Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse that can be incredibly damaging. Narcissists are manipulative and exploitative, often preying on people with low self-esteem. If you find yourself interacting with a narcissist, be it in your private life or at work, you will soon realize that they are constantly trying put you down, criticize, or belittle you. When you find yourself walking on eggshells, never quite sure what will set them off, you need to take stock and see if what you are experiencing bears any of the signs of narcissistic abuse.
Signs of Narcissistic Abuse
Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse that is characterized by manipulation, control, gaslighting, and Exploitation. Narcissists use manipulative tactics to get what they want from their victims. They may use coercion, threats, or intimidation to get you to do what they want. They may also gaslight you into questioning your own reality and perception.
Narcissists are also master manipulators and can often twist your words and actions to suit their own needs. Lastly, narcissists are known for exploiting their victims emotionally, financially, or sexually.
They are experts at making you feel like you’re the one who is doing something wrong, even when you know that you’re not. You find yourself constantly second-guessing your actions and words, never quite sure what is going on.
They’re always right
Narcissists always have to be right. They can’t stand to be wrong, even if it’s just about something minor.
If you try to correct them or point out that they’re wrong about something, they’ll either get defensive or try to turn the tables on you.
They are very controlling
Another one of the signs of narcissistic abuse is the fact that narcissists want to control everything and everyone.
They will try to control the conversation, the situation, and often, the people around them. If you’re dating a narcissist, they will probably try to control what you wear, who you spend time with, and where you go. As the relationship evolves, they will even try to control you by controlling the finances. They may refuse to give you access to money, or they may try to control how you spend it. This can leave you feeling trapped and powerless.
A narcissist at work may try to control the projects you work on, who you talk to, and what you do. They may try to micromanage you and make it impossible for you to do your job properly.
They’re extremely critical
Narcissists are known for being extremely critical, both of themselves and of others. If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you’ve probably noticed that they are never happy with anything you do. They may criticize your appearance, your intelligence, or your accomplishments (or lack thereof). Nothing is ever good enough for them.
They gaslight you
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser tries to make their victim question their own reality and memories.
A narcissist will often accuse their partner of things that they haven’t done, or they’ll deny ever saying or doing something that they actually did say or do. Over time, this can cause the victim to doubt their own sanity and perception of reality.
For example, a narcissist might tell you that something happened when it didn’t, or they might deny something that you know took place. This constant doubt can leave you feeling confused and unsure of yourself, which is exactly what the narcissist wants.
They have double standards
Narcissists often have a double standard when it comes to relationships. They may demand complete fidelity from their partners while cheating themselves, or they may expect their partners to put up with behaviour that they would never tolerate themselves.
They play the victim card
Narcissists love to play the victim card whenever things don’t go their way. If something bad happens, they’ll be quick to point the finger and blame someone else—even if it’s entirely their own fault.
And if somebody calls them out on their bad behaviour, they’ll turn it around and make it seem like the other person is the one who is really in the wrong.
When the narcissist does something hurtful, they will often try to turn things around so that it looks like YOU are the one who is abusing THEM. This can be extremely confusing and frustrating, especially if you’re trying to get them to see how their behaviour is hurtful.
They don’t take responsibility for their actions
Another hallmark of narcissists is their inability (or unwillingness) to take responsibility for their own actions. If they do something wrong, they’ll either deny it outright or try to blame someone else. This lack of accountability can be extremely frustrating, especially if you’re always taking responsibility for your own actions.
The Long-Term Effects of Narcissistic Abuse
Some common long-term effects of narcissistic abuse include:
- Anxiety disorders
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse problems
- Self-harming behaviours
- Problems with trust and intimacy
- Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships
What You Can Do to Begin Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
If you are currently in contact with a narcissist, the best thing you can do is get away. Once you are out of the abusive situation, you can begin to heal.
Here are some steps you can take to start the healing process:
- Seek therapy from a qualified mental health professional. This is an important step in order to begin working through the trauma you have experienced.
- Join a support group for people who have been affected by narcissistic abuse. This will allow you to share your experiences with others who understand what you are going through.
- Educate yourself about narcissistic personality disorder and how to deal with narcissists. There is a lot of helpful information available online and in books about this topic.
- Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Be sure to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and get enough sleep. Spend time with positive people who make you feel good about yourself. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and drug use.
Work on building self-esteem and self-compassion. Acknowledge your strengths and accomplishments and be kind to yourself when you make mistakes.
Conclusion – Do Not Ignore the Signs of Narcissistic Abuse!
Narcissists are manipulative, exploitative, and drain the life out of those around them, and narcissistic abuse is a serious issue that can have long-lasting effects on the victim.
This is not something that you can just “snap out of.” It will take time and effort to heal, but step by step you will get there and one day you will realize that you have lost the narcissist and their toxic abuse in your wake.