The term “narcissistic abuse” has come to mean any type of abuse perpetrated by a narcissist, whether it be coercive control, psychological, physical, sexual, spiritual, or financial abuse.
Victims and survivors tend to go through a narcissistic abuse cycle of idealization, devaluation, and rejection; a pattern of positive and negative experiences in which the narcissist confuses the victim through manipulation and calculated tactics aimed at making the victim question their sense of self and reality and live to maintain and appease the relationship and the narcissistic individual.
In a narcissistic relationship, the abuser uses various tactics to gain power and control over their victim, often leading to emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical harm.
Narcissistic abuse can occur in various forms, including intimate partner relationships, parent-child relationships, friendships, and even in the workplace. The abuse is typically cyclical, with the abuser cycling through various stages of behavior that are designed to keep the victim under their control.
Victims tend to go through a narcissistic abuse cycle of idealization (honeymoon phase), devaluation (tension building phase), and rejection (abuse escalation phase); a pattern of positive and negative experiences in which the narcissist confuses the victim through manipulation and calculated tactics aimed at making the victim question their sense of self and reality and live to maintain and appease the relationship and the narcissistic individual
Stage 1: Idealization
During this stage, the narcissist’s agenda is to present themselves as the perfect partner or friend to the survivor. They will shower the survivor with love, attention, and gifts to win them over. The narcissist will make the survivor feel special, valued, and appreciated, and they will often use flattery, compliments, and promises to gain their trust.
The impact on the survivor during this stage is that they feel loved, appreciated, and valued by the narcissist. They may feel like they have found the perfect partner or friend who understands them and meets their needs. However, this initial phase of the relationship is often short-lived, and the survivor may begin to see signs of narcissistic behavior from the abuser.
Stage 2: Devaluation
During this stage, the narcissist’s agenda is to devalue and degrade the survivor. They may start to criticize, insult, or belittle the survivor, often in subtle ways. The narcissist may also withdraw love, attention, and affection, leaving the survivor feeling confused, hurt, and rejected. They may manipulate and control the survivor through guilt, fear, and shame.
The impact on the survivor during this stage is that they feel confused, hurt, and rejected. They may start to doubt themselves and their worth, as the narcissist continues to criticize and degrade them. The survivor may also feel trapped and unable to leave the relationship, as the narcissist has often isolated them from their support network and created a sense of dependency.
Stage 3: Discard
During this stage, the narcissist’s agenda is to discard the survivor and move on to a new target. They may suddenly end the relationship, without any explanation or closure, leaving the survivor feeling devastated and abandoned. The narcissist may also engage in smear campaigns, spreading rumors and lies about the survivor to damage their reputation.
The impact on the survivor during this stage is that they feel devastated, abandoned, and betrayed. They may struggle to understand why the relationship ended and blame themselves for the narcissist’s behavior. The survivor may also experience trauma and PTSD, as a result of the emotional and psychological abuse they experienced during the cycle of narcissistic abuse.
Overall, the cycle of narcissistic abuse is a vicious and destructive pattern that can have long-lasting effects on the survivor. It’s important for survivors to seek support and professional help to heal from the trauma and move forward in a healthy and positive direction.
A therapist can play a crucial role in helping individuals who have experienced narcissistic abuse. Here are some ways a therapist can help:
1. Validate the survivor’s experience: Narcissistic abuse can be confusing, and survivors may question their own perceptions and feelings. A therapist can help validate the survivor’s experience and provide a safe space to process and explore their emotions.
2. Provide education and resources: A therapist can help survivors understand the dynamics of narcissistic abuse, recognize red flags, and provide resources for safety and support.
3. Assist with boundary-setting: Survivors of narcissistic abuse may struggle with setting boundaries and saying no to the narcissistic individual. A therapist can help survivors establish healthy boundaries and develop effective communication skills.
4. Work on healing and recovery: Narcissistic abuse can leave deep emotional wounds that require healing and recovery. A therapist can provide tools and techniques to manage symptoms of trauma, such as anxiety and depression, and work towards rebuilding a sense of self-worth.
5. Develop a plan for moving forward: A therapist can help survivors identify their goals and create a plan for moving forward in a healthy and empowered way. This may involve exploring options for ending the relationship or setting boundaries with the narcissistic individual, as well as developing a support network.
It’s important to note that recovery from narcissistic abuse can be a long and challenging process, and survivors may benefit from ongoing therapy and support. A therapist can also provide referrals to other professionals, such as trauma specialists or support groups, to help survivors access additional resources and support.