If you’ve found this article, you know what a narcissist is and the damage they can do in relationships. You may be questioning whether or not you are dealing with narcissistic abuse or, if you have, how you can heal and move forward with your life.
Narcissistic abuse can be defined as any kind of behavior that is meant to control another person. It is done by using tactics to humiliate and cause fear and doubt in one’s own reality. Narcissistic abuse can be as overt as yelling, screaming, and criticizing or, as covert as gaslighting, withholding needs, and denying what was and wasn’t said.
4 Signs You Are a Victim of Narcissistic Abuse:
1. You Doubt Yourself:
“Maybe he is right, maybe I did say I’d go to the party and just don’t remember.” You’ve begun to believe that maybe you are the problem, the one who needs to change, the one whose reality is skewed.
2. You Feel Confused About Where You Stand in Your Relationship:
Eighty percent of the time you have a partner who seems to genuinely love and care about you. It’s the other 20% that keeps you in a state of confusion. Your partner withholds sex and affection; they complain about the way you dress or your need to lose weight.
When you voice how hurtful your partner has been you are told you are too sensitive, or you misunderstood their words and actions. One moment you feel cherished, the next you feel diminished.
3. You Feel Like You Are Going Crazy:
You feel tired, alone, helpless, angry, and worthless. You feel like you’re going crazy but you can’t put your finger on the reason. “There must be something wrong with me!”
You Have Physical Symptoms You Can’t Explain:
Your neck, shoulders, and back hurt. You suddenly are diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You find it hard to get out of bed in the morning because your energy levels are depleted. Your toxic relationship has taken a toll on your physical well-being!
Tips For Recovering if You’re a Victim of Narcissistic Abuse:
1. Surround Yourself with a Strong Support Network:
It’s time to stop doubting your own reality and open up to others about what you’ve dealt with in your relationship. You’ll need a good therapist, one who has worked with victims of emotional abuse. You’ll need friends and family who will encourage you to break free of your abuser and work on recovering from the damage your partner has done.
2. Talk About the Way You Feel:
The mistake most victims make is talking about what was done to them. To recover you have to express how you feel in order to learn ways to deal with the negative emotions you are experiencing. When you talk about the way you feel with a therapist, friends, and family you gain perspective. You also gain confidence in yourself when your feelings are validated by those closest to you.
3. Allow Yourself to Be Angry:
Be angry but do so constructively. If you don’t process the anger you feel over being used and manipulated you will stay stuck in your sadness and despair. When anger is suppressed you can begin to feel physical exhaustion, depression, and indifference to your own emotional health.
Not talking about and working with the feelings you have can cause you to become avoidant and isolate yourself from friends, family, and possibly new relationships. So, get angry, get it out, and move on!
4. Learn How to Self-Sooth:
I have a friend who suffered so intensely at the hands of her narcissistic husband that by the time the marriage was over she was having panic attacks. The least amount of stress would trigger adrenalin rushes and she would find it hard to catch her breath. If you are experiencing the same, being able to calm yourself during upsetting times is an important skill to have.
Soaking in a warm bath, deep breathing exercises, and distracting yourself with a positive thought or activity are all self-soothing techniques one can use to calm nerves when they stand on end.
5. Have No Contact with The Narcissist:
You may have let go of the narcissist, but that doesn’t mean he has let go of you. Until the narcissist moves on to another source of supply you will be their target. Do everything within your power to not respond to or defend yourself via email, text, or phone calls.
Narcissists don’t give up easily so this is going to be difficult. They have a way of triggering their victims’ need to defend themselves against accusations. And, worst yet, they have a way of appearing sincerely remorseful for the pain they’ve caused.
The narcissist’s main goal is to keep you engaged. Whether it is in a positive manner or negative manner doesn’t matter to the narcissist, as long as you are continuing to engage. Don’t give the narcissist what he/she wants, go no contact with the narcissist!
6. Work on Rebuilding Your Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence:
The narcissist’s goal is to strip you of every ounce of self-esteem and self-confidence you possess and leave you feeling like damaged goods. To feel good about themselves, they have to make you feel bad about yourself.
They can’t be viewed as damaged, they need you to believe you are damaged. You may be the best spouse; the most attractive person the narcissist has ever been involved with. You may be far more intelligent than the narcissist. They will work hard of stripping you of esteem and confidence.
The first step in getting it back is to understand that, the doubts and fears they instilled in you were lies. None of it was about you, it was about their lack of confidence, their fear, and their bruised, inflated ego.
Stop buying into what the narcissist so desperately tried to sell you about yourself. Lies, lies, lies!
7. Don’t Research narcissism!
It is human nature to want to understand who they are, what makes them tick, and if they can be fixed. Every hour you spend trying to learn about them is an hour you are taking away from recovering from their abuse. Focus on your recovery, and research techniques used to heal after narcissistic or emotional abuse. Self-care after many months and years of abuse is where your focus should be!