Dr Denise Dart Relationship toxicologist Because Love Shouldn't Hurt

Victims of Narcissistic Emotional Abuse 

Often Question Themselves and Their Experience!

Toxic relationships evolve from one person's need or desire to control another. In the process of asserting control over you the narcissistic emotional abuser routinely tells you what you think, perceive, feel, like, and don't like. The narcissist constantly assaults your boundaries and tries to force themselves into your inner world. Through deceit and gaslighting the narcissist strives to convince you that they know you, better than you know yourself. 

Day in and day out, over the course of a toxic relationship,  you are invalidated and belittled. Some emotional abusers yell, rage, and threaten, while others use a more subtle coercive approach. Commonly narcissistic abusers use a combination of these approaches over the course of a relationship. The narcissist's daily onslaught diminishes your self-esteem, destroys your confidence, and leave you constantly questioning yourself. 

This is no way to live! With help and support you can stop questioning yourself and begin to trust your instincts again. You are not going crazy; you have been subjected to intentional manipulation. 

Learn About the Narcissistic Abuser's Tactics

Narcissist's hidden rage is hiding behind a mask and generally comes out when alone with someone close to them.

The narcissists soul sucking tactics are often covert and happen when no one else is around to witness their cruelty and madness. Emotional abuse happens before an audience of one; YOU! Consequently, your experience can be frustratingly difficult to describe or explain to others. The gaslighting that occurs in an abusive relationship might make you wonder if you are imagining things or even going crazy.  You are not!

The narcissist's scorched earth approach can feel indescribable. When confronted with a reasonable boundary, the narcissistic abuser's behavior often gets even worse. When a narcissist perceives criticism or rejection they experience what is called a narcissistic wound.  When a narcissist's fragile ego is wounded, the narcissist responds with rage.  Anyone who has been in a toxic relationship knows how terrifying the rage can be.  

 Isolation and Control

Have you been isolated from supportive family and friends?  Narcissistic abusers love to pretend they encourage you, your friends, and your interests but nothing could be farther from the truth. The narcissist in your life may put on a dramatic show, feigning encouragement for you to go out to spend time with family or friends. If the narcissist is invited, they often choose not to go with you. After declining your invitation, you may be encouraged to go without them.  Despite the encouragement to go spend time with other, the narcissist secretly believes that you should do no such thing. 

If you attempt to maintain relationships with family or friends your reward will be that you met with a range of toxic responses when you return home. Silent treatment and not so subtle body language can leave you confused and anxious. Yelling, screaming, and hurling irrationally jealous accusations are such as likely. With a narcissist, you'll never know what you will get. Rest assured, the narcissist is a master at knowing what to do you force you to submit to their wishes. 

Over time, you begin to walk on eggshells when in the presence of your narcissistic abuser. Although your home no longer feels safe you might decide it is easier to spend the vast majority of your time with your abusive mate just to avoid their wrath.  The dynamic of a toxic relationship teaches you that things go better when you do what the narcissists wants. If you are like most victims of narcissistic abuse, you come to believe that the kinder and more loving you are the better the chance for change. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You are being subjected to the madness of coercive control and manipulation. 

Isolated and afraid spouse of narcissist

Irrational Jealousy and Projection

Even though they might at times insist you spend time with others or run errands alone, when you come home expect to be asked why you were gone so long or who you were really with.  Your toxic mate may make accusations or raging displays of irrational jealousy. 

Narcissists project their thoughts, wishes, lies, and general sleaze factor onto you. Upon your return from an innocent cup of coffee with a friend or even a trip to the grocery store, your abuse may demand to know "What were you REALLY doing?"

Before you know it, an entirely innocent situation gets intentionally twisted and the little bit of pleasure you felt from spending a time with family or friends quickly dissolves.  

Toxic narcissists use projection to accuse you of the things they may be thinking or doing themselves. Do you ever defend yourself even though you know how ridiculous your mate's questions, insinuations, and accusations are?  This is projection, another tactic used to gain and maintain control over you!

Devaluation, Gaslighting, and Coercive Control

Does your abuser deny saying things they clearly said?  Do they question your memory? Your grasp on reality? Do he/she ever say they are worried about you, that there's something wrong with you?  Following a berating comment, you may be told it was just a joke and that you aren't fun anymore. This is devaluation, gaslighting, and coercive control! 

