Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

The victim looks like any other normal woman.  She is smart, pretty, and kind.  She wears no outward visible signs of her ordeal to the untrained eye.  But appearances can be deceiving, as this woman is carrying around so much pain and misery after years of abuse at the hands of a narcissist.  But like the host upon which a leech feeds, eventually the victim is left empty, with self-esteem and confidence completely shot.

Someone in a relationship with a narcissist will describe themselves as a starved dog or a dying plant…in need of nurturing and sustenance that never comes from their partner.  The relationship does not start out like this, however, but instead evolves into a destructive force over time, like the frog in the pot.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a particularly insidious mental health condition that allows the perpetrator—the one with the disorder—to stealthily inflict just about every kind of abuse known on the victim, including emotional, verbal, spiritual, physical, financial, and sexual.  The narcissist does not feel remorse or empathy for the pain they inflict, in fact it propels them to perpetuate even more harm on the victim.  The marriage or relationship features a continuous classic cycle of abuse, keeping the victim off balance and hopeful that “maybe this time” he (or she) will change their ways.

In the end, the victim resembles a hollowed out version of herself, with a beaten down spirit and feelings of worthlessness and shame defining her.  For the victims, narcissistic abuse recovery programs can offer immense support in helping to rebuild and restore the essence of who they were before becoming entrapped in the web of the narcissist.

About Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

When most people hear the term narcissistic personality disorder they may assume it involves a person who is self-obsessed, like the Greek god, Narcissus who is portrayed as gazing at himself lovingly in the reflection of a pond.  In reality, the clinical mental health disorder known as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) has little in common with that myth.

NPD consists of withholding love by being emotionally unavailable, bullying, condescension, criticism, and emotional abuse that slowly dismantles the victim’s sense of self-worth, rendering them completely depleted in spirit.  Traits of NPD include:

  • Criticizing the victim
  • Fits of unpredictable rage or cruelty
  • Tormenting behaviors, such as purposely causing fear
  • Becoming angry if the victim does not acquiesce and agree with them
  • Lacks empathy for others and does not tolerate other people’s feelings or needs
  • Has a high opinion of themselves, a huge ego
  • Arrogant and condescending
  • With not acknowledge guilt or apologize for inflicting emotional pain
  • Takes advantage of others for their own gain
  • May isolate the victim from family and friends
  • Exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Making the victim the cause of their bad behavior, it is the victim’s fault
  • Thinks people are jealous of them
  • Expects grandiose accolades and attention for their accomplishments
  • Unwilling to go to marriage counseling
  • They care only about their own desires and needs
  • Manipulates others to get what they want

At their core, narcissists actually detest themself, and act out by inflicting pain on their victims to assuage their own sense of self-hatred.  The narcissist traits may range from mild to severe, even malicious.  Using various forms of abuse, harassment, and emotional cruelty, the narcissist is all about controlling the victim through intimidation and fear.

How NPD Affects the Partner (Victim)

Someone in a relationship with a narcissist will spend their days walking on eggshells, always in an anticipatory mode of trying to avoid conflict or agitating the narcissist.  Being in a constant state of anxiety can have devastating health consequences for the victim, as chronically elevated cortisol levels wreak havoc in the body.  Somatic symptoms are common in those who are in a marriage or partnership with an NDP, such as gastrointestinal distress, headache, and anxiety symptoms such as heart palpitations and shallow breathing.

The emotional fallout of living with an NPD can be completely debilitating, even resulting in self-harm, substance abuse, or suicide ideation.  On the surface, the marriage may seem completely normal.  In public, the narcissist is skilled at keeping the “mask” on, only revealing his or her true self behind closed doors.  For this reason, in most cases friends and family are unaware that the seemingly nice guy is actually very abusive in private.

Some of the ways the NPD affects the victim might include:

  • Becoming emotionally detached from environment (dissociation) as a means of self-protection. Includes emotional numbness.
  • Sacrificing one’s own needs and desires to please the NPD
  • Becoming distrustful of everyone, including self
  • Begin to self-isolate, withdrawing from others
  • Blaming self for the abuse
  • Defending the abuser, rationalizing or minimizing the behavior
  • Become so dispirited that suicide becomes a consideration
  • Become physically weak
  • Become completely dependent on the abuser

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery for Victims

Extricating oneself from an NPD partner is extremely difficult.  Often the victim is a stay-at-home mom or somehow financially dependent on the abuser, making it hard to walk away.  Making an escape plan is advisable, with the assistance of a therapist, domestic violence advocate, or social services professional.  All of these support sources can help in planning the escape.  In many cases, a victim’s mental health breakdown may initiate separation from the abuser, where the beginning of the recovery process can begin.

