Being involved with a narcissist is hell on earth. Sooner or later, the person closest to them falls into the trap of their narcissistic abuse cycle that seems impossible to get out of.
They gaslight and manipulate their victims. They devalue their worth and isolate them from the rest of the world.
And that’s not even the beginning of it. The truth is that they play you in different ways. But if you’ve ever dealt with a narcissist, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Well, I’m here to give you hope and to tell you that there is hope for your salvation. I’m here to give you instructions on how to identify narcissistic abuse, how to escape it, and, finally, how to heal from it.
What is narcissistic abuse?
Narcissistic abuse is any form of abuse performed by an individual suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder. What’s crucial here is to understand that not only physical violence counts as abuse.
There are other forms of narcissistic abuse, such as emotional or verbal abuse that are equally harmful to the victim.
What are the symptoms of narcissistic abuse?
Identifying narcissistic abuse is the hardest part of the entire process. The victim is not sure whether they’re exaggerating, imagining things, or really being abused.
That’s why I’ve compiled all the signs of narcissistic abuse and explained them in detail. I promise that after reading this, you’ll be able to spot a narcissist on a first date!
1. Emotional blackmail
According to the definition, emotional blackmail means when someone literally uses your emotions against you. It’s a form of manipulation people with narcissistic personality disorder frequently use against their victims.
The abuser knows you very well, and they’re aware they’re your weak spot. So whenever you try to leave them, they engage in hoovering: they might threaten to kill themselves or harm you in any other way.
This is just one of the many examples of emotional blackmail. Basically, your narcissistic partner makes different demands to get what they want from you.
Another common case of emotional blackmail is the situation where your partner reacts negatively to your choices.
For example, if you do something they don’t like, they’ll pretend to be the victim. They will threaten to leave you or to be depressed just so you feel remorse and, eventually, start behaving the way they want.
This is just one of the ways narcissists obtain power and control over their victims.
Almost all victims of narcissistic abuse have been subjected to gaslighting – a very powerful narcissistic technique and form of psychological abuse.
Basically, when narcissists gaslight you, sociopaths distort your sense of reality. They play with your sanity until, eventually, you start questioning everything around you.
Simply said, gaslighting is a form of mental abuse where the other person lies, deceives you, and twists the truth.
Here is an example. You know very well how a certain argument between you and your narcissistic partner went on. Nevertheless, after a while, when you bring it up, they claim that an entirely different version of events took place.
And the worst part is that they’re so sure about it to the point where you wonder if you’re going mad. Of course, you have no idea that they’re actually trying to gaslight you.
This happens most commonly in connection to physical abuse. For example, you recall that your partner hit you or did something abusive.
Nevertheless, after some time, they deny it ever happening. They deny they insulted you or did anything that might have hurt your feelings.
Sometimes, it goes as far as hiding things from you or claiming that they saw you at a place you know you’ve never been to.
3. Devaluing your worth
You have to be aware of one thing: every narcissist struggles with insecurities and low self-esteem. At the same time, they know how worthy you are, so they have no other choice but to bring you down to their level.
That’s why they’ll do everything in their power to destroy your mental health. After all, that’s the only way for them to feel superior and manipulate you in different ways.
The main goal of psychological manipulation is to reduce your worth. A narcissistic person will find ways to get inside your head and make you feel like you’re not enough.
They might try by insulting you while some give you backhanded compliments. Other narcissists will make up stories about your loved ones talking behind your back and commenting on your flaws.
Even though they might use different tactics, at the end of the day, the result is the same. They want you to get the impression they’re the only ones you can trust. And when they achieve that, they can control you like a puppet and get you to do whatever they want.
When you’re in a romantic relationship with a narcissist, everything revolves around them. Even though they hide it extremely well at the beginning, you see how selfish they actually are later on.
In fact, people who suffer from NPD are egomaniacs in most cases. They’re preoccupied with themselves, and their ego becomes the only thing they care about.
In some cases, they’re unable to see the other person’s point of view, while in other cases, they’re capable of doing so but consciously refuse to.
They constantly act like you’re beneath them in every way possible. They have a sense of entitlement and that they basically have the right to do whatever they want. At the same time, terms like ‘equality’ and ‘equity’ don’t exist in their dictionary.
But a narcissist doesn’t only act like they’re better than everyone else. That’s actually what they keep telling themselves.
At the same time, things are actually completely opposite. They’re dealing with deeply rooted insecurities and serious self-esteem problems that they try to resolve by putting everyone else down.
5. Lack of empathy
The best way to spot someone’s egocentrism is through their lack of empathy (beware that this is also quite common for psychopaths). Actually, that might be one of the reasons they attract empaths in the first place.
