Narcissistic Abuse16 January 2023
What it is, the Red Flags, Gaslighting and What to Do
“Thank God you saved me.” I used to say to him. It would take me 15 years to realise that I was in a manipulative and abusive relationship.
Had you asked me 6/7 years into the relationship about how I felt about the marriage I would have told you that it was amazing, dreamy even, and that I was grateful that this person had saved me.
That wasn’t the truth though and deep down I knew. I knew this man wasn’t right for me and I knew I didn’t like the dynamics in our relationship. I wasn’t happy. I felt alone, neglected and unloved. I felt used, abused and small.
So why lie?
Shame is one of the reasons. I was deeply ashamed that my life wasn’t perfect and that I had failed at something I put all my love and trust towards.
I lied because it was too hard to face reality. It wasn’t about lying to others, it was about what the truth would have shown me. ‘Cause once you see it, you can’t go back.
I wasn’t ready for the truth for a long time, but one day it became about survival so I had to see, or I wouldn’t have made it. I had to save myself.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist it’s something that destroys you from the inside out. It pulls you away from your own soul, and often you don’t even know it’s happening.
That was my reality for almost 15 years (between 18 and 32 years old).
Shortly after I left and turned my life around I have made it my mission to educate and help women around the world heal from the horrible experience of narcissistic abuse. This blog is a small part of that but I hope it serves you as a starting point.
Let’s start from the beginning…
What exactly is a narcissist?
A narcissist is a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or narcissistic traits.
Some of the characteristics are: deceitfulness, tendency to be dishonest, lack of empathy, tendency to gain advantage by treating others unfairly.
We want to be careful using labels, but one thing I would say is that everything I have listed above is abusive behaviour. You don’t need a diagnosis to recognise that. Abuse is abuse.
Characteristics of a narcissistic person:
A narcissistic person is someone who has a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, an excessive need of admiration and a lack of empathy. Some examples are:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance (exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognised as superior etc.)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
- Believes that they are “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high status people
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement (expects favourable treatment)
- Takes advantage of others to achieve their own ends
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them
- Show arrogant behaviours and attitudes
What is narcissistic abuse?
Narcissistic abuse is the chronic manipulation and devaluation process that leaves the other person feeling worthless and disconnected from themselves.
This type of abuse can leave psychological and emotional scars that can last a lifetime and it can cause symptoms of PTSD.
Why is narcissistic abuse so dangerous?
Narcissists use very covert and insidious methods to abuse others. They are able to escape accountability for the abuse because of the false persona they present to the outside world, which is usually a charming mask.
Many people don’t even know they’ve been abused, others learn to identify the tactics after years and others are lucky enough to realise early on in the relationship.
How do you know if there’s a narcissist in your life? These are some of the red flags.
Anyone in your life can be a narcissist, literally anyone. Your parents, partner, friends, boss, colleagues, you name it.
The thing is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and unless you are aware of what the red flags are, it really isn’t that obvious to recognise a narcissist’s behaviour. They are very manipulative and could also have been behaving like this for so long that we think it’s normal.
Here are some of the most common red flags:
🚩Being overly critical and controlling, putting other people down (name-calling, harsh insults disguised as jokes, demeaning, disrespectful comments).
🚩Being physically or sexually abusive.
🚩Making you feel trapped and that you have to walk on eggshells around them.
🚩Idealisation, devaluation and discard cycle: treating the victim cold for no apparent reason, return to loving for no apparent reason.
🚩Isolating you from friends and family and sabotaging your relationships, goals and aspirations.
🚩Refusal to communicate or cooperate if you bring up any concerns about the relationship. This is to create a sense of insecurity in the victim.
🚩Triangulation of the victim with other love interests.
🚩Gaslighting (type of manipulation where they lead you to question your own reality). A narcissist manipulates you into thinking the abuse isn’t real by minimising, denying or rationalising the abuse (they try to explain to you that what they are doing is perfectly normal).
🚩Refuse any accountability.
🚩Make the victim look like the crazy one.
Narcissists also have a tendency to make everything about themselves, so if you bring up something that concerns you about your relationship and you genuinely express your feelings they are likely to tell you that they had it worse than you and therefore you shouldn’t complain.
You are not complaining, you are expressing how you feel. See how the manipulation works?
Let’s take a deeper look into this and talk about gaslighting.
“Remember, a fact is a fact, no matter how hard the liars amongst you might try hushing it up” – Billy Childish
Have you ever questioned your own sanity?
Gaslighting is a technique that narcissists use to convince you that your perception of the abuse is wrong, it’s an attempt to change the truth.
❌”You provoked me”
❌”You are too sensitive”
❌”I never said that”
❌”You are taking things too seriously”
❌”You’ve always been a bit anxious and weak”
❌”You are making a big deal out of nothing”
These sentences will manipulate you into thinking that the abuse is your fault or that it never happened. They are changing the truth.
The narcissist’s agenda is to make you doubt yourself and the abuse. This makes you stay in the relationship even if it’s a toxic one because you have been conditioned to mistrust your instincts and interpretation of what’s going on.
Gaslighting is at the base of a narcissist’s behaviour and something the majority of people in a toxic relationship experience.
Are you questioning whether some stuff makes sense?
Do you feel a bit strange about certain events? Do you remember them differently?
This is your intuition talking to you, this is an alarm bell that something isn’t right. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt.
Record things, write them down, keep track. Whatever you have to do to see the truth, don’t take their word for granted and give yourself a chance to see something different.
What can you do? 3 Ways to get a narcissist out of your life.
Ending a relationship with an abuser is one of the hardest things to do, and you know that if you have been in that position before or if you’d like to end the relationship now and haven’t done it yet.
