Characteristics of Abused Women

20 Nov 2006

This week I came across The 13 Characteristics of Adult
Children of Alcoholics
. It makes
interesting reading even if you are not the child of an alcoholic.

As the author, Dr Janet G. Woititz, observes: “If you did
not grow up with alcoholism but lived… with another potentially dysfunctional
system, you may find that you identify with the characteristics described

It inspired me to rewrite it specifically for abused
women. The point of doing so is this:
to share the realization that the damage caused by a dysfunctional relationship
results in characteristics that are common to an entire category – in this case
abused women.

However characteristics are not the same as character or

Characteristics translate into behaviours. They are learned and can be unlearned. The essence of the individual, their
character or nature in other words, may be eclipsed by those characteristics
for months, years or even decades, but it endures.

Clear the characteristics – and let there be no doubt,
you can clear away those characteristics – and your true character and
nature will emerge, tempered, refined and strengthened by your experience.

The 14 characteristics common to abused women are:


  • Abused women have to guess at what
    normal behaviour is.
  • Abused women have difficulty maintaining their focus and
  • Abused
    women are often paralysed by their own negativity so that they find it hard to
    start something new and an uphill struggle to see it through.
  • Abused women judge themselves without mercy.
  • Abused
    women feel they always have to justify themselves.
  • Abused
    women have difficulty being light-hearted.
  • Abused
    women have difficulty trusting.
  • Abused
    women take everything very seriously.
  • Abused
    women overreact and catastrophize even over small problems.
  • Abused
    women faithfully record every last criticism they experience and they discount
    the praise.
  • Abused
    women need approval and affirmation and tend to look for it in all the wrong
  • Abused
    women usually feel that they are different to other people as a result of their
  • Abused
    women are extremely loyal, even despite the evidence that their loyalty is
  • Abused
    women envisage a future that will be just as hard as the present.

Whether or not you feel
able to shift these characteristics right now, please bear in mind that they
are superimposed, they are not an integral part of you.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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