Narcissistic abuse can take many different forms. It can be verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual. This is why it is sometimes so difficult to define it, and even harder to pin down its long-term effects. In this blog post I will describe some of the most common tactics used by narcissists to break their victims and bend them to their will. I will also explore the long-term effects of narcissistic abuse on the victim’s mental and emotional health. Finally, I will offer some hope to those who are struggling to recover from narcissistic abuse.
- The most common forms of narcissistic abuse
- The long-term effects of narcissistic abuse
- Healing From the Long-Term Effects of Narcissistic Abuse
The most common forms of narcissistic abuse
One of the most common tactics used by narcissists is gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which the abuser deliberately attempts to make their victim question their own reality. This can be done through verbal assault, denying events that have happened or invalidating their feelings, using lies and contradictions, withdrawing love and attention as punishment, manipulating facts or information, and even trying to isolate the victim from friends or family members.
For example, a narcissist might say something to their victim and then later deny that they ever said it. They might also accuse their victim of being “too sensitive” or “crazy” when they react to the abuser’s hurtful words. Over time, this can cause the victim to doubt their own memory and judgment.
In addition to generic gaslighting, there are also specific situations where a narcissist skews reality to confuse his victims. These include narcissistic abuse tactics such as:
- The Fauxpology – This is when the narcissist offers a half-hearted apology that is really just a way to deflect responsibility. For example, they might say something like, “I’m sorry you’re so sensitive, I was just joking.” The victim is left feeling invalidated and confused.
- Future Faking – The narcissist tells you what a great future you will have together, even though they have absolutely no intention of actually following through on their promises. Victims of future faking often find themselves stuck in abusive relationships because they keep hoping that the narcissist will finally change. However, of course, this never happens.
Verbal Abuse and Denigration
Narcissists will also often try to control their victims by making them feel dependent on them. They might do this by financial abuse, or by emotional manipulation. For example, a narcissist might tell their victim that they are worthless and will never be able to make it without them.
This can be very effective in keeping the victim under the abuser’s control. The victim starts to believe that they need the narcissist in order to survive, and they become too afraid to leave the abusive relationship.
The Silent Treatment
Narcissists will stop at nothing to subdue and control their victims, and they often resort to psychological abuse tactics that can have a lasting impact on their victim’s mental health.
The silent treatment is yet another way for the narcissist to assert their power and control over their victim. The narcissist withdraws all forms of communication, both positive and negative, as a way to punish their victim. This can be extremely confusing and hurtful for the victim, who often has no idea what they have done wrong and how they can rectify the situation.
Another common tactic used by narcissists is isolation. The narcissist will attempt to isolate their victim from family and friends, preventing them from developing close relationships outside the one with the abuser.
Additionally, the narcissist may try to control who their victim sees and where they go in order to maintain a sense of power and dominance over them. This also makes it much easier for the narcissist to control and manipulate their victim, since they have limited outlets for seeking help or support outside of the abusive relationship.
Abuse by Proxy and Flying Monkeys
Narcissists will often use other people to abuse their victims, a technique known as “abuse by proxy” or “flying monkeys”. The narcissist recruits friends, family members, or even strangers to help them in their campaign of abuse. This can come in the form of sending hateful messages and spreading false rumours about the victim, which only serves to further isolate and confuse them.
This type of psychological manipulation is extremely damaging and can leave the victim feeling helpless and betrayed as they struggle to make sense of why those closest to them have suddenly turned against them.
The abovementioned narcissistic abuse tactics combine to form what is known as a Narcissistic FOG (Fear, Obligation, and Guilt). This toxic environment can be incredibly difficult for victims to escape from as they are subjected to constant manipulation and control.
The feelings of fear, obligation, and guilt can be so overwhelming that the victim may feel completely hopeless or powerless in the face of such relentless emotional abuse. As a result, it can become nearly impossible for them to find any way out or seek help from outside sources.
They are full of fear, either of the narcissist or of the outside world. They feel obligated to please the narcissist and meet their needs, even if it means sacrificing their own wants and needs. And they feel guilty for not being able to make the narcissist happy.
