Freedom & Recovery from Emotional & Narcissistic Abuse
What is emotional abuse?
Also known as psychological abuse, emotional abuse, which includes verbal abuse, is a common form of abuse that may occur in close relationships.
Emotional abuse is about one person maintaining power or control over another person. It usually takes place between intimate partners, or comes from a parent to a child. It can also happen in situations such as schools or workplaces (for example, in the case of bullying).
Is it abuse if there's no physical violence?
Not all emotionally abusive relationships are physically violent. Although emotional abuse may be less obvious than physical abuse, it can still have devastating effects on the mental health and wellbeing of adults and children.
Methods of emotional abuse
verbal attacks or threats
restricting a person's freedom
controlling or taking your money, food or transport
putting you down, insults, humiliation, or blame
making you feel scared or threatened
making you isolated
deliberately doing things to hurt you (bullying)
being very jealous
Effects of emotional abuse
poor relationship satisfaction
anxiety and depression
increased physical health problems (such as migraine, indigestion, chronic pain)
emotional abuse of children can have serious effects on their development and adult life
FORMS OF ABUSE
Forms of abuse
Verbal abuse includes belittling, bullying, accusing, blaming, shaming, demanding, ordering, threatening, criticizing, sarcasm, raging, opposing, undermining, interrupting, blocking, and name-calling. Note that many people occasionally make demands, use sarcasm, interrupt, oppose, criticize, blame, or block you. Consider the context, malice, and frequency of the behavior before labeling it narcissistic abuse.
Generally, manipulation is indirect influence on someone to behave in a way that furthers the goals of the manipulator. Often, it expresses covert aggression. Think of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” On the surface, the words seem harmless – even complimentary; but underneath you feel demeaned or sense a hostile intent. If you experienced manipulation growing up, you may not recognize it as such. See my blog on spotting manipulation.
Emotional blackmail may include threats, anger, warnings, intimidation, or punishment. It’s a form of manipulation that provokes doubt in you. You feel fear, obligation, and or guilt, sometimes referred to as “FOG”
Gaslighting (crazy making)
Intentionally making you distrust your perceptions of reality or believe that you’re mentally incompetent.
Competing and one-upping to always be on top, sometimes through unethical means. E.g. cheating in a game.
Unnecessarily making comparisons to negatively contrast you with the narcissist or other people.
Interference with your endeavors or relationships for the purpose of revenge or personal advantage.
Exploitation and objectification
Using or taking advantage of you for personal ends without regard for your feelings or needs.
Persistent deception to avoid responsibility or to achieve the narcissist’s own ends.
Withholding such things as money, sex, communication or affection from you.
Ignoring the needs of a child for whom the abuser is responsible. Includes child endangerment; i.e., placing or leaving a child in a dangerous situation.
Ignoring your boundaries by looking through your things, phone, mail; denying your physical privacy or stalking or following you; ignoring privacy you’ve requested.
Character assassination or slander
Spreading malicious gossip or lies about you to other people.
Violence includes blocking your movement, pulling hair, throwing things, or destroying your property.
Financial abuse might include controlling you through economic domination or draining your finances through extortion, theft, manipulation, or gambling, or by accruing debt in your name or selling your personal property.
"Narcissists, whether consciously or unconsciously, prefer empathetic people because they desire others to surrender to the wants and needs of the narcissist, without any thought for the partner and their needs, feelings or point of view.
Empathetic people are drawn to narcissists because deep down they believe, consciously or unconsciously, they need to look after, save, fix or heal the narcissist. On some level, empathetic people usually don't believe they're deserving of love and attention, so they give to the point of exhaustion and emptying their well within, in the hope of receiving even the smallest of crumbs of connection, intimacy or love. There is an endless sense of hope for positive change in the relationship to occur, which rarely happen.
Emotional and narcissistic abusers blame the receiver, never themselves, which eventually annihilates their victims in mind, body and soul.
Getting away from this kind of abuse is vital for survival of the Self."
