Sample Psychology Research Paper on Impacts of Abuse on our Perceptions and Sensations


Any form of abuse results in both short term and long term consequences on the victims. In most cases, abused individuals experience changes in their physical, emotional and mental well-being, which result in changes in their perceptions and sensations. Assisting victims of abuse to deal with their perception and sensation changes, which usually appear as the symptoms of abuse, requires an understanding of the nature of abuse to which they have been victims. The reactions of victims towards physical abuse are different from the reactions the same victims would exhibit following other forms of abuse. This implies that as there are many types of abuse, so are there diverse reactions and impacts on perceptions and sensations. The present paper explores the effects of abuse on our perceptions and sensations. Various types of abuse will be explored namely physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, mental/ psychological abuse, financial abuse and cultural/ identity abuse. Focus will be on the emotional and physical impacts of child abuse, based on a primary research study conducted by Al Dosari and Others (79-85). The paper will be segmented into different sections, namely, the introduction, types of abuse, effects of abuse and the conclusion. In each of the subsequent sections, extensive citation of the subject article will be conducted.

Types of Abuse

Abuse is described as a behavior pattern in which one person uses unscrupulous means to gain and maintain control over another. When talking about abuse, the reference is often focused on a pattern rather than a single isolated instance. These behaviors can take many forms even though the most common forms of abuse noticed are physical and sexual abuse. There are several other forms of abuse, some of which are subtle enough to be hidden for long durations. Physical abuse is however still the most common. According to Reach Team (par. 2), physical abuse is any form of direct physical impact on another. It can include behaviors such as punching others, kicking, hitting or even strangling others. Careless driving and invasion of another person’s space can also be considered as physical abuse. The impacts of physical abuse are many, and include physical injury and/ or death among others.

Victims could also be subjects of emotional or verbal abuse. In this regard, emotional abuse refers to hurtful words that are directed to the victims. Such words often cause emotional pain and are more difficult to notice or to prove. Victims of emotional abuse also take longer for the emotional pain to drain while others never recover completely (Reach Team par. 4). The absence of physical violence makes it even more difficult for the victims to notice that they are being abused, and the effects of that abuse may result in several outcomes before eventually being noticed. Similarly, mental abuse eats up at the victim’s mental well being by making them doubt their sanity. Mental abuse results in major negative perceptions about self and is often described as the cause of most mental enslavements. Victims engage in activities that are self degrading such as letting others handle their finances on account of inability, inability to leave abusive relationships and the tendency to second guess oneself (Reach Team par. 5). In most cases, the victims of mental abuse have negatively skewed perceptions of their abilities and would be thus willing to employ others to manage their affairs for fear of being recognized as incapable.

Financial abuse is a situation in which the abuser finds a way to take advantage of the victim, which in most cases includes financial matters. For instance, partners could have the abuser controlling all the budgets in a household. Alternatively, financial abuse may involve people taking debts in the names of others, not letting victims have access to their own bank accounts and/ or money, or even preventing the victim from earning their own money. Each of these behaviors creates financial dependence which prevents the abused individuals from leaving abusive relationships. Just like the other forms of abuse, financial abuse results in emotional distress, which can at times have physical manifestations. Another form of abuse presented by Reach Team (par. 7) is cultural or identity abuse. In this case, the abuser uses aspects of the victim’s cultures or identity to cause them pain. Actions such as threatening to expose people as a result of their sexual orientation, using aspects of culture to threaten or blackmail others and preventing others from practicing parts of their cultures that they find valuable, all constitute identity abuse, and can have detrimental effects on victim perceptions and/ or sensations.

The last type of abuse, which is also the most common and the subject of this study is the sexual abuse. According to Reach Team (par. 3), sexual abuse can be categorized either as a form of physical abuse or distinctively due to the expansive scope of activities that can be characterized as sexual abuse. Forced acts of sexual intercourse or rape constitute the physical part of sexual abuse. However, it can also have the emotional or verbal aspect of abuse in the sense that the abuser may withhold sex or use it as a subject of criticism. Making derogatory sexual comments also contributes to sexual abuse and has high emotional implications. The feelings surrounding sex itself can be used as a source of power and control in several ways hence the description of sexual abuse as a form of abuse that warrants lawful action. In some cases, the cultural implications surrounding sex are used as a tool of control and power, and this also constitutes a form of abuse with serious perceptional and sensational implications.

Impacts of Abuse: Perceptions and Sensations

Different forms of abuse are characterized by different outcomes. For the victims, rising above the impacts of abuse can be challenging and may need the assistance of third parties to help develop the understanding that one is being abused and to take the necessary actions to ensure that the abuse is addressed effectively. Various studies have shown for instance, that every form of abuse has an emotional or psychological outcome, and that the psychological effects of abuse can create physical symptoms. In some cases, these impacts result in changes in the victim’s perceptions and sensations in ways that cannot be reversed. According to Zoldbrod (3), trauma resulting from physical or other forms of abuse can have varying impacts on the victims. Zoldbrod studies the sexual impacts of trauma, which essentially relates to changes in the victims’ perception of sex and their attitudes towards it. Using a self administered survey methodology, Al Dosari and Others (79-85) examined the perceptions of parents about child abuse and the impacts it had on their children. The findings from the study confirmed the fears that child abuse has on the victims, whether the abuse is physical or emotional.