Breaking up with an abuser takes time, effort, strength, resources, support and empowerment. They will take everything you’ve got and more. But you are stronger and you can do it. It’s super important that you gather all that strength, that you are kind to yourself and put yourself first no matter what.
There are many ways you can breakup with a narcissist and they all depend on your specific situation but I will give you 3 examples today:
- Go Cold Turkey: this is where you don’t wait for the right time to break up, you just do it and deal with your emotions later. You are just focusing on your safety to begin with and everything else comes after.
- Make Space for you and gradually distance yourself: this is good if you have been in a relationship for a very long time (it’s what I personally did). You start taking time for yourself, reflect and start putting up boundaries and in the meantime, seek professional support and build a support network that will help you after you leave. In this case, your abuser might notice that you are distancing yourself and will try to hoover you back in, PRETEND IF YOU HAVE TO. Your safety above everything else.
- Call them out: this method is only to be used in a situation where you are in perfect safety and there is no risk of physical violence. Only use it if you feel safe. You basically set very solid boundaries by calling them out on their bs, and why not, give them a taste of their own medicine. Can be good with co-workers or narcissistic parents where you are forced to interact with the narcissist. Literally tell them that you won’t take their bs.
What if you see the red flags and still can’t leave?
You know everything there is to know about narcissistic abuse, you know what you are going through and you recognise what is happening and yet, you keep putting on a brave face and actually don’t take any action.
Even though you have full awareness there is still something stopping you from leaving.
What is that something?
In my experience, that something has a name, two names in fact: Guilt and Shame.
A narcissist will do everything in their power to keep control over you and make you feel like you are always in the wrong, like your feelings are not valid and that you should feel guilty for even questioning their behaviour.
The aftermath of this is that dreadful feeling of shame, the one that takes hold of your stomach and never goes away. This is what prevents us from taking action. This is what stops us.
What can we do about it?
It’s easier than you think: be kind to yourself, meet yourself where you are at and start carving out time for yourself, little by little, every day. All you need right now is to get rid of guilt and shame and you can do that by reconnecting to you.
You were born happy, abundant and confident, there was no guilt and shame in you when you came into this world, that stuff was put there by someone else, it’s not yours and most importantly it doesn’t define you.
You have nothing to feel guilty for and you have nothing to feel ashamed about.
🤍You are whole🤍
Carve out a little time for yourself every day and you will soon start seeing the results, you will feel more in control, more confident. Shame and guilt will start slowly fading away, you just need to get stronger within yourself. You can do it.
The easiest way to do this is to start doing something you enjoyed doing when you were a kid. What did you love and couldn’t get enough of? That is what’s going to help you.
For me it was reading and swimming, nothing makes me feel more me than these two things. What is it for you? Start there.
Some other fears, frustrations and challenges of leaving the narcissist for good are:
❌ “I can’t do life on my own”
❌ “What if I don’t find anyone else?”
❌ “He will change, he will get better”
❌ “This whole situation is my fault, I’ve created it”
❌ “The kids won’t have a father if we leave”
❌ “I can’t just cut them out of my life, they’re my family”
These are just a few of the things I hear from people trapped in the narcissistic cycle. I also hear things like:
💜 “I just want to be loved”
💜 “I don’t want to be controlled anymore”
💜 “I feel that there is more to life than this”
💜 “I know this isn’t right but I feel trapped, I can’t leave”
The biggest misconception of all when it comes to dealing with a narcissist is the expectation that they will behave normally and that they can change. People with NPD or even just narcissistic traits don’t want to change, it’s within their nature to not want to because they don’t think that what they are doing is wrong.
You wouldn’t expect a fish to be able to swim out of the water because it’s against their nature, so why expect a narcissist to change?
Their cycle is deeply manipulative, that’s why. They make you think that they can when in reality they never intend to, it’s all a matter of power and control.
A narcissist will manipulate you into thinking that you are at the center of their world when in fact, they are.
“Thank God you saved me” that’s what I told him for years.
As I mentioned at the beginning, one of the effects of narcissistic abuse is the detachment it causes within us, the detachment from not only our true self but also the actual facts.
We are controlled and gaslighted into thinking that they are saving us, that they have our best interest at heart. This isn’t true.
Here’s what ACTUALLY saves us: there is always that little voice deep within us, that voice that we find so hard to acknowledge, so hard to listen to. That’s our intuition. That voice wants to show us the truth. Follow that voice, your soul is trying to talk to you.
There is so much more to know about this and so much I want to say so that you don’t have to experience what I did.
If you are dealing with a narcissist or you have made it out but are struggling to get back on your feet do reach out, I’d love to help.
You deserve to be fully happy, yourself and free ❤️
Gloria is a certified Life and Personal Performance Coach (ICF), Narcissistic Abuse Survivor and has also fully recovered from OCD. She helps women come home to themselves by healing from the aftermath of toxic relationships, overcoming anxiety, setting healthy boundaries and re-establishing a deep connection to their soul. Her unique method combines Coaching, Astrology and Moonology.
While Coaching is the main tool she uses, each session is infused with intuitive wisdom, a close look at your personal astrology, the use of oracle cards and different visualisation and meditation techniques, it’s very unique to each person. In her sessions, she also often includes “mini trainings” on how the brain works. Gloria believes that knowledge is power and very often the mere understanding of why your brain is doing what it’s doing helps you be in control of your mind and thoughts.
Working with Gloria you will learn how to reprogram your brain and get rid of the limitations that have led your life up until this moment as well as how to use those powerful and invisible energies that are abundantly available to us. This allows you to create an effortless life because you’re leading in a way that is most natural to your soul.
If you feel called to explore this further or you have questions, get in touch through the contact form below or book a free 30 mins consultation.