Narcissistic abuse victims often feel confused, ashamed, and intensely hurt. The devastation that this insidious abuse causes in victims’ lives is as immense as it is elusive. So what is narcissistic abuse and why is it so damaging?
Identifying narcissistic abuse is notoriously difficult for victims and their support system because narcissistic abuse, by its nature, is often covert.
What Is Narcissistic Abuse?
Some victims’ experiences are invalidated because their abuser was not diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). However, anyone can be a narcissistic abuser, with or without a diagnosis.
Narcissistic abuse may include emotional, physical, verbal, psychological, and sexual abuse.
How Do I Know If My Abuser Is a Narcissist?
While not every abusive man is diagnosed with NPD, most abusers display narcissistic personality traits. These may include:
- Grandiose self-perception
- An inability to accept blame or criticism
- A desire to be seen as special, high-status, and/or exceptionally “good”
- A chronic habit of lying
- A sense of entitlement
- Habits of over-spending, pornography use, affairs (emotional and otherwise), substance abuse
- A controlling personality that is cloaked in chivalry
- Passive-aggressive communication
- Seeks the “victim” role in confrontations
Why Does Narcissistic Abuse Hurt So Much?
Narcissistic abuse generally follows cycle, similar to the abuse cycle. It consists of three points:
- Idealization or love-bombing
Abusers love-bomb victims by giving victims whatever they want or need to feel prized and loved. This may include constant communication, gifts, intense commitments early on in the relationship, compliments, and sharing confidences that are intimate. This part of the cycle generally includes intense sexual contact.
Then abusers begin the process of devaluation. They subtly criticize, humiliate, and/or emotionally abandon the victim. When victims question the abuser, the abuser will gaslight them, or accuse them of being high-maintenance, say they’re imagining things, or “too clingy”. This is terribly confusing and heart-wrenching for a woman who has just been love-bombed.
The discard may include the abuser having an affair; abandoning the victim; physical violence; sexual acting-out; verbal and emotional abuse; and turning tables so that the victim feels like she was the abuser.
Healing From Narcissistic Abuse
First and foremost, in order to heal from narcissistic abuse, victims must find safety from the abuse. Some women are able to go no-contact with their abuser, which is the most effective way to begin healing from narcissistic abuse. Others are not able to go no-contact for various reasons. For those women, gray rock is a common technique that may protect them from some of the narcissistic abuse.
Boundaries are not requests, statements, or ultimatums. They are courageous actions that women take to separate themselves from abuse.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Narcissistic Abuse
When women begin the painful journey of healing from narcissistic abuse, it is essential that they find “safe” support people: individuals who understand how devastating narcissistic abuse is to the human spirit, who do not blame the victim, and who validate her in her feelings and decisions.
The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone. BTRG offers the validation, support, and compassion that victims need as they process trauma and seek healing. Join today and find the community that understands your pain and your strength.
Remember, you are not alone.