Are you living with a narcissist? It could be your spouse, parent, boss, workmate, or friend. If you felt preyed on by this narcissistic person in your life, chances are that you are a narcissistic abuse victim. And, if this notable other is attacking you, it is time to move on from being a victim to a survivor. In this guide, we give you the best tips to help you with your narcissistic abuse recovery.
But first, what defines narcissistic abuse?
Understanding Narcissistic Abuse
Narcissistic abuse can be verbal or the emotional manipulation of one person (the victim) by another (the narcissist). Unlike other forms of abuse, the narcissist aims to control the victim. Hence the perpetrator will come up with manipulative tactics for their selfish gain.
For example, the narcissist spouse will seem loving, kind, and the dream lover during courtship. They buy expensive gifts; take you to fancy restaurants and utter gushy compliments. However, they turn to gaslighting, silent treatment, or negging once you tie the knot.
Moreover, narcissistic abuse is often subtle. Consequently, the victim and others around them may dismiss it. Like, when an abusive parent calls you clumsy and laughs it off while patting your shoulder. Their behavior, and your silent reaction to it, makes the insults seem intentioned.
How to Identify Narcissistic Abuse?
We have four common signs that indicate you could be a victim of narcissistic abuse.
Do you doubt yourself in almost everything you do or say? For example, do you struggle to make simple decisions like ordering a takeaway, enrolling in a self-care class, or picking a dress for an evening dinner? Sadly, narcissist victims don’t trust their judgment. They always struggle making daily choices.
#2: Feeling Helpless
Often, a victim of narcissistic abuse feels like nothing seems to work in their relationship. Here, you could be trying to be gentle, considerate, humble, or forgiving to your partner. Yet all your efforts fail to keep the fire burning in the relationship. Note that this sense of helplessness triggers other negative emotions like depression and anxiety, leading to hopelessness.
Helplessness leads to anxiety. As a victim, you are constantly worrying about the relationship. Here, you fear what can happen should you end or not end the relationship. Severe anxiety triggers eating and sleeping disorders and a series of other worry-related issues that can overwhelm the victim.
Victims of narcissistic abuse feel embarrassed, ashamed, confused, and humiliated because of being in a narcissistic relationship. Moreover, they fear that everyone knows what is going on. In turn, these victims seldom share their worries with anyone.
Narcissist victims expect other people to tell them that they need to cut links with the abusers, yet they are never ready. Since the victims dread what other people will say and won’t end the relationship with the narcissist; they withdraw from any other social interactions.
Overcoming Victim Anxiety and Healing Emotional Wounds
If you suspect that you are a victim of a narcissistic relationship, start your recovery journey as soon as possible. This journey involves confronting complex emotions like anger, grief or loss, shock, sadness, and depression. In addition, when you end a narcissistic relationship, you can get overwhelmed by anxiety, fear, paranoia, and shame. So, here are some tips to overcome these complex emotions as you move from being a victim to a survivor: –
#1: Give Yourself Time to Heal
Narcissistic abuse recovery involves deep emotional wounds that take time to heal. Cutting links with someone you love, even when they hurt you is hard. Understand that holding on to past precious memories with the narcissist is acceptable. Besides, accepting your feelings for the narcissist helps you begin your narcissistic abuse recovery journey.
#2: Have Self-Compassion
Replace self-shame with self-compassion. Here, you want to reconcile with your inner critic. To do so, start by forgiving yourself for your shortcomings. This forgiveness comes from knowing that our performance is never a reflection of our self-worth.
#3: Maintain a Growth Mindset
Aspire to grow. View the narcissistic abuse as part of your learning curve to self-discovery and growth. Also, maintain a gratitude journal. It will help you appreciate your strengths and accept your failures.
#4: Practice Mindful Meditation
Learn to live in the moment. This will help you improve your active listening skills.
#5: Practice Self Care
A self-care routine helps address the anxiety and depression that come with narcissistic abuse. Here, you want to deal with your frustration and anger by channeling the negative energies toward a productive lifestyle. Here are some self-care practices you can start today: –
- Share your doubts and concerns with close family or friends
- Get sufficient deep sleep every day
- Eat a balanced healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly
- Maintain good hygiene
- Have your me-time
- Start a hobby
- Adopt a pet
#6: Join a Support Group
Join a support group for narcissism survivors in your locality. Here, you get to share and listen to other survivors who are in their narcissistic abuse recovery journey. Next, join an online support group to access resources and connections for specific help about the abuse. You could also try following podcasts and YouTube channels that focus on coping mechanisms in your narcissistic abuse recovery.
#7: Seek Professional Help
Often, emotional wounds from narcissistic abuse result in complications such as acute depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicidal tendencies. Help from a medical expert is best. This help may involve one-on-one or group therapy sessions, psychotherapy, and medication. A trained medical professional will assess you and decide on the best treatment method for your narcissistic abuse recovery.
If you are a victim in a narcissistic relationship, approaching your narcissistic abuse recovery with a positive mindset is a necessary. Start by identifying the tell-tale signs of the abuse. Then, be proactive in seeking help and taking independent steps toward healing the emotional wounds. And with this right attitude and resources, a narcissistic victim can become a survivor to lead a productive lifestyle.