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with NPD may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they're not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them. Narcissists are commonly referred to as 'narcs' by those they've abused. eg. the narc
The truth about narcs
Narcissists don’t really love themselves. Actually, they’re driven by shame. It’s the idealised image of themselves, which they convince themselves they embody, that they admire. But deep down, narcissists feel the gap between the façade they show the world and their shame-based self. They work hard to avoid feeling that shame. To fill this gap, narcissists use destructive defense mechanisms which destroy relationships and cause pain and damage to their loved ones.
Many of the narcissist’s coping mechanisms are abusive–hence the term, “narcissistic abuse.” However, someone can be abusive, but not be a narcissist. Addicts and people with other mental illnesses, such as bi-polar disorder and anti-social personality disorder and borderline personality disorders can also be abusive, as are many codependents without a mental illness. Abuse is abuse, no matter what is the abuser’s diagnosis. If you’re a victim of abuse, the main challenges for you are:
Clearly identifying it
Building a support system
Learning how to strengthen and protect yourself
Many people may have narcissistic behaviours and tendencies, however, may not meet all clinical aspects of a diagnosis of NPD. When determining what's going on in your relationship, identifying the behaviours is more important than a clinical diagnosis of the partner. Being able to recognise the type of abuse and understanding the limitations these characteristics bring to your relationship is vital in taking care of your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Signs and symptoms of NPD and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:
Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
Expect to be recognised as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Exaggerate achievements and talents
Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
Monopolise conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
Take advantage of others to get what they want
Have an inability or unwillingness to recognise the needs and feelings of others
Be envious of others and believe others envy them
Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
Insist on having the best of everything eg. the best car or office
At the same time, people with NPD have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:
Become impatient or angry when they don't receive special treatment
Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation
A narcissist tends to seek out an empathetic partner in order to gain admiration of their own attributes and feelings of power and control, known as narcissistic supply. The narcissist creates a dynamic abuser and victim relationship through a cycle of abuse resulting in traumatic bonding that makes it hard for their partner to leave the increasingly abusive relationship. People with codependent-type traits may seek relationships with narcissists.
Narcissistic parental abuse
Occurs where parents require the child to give up their own wants and feelings in order to serve the parent's needs for esteem. Typically, someone abused by narcissistic parenting as a child likely struggles with codependency issues in adulthood. An adult who is or has been in a relationship with a narcissist likely struggles with not knowing what constitutes a "normal" relationship.
TYPES OF NARCISSISTS
The Three Major Types of Narcissists, as well as several sub-types
Also known as High-Functioning, Exhibitionist, or Grandiose Narcissists, these are the typical narcissists that most people think of when they hear the term “narcissist.” These are the attention-seeking narcissists who brag about their accomplishments, expect others to flatter them, and feel entitled to special treatment. They get bored when the focus of the conversation turns to anyone but themselves, and rarely like to share the spotlight with others. The irony is that they are desperate to feel important, and at the same time they often already perceive themselves to be superior to most people with whom they come into contact.
Also known as Fragile, Compensatory or Closet Narcissists, they still feel as if they are superior to most people they meet, however, they actually despise the spotlight. They often seek to attach themselves to special people instead of seeking special treatment themselves. They may seek pity or ingratiate others through excessive generosity to receive the attention and admiration they need to boost their sense of self-worth.
Also known as Toxic Narcissists, they are highly manipulative and exploitative. These narcissists have many antisocial traits that are not present in the other two major types and are often compared with sociopaths and psychopaths. They often have a sadistic streak that makes them different from the other two major types. Their primary goal is to dominate and control, and they will use deceit and aggression to accomplish it and lack remorse for their actions. They may even enjoy the suffering of others.
Overt vs. Covert
This sub-type describes whether the narcissist uses methods to get his or her needs met that are more out in the open or whether those methods are more stealthy and secretive. For example, both overt and covert narcissists may put people down, boast, and look for opportunities to take advantage of people, but overt narcissists do so in unmistakable and noticeable ways. Covert narcissists work behind the scenes or are more passive-aggressive. Others may come away not knowing they were manipulated or the narcissist’s tactics may allow him or her to deny what happened. Classic narcissists will always be overt narcissists, and vulnerable narcissists will always be covert narcissists, however, malignant narcissists could be either.