When you’re involved in a narcissistic relationship, the other person never puts any effort into walking a mile in your shoes.
They have no compassion for their victims at all. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be treating them this way constantly.
When a narcissist hurts you, they don’t think about how their actions will make you feel. They don’t think about the consequences their behavior leaves on other people.
They don’t care what happens to you, and they never take your emotions into consideration. All they can think about is how the situation will affect them, which is, again, a sign of egocentrism as well.
6. Love bombing
If you ever feel guilty for falling for a narcissist, it’s clear that you’re not familiar with the term love bombing.
The term actually says it all: love bombing happens when a narcissistic person bombs you with love, attention, and affection.
If you look closely, you’ll notice the first signs of this manipulation technique in the initial stages of your relationship.
This is when you’ll think you’ve finally met your soulmate after all the failures. You’ll meet a person who tells you they love you right away, a person who has no trouble labeling your relationship, and who talks about the future from day one.
At first, you’ll wonder if they’re too good to be true. Well, sadly, nothing they show you is real.
Before you know it, your sense of self-worth is determined by the amount of attention they give you. Once they realize they’ve made it, that’s when signs of narcissistic abuse start.
Their behavior completely changes, and they take away all the love they’ve been giving you. Consequently, you try your best to get the person from the beginning of the story back.
And that’s how you get stuck in this kind of toxic relationship without being aware of that.
7. Lies and deception
People who suffer from narcissism never show you their true selves. Why? Because deep down, they know they’re not enough.
So instead, they display this made-up version of themselves. They present you with the person they want to be.
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about narcissistic parents, co-workers, or romantic partners – every relationship with a narcissist is filled with lies and deception.
The problem with these people is that they actually lie to themselves. They’re not honest when they look at themselves in the mirror, so they can’t be honest with you either.
They are actually generating their sense of self-worth from your reaction. That’s why they convince you that they’re much better versions of their true selves.
The biggest problem here is that they’re extremely skilled liars. They are capable of inventing an entire fake life, backed up with social media accounts, degrees, jobs…
Similar to those suffering from borderline personality disorder, narcissists also have a strong fear of abandonment.
Even though this doesn’t justify their behavior, the truth is that they lie because they’re convinced nobody would ever accept them for who they really are.
8. Victim playing
Whatever happens in your romantic relationship, somehow, you turn out to be the villain. At the same time, your partner gets to play the victim.
But if you look at things objectively, it’s actually quite the opposite. They’re the violent ones, the ones who manipulate you, insult you, and put you through other forms of abuse.
Nevertheless, somehow, they manage to turn the tables on you and make you look like the bad guy in every scenario.
Even if they literally hit you, they’ll blame you. They’ll start crying and accusing you that you provoked them.
You end up being responsible for every argument you two have. You’re guilty of everything wrong in your relationship.
Sounds familiar? Well, it looks like you’re dealing with a person who suffers from NPD.
When this happens, please keep in mind that you’re the one being subjected to physical, emotional, and verbal abuse in this relationship. You’re the victim of your partner’s narcissistic behavior; it’s not the other way around.
9. Social isolation
A healthy relationship gives you enough space to be yourself outside of the romance. But when you’re involved with a narcissist, they want you all to themselves.
At first, you may even find it cute. They’re obviously so in love with you that they can’t spend a minute without you around.
But beware because this is actually another form of emotional abuse. It’s clear that your partner wants to isolate you from your loved ones.
Why? Well, because it’s easier for them to manipulate you that way.
Wouldn’t your best friend or a family member warn you that you’re in an abusive relationship? Wouldn’t they try to tell you that your partner hitting you is not normal and that you’re actually going through domestic violence?
Wouldn’t they do their best to take off your rose-tinted glasses and help you see the truth?
Of course, they would, and your narcissistic partner is perfectly aware of that. So, they do everything in their power to make you cut out everyone besides them.
They start by being overly needy. They make up activities to occupy your time and prevent you from contacting anyone else.
After that, they start planting seeds of doubt in your mind. They keep telling you that your best friend doesn’t have your best interest at heart or that your parents have always loved your siblings more than you.
It starts with silly things, but eventually, you start avoiding those closest to you.
If that doesn’t work, they proceed in making you jealous. They become possessive and emotionally blackmail you into never spending time with anyone besides them.
What are the 9 traits of a narcissist?
According to the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), NPD is classified as one of the ten personality disorders. Here is what they say the 9 most common narcissistic traits are:
2. Excessive need for admiration
3. Superficial and exploitative relationships
4. Lack of empathy
5. Identity disturbance
6. Difficulty with attachment and dependency
7. Chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom
8. Vulnerability to life transitions
9. Risk factors for suicide and suicidal attempts.
Narcissistic Abuse Cycle
Not all narcissists are the same. Some deal with other mental illnesses, some are sociopaths, some are psychopaths, some suffer from a borderline personality disorder, and some only have narcissistic traits.
