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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:
- 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
- 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
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.