How To Write An Abused Character: Great Tips For Budding Authors

by CJ McDaniel // April 29  

Abuse is a horrible experience. It leaves the victim in an abnormal state of mind. It centers on the attempt of abusers to have power over the victims and control them.

It’s also not limited to physical contact. Most times, people someone trusts are the ones that abuse them. Such people may include a spouse, parent, romantic partner, or caregiver.

Now back to our topic, how to write an abused character.

Writing an abused character can be tricky, especially when you have no experience of abuse in the past. To also write one, you have to gather facts about abuse, including how people react to it. And you must present your story creatively. 

Read to learn how to write an abused character that will captivate your readers.

Types Of Abuse You Can Write About

The main types of abuse are physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.

Physical abuse:

It refers to contact with a person’s body to hurt or injure the person in question. It consists of beating, slapping, and other bodily harm. It also includes the use of weapons on the person.

Psychological abuse:

It’s also called emotional abuse. It consists of harmful behaviors that affect a person’s emotional state. It’s harder to spot than physical abuse. It may involve attempts to frighten and control the person. Also, it includes shaming, humiliation, and threatening.

Sexual abuse:

It involves forceful sexual contact with a person. The victim may be an adult or a child. Also, it is not limited to females because males go through sexual abuse too. It includes kissing or fondling, rape attempt, rape, and forcing someone to have sex without protection or with other people. Also, it includes unwanted comments about a person’s sexuality.

Some other types of abuse include,

  • Verbal abuse: It’s a form of emotional abuse. It involves mainly the use of words. It’s also hard to detect. Examples involve using cruel words, name-calling, ridiculing, and so on.
  • Financial abuse: It usually consists of using money, including spending it to have control over someone. Examples are when someone prevents you from seeing transaction records of a shared bank account and taking hold of your bank card.
  • Digital abuse: This can be a form of emotional or verbal abuse, which took place online. It includes bullying through social media and tracking your calls or texts.

Some Traits of An Abused Character 

  • Displaying timidity and is always terrified.
  • May be numb due to a long period of abuse.
  • Become manipulative over time to either the abuser or others.
  • May lose touch with what normal behavior is.
  • Have difficulty maintaining focus and drive.
  • Struggle to start something new due to negativity.
  • Find it hard to trust.
  • Overreact over minor issues.
  • Extreme loyalty to the abuser.
  • Find it hard to move on.

Abused characters are not limited to these traits. That’s why you have to be flexible when choosing their behaviors.

Steps To Write An Abuse Story

Decide on the aspect of abuse to write about:

Is it physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse? There is a lot to choose from considering the various types and sub-types of abuse. But the best one to write about is usually the one that sparks your interest.

However, if you’re interested in more than one, you can creatively mix two or three that interest you. You never can tell where your imagination or creativity can lead you.

Do extensive research:

Before you start writing, you have to research. If your story is about a particular location, you should inquire about the place. Find out their climate, culture, values, and anything relevant, even if it’s on a past historical period.

Have all your facts straight. Take notes on all the information you find. You may not use all of them, but they’ll expand your mind to brainstorm ideas.

Furthermore, you can widen your research through the help of professionals that handle abuse cases or help abused people recover. They can help you see a part of abuse you didn’t know.

It’ll also be helpful to your research if you read stories related to abuse or the aspect you’re writing. It’ll give you an idea of the execution of such stories.

Some writers prefer to research after they brainstorm ideas and write their outlines. On the other hand, others prefer doing so before brainstorming. Whatever route you choose should be what works for you.

Brainstorm and draft down points:

Write down any ideas that come to mind. You can write in phrases, paragraphs, bulleted lists, words, and so on, whatever works for you. Also, you can use a notebook or a laptop for the process.

Start by writing all the ideas you have for the abuse story. Do so with undivided attention and try somewhere quiet. Sometimes, it might lead you to change the aspect of abuse you chose, and that’s okay.

Brainstorming helps you see what you’re thinking and feeling. So, you see clearly where the story will go. Sometimes, you’ll change or adjust your idea several times. But don’t let it discourage you; every process requires patience. Take breaks when you need to, and don’t expect to finish it in a day.

When you finish brainstorming, you may likely see a huge list before you. Before you continue to the next step, you’ll need to narrow down your best ideas. Put it down on a different page or use a different color to differentiate them.

Choose the characters and setting:

Decide your location. It should be able to show itself over time. Also, it should be engaging so that your audience can easily relate to it. It can shape the story.

All the research you do will pay off when you’re deciding your setting. What kind of surroundings will the character get abused? Is it where neighbors ignore each other? What is the culture of place and time? The pen is in your hands, so write as you see fit.

Use the characters that came up from your brainstorming. Now, choose specific traits for your abused character and the abuser. Come up with specific details about them such as their gender, ages, background, history, etc.

It will be easier for you to write the story if you already know your characters and their traits. It will also help to shape the events.

However, don’t stop at knowing details of the abuser and the abused. Specify your secondary characters (other characters in your story). Also, choose their looks, personal qualities, likes or dislikes, and behavior.

Write your outline:

At this point, you should already have a glimpse of how you want the story to be. Use your ideas to craft it. Your outline will help you avoid writer’s block. Also, it should be short and contain each element of the story. It includes the introduction, rising action, turning point, falling action, and resolution. It’s the main structure of your write-up.     

Start writing your story:

Now, it’s time to write your story! Use your content and outline to begin the story. How you write depends on you. You can start from the first page or the end and write backward. It’s exciting because it’s what you’ve put in a lot of work to do.

However, you’ll need lots of patience to complete your story. Sometimes, it can take months or even years to finish. So, don’t try to finish it in a day or a week. Don’t forget to take breaks when it’s not flowing or doesn’t feel right.

Also, choose the point of view to narrate your story that will suit it. You can even transit from one point of view to another. In essence, don’t just talk about the story; show it. Let the reader be able to see it. For instance, express how the abused character feels when he sees the abuser.

Avoid clichés:

You know what works for you, and that’s what makes you unique. Write like you and not someone else. Avoid the general storyline for most abuse stories. It’ll make it seem like it’s not original. Make the story yours, be creative and explore your imagination.

Also, you can add twists to your story. You can also add “misleading details” that will prevent your readers from predicting its outcome. Creating suspense in your abuse story can improve its uniqueness and stir your readers’ appetite.

Edit your story:

You have your masterpiece, so edit it. It’s the final thing to do before you can think of publishing your abuse story. Before you do this, take a break to clear your head or do it in the morning with a clear mind.

Also, to avoid distractions when you’re editing, use a quiet place. Highlight or underline words or sentences that are vague or that you don’t like. You can rewrite them later and then read them.

Furthermore, you can get your friends to read the story and give corrections. You can also ask professionals on the subject (abuse) to review it. They might spot errors that you won’t notice. Then pay a professional editor to do your final editing.


When writing an abused character, you have to bear in mind that they can heal. But the healing is a gradual process and can’t happen instantly. Use the facts you have and your imagination to come up with something compelling.

Finally, you have all the tools you need to create an abused character and write your story. So, write a piece that you would be proud of.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!