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.

1. Empaths

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.

7. Codependents

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.

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Sheelagh Frankland

    Ending contact is the best way. . Its not just partners, . It happens in families, so you grow up with not knowing what the problem is, and by the time you do- your sibling has done his worst. As the only girl in four, having a diabled Mother, who needed taking care of, I grew up a carer and an Empath. A prime target. My xhildhood and teenage years were miserable. But the good news is- once you find out there was not something wrong with you- it was him, first steps to healing yourself

    1. Karen

      Thanks, Sheelagh Frankland, well stated!

  2. Anonymous

    Maybe this falls under “Empath” but consider adding “Fixer” to this list. The person who is confident and successful and thinks that just because they have their life in order and enjoy helping people because it is a source on fulfillment for them, they believe they can help others and fix their issues. That is me. That is how I fell victim to a narcissist.

  3. christine

    I was a prime candidate for a narcissist….your information will help me to move beyond the hurt and guilt. I see it all clearly now. Thank you. I will now turn away and slam the door… release the pain. Oh man…hard lesson to learn and one I didn’t want to learn.

  4. Kim

    I thAnk yu tor this info. I’m so broken and everyday I go under a lil more. I die a lil more. Feel stuck n dont know how to break free but if I dont I’m goi g to end up hurting myself or him bay bc I cant take anymore!! Im drowning drowning n I cant swim n hes laughing his Ss off on the inside while standing there with his foot on my head holding me under, then awww he let’s me up n poor baby I love yu s me n tells me how to avoid drowning if I would just do wat he says n listened I wouldn’t b having this problem

    1. Karen

      Thanks, Kim, you said it perfectly…they thrill on how badly they hurt people.

  5. Surbhi

    Thanx everyone. Hope this l information come early to everyone. So that we don’t fall as bait to such people for long long time. And share kids with them. I know everything is good after demasking the truth, but I know my child has lost her father Now. As narcissist can’t truly love their kids.

  6. 2015392

    It took me 51 years to realize my moms EXTREEMLY controlling , manipulative, lying, strange way of arguing, NEVER admitting fault, gaslighting, inequality between me and my bro, ( I am the scapegoat), privacy invading, not passing along stock gift from grandmother, ($16,000 lost F.Y.I. took 20 years before I found out), fact denying, relationship sabotaging, mothers behavior was not unique, and that many others are going through this HELL also. Knowledge is therapy, it is a long road ahead!

  7. Terry

    I live in a very abusive relationship. I wake up to my husband standing over me in the dark. It’s very scary. He will sneak up on me and startle me. Everyday all day long. I lock doors when I can. I even carry a wedge to put under the door so he can’t sneak up on me. He punishes me if I’ve had surgery or I’m sick. He won’t help me but he will make me suffer more. I don’t know what to do. I cry all the time. I never know what he will do on a daily basis. I’ve been married to him for 44 years and it amazes me how many things he does. Jelly on all the kitchen knobs. He smashes cake on the cupboards. He stands behind me in the dark. Most the time he won’t respond to me when I talk. Intimacy is a joke. When I had neck surgery and was unable to turn my head he would stand directly behind me forcing me to move my whole body. He does so many awful things to me. I’m 73 years old and feel stuck. I don’t know where to go for help. I have no friends any more. He’s run most of them off. I can’t invite people to dinner because he sabotages my cooking. I’m with him 24/7 We do nothing for fun. I’m really tired.

  8. Sho'nuff

    I’ve sadly been in a similar situation for about 9 years now. Today…today was the last straw for me. I can’t believe that he was going to hit me as he drive today. When I hopped out the car – he decided to follow me and say that if I don’t get back in the car I’m going to call your job and make sure you get in some trouble. He then proceeded to gaslight me into thinking I’m the one that wrong and I’m crazy for feeling the way that I do THEN he decided to talk about my family. Welp…no more – I’m over it and him. I’d rather be alone than to deal with this. I can’t believe I’ve wasted 9 years of my life and o so much money on this foolish relationship. I’ve always been an empath – even when live just sucked the soul outta me I still gave and gave. But now, to be made fun of because I take meds for depression and talked about my family…I’m over it. I wish you ALL well. It’s hard I know but I’m over it big time and you can do it too.

  9. Ryker Saviour

    It’s crucial to recognize that certain personality traits and life circumstances can make people more vulnerable to becoming victims of manipulation and abuse. Often, individuals with high levels of empathy, kindness, and a propensity for putting others’ needs before their own are more likely to be targeted by narcissists. Additionally, those who have experienced past trauma or have low self-esteem may find themselves more susceptible to being ensnared by toxic relationships. Drawing from personal experience, ending contact with a narcissist was the most liberating step I took to reclaim my life. For years, I tried to appease and understand them, believing their behavior would change if I just tried harder. However, it became clear that their manipulative tactics were draining my energy and eroding my self-worth. The moment I decided to cut ties completely, I felt an immediate sense of relief and empowerment. It wasn’t easy, but setting clear boundaries and prioritizing my well-being was the best decision I ever made. Remember, you have the power to protect your peace and choose relationships that uplift and support you.

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