errors. I have a background in neuroscience and behavioral sciences and I am currently doing brain research in university in my home country. I decided to write in English because I wish to reach as many people as I can around the world.


Depression after ending an abusive relationship

It is often very hard to end an abusive relationship. It can take several attempts until one is finally strong enough to leave. After leaving, one faces the loneliness that can lead to a severe depression. Often depression has already developed as a consequence of prolonged abuse in a relationship.

Mental and physical abuse are having severe effect on one's self esteem. Our romantic partner in life should be the one person who we can trust and rely on. If our partner is suddenly withdrawing his or her support and is turning against us, the very foundations of our life are shaken. We have exposed ourselves completely to our spouse, trusting that our spouse does not use our vulnerabilities against us. If our spouse is suddenly starting to behave in a way that makes us feel he or she no longer loves us but instead has a very negative feeling of us, it is like stabbing us to the back. There is no way one can prepare to such an emotional tragedy.

Long-term effects of emotional and physical abuse

After the first episode of abuse is over one often feels disoriented, confused, ashamed and depressed. If the abusive spouse is apologizing the abuse and promises never to do it again, it is tempting to return to him or her and to try to continue the relationship. The abused spouse is wishing he or she could somehow get back the warm, loving feeling there was in the beginning of the relationship, before the abuse took place. The memory of those positive feelings is like an emotional "hook" that makes it very hard to leave after the first episode of the abuse.

If the abuser is truly sorry and realizes he or she made a mistake, it is possible that the abuse will not happen again. If the abuse does not happen again, it is possible to regain the trust and a good, comfortable feeling in a relationship. However, if the abuse happens again, it is harder to get over it. If one stays in a relationship after second or third time the abuse takes place, another process starts; One starts to slowly adapt to the abuse.

The pain one experiences when the abuse takes place the first time is similar to the pain we feel if our spouse suddenly tells us he or she wants to end the relationship. Our view of our world is suddenly changing and our mind is having hard time adapting to the new situation. If the abuse takes place often, after a while the pain is no longer as sharp as it was the first time we experienced the abuse. This does not mean one would not feel strong pain and depression when the abuse occurs. However, the feeling is different than in the beginning. When the abuse continues, the brain is slowly adapting to the situation and hence the emotional reaction is not so strong (the pain is not as sharp) as it was the first time the abuse took place.

Abuse in a relationship and the development depression

When the abuse continues, one becomes slowly more and more depressed. The development of depression often takes place so slowly that one is not aware of the process until the condition is already quite advanced. If you are feeling depressed to begin with when your spouse is abusing you, the difference between the feeling you had prior to the abusive episode and right after the abuse took place is not as great as it was when you were still generally happy in your relationship (the abuse had not yet started) and after the first episode of the abuse occurred.

Before the abuse started occurring in your relationship, your happiness level was, let us say, 5. When the abuse took place the first time, your happiness level dropped momentarily to 0. The difference between 5 and 0 is 5 steps. The difference is very big and hence the contrast between these two emotional states is very strong. This is why the pain feels so sharp first time when the abuse takes place.

If the abuse continues, you will slowly become more and more depressed. As a consequence of this depression, the general level of your happiness drops, let us say to level 3 or even to level 2. When the abuse now occurs, you drop from level 2 to level 0. The difference is now only 2 steps. Consequently, you do not feel there is such a huge difference between the way you felt right before the abuse took place and the way you felt right after the episode of the abuse.

When one has become severely depressed, one's happiness level has dropped to level 1 or even to level 0. If the abuse happens now, one no longer reacts strongly, one has become numb to the pain. It is very dangerous to stay in this kind of a situation for a long time. The aim of this website is to help people to understand and recognize the processes and different elements that are creating depression and to encourage depressed people to remove these elements from their life so that the recovery can begin.

To read more about how to recover from depression after ending an abusive relationship, visit page Depression due to Problems in a Relationship.



Comments (6)
  • mamoore  - no hope
    There is no hope! Mental abuse drives you crazy. eventually the victim looks like the crazy one. Soon your own children turn against you . An emotionalabuser manipulates, denies, lies. All the while continuing the abuse. My husband is aware he is an emotional abuser. He's aware the change its took on me. He's even aware that i am depressed from it. I don't clean, cook, or go any where any more. My husband continues the abuse even though he's aware of it. There is no way out. I havent got rhe strength. to get a shower much less the strength to leave. again . There is death. So until. you have had enough to kill your self your stuck.
  • emilia  - --
    i feel sad all the time. i cant deal with the feelings anymore. i picture myself laying in the closet while he beats me. i remember standing in the shower and feeling the bruises that take a about 5 hours to show up but when they do you cant walk. you have to hide them unless they are in your torso. usually my husband kicked and beat my legs and back. sometimes i had figureprints on my arms and neck. i only had black eyes three times . i am a big lier...i said i crashed my bike...i was decorating for the holidays and fell. I felt so much shame lying. I feel disgust picturing myself being raped, kicked, choked and beat. Not a slap...I am talking about hours of beatings. shoving my head through walls, beating with his belt while I was naked/ I am a smart educated woman. I can deal with this total lonliness and utter sadness. He has always been jeolous. I have no friends. Not even family I am so alone. nobody can help me
  • Michelle  - You are not alone
    Emilia- I do not know what city you live in, but there are shelters for battered women in many cities. I have been in a similar situation. The only thing that made me leave was the fear that he'd kill me and my daughters wouldn't have a mother. I didnt care if he killed me, I felt so worthless and had alienated everyone around me in order to protect him and keep his "love".

    People love you!! You are wonderful. He is a monster. The only reason he hasn't killed you yet is because then you will no longer be around to beat and make him feel like a Big Man!
  • moly
    Hi Mona,

    No one knows how you feel inside , however noone is worth hurting yourself and your family . it is understanable that you feel lonely or hurt , be sure that in time those feelings will disappear and you will be happy with another person again . I am not sure if you are a religious person , but even if you are not this relationship was not meant to be . you should be with someone that wants to be with you and respects you. you will find that person and if you feel you need help seek it. Because as I said his life will go on just fine even if you are gone , so why waste your precious life over him.
  • MONA  - I am dumped by a guy
    I have been in a relationship from 5 years,we had physical relationship,my boyfriend promised me that he will do marriage to me but now he is dumping me for another girl.I tried to suiside but my parents saved my life...i am still in depression and i still love my boyfriend...nothing is working for me..i feel lonly without him and he donot love me anymore..he broke this relationship in just 1 day and it was a great shock to me...plz help me...plz
  • Melissa  - Thanks
    I am thrilled to have found your information on depression after abuse. I am 39 and trying to end a relationship that is emotionally abusive. I was involved in an emotional/physical abusive relationship for the first time 3 years ago and can't believe it "happened" to me. Now I find myself in the throes of another abusive situation and I'm trying to stop this before it becomes a pattern in my life.
    The happiness level thing makes lots of sense, as does the depression essay on depression.
    Thanks for your work.
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