Somatic vs. Cerebral
This sub-type defines what the narcissist primarily values in himself or herself and in others. Neither sub-type wants to be outshone by their partner, but they do want someone around who enhances their status because, to them, their partners are objects they can show off as if to say, “look what I just obtained for my collection.” Somatic narcissists are obsessed with their bodies, youth and external appearance, spending a lot of time at the gym and in front of mirrors. Cerebral narcissists are the know-it-all and think of themselves as the most intelligent ones in the room, trying to impress people with their accomplishments and positions of power. Any of the three types of narcissists—classic, vulnerable, or malignant—can be either of these two sub-types.
Some researchers have identified a special type of covert, vulnerable narcissist called an inverted narcissist. These narcissists are thought to be codependent. They seek to attach themselves to other narcissists to feel special, and are only satisfied or happy when they are in relationships with other narcissists. They are victim-narcissists who suffer from childhood abandonment issues.
Because the term narcissist is used so frequently and in such an arbitrary way, it has become difficult to tell when it should be taken seriously, or even to what group of people the term is being applied. Although all narcissists can potentially be exploitative, not all narcissists are alike and one of them is very dangerous. Malignant narcissists can be destructive and abusive, and because they seek to dominate others, lack a conscience, and enjoy the damage they cause, interactions with them are likely to be harmful. Learning how to distinguish these types and how to understand which type is being discussed in reading material about narcissism is crucial.
If you are being mistreated, exploited, or abused by anyone, however, it doesn’t matter what type of narcissist they are or even if they’re a narcissist at all. Run!
The 'covert narcissist' ensures their victim feels they're the problem, whilst projecting a charming and innocent image to the outside world.
They do everything they can to make the victim appear guilty, not good enough, even shameful, with the specific goal to remove any credibility, so they can keep their place on the pedestal they created to protect their own fragile sense of self and perception of reality.
A narcissist is unable to show remorse or empathy unless they feel incredibly safe to do so. A situation only created by a particular combination of events, where they're able to drop their rock solid guard.
This is such a rare occurrence, it's fair to say it never happens. For most, it doesn't.
The narcissists' relationships are characterised by a period of intense involvement and idealisation of their partner, followed by devaluation, and a rapid discarding of the partner. Alternatively, that scenario can loop, with ghosting (ceasing communication with the codependent) and hoovering (luring the codependent back) instead of discarding. At the beginning of a relationship (or its new cycle) with a narcissist, the partner is only shown the ideal self of the narcissist, which includes pseudo-empathy, kindness, and charm. Once the partner has committed to the relationship (eg through marriage or a business partnership), the true self of the narcissist will begin to emerge.
The initial narcissistic abuse begins with belittling comments and grows to contempt, ignoring behavior, adultery, triangulation (forming any relationship triangles), sabotage, and, at times, physical abuse.
At the core of a narcissist is a combination of entitlement and low self-esteem. These feelings of inadequacy are projected onto the victim. If the narcissistic person is feeling unattractive they will belittle their romantic partner's appearance. If the narcissist makes an error, this error becomes the partner's fault.
Narcissists also engage in insidious, manipulative abuse by giving subtle hints and comments that result in the victim questioning their own behavior, thoughts or sanity, known as gaslighting or crazy making.
Another common abusive tactic is underhanded public humiliation, when the narcissist says something seemingly neutral but offensive to the victim and enjoys the emotional reaction. This is called dog-whistling.
Any slight criticism of the narcissist, whether actual or perceived, often triggers narcissistic rage and full-blown annihilation from the narcissistic person. This can take the form of screaming tirades, silent treatment or quiet sabotage (setting traps, refusing communication, hiding belongings, spreading rumors, etc).
The discard phase can be swift and occurs once the narcissistic supply is obtained elsewhere. In romantic relationships, the narcissistic supply can be acquired by having affairs. The new partner is in the idealisation phase and only witnesses the ideal self; thus once again the cycle of narcissistic abuse begins. Narcissists do not take responsibility for relationship difficulties and exhibit no feelings of remorse. Instead they believe themselves to be the victim in the relationship and because of their self-debasing projections, their partner can only ever fail to meet their expectations.
In life you will realise there is a role for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you, some will love you and some will teach you.
But those who are truly important are those who bring out the best in you.
They're the rare and amazing people who remind you why it's worth it.
