Narcissistic Abuse 101: How To Spot The Signs - Part 2
In Part 1, we covered some signs of behaviors that you may not have even thought were abusive in your relationship. In Part 2, we will explore some key signs that will help you identify whether or not you are in a narcissistic relationship. They will focus mainly on how you are behaving and operating in the relationship.
Hopefully by now you understand what a narcissist and what narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are; and you realize that narcissists don’t take responsibility for their behavior and more often than not they shift the blame on you or others.
Know The Signs
Let's not beat around the bush, but rather dive right in to some signs that YOU could be giving off that indicates you're in a narcissistic relationship. This is in no way saying you are at fault. But, I bet if you take a long hard, honest look in the mirror you might recognize that you are doing some of these things in reaction to your partner's behaviors or as a survival mode.
- You experience 'disassociation' as a survival mechanism. You feel emotionally or even physically "detached" from your environment, life, relationship, etc. You feel emotionally and completely numb.
- You walk on eggshells. You find yourself constantly watching everything you say and do around the narcissist otherwise you know you will incur their wrath, punishment or become the object of their envy. The thought of provoking your abuser makes you anxious 24/7 and you go out of your way to avoid setting boundaries or confrontation "just to keep the peace." Know this won't keep the abuse from happening should the narcissist decide to take something else (totally out of your control) out on you and use you as an emotional punching bad simply because they can.
- You put aside your basic needs and desires, sacrificing your emotional and even your physical safety to please the abuser. You give up or place on the back burner all your dreams, goals, hobbies, friendships, etc. you once had. Your life now revolves entirely around them.
- You are struggling with health issues and somatic symptoms that represent your psychological turmoil. You may experience excessive weight gain/loss, insomnia, serious health issues that never existed, physical symptoms of premature aging. The stress from chronic abuse has wreaked havoc on your immune system. You may have PTSD, anxiety & panic disorders, nightmares, etc.
- You develop a pervasive sense of mistrust. You have a terrible time trusting others and even yourself. Everyone now represents a threat and you become very anxious about the intentions of others.
- You experience suicidal thoughts or self-harming tendencies. Along with depression and anxiety, you may also develop an increased sense of hopelessness. Your situation may seem so unbearable that it makes you feel as if you don't want to survive or exist another day.
- You self-isolate. Besides abusers isolating their victims, shame and embarrassment may cause victims to isolate themselves. The fear of no one understanding or believing them, may cause victims to withdraw from others to avoid judgment and retaliation from their abuser.
- You find yourself comparing yourself to others, often to the extent of blaming yourself for the abuse. A narcissistic abuser is highly skilled at creating "love triangles" or bringing in another person into the relationship's dynamic to further terrorize the victim. As a result, they internalize the feelings that they aren't enough or don't measure up to the other person. In some sick way they may "compete" for the abuser's attention or approval. Victims may also compare themselves to healthier, happier relationships or wonder why their abusers treat complete strangers with more respect.
- You self sabotage and self destruct. Victims will often get "stuck" rethinking and reliving every aspect of their abuse...to the point they can't move forward with their lives. The abuser has programmed them to believe they are worthless and undeserving of good things.
- You fear doing what you love and achieving success. Many pathological predators are actually envious of their victims and hence punish them for succeeding. Eventually, victims become depressed, anxious, lack confidence and they may hide from the spotlight and allow their abusers to "steal" the show. Your gifts and talents aren't inferior but rather they threaten their control over you.
- You protect your abuser and even 'gaslight' yourself. Victims will often rationalize, minimize, and deny the abuse in order to convince themselves that the abuser isn't really 'all that bad' or that they must have done something to 'provoke' the abuse. Victims may protect their abusers from legal consequences, portray a happy image of the relationship on social media, in front of others or out in public...or overcompensate by 'sharing the blame' for the abuse.
You're In A Narcissistic Abusive Relationship...So Now What?
How many of the signs above did you recognize? If you are sure you’re currently in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, know that you are NOT alone even if you feel like you are. There are millions of survivors and those in the same situation all over the world. This form of abuse is not exclusive to any gender, culture, social class, or religion.
The first step is becoming aware of the reality of your situation and validating it—even if and when your abuser attempts to gaslight you into believing otherwise. If you identify with these signs, especially several of them, and you think you're a victim of narcissistic abuse, the main challenges for you at this point are:
- Clearly identifying it
- Building a support system
- Learning how to strengthen and protect yourself
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s important to get outside support to understand clearly what’s going on, to rebuild your self-esteem and confidence, and to learn to communicate effectively and set healthy boundaries. Seek help through a therapist if possible. If not, seek out free resources – articles, exercises, online workbooks, etc. Google, Google, Google!! Call the national domestic abuse hotline number to ask questions.
In the eight years I was with my NarcEx, I saw 3 different therapists at different times over that period. It took me about half that time to ACCEPT that I was in an abusive relationship AND to even hear the term “narcissist.” Now, I’m a very passionate advocate trying to bring awareness and educate women about this topic. I will continue to research, share my own story, and write more about this topic. Look for Part 3 which will focus on some key signs based on the abuser's behaviors and personality.
Don't forget to follow SpunkyDiva Diaries on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or check the website frequently for new articles! If you ever want to join the “SpunkyDiva Tribe” and share your own story (even anonymously)...or you just need to vent, contact me!