Being in a relationship with a narcissist can leave a person feeling shattered.
Narcissists are master manipulators, so it is hard to avoid their clutches. How can victims of narcissistic abuse help themselves?
There are ways to break free from the torment. The first step is to understand that they are victims. Note that victims of psychological torture have distinct traits. Once they recognize these characteristics, they can move on from their relationships.
What is Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome?
This syndrome leaves a victim feeling broken. Their abusers have exploited them so thoroughly that they have a condition psychologists term Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome. It has several names, including Trauma Associated Narcissistic Symptoms (TANS) and Post Traumatic Narcissism Syndrome (PTNS)
Most people who suffer from this syndrome do not realize it. Their turmoil leaves them so emotionally scarred that they become oblivious to the ill-treatment.
People with NVS usually feel humiliated because their abusers forced the shame onto them. Their abusers catch them in a guilt trip. They feel so responsible for their ‘faults’ that they become prone to self-blame. Typically, they feel small because they have become used to standing in the shadows of their abusers.
Finally, those with NVS may develop Stockholm Syndrome. Their abusers manipulated them so that they form tight emotional bonds. The syndrome explains why victims have a compelling need to stay in their relationships despite the abuse.
Characteristics of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
Victims have to understand the features of NVS so that they can grasp what is happening to them. It will then become easier for them to decide if they are among those prone to narcissistic abuse. The symptoms mimic those of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Victims, first of all, experience flashbacks of the abuse. They may have a fear for their safety and become especially nervous. They may have difficulty coming to decisions. Consequently, they have increased sensitivity and may scan their surroundings for threats, so much so that their behavior becomes compulsive.
Depression, irritability, and guilt usually accompany their anxiety. Victims may experience these feelings so strongly that they may harm themselves. They also display symptoms of avoidance.
Types of Victims
Understanding such abusive behavior will help victims. So will knowing if they are the sorts of persons likely to become sources of what psychologists term Narcissistic Supply, Introduced by Otto Frenkel, this refers to being a source of sustenance for s narcissist’s self-esteem.
First on the list are Empaths. These individuals have humility, usually a positive trait. However, their tendency to humble themselves makes them easy targets for narcissists.
Empaths are easy prey because they are self-sacrificing. They see it as their duty to give. What they do not realize is that narcissists will take from them without reciprocation. Hence, they have to protect themselves.
2. People with Low Self-Esteem
People with low self-esteem are also prone to narcissistic abuse. They have limiting beliefs, so it is easy for narcissists to wash them over with guilt. They tend to assume that they deserve the abuse and ignore it.
3. The Exhausted
These people were former victims of narcissists. They have become so used to negative treatment that they let it pass. Therefore, they are easy targets for abusers.
4. The highly strung
Nervous people are prone to paranoia. Hence, they are apt for gaslighting. It is easy for narcissists to convince them that their behavior is not on par.
5. Those prone to depression
In the same way, having depression makes a person ripe for the picking. Like those who are exhausted, they have become so used to the negativity that they let it continue.
6. Unloved Children
Finally, people whose parents neglected them in their childhood are prone to narcissistic abuse. Because they crave love, they may cherish the attention they get from anyone, including narcissists.
Victims in codependent relationships with narcissists will find it hard to regain their freedom. Codependency is when both parties feel an unhealthy responsibility for each other. Narcissists may feel that their partners do not fulfill their needs, while victims will go through torturous verbal and even physical abuse.
Moving on from Narcissistic Abuse
Coping with conditions like NVS is a long-drawn process but necessary. Without doing so, victims would forever feel exhausted and without hope. So, how would they move on with their lives?
1. Acknowledge the abuse
First of all, victims should recognize bullying. They should ask themselves questions to help themselves recognize its signs.
If their spouses or partners are narcissistic abusers, they are likely to hoard or interrupt conversations. They also tend to violate social norms and have no respect for boundaries. Their grandiose personalities would standout; they would always expect preferential treatment.
One of the hallmarks of a narcissist is a tendency to manipulate. They use their partners for selfish purposes.
2. Do not try to change the abuser
Also, narcissists are not likely to want to improve on their shortcomings, so victims should not try to get them to change. They should not try to improve their relationships because any attempt to win stubborn narcissists over will be futile. Love and attention will not work.
3. Do not feel sorry for the narcissist
Finally, victims should stop feeling pity for their narcissistic partners because the compassion would serve as a source of narcissistic supply. Narcissists would feed on it and worsen their behavior.
Victims of narcissistic abuse do not have to suffer emotional bullying forever. Once they realize that they are potential narcissistic supply, they should make the best choices for themselves.