Support from others who have had similar experiences can help you regain your sense of balance and learn once again to trust your instincts and perceptions. You are not crazy! Your relationship is toxic and staying in it will continue to exact a toll on you. Many, if not most, victims of narcissistic emotional abuse begin to wonder what is wrong with them and even start to think they are going crazy.

Are You Hanging on to Empty Promises of Change?

Narcissistic abusers are full of empty promises.

When power and control are the driving force in a relationship there can be no true emotional intimacy or trust. Narcissists consciously seek to control you and are quite skilled at telling what they think you want to hear.

When caught in a lie, it is common for a narcissistic emotional abuser to not only deny the lie, but to turn it on you with angry indignation. This tactic creates a smoke screen that allows the crafty narcissist to slip away from an uncomfortable moment when you might actually see through the lies and see the abuser clearly for who they are.

Toxic Relationships are Addictive

A Trauma Bond is an Addiction

Toxic relationships are as addictive as a drug; crack, heroin...you name it. You know how good the relationship can feel when things are going well, you remember those idyllic times at the beginning of the relationship. As the relationship becomes increasingly toxic you work harder and harder to get back to how things were at the beginning of the relationship.

You adapt your behavior to try to recreate the times when your mate was loving, affectionate, and supportive (or at least it felt that way).  That person might show up every now and then and offer you some crumbs, but rest assured the relationship will never again be the way it was when in the beginning. Sadly, those crumbs serve as a little bit of positive reinforcement; the unpredictability of their occurrence strengthens the reinforcement and keeps you coming back for more.

It Can Be Hard to Break Free from Narcissistic Abuse

Breaking the Chains that Bind You to a Narcissistic Abuser

Family and friends who have seen the toll this toxic relationship has taken on you may have encouraged you to leave. In the midst of chaotic times when you were actively and overtly being hurt, you may have agreed you should leave.  

A trauma bond with your narcissistic abuser can make it hard to hold on to those moments of clarity. The cycle of emotional abuse has a honeymoon phase that follows the horrendously abusive outbursts. While in this phase, which is also referred to as love bombing and hoovering, you might think that friends and loved ones just don't understand. In an attempt to hang on you may deceive yourself into thinking that they just don't know how amazing the relationship is when things are going well. After all, he is once again promising you that things will be different. Sadly, the change lasts for the briefest of times and the cycle repeats again.

From the outside looking in, it can be hard for friends and family to understand your addiction to the fantasy that your abuser will change. Your addictive trauma bond convinces you that there is still hope that your emotional vampire will magically turn back into the prince who love bombed you into this painful relationship. 

Narcissistic Behavior Does Not Change 

It's not impossible for a controlling person to change, but for the vast majority change is unlikely. A person cannot change what they cannot see.  A narcissistic controller's MO is to get their needs met at any cost. They manipulate and mold their victim into the likeness of their fantasy mate. 

A Narcissistic Abuser Lacks Empathy

Controlling people generally have very low emotional awareness and consequently turn to a variety of things to numb out feelings. The possibility of change drops to near zero if your significant other is drinking alcohol daily or has other addictions (gambling, sex, pills, etc.) If they are not willing to get help to overcome an addiction there can be no hope for change!

It's time to take the blinders off if your abuser is not willing to fully own and take responsibility for the ways they have hurt you. If they are defensive and you are doing all the work, close the book and move on. Continuing to buy into the fantasy simply sets you up for more of the same and a strong likelihood that things will only get worse as time goes by. 

If you are or have been in a toxic relationship you need support to help you recover! It is essential to stay connected, to validate your experience by speaking out loud all that has been held inside for so long. I have been where you are and can help. I'm passionate about providing education, resources, community, and ongoing support to help you break free and recover.

Empowering Yourself to Make Positive Changes

What would it be worth to know that you can and will regain your sense of self, rebuild your self-esteem, and end the daily assault from the narcissist in your life? Even as you formulate next steps in breaking free and recovering from a toxic relationship you can take active steps to nurture yourself.

 Wherever you happen to be in this painful journey, I understand what you are going through! I have been there myself. I have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate your journey and walk with you.  As you reconnect with yourself you will rediscovering the powerful resilient YOU! Even if you are meeting this part of yourself for the first time you will get there!

One-to-one coaching will go a long way towards giving you the tools you need RIGHT NOW! Click below to learn more and to explore various options for connection and support.