What Is Narcissistic Abuse?
Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional and psychological abuse that utilizes manipulation, coercion, scare tactics, and control. This abuse can have devastating effects on the survivor’s relationships, finances, and self-image.
Narcissism is a term that is thrown around freely in our society, but it is important that both narcissistic traits and NPD are understood when identifying narcissistic abuse.
First, narcissistic traits are more than someone who is simply obsessed with themselves and is power-hungry. Narcissistic traits refer to many faces of Narcissism: Grandiose Subtype, Vulnerable Subtype, Malignant Subtype, and Shared Traits Across Subtypes.
Signs of narcissistic abuse may include the following:
- Gaslighting: An abuser may deny an event happened, question the other person’s memory, or trivialize how the other person feels.
- Dishonesty: An abuser may lie to cover up feelings of insecurity or shame, or they may fabricate a story to make themselves the hero or the victim.
- Controlling: An abuser may be insecure, jealous, or suspicious, which may lead them to control another person’s actions, finances, or interactions.
- Exploitation: An abuser may take advantage of others for their own gain.
- Lack of empathy: A person may be unable to empathize with another person’s feelings or see their perspective, which may result in harmful behavior or neglect. They may be emotionally cold or distant.
- Belittling or devaluing: A person may dismiss the other person’s achievements or worth and may insult, humiliate, degrade, or belittle them.
- Intimidation: Narcissistic abuse may involve aggressive, intimidating behavior, bullying, or manipulation.
- Volatile behavior: People may feel as though they are “walking on eggshells” around someone with narcissism, and an abuser may have irrational and unpredictable responses that may be aggressive or abusive.
- Rage: An abuser may have sudden attacks of uncontrolled rage that cause distress or physical harm to the other person.
- Emotional blackmail: An abuser may threaten to harm themselves or take drastic actions if the other person does not behave how they want or considers leaving them.
- Punishing: An abuser may be vindictive and seek revenge or punishment on anyone who does not agree with them or do as they want.
Any kind of abuse can take a significant toll on mental and physical health. If your loved ones still doubt you or tell you to just move on, you may feel unheard and unsupported. This can make it hard to trust people again, leaving you feeling isolated and alone.
Whether you’re just beginning to notice the first signs of narcissistic manipulation or still trying to make sense of an abusive relationship you’ve already left, therapy can help you begin healing.
Therapy offers a safe space to:
- learn coping strategies to manage mental health symptoms.
- practice setting healthy boundaries.
- explore ways to rebuild your sense of self.
A therapist who specializes in abuse recovery can validate your experience, help you understand that you aren’t at fault, and offer support.