Despite that, there is a certain behavioral pattern they all follow after finding a new victim. It’s called a narcissistic abuse cycle, and here is how it usually goes.
At first, a narcissistic abuser idealizes their victim. They put them on a pedestal and see them as their salvation.
They refuse to notice their victim’s flaws. For them, this is not just an ordinary human being – they’re the closest thing to perfection.
Of course, this idealization is followed by love bombing. They keep on convincing their victim that the two of them are soulmates who are meant to spend eternity together.
This is more than love they’re experiencing. This is a destiny and a once-in-a-lifetime kind of connection.
The main problem here is that almost every victim confuses this with the honeymoon stage, which is usual for most new relationships.
But there is a crucial difference here: love bombing and idealization aim to create emotional dependency, power and control. On the other hand, the honeymoon stage is all about butterflies.
In a healthy relationship, things don’t change much after the honeymoon stage. Yes, the butterflies fly away, but most couples keep on loving and respecting each other. The worst thing that can happen here is falling into a rut.
Nevertheless, this is where a narcissistic relationship is different. This is when victims of narcissistic abuse see their partner’s true colors for the first time.
This is the stage of the cycle where a narcissist devalues their victim. They destroy their self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
This is where insults, physical abuse, and different forms of manipulation begin.
Finally, the third phase begins once the narcissist has fulfilled all of their twisted needs. They’re aware they’ve managed to ruin their victim but don’t feel sorry about it due to their lack of empathy.
This is when the person who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder starts to push their victim away. Their job is done here, and they’re ready to move on to the next person they’ll also break.
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Tips And Tricks
Surviving this type of abuse and coming out of it stronger is doable. Nevertheless, it’s easier with the help of this step-by-step guide.
1. Emotional detachment
Before actually leaving your narcissist, it’s more important to emotionally detach yourself from them. What does that mean?
Well, walking away from an abuser is not always easy. In fact, in most cases, it can be potentially dangerous.
Now that you know who you’re dealing with, you can’t just walk out the door. You need an exit strategy and a support system.
What about your relationship? Start with reducing all the communication with your partner. Even when you have to talk to them, always be aware of what they’re doing.
Don’t argue with them. But when they try to manipulate you, identify their tactics in your head.
You don’t have to tell them that you’ve figured them out. It’s enough to mentally tell yourself: They’re trying to gaslight me now. I am aware of it, and I won’t fall into that trap.
Don’t fall for their false promises, and kill all hopes that things will change.
2. No contact
After you finally leave them, your narcissist will do everything in their power to get you back. They’ll bargain, ask you to stay friends, beg, shower you with love, make false promises… They’ll basically become the person you once fell in love with.
This is a trap! They won’t ever change. They just want you back so they can go back to their old ways the moment they see they’ve managed to capture you once again.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t hesitate to ride into the sunset with them. Well, that’s why you have to take all precautionary measures to prevent this.
What I want you to do is to go no contact. Cut them off completely and for good!
Block their number, block their social media accounts, stop talking to anyone who’ll give you information about them, stop showing up wherever you could encounter them… Disappear from their life and pray to God that they will also disappear from yours.
3. Support system
I mentioned earlier the importance of a support system. Let’s make it clear: going through this entire process alone will make everything much more difficult.
That’s why you must turn to people you trust. Yes, I know that you’ve probably ignored them while you were in the relationship.
You never returned your best friend’s calls, and you even cut ties with most of your family.
But hey, these are your people. They understand everything you were going through perfectly, and I promise you they will welcome you with open arms.
So get the courage and call them. Tell them you want out and ask for their help.
First of all, they’ll give you much-needed emotional support. But not only that – they can also help you get by after you leave.
What if you don’t have anyone to turn to? Ask your healthcare provider to give you information on where you can seek help.
There are numerous support groups for victims of narcissistic abuse. You’ll get the guidance you need there.
What most victims forget in all of this mess is to learn how to love themselves all over again. You’re so focused on getting out of this abusive relationship alive that you completely forget the importance of self-care.
Please, use this time to spoil yourself. Use it to remember how much you deserve. Use it to remember that you’re worthy of self-love. At last, use it to regain your sense of self-worth.
See also: The Art Of Mirroring A Narcissist
5 Stages Of Healing From Narcissistic Abuse
Healing from narcissistic abuse doesn’t end the moment you leave the relationship. It’s an undertaking that lasts much longer than you think.
