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An Abusive Father and the Effects on a Young Woman's Relationships

by Sandra L. Campbell, studioD

An abusive father can have a detrimental effect on a young woman's confidence and on her future relationships. Some three million children witness violence in their homes each year, according to an article on Crisis Connection, "The Effects of an Abusive Man on His Children." A young woman who had an abusive father is at risk for developing poor interpersonal relationships, mental health issues and physical ailments.

The Abuse Cycle

As a victim of paternal abuse, a young woman may have experienced verbal or physical violence. The function of verbal abuse is to make the woman feel small by using physical and verbal threats, according to the article, “Escape from an Emotionally and Verbally Abusive Father" by Susanne Babbel on PsychologyToday. This cycle of abuse or "battered person syndrome" occurs in three stages: the tension-building phase, the battering incidence or "eruption," and the respite phase. Young women with a history of abuse learn to alter their own behavior to pacify the abuser to prevent a battering episode. In essence, the woman blames herself for her father's abusive actions, which can cause problems for the woman in future intimate relationships.

Stunted Emotional Growth in Personal Relationships

Previous abuse can negatively affect a woman's emotional growth in relationships. Toxic stress, such as abuse, during childhood can change brain chemistry, according to an article, “The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress,” by Drs. Jack P. Shonkoff and Andrew S. Garner et al, posted on the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. This change in brain chemistry may cause emotional problems in a woman – making it difficult for her to express thoughts and feelings and maintain secure, healthy relationships.

Poor Choices in Partners

A woman abused by her father may have problems choosing loving partners. Previous sexual, verbal, or physical abuse puts a woman at risk for developing high-risk behaviors which may affect her decision-making skills, according to the article, “Long-term Consequences of Child Abuse,” posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. These risky behaviors may cause a woman to select poor life partners. Abused woman usually have self-esteem issues and may repeat the abuse cycle by having relationships with people who exhibit the same deleterious behavior as her father.

Emotional and Physical Consequences of Abuse

Having an abusive father has long-term emotional and physical ramifications on a young woman. Emotionally, a woman may develop clinical depression, which includes low self-esteem, poor self-confidence and a sense of worthlessness. Post-traumatic stress disorder is also common in battered women and the symptoms include anxiety, depression, poor concentration and memory, nightmares and flashbacks. The emotional effects of a father's abuse can also translate into physical symptoms. A life-threatening situation such as abuse can turn on the survival mode inside the body, according to Babbel in the article, "Escape from an Emotionally and Abusive Father," on Psychology Today. In a life-threatening event, the body releases stress hormones, which can raise blood pressure and affect the immune system. Over a period of time, a woman with a condition such as PTSD, may develop physical illnesses like high blood pressure because of stress on the body.

About the Author

Sandra Campbell is a writer, actor and corporate language trainer. She has taught ESL courses for adults and children and was honored with language trainer of the year in 2006. Campbell self-published “A Practical Guide to Learning American English” in 2010. She also writes screenplays, articles and poetry and has performed in film and theater productions.

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