From the study conducted by Al Dosari and Others (79), parents who had been abused as children were more likely to engage in physical punishment as a way of correction. The impression here is that as a result of parental abuse, such parents developed a perception that children have to be punished physically for them to accomplish behavior change. This observation corresponds to the impacts discussed by Teicher (par. 8), who confirmed that child abuse results in various impacts such as post traumatic stress disorder, and significant changes to the brain and developmental structures. The reactions of parents who were abused as children are thus different from those who had been free of abuse in terms of how they handle their own children. In most cases, their perceptions of child indiscipline stems from a point of psychological distress or self doubt. Some of those parents have psychiatric issues, which require independent addressing for them to effectively take care of their children without abuse. Teicher (par. 8) suggests that abused parents commonly suffer from psychiatric issues such as depression and post traumatic stress disorder, which affect their efficacy in child care.

The study by Al Dosari and Others (4-5) also showed that parental beliefs regarding child abuse also constituted the problem of abuse in others. Community and cultural factors influenced parental perceptions about child punishment, giving the impression that physical or emotional abuse was an appropriate strategy for child correction. Parents who had been abused as children had a perception that their cultures supported the use of physical punishment as a corrective measure. The distinction between child abuse and punishment was unclear to most abused parents, implying a change of perception as a result of culture driven abuse during childhood. The common parental feelings should be that of pain (to punish children without subjecting them to unjustified pains). However, this seems to be lost on parents who had also been abused in childhood. They tend to feel that no other punishment is as effective as physically subjecting the child to pain. Al Dosari and Others (81) noted that parental attitudes are the determinants of physical abuse in their children, and effective management of child abuse requires an understanding of the parental attitudes and perceptions, which are created as a result of parental childhood interactions. This description gives the impression of the long term effects of abuse on perceptions, whereby parental attitudes are shaped by exposure to abuse.

Child abuse is also mentioned to result in changes in child perceptions about others. Al Dosari (80) mentioned that as parental abuse resulted in a change in their perceptions about child punishment, so child abuse results in changes in child perceptions about interpersonal relationships. Children are more likely to feel unwanted or rejected as a result of frequent physical abuse. Consistent with the findings of Teicher (par. 4), abused parents showed impressions of psychological problems as abused children. On the children however, the impacts are more likely to include development of personality disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anti-social behaviors. Children who have been exposed to abuse at home are also more likely to have a skewed perception of violence as they get used to it as part of their lives. They are therefore likely to be aggressive, physically and verbally abusive. Moreover, such children have changes in their self confidence, which is an indication of poor self perception. Emotional abuse is a common denominator in self image challenges among children and adults as well (Al Dosari and Others 79). The solution to the impacts of abuse therefore lie in understanding the reactions that different people have to different forms of abuse.

While Al Dosari focus on all forms of abuse experienced by parents and their impacts on child abuse, other studies have particularly mentioned the impacts of sexual abuse on the perceptions and sensations of children. Al Dosari and Others (83), mention the impacts of stress and social isolation on parental perceptions of abuse. According to the findings, parents who were under stress had a different perception about punishment and were more likely to abuse their children than those who were stress free. The stress in this case also links to abuse in that it has been confirmed that abused parents were also more likely to be under stress and psychological conditions such as depression, which raised their tendency to abuse their children. Teicher (par. 2) points out that abuse can result in permanent debilitating brain changes, which are an indication of permanent changes in brain functioning and permanent changes in perceptions and sensations. A perfect example of such permanent changes occurs in cases of sexual abuse victims.

Zoldbrod (4) suggested that all forms of childhood maltreatment result in adverse effects on adult sexuality. The most pronounced form of childhood maltreatment in this case is sexual abuse and/ or other forms of physical abuse. Zoldbrod (3-11) points out the specific sexual outcomes of child abuse. According to the study, individuals who were overtly abused as children were more likely to have negative perceptions about their sexuality, to exhibit changes in their emotional sensations and to have diverse reactions to any form of sexual advances. When working with individuals who have experienced abuse in the past, Zoldbrod (4) suggests that focusing on experiences with touch is essential since sexuality is embodied. Understanding the impacts of such abuse on the sensations of the victim requires a study of the patterns of sensation on the victim’s body and translating that into a body map. Sexual abuse results in changes in the victim’s perceptions about sex and interpersonal relationships, particularly when the abuser is a person close to the victim.

The impacts of abuse on the victims are varied and can be explained through different ways. However, the common factor in all the forms of abuse and their impacts is that of emotional underpinning. Every abuse comes with emotional and psychological implications, which drive changes in perceptions and sensations of the victims.


Abuse has serious implications whether perpetrated by a parent or a stranger. For children, abuse comes with lifelong implications that affect even future generations. For instance, an abused parent is more likely to abuse their own children as a result of changed perceptions about punishment as well as psychologically driven perception changes. In most cases, formerly abused parents suffer from stress and other psychological issues, which also drive them to abuse their children. Similarly, children who are abused have permanent changes in their brain development and functioning, which results in changes in their perceptions and sensations. Emotional and sexual abuse on the other hands results in changes in the victims’ perceptions about sexuality and their reactions to its embodiment.

Works Cited

Al Dosari, Mohammed N., Ferwana, Mazen, Abdulmajeed, Imad, Aldossari, Khaled K. and Al-Zahrani, Jamaan, M. “Parents’ perceptions about child abuse and their impact on physical and emotional child abuse: A study from primary health care centers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Family & Community Medicine, vol. 24, no. 2, 2017, pp. 79-85. Accessed 4 Dec. 2018.

Reach Team. “Six different types of abuse.” Reach Blog, 23 March 2017. Accessed 4 Dec. 2018.

Teicher, Martin H. “Wounds that time won’t heal: the neurobiology of child abuse.” Cerebrum, 1 Oct. 2000. Accessed 4 Dec. 2018.

Zoldbrod, Aline P. “Sexual issues in treating trauma survivors.” Current Sexual Health Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, 2015, pp. 3-11. Accessed 4 Dec. 2018.