Truth be told, every victim heals at their own pace. Nevertheless, they all have one thing in common: they go through the same stages of getting over a narcissist.
At first, all victims are in denial. They refuse to accept that their partner has a severe mental health condition and that they’re their victim.
It’s not possible that this is happening to me. They were so loving and kind.
I’ve finally found my true soulmate. This is just a phase. It will go away.
Maybe it’s something I’ve done. They will go back to their old ways before I know it.
If these and similar thoughts are going through your head, you’re definitely in denial. But that doesn’t have to be so bad. After all, it is the first step of healing.
2. Shame and guilt
Maybe it’s something I’ve done. They will go back to their old ways.
My family can never find out about this! I don’t want them to look at my partner differently! I don’t want people to think they don’t love me!
Let me cover up this bruise! I guess they’re right – I really did provoke them to hit me.
These are all common thoughts every victim of narcissistic abuse thinks. This isn’t strange for victims of emotional abuse as well as for ones who go through domestic violence.
If you can relate to this, please let me tell you that you’re not to blame. There is nothing to be ashamed of – your abuser is the only one responsible for this, and they’re the one who should be ashamed.
But this is exactly what they want. They count on your feelings of self-blame. After all, they’ve implanted it inside your brain.
Instead of hiding things from those closest to you, find your support group. Open up to someone and let them give you their point of view.
This is the stage when you start hating your abuser. And rightly so.
You want to destroy them at all costs. You want them to pay for every tear you cried.
So you try to get even. You try to hurt them without being aware that you’re just sinking deeper.
After the feelings of anger go away, depression comes knocking on your door. This is actually the first time you manage to see your situation objectively.
It’s the first time you realize everything you’ve been through. The first time reality hits you hard in the head.
And it’s perfectly normal for you not to be happy about it.
Instead, you feel like your narcissist has taken away your desire to live. You’ve moved on from them physically up to now, but your mind is still trapped in darkness.
You have no motivation to go back to your old life. All you see are stormy clouds without any ray of sunshine.
Look, there is nothing unusual about feeling this way. But if your depression lasts longer than a couple of weeks, maybe it’s time to talk to a healthcare professional.
There are mental health professionals who’ll help you drag yourself out of this abyss you’ve fallen into. Please, ask for help if you see that this is more than you can handle by yourself!
Finally, you start to slowly accept everything that went on. Not only that – you also accept that none of it was your fault.
After some time, you even forgive your narcissists. You don’t forget what they did to you, nor do you justify their behavior, but somehow, you let the anger go.
You have no trouble talking about your experience anymore. On the contrary, you’re more than willing to help other victims going through the same thing.
Maybe you’re still not ready for a new relationship, but you know that, eventually, you’ll get there. Your traumas haven’t magically faded away, but things are getting better.
Congratulations, you’ve healed!
C-PTSD Narcissistic Abuse
C-PTSD stands for Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This condition can be a consequence of narcissistic abuse.
Sometimes, people don’t overcome everything they’ve experienced in their abusive relationships the moment they escape it.
Instead, they develop a trauma that haunts them long after the relationship ends. Of course, this is highly treatable, but it’s important for the victim to identify their post-traumatic stress disorder and ask for help in time.
Symptoms of C-PTSD
If you feel any of these symptoms even though you walked away from your narcissistic relationship a while ago, please consider looking for help:
3. Overwhelming anger
What is narcissistic abuse? Examples:
Some of the most common examples of narcissistic abuse are physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse (insulting, criticizing, shaming, bullying), emotional manipulation, threats…
Each of these techniques serves the same purpose: to destroy and traumatize the other person as much as possible.
You must wonder why they do it: it’s the only way for them to feel dominant and because they’re mentally ill people who enjoy making others suffer.
What do narcissists do to their victims?
Narcissists use different methods to get inside their victims’ heads, but it all comes down to manipulation at the end of the day. Their final goal is to destroy one’s self-esteem because that’s the only way for them to feel better about themselves and feed their egotistical needs.
They implant self-doubt, guilt, and shame into their victim’s brain. They make them feel crazy and isolate them from everyone who could help them see the truth at the same time.
To Wrap Up
Escaping the cycle of narcissistic abuse is never easy. To be honest, it will probably be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do.
But trust me, it can be done with a lot of effort, energy, and devotion.
Nevertheless, I won’t lie to you: you’ll never be the same person you were before this hit you. But hey, I’m not talking about your traumas and baggage here.
I’m talking about the strength you’ll gain. I’m talking about how after this, you’ll never settle for less than you deserve, nor will you need anyone’s approval to feel worthy.
I guess there is a silver lining to every cloud, and yours are the lessons you’ll learn.