World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day (WNAAD) – June 1st 2019
1 June 2019 | World Narcissistic Abuse Day
What is narcissist abuse?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (PSD) is a personality disorder with a long-term pattern of abnormal behaviour characterised by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.
For many of us who have suffered at the hands of narcissists, the effects and suffering can be devastating and can last for years. Many also develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex PTSD.
Narcissistic abuse (a form of psychological and emotional abuse) is incredibly damaging, which is why I have written a number of articles to help raise awareness of this important issue today. Many people are unaware that they are being abused. Many people are aware but are lost in the abusive cycle of narcissistic abuse.
The hashtag, #IfMyWoundsWereVisible was set up because unlike physical abuse which leaves visible marks or bruises and qualifies an act of domestic violence, narcissistic abuse is invisible. Mental, verbal, emotional, financial abuse are all forms of domestic abuse and the wounds are very real. Much of the abuse is covert and insidious. Narcissists will deny anything they have done. They will lie, cheat on you, yet appearing loving and charming at the same time causing their victim cognitive dissonance.
We are a generation obsessed with attention-seeking selfies and social media. You might be able to recall the story of Narcissus who falls in love with his own reflection. However, Narcissism is more than an obsession with self and sense of grandiosity.
Narcissists will lie and manipulate, deny what’s real and attempt to control a victim any way they can. Victims of narcissistic abuse are kept in a constant state of confusion; the focus of love-bombing one day and yet are walking on eggshells to avoid being verbally abused. Isolating victims from friends and family is designed to maintain power over their victim. A narcissist will not take responsibility for their actions and will blame everyone around them. Typically, they often project to shift the blame. If they accuse you of cheating, that means they are probably doing this themselves. It’s crazy behaviour, but somehow you are led to believe that you are the one who is crazy.
“Narcissistic abuse does not usually include forms of physical abuse with physical signs like bruises. The signs of narcissistic abuse are invisible, which makes it much harder to identify. The abuse is more ambiguous and difficult to prove, but it is no less damaging because it’s a form of spiritual rape. Over time, the abuse chips away at the target’s self-confidence and self-esteem. The target isn’t even aware it’s happening until the damage has been done. The abuse is always about control.”
The cycle of abuse:
Narcissistic abuse usually follows a cycle which is defined by three stages: Love-Bombing > Devaluation > Discard. I will walk you through each of the stages now.
Your significant other will tell you how much they love you and you will feel that you have met your soul-mate. Any red flags you will ignore because how in love you feel. When you are in this stage, you feel elated. The narcissist will ‘love-bomb’ until they have created a bond with you. In a calculated move they will ‘mirror’ your wants, dreams and desires. What’s actually happening is that you are being drawn into a toxic, obsessive, demanding relationship.
Once you were perfect in the eyes of the Narcissist. Suddenly nothing you do is right anymore. You crave the times you felt loved and desired. You have fallen off their pedestal in the devaluing stage of the relationship. What the victim doesn’t realise is that these intimate moments were engineered by the narcissist, for you to become attached and not to leave them. Occasional moments of affection means that a trauma bond is formed with the abuser, who has tested us many times before to see what we will endure and what our threshold of abuse is. However this painful and bewildering stage leads on to…
The discard. Exhausted, confused and unhappy, you will be discarded in the most horrendous way. Your narcissist will by now have their ‘new supply’ (“NS”) already lined up. Remember they constantly need attention to feel valued. You are no longer perfect in their eyes. Their attention will now be focussed on the new supply. Who will be triangulated with you? You will be feeling depressed, worthless and sad. Wondering what happened.
Traumatic bonding occurs as the result of ongoing cycles of abuse in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates powerful emotional bonds with the victim. People ask why victims don’t just walk away the minute they are being intimidated, shouted out, verbally abused…this is why.
PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Many survivors of narcissistic abuse suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder following the end of the relationship. Many people suffer such unbelievable emotional, financial, verbal abuse that it takes a long time to recover from the trauma. Please do get professional help from someone who has been trained in narcissistic abuse.
Warning Signs & Red Flags
If you are unsure whether you are with a narcissist. Then take a look through some of the warning signs and red flags below:
- They have a sense of superiority. Being highly critical or often judgmental about others.
- They have a sense of entitlement, sometimes this comes off as confidence, but can manifest in subtle ways, like cutting through a service station rather than wait at the traffic lights, or deliberately leaving rubbish for someone else to pick up.
- They give out back-handed compliments, such as “she has a figure like yours, you know, slim but no muscle tone.”
- In a romantic relationship, the relationship moves quickly, for example, they will shower you with attention, compliments or gifts, and say “I love you” very early on in the relationship.
- They will start to subtly ignore you. They may appear to lose interest/get distracted or check their phone while you’re talking.
- Their seemingly innocent words are often contradicted by their body language and tone of voice.
- Their stories don’t quite add up, and you start to see the little white lies. You may even tell yourself, “I just heard them lie to their friend, it was just a little white lie. But s/he wouldn’t lie to me.”
- They have two sets of rules: Rules that apply to them, and rules that apply to everyone else. They may have unrealistic expectations of love and nurturing from others, but don’t hold themselves to the same high standards.
- They have a lack of empathy and are unable to put themselves in the shoes of others.
- They have poor boundaries, and may regularly invade your privacy, go through your belongings, or expect that you mind read their wishes and needs.
- They may be highly sensitive to criticism, or any suggestion that they are not in the right.
- They have a “my way or the highway” attitude. They believe that they know best and that their way of doing things is the correct way.
- Initially, they can come off quite charming and charismatic, always knowing the right thing to say.
- As the relationship becomes more established, you may start to see some stronger warning signs or red flags. You may spot bigger lies, and when you confront them, you never get a straight answer or they will turn it around and accuse you of what they’re actually doing.
- If you try to raise an issue with them, it becomes a full-blown argument. They may accuse you of causing the fight, or they may use the silent treatment as a way of punishing you for confronting them.
- Arguments feel circular and nonsensical. You’re left feeling emotionally battered and confused. There is no resolution to the issue, no sense of compromise or seeking a win/win outcome. It feels like they need to “win” regardless of the issue or what’s at stake. You’re left you feeling unsupported and misunderstood.
- They may tell you something didn’t happen when you know it did, or vice versa. This is called gaslighting and it’s designed to make you doubt your own reality and judgment.
- You feel like you need to ask for permission before making plans with others. They may try to control where you go, or call and text constantly to check up on you, and interrogate you about where you’ve been/what you’ve been doing.
- You start seeing less of your family and friends. Perhaps because they openly prevent you from doing so through guilt tripping or threats of abandonment. Or, it could be more subtle, where they make such a fuss about seeing your family and friends that you start avoiding them so you don’t have to deal with the fallout. You end up feeling isolated and lonely.
- The relationship feels one-sided – like you are the one who is doing all the giving, the one who is always in the wrong, the one who is trying the hardest, changing the most or doing the most sacrificing, just to make them happy. And it still doesn’t work. Nothing is enough for them.
- You can’t feel at ease or relaxed in their presence. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells, waiting for the next time they lash out at you. You realize you feel a sense of relief when they aren’t there.
- You feel like whatever you do, it’s not enough. You’re manipulated so that your flaws and vulnerabilities are exploited and used against you at every opportunity. You begin to feel inadequate, unlovable, and like everything is all your fault.
Gaslighting, Cheating & Triangulation
‘Gaslighting’, ‘triangulation’ & cheating are prevalent in relationships where there is narcissistic abuse. It is designed to keep you always feeling like you are not good enough, that you need to do more to keep the narcissist and insidiously that you are going mad. You are made to doubt your own perception of reality when it is, in fact, the narcissist lying and manipulating you. Read this article to find out more.