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You’ve been gaslit, put down, lied to, and controlled. In short, you were in a relationship with a narcissist, and you are finally free. Recovery from narcissistic abuse is a slow process, but with some patience and self-care, a joyful life awaits.
What is a Narcissist?
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental illness in the group of Type B personality disorders. At its very root, NPD stems from a distorted view of self and features a need to control someone close to them.
A narcissist may have some or many of these traits:
- Lacks empathy or compassion for others.
- Has an exaggerated sense of self.
- Feels entitled to special treatment.
- Expect others to adore and admire them.
- Becomes angry when challenged.
- Sensitive to criticism.
- Belittles others; talks down to people.
- Takes advantage of the others’ weakness to build themselves up.
- Self-important; arrogant.
- Lie to get their way.
- Is emotionally stingy.
- Emotionally detached.
- Believes that others envy him.
- Boastful and pretentious.
- Becomes angry if challenged.
- Enjoys tormenting his victim.
- Has a bad temper; and sudden angry outbursts.
- Doesn’t notice the needs of others.
- May isolate their victim from friends or family.
- Feels insecure inside; self-loathing.
- Not willing to go to therapy; avoids being accountable.
A narcissist looks for just the right type of person to attach to and prey on. The victim tends to be insecure and suffers from low self-esteem or a history of trauma. They may have a passive nature, so they are easy to control or take advantage of while getting little pushback.
Features of Narcissistic Abuse
Recovery from narcissistic abuse depends on being able to recognize the signs of abuse. Some of the classic signs of NPD abuse include:
- Playing mind games, such as gaslighting the victim to keep the victim off-balance.
- Withholding love and affection in order to keep the victim in a state of neediness and subservience.
- Twisting the victim’s criticism back around to blame the victim, causing the victim to doubt themselves.
- Exploiting a perceived weakness in the victim, and using it to control them through intimidation, ridicule, or shame.
Ways a Narcissist Controls their Victim
The key to a narcissist being able to take advantage and abuse their prey is finding someone who is in a weakened emotional state. Once they home in on their victim, they control them in the following ways:
- Uses intimidation. The person with NPD will keep their victim off balance using scare tactics. They may threaten them physically or find ways to intimidate them psychologically.
- Convinces them they are worthless. If the victim already struggles with self-esteem issues the NPD will take advantage of this. If the victim has low self-worth, they will be grateful to have the abuser and so will comply.
- Isolate you from loved ones. Narcissists often go to great lengths to keep the victim away from their family or friends. This provides some cover, as the loved ones cannot convince him or her to leave the abuser.
How to (Safely) Break Free from a Narcissistic Abuser
As much as you might hope to fix this person and stay in the relationship, it is a fool’s errand. The sad truth is that these people rarely see their flaws or accept blame, and they will likely not agree to go to therapy. Even if they do agree, NPD is very hard to treat.
When you come to realize you are in an abusive relationship, it is critical to make a plan to break away. These abusers can and often do turn violent when faced with the victim leaving them. If your narcissist is violent, such as physically abusive, you must obtain support from a domestic abuse counselor. They will provide you with a safe plan for leaving the abuser.
In the aftermath of breaking free from the NPD abuse, you will need to put together a support network. This will help to protect you, should he or she invade your space or break a restraining order. It also allows you to have someone who is in the loop and knows what you have gone through. That person can be very helpful to you as you recover.
3 Steps to Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse
Once you do free yourself from the NPD abuser, here are some steps to take to restore your mental health:
- Therapy. Find a therapist who specializes in helping victims of NPD and plan on working hard to make needed changes. In therapy, you’ll be unwinding lifelong thought and behavior patterns, and then replacing those with healthy ones.
- Self-care. Learn how to take care of yourself. Victims of NPD often deny themselves pleasure due to their sense of low self-worth. In recovery, make a point to pamper yourself on a regular basis. Get a massage, have a deluxe pedicure, or update your wardrobe.
- Learn from the experience. To have sustained recovery from NPD, you will need to review your own role in the abuse cycle. Start a journal and write down the ways you fed into the NPD, and how you forgave him even when he was cruel. Learn how to create boundaries so it will never happen again.
When More Intensive Treatment is Needed
For some victims, the experience with the NPD abuser has resulted in trauma. This is very difficult to overcome without expert support and guidance. A residential mental health program offers the space to heal from the trauma.
Here is what to expect in a residential treatment program:
- Psychotherapy. You will work one-on-one with a licensed therapist to examine any behaviors in need of change.
- Medication. In some cases, medication can assist you in meeting your mental health treatment goals.
- Group therapy. You will gather with others to discuss your experiences together, under the guidance of a therapist.
- Holistic methods. Treatment is enhanced through holistic activities, such as yoga and meditation.
Elevation Behavioral Health Residential Mental Health Treatment
Elevation Behavioral Health is a leading luxury mental health center that can assist you in recovery from narcissistic abuse. If you are ready to take care of you, please reach out to us today at (888) 561-0868.