If you have been struggling to overcome the effects of emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual abuse happening in a relationship, you are not alone. The statistics on domestic violence in our country are alarming, and domestic violence is not only physical violence. Emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of a person with a high conflict, antagonistic personality style can be just as damaging as physical abuse. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that can breed disconnection, foster narcissism, and perpetuate abusive relationships.
Narcissistic abuse is a term referring to the psychological, emotional, financial, physical, even sexual manipulation and abuse by someone with narcissistic traits or suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.
There is a cycle to this type of abuse, and some of the effects of it include induced feelings of shame, anxiety, guilt, confusion, damaged self-esteem, appeasing behaviors, feelings of powerlessness, accepting the blame for others’ behaviors, and a compromised sense of self.
Narcissistic abuse can be perpetrated by a partner, parent, sibling, even adult children.
The abuse that happens in these types of relationships with these kinds of personalities takes place in the shadows and mostly behind closed doors. Victims of this abuse often do not bear bruises and external wounds as evidence of the abuse. This is one of the reasons that when a victim comes forth and tells people about the manipulation, lies, undermining, gaslighting and abuse that happens in their relationship, often people don’t believe them. Because the abuser creates an external persona to make themselves look good, to many people “on the outside”, they would never picture that person being abusive to their spouse, partner, or family members. Yet behind closed doors, the mask comes off. People on the outside have only met “Dr. Jekyll”, and have never met “Mr. Hyde”, the part of the personality that comes out behind closed doors.
I work with people recovering from abuse by a partner or family member with narcissistic traits, borderline personality traits, and other high conflict/antagonistic personality styles. These personality types represent spectrum disorders. For example, not all narcissists are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Many develop clinically significant destructive narcissistic patterns (DNP), leading to serious problems in people’s lives. The people who suffer however, are generally the people who live with or near the narcissist, rather than the narcissist themselves. As awareness of this grows, more people are able to come out of the shadows and seek help, hopefully for abusers as well as victims.
Recovery is a journey and does not happen overnight. That said, with the right resources, support, and awareness of how to rebuild your sense of self, trust in yourself, your self-esteem and connection to your body, healing as possible.
Recognizing the reality of relational abuse, does not mean demonizing people with disordered personality traits. They also need help to heal themselves. Unfortunately, many people with these types of antagonistic personality styles never seek help. They don’t believe they have a problem, because they project their emotions and mental illness onto other people. They seek to make others the carrier of their burdens. While we can have compassion for their suffering, often rooted in their own trauma, even childhood trauma is not an excuse to abuse another person. If they will not seek help, you can.
If you are ready to begin the journey of healing, reach out. You will be met with empathy, compassion and understanding.
The relationship you form with your therapist is time and again shown to be the most important factor in the success of therapy. My mission is to create an atmosphere of non-judgment, compassion and acceptance wherein we can work together toward your healing so you can live a life that you love. Healing is possible. Recovery is possible.