While in the marriage or relationship, it helps to keep a journal where the victim can express their emotions safely on paper.  This can ease stress and also help to clarify how serious the situation has become.  The most important source of help comes in the form of psychotherapy.  Psychotherapy can be provided in an outpatient or inpatient setting, depending on the needs of the victim.  During therapy the victim will begin the process of learning how to establish healthy boundaries, and to rebuild their sense of self-worth.  Trauma therapy is important during the healing process, as is self-care and lots of patience as the emotional wounds heal.

The Treatment Specialist Will Locate Treatment for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

The Treatment Specialist is a knowledgeable team of mental health and dual diagnosis specialists who can assist someone who seeks Narcissistic Abuse Recovery from being in a relationship with an NPD.  Our compassionate specialists understand the pain you are in and can offer free locator services to guide you toward the best narcissistic abuse recovery program for your needs.  Recovering from being a victim of abuse takes specialized therapy and patience.  Contact The Treatment Specialist today for free assistance in finding effective treatment and support.  Call (866) 644-7911.

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8 replies
  1. Audrey Thornburg says:

    This is fantastic to learn about this. I was the abused for 20 years. I have got away now for about 3 so far. I have been going through healing and becoming me agian but now even stronger. I could go on and on. This kind of abuse is so silent but deadly.

  2. Kathy says:

    I thought I was going crazy. I have been divorced for 1 yr. but separated 6 yrs prior. Now I find that I am feeling guilty about leaving him at odd times. Many family events on ex husbands side are coming up. I know b/c of situation I won’t be invited and it’s hard to also divorce his family so to speak. He may have a girlfriend he wants to take. I am seeing someone and it’s slow moving which I really need, we had met when we were 17 yrs old so it’s been a very long tumultuous courtship! Help!

  3. Mona Goth says:

    I was in this kind of relationship for 17 years. I went through everything that was mentioned. It took me forever to finally break away from the hold he had on me. I thought I would be able to change the way he treated me, which was impossible. The day finally came when I realized he was never going to change. I sat down and thought of away things could possibly work, and finally came to the conclusion of no matter what I said or did, nothing was going to work
    I had left him numerous times, but always went back. The last time I left him, I did one thing different that I hadn’t done all the other times, and that was I had no contact with him. Therefore, he couldn’t talk me back like he had always done before. The breakup was so devastating, and it took me a long time to heal, which I’m still dealing with some issues, but I get stronger everyday. I finally left him for the last time July 23, 2016. It has taken me awhile to move on with my life, but I can finally say I’m on the right track, and taken one day at a time. I’m not going to rush into anything. I learned a lot of valuable lesson’s that I will always carry with me for the rest of my life. I’ve become a lot stronger person, and don’t tolerate being disrespected anymore. I’ve set boundaries, and no what red flags to look for. The one thing that I would like to do the most is become an advocate for abused women. It just really irritates me how someone can come into someone’s life and totally destroy it, and then turn and walk away like it wasn’t nothing, then move on to their next victim. I think there should be some kind of law passed to where these people should be held responsible for destroying another person’s life. I hope with all my heart that someday very soon, that law will be passed. Thank you for letting me share.

  4. Kathy says:

    You are all success stories as far as I’m concerned. These people are broken, therefore begin to suffer within themselves. I don’t wish Bad on my former husband as he is no longer hurting me b/c of my choices I have finally made. I miss the fairytale story that I began to believe I had had. But blocking out all the stressors that were weaved within. The mind is Tricky, and I hate when I can’t have my common sense play out as it is meant too. Challenging days are still in my life but now I can stand on my own two feet and believe what I am fighting for is what I truly deserve. I have my backbone back!

  5. Anonomys says:

    Your stories are so inspiring.. I’m actually caught in the trap at the moment.. I know i need to give up but my heart still loves and has hope (false hope my brain knows)..I love the words Kathy used about fairy tale story.. Its so surreal.. I’m trying to make myself realize it won’t be that way anymore like in the beginning and I need to walk away completely with no contact..I’m just not there yet &. I don’t know how to turn my back on his son who is just 4 and has called me mom for two years… This is harder than my divorce from the father of my children and we were together 14 yrs.. I’m praying each day gets easier!

  6. Carrie Ann says:

    Did not understand why I was starting to feel crazy. He began to hire prostitutes, but took over cooking, shopping, and laundry to assuage his guilt. He kept me off balance by starting fights. I could do nothing right in the end. I started abusing xxanax and alcohol more regularly. We divorced 18 months ago and I have been clean and sober for a year. I am finally getting my life back.
    I fantasize sometimes about the “good old daze”, but those days really are a figment of my imagination.
    It was a very bad 26 years. More bad days than good.
    Now I am free.
    I am gaining in confidence and proving my ability to succeed independently.


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