The fallout - Post Narcissist Stress Disorder
Much like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PNSD is a condition that affects people who have been in a close relationship with a narcissist. Living with a narcissist can be extremely exhausting and usually causes psychological trauma to the other person.
When you’ve experienced a traumatic event or series of events, psychological symptoms can develop that mainly centre around an intrusion of the past event into the present. Using self-protective methods that were helpful at the time of the event are the tendency to fall back on to cope with the effects of the trauma. However, this is only a short lived strategy, leaving you repeating the cycle of stress, anxiety and coping again and again. This ongoing pattern is not only exhausting, it also worsens the stress each time, leading to a possible feeling of 'breaking down' and unable to cope any longer.
Narcissistic abuse recovery
Narcissistic abuse brings with its own unique issues, in particular, when children and families are involved. An important part of dealing with PNSD is not having contact with the abuser, however, where there is a need to have contact due to parenting or family dynamics, this creates a complex situation and requires specific assistance to ensure recovery is possible.
Trauma blocks in mind, body, spirit
Essentially, trauma creates blocked areas in your energy body. This prevents the flow of healthy, vital energy which gives us a sense of inner peace, health and vitality. Not only clearing the blocks held within the mind and physical body (such as pain from injury or physical abuse), you must also clear the blocks backing up the flow in your energy body. The energy body is a real thing... it's now been acknowledged in the scientific world and can be seen using an MRI scan. Trapped energy, blocks, etc, is another important aspect of recovery which must be addressed in order to fully heal and recover from PTSD.
The pathway to lasting recovery
Creating a safe space is vital to a successful recovery process.
A qualified therapist experienced in working with this type of recovery is also necessary.
In addition, an energy healing practitioner who will identify and work with you to clear the trauma from your energy body.
You've come to the right place!
This is why I've trained and qualified in these modalities, so I can bring you the recovery, peace and freedom you so deserve.
YOUR FREEDOM & RECOVERY
Let's do this...
While you're welcome to book individual holistic counselling sessions, for most people, a recovery plan is the best way to approach healing.
Your three Specialist recovery options:
1. Individual bookings:
Booked as and when you feel the need for support and healing
Held 1:1 online or in person (Perth, Western Australia)
Work at the pace you choose
Flexibility in days and times available for bookings
2. Inner P.E.A.C.E./PTSD Recovery Package:
6 weekly 1.5 hour counselling and healing sessions
Held 1:1 online or in person (Perth, Western Australia)
Includes one free session (valued at $125 AUD)
Work at a pace which maximises on the the progress made each week
Flexibility in days and times available for bookings
3. Soul Medicine Transformation Online Group Program (also available as a 14 week individual program):
16 week healing and recovery program
Held 1:1 online each week
Includes a specific trauma or inner child healing session
Specifically developed program modules to address each and every step required across the healing and recovery process
The deepest level of healing possible, addressing patterns, experiences and lessons at a soul level
"Indigo-Grace is currently taking me through the soul medicine program and it has such powerful healing content. She has integrity, knowledge and is real.
I always feel safe and cared for in her presence. I have and will keep recommending Indigo-Grace."
Katie Bailey, program participant
Your next step...
Now you've read through your Specialist Recovery options, simply select which approach you feel best suits your needs and be comforted in the knowledge you're taking courageous steps forward to help yourself recover, to move out of fear and into peace.
Choose your option below and book either a
counselling or energy healing session
or a free discovery call with me!
Congratulations on taking this brave step, you'll be so glad you did.
"Having had counselling plans on two other separate occasions, one with a psychologist and the other was an online counselling program run by the Monash University, I can honestly say this program is on par with most professionally run counselling programs.
Indigo-Grace provides sound counselling skills and techniques, being a university qualified counsellor, and also combines that with energy work and the spiritual aspect of helping others.
I have found this program to be very cathartic and healing, I can now remember my mother and not feel deeply wounded because of her actions. As a child I was sexually abused by a family member and lived with a mother who was narcissistic.
About five years ago I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and have struggled with depression and anxiety most of my adult life.
I would highly recommend this course as it approaches counselling from all aspects, spiritual as well as clinical counselling.
Thank you Indigo."
Glenda Herman, program participant