The long-term effects of narcissistic abuse
Narcissistic abuse can be devastating, both emotionally and physically. Victims often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. The abuse can also manifest in physical forms such as chronic pain or migraines.
The long-term effects of narcissistic abuse can be particularly damaging as victims are left struggling with a deep sense of helplessness and worthlessness due to their abusive experiences.
The following are some of the most common long-term effects that narcissistic abuse can have on victims.
Long-Term Effects of Narcissistic Abuse – Learned Helplessness
Victims of narcissistic abuse often develop a condition known as learned helplessness. This occurs when the victim is convinced that they are powerless and unable to take any action to improve their situation.
This can be incredibly detrimental, as it causes the victim to become resigned towards their plight and accept the abuse as simply a way of life. Over time, this can lead to feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, which can damage the victims self-esteem and sense of identity.
Long-Term Effects of Narcissistic Abuse – Low Self-Esteem
Narcissists will often try to tear their victim’s self-esteem down in order to better control them. They might do this by making derogatory comments, or by gaslight the victim into doubting their own perceptions and reality.
As a result of experiencing narcissistic abuse, victims often suffer from very low self-esteem. They may come to believe that they are inherently worthless and undeserving of love or respect. This can be particularly damaging as it causes them to internalize these feelings, spiraling downwards into further feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Long-Term Effects of Narcissistic Abuse – Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are common mental health problems that can be caused by narcissistic abuse. Victims often feel constantly anxious or stressed, and may become depressed and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. This can lead to long-term emotional damage, as they may start to believe that they are unworthy of love or respect, leading to feelings of despair and self-loathing.
These mental health problems can be extremely debilitating, and can make it very difficult for the victim to function on a day-to-day basis.
Long-Term Effects of Narcissistic Abuse – Psychological Trauma
Narcissistic abuse can cause psychological trauma. This is because the victim is constantly living in a state of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety. The abuse can also be very confusing and destabilizing as it has no clear logic or reason. Victims often feel powerless to escape their situation, leading to feelings of despair, confusion and helplessness.
Victims of narcissistic abuse often feel like they are walking on eggshells, never knowing when the next outburst or attack will occur. This can lead to feelings of perpetual fear and anxiety which can have long-term psychological impacts, such as unresolved trauma and trouble forming trusting relationships.
In extreme cases, victims of narcissistic abuse can develop PTSD or CPTSD, both of which can be extremely debilitating. The most common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include:
These can have a long lasting, damaging impact on the individual’s mental health and wellbeing.
Healing From the Long-Term Effects of Narcissistic Abuse
The good news is that it is possible to heal from the effects of narcissistic abuse.
The first step is to reach out for help and support. Start by reaching out to friends and family, and re-establish the support network that the narcissist worked so hard to destroy.
There are also many organizations and hotlines that can provide you with information and resources. You can also find support groups online or in your local community. These groups can be a great way to connect with other people who have been through similar experiences.
Then, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counsellor who specializes in narcissistic abuse. Therapy can be an incredibly helpful tool for healing from narcissistic abuse.
A therapist can help you to understand what you have been through, and can also guide you when it comes to extricating yourself from the toxic relationship, if you have not already done so. If going no contact is not possible, you can discuss other strategies such as going low contact or grey rock with your therapist.
The therapist can also provide you with tools and strategies for dealing with the aftermath of the abuse. The damage wrought by the narcissist goes deep, but with the right support you will be able to climb out of the dark hole that they have thrown you into and back into the light.
Finally, it is important to focus on self-care and rebuilding your self-esteem. This might involve taking up a new hobby, or making time for activities that make you happy. It is also important to eat a healthy diet and to get regular exercise, as this can help to improve your mood and reduce stress levels.
Narcissistic abuse can have a devastating effect on the victim’s mental and physical health. However, it is important to remember that the damage inflicted by the narcissist is not permanent. With the right support and guidance, you will be able to heal the wounds inflicted by the narcissist and move on with your life.
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