5 Pillars of Recovery for Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on May 17, 2023
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If you have recently come out of a toxic or abusive relationship with a narcissistic partner, you might be feeling lost, helpless, and unsure of how to move on from the emotional trauma you have experienced.

Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional manipulation that can leave long-lasting scars if not addressed properly.

Recovery takes time, patience, support, and guidance.

The Online Mental Health Reviews team is dedicated to providing accurate and empathetic mental health support information to ensure that readers receive the most suitable online guidance for their needs.

So, in this blog, we will be discussing the most important pillars of recovery for those who wish to heal from narcissistic abuse and guidelines that will be the most relevant for their recovery journey.

5 Pillars of NPD Recovery

1. Self-Care:

Your healing process should begin with self-care. It’s crucial to take care of your physical, emotional, and psychological needs. You need to nourish your body with healthy food, exercise, and sufficient sleep. Self-care also involves activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as hobbies and spending time with loved ones.

2. Therapy:

It’s difficult to heal from narcissistic abuse on your own. Seeking help from a licensed therapist who understands narcissistic abuse and its effects on mental health is essential. A therapist can provide support by validating your experiences and helping you explore and process the emotions you’re feeling.

3. Education:

Educating yourself about narcissistic abuse, its symptoms, and tactics can help you better understand what you’ve been through. This knowledge can help you regain control over your life and prevent future victimization. Resources such as books, blogs, and online forums are great places to start.

4. Boundaries:

Setting boundaries and sticking to them is essential for recovery. Narcissistic abuse can leave you feeling powerless and lacking confidence. Setting and enforcing boundaries can help you reclaim your power and give you a sense of control over your life.

5. Support System:

Having a supportive network of friends, family, or a support group can make a world of difference in your recovery journey. Sharing your experiences with others who have gone through similar experiences helps validate your experiences, provide you with emotional support, and empower you to speak your truth.

What is narcissistic victim syndrome?

Narcissistic Victim Syndrome (NVS) is a condition of mental disorder that occurs when someone has been in a relationship with a person who displays narcissistic behavior, according to Healthline.com. It is a form of psychological abuse that can have long-term effects on the victim’s mental health and well-being.

  • People who experience NVS may feel confused, insecure, and constantly second-guess themselves.
  • They may also feel like they are walking on eggshells around their narcissistic abuser, as any small mistake or misstep could result in criticism or punishment.
  • Victims of narcissistic abuse often experience symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and depression.
  • Some common signs of NVS include feeling isolated from friends and family, difficulty trusting others, low self-esteem, difficulty making decisions, fear of abandonment chronic abuse or rejection, and feelings of guilt or shame.
  • It is important to note that these symptoms can vary from person to person depending on the severity and duration of the abuse they have experienced.

If you think you may be experiencing NVS due to narcissistic abuse in your life, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. A therapist can provide support and guidance as you work through your experiences and learn how to cope with the trauma you have endured.

With the right help and support, it is possible to heal from narcissistic abuse and reclaim your life.

What are the 4 stages of narcissistic abuse?

To help you better understand this type of abuse, here are the four stages of narcissistic abuse:

  1. Idealization: This is the first stage in which the narcissist will shower their victim with compliments and attention. They may make grandiose promises and declarations of love to gain control over their victim. During this stage, the narcissist will try to make their victim feel special and unique, while simultaneously isolating them from friends and family.
  2. Devaluation: After gaining control over their victim, the narcissist will begin to devalue them by criticizing them or making them feel inferior. This can take many forms such as verbal insults, belittling comments, or gaslighting tactics that make their victim doubt themselves or question reality. The goal is to make the victim feel small and insignificant so they are easier to manipulate.
  3. Discard: In this stage, the narcissist will abruptly end the relationship without warning or explanation. This can be extremely painful for victims who have been emotionally invested in the relationship for a long time. The sudden abandonment can leave victims feeling confused and betrayed by someone they trusted deeply.
  4. Hoovering: After discarding their victim, a narcissist may attempt to “hoover” them back into the relationship with false promises or empty apologies to regain control over them again. Victims of narcissistic abuse need to recognize these attempts at manipulation so they can protect themselves from further harm.

No one deserves to be treated poorly by another person regardless of what kind of relationship they have with them; if you suspect that you are experiencing any form of narcissistic abuse or intimate partner violence you must reach out for help right away before it escalates any further than it already has!

20 symptoms of narcissistic victim syndrome

  1. Emotional exhaustion: Victims of narcissistic abuse often experience a constant state of emotional fatigue due to the ongoing manipulation and control exerted by the narcissist.
  2. Self-doubt: The victim may begin to doubt their own perceptions and beliefs, as the narcissist frequently engages in gaslighting and other tactics to undermine their sense of reality.
  3. Anxiety: The unpredictable nature of the narcissist’s behavior can cause the victim to develop chronic anxiety, fearing potential outbursts or criticism.
  4. Low self-esteem: The narcissist’s constant belittlement and devaluation can erode the victim’s self-confidence, leading to feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy.
  5. Social isolation: Narcissists often attempt to control their victims by isolating them from friends and family, creating a sense of dependency on the abuser.
  6. Difficulty trusting others: After experiencing narcissistic abuse, victims may struggle to trust new relationships, fearing potential manipulation or betrayal.
  7. Fear of abandonment: The narcissist’s consistent threats to leave or withdraw affection can instill a deep-seated fear of abandonment in the victim.
  8. Hypervigilance: Victims may become overly alert to potential signs of danger or disapproval from the narcissist, causing them to constantly monitor their behavior and surroundings.
  9. Depression: The ongoing stress and emotional turmoil associated with narcissistic victim syndrome can lead to depression, impacting overall mental health and well-being.
  10. Loss of identity: The narcissist’s control over the victim’s life can result in a loss of personal identity, as they increasingly mold themselves to meet the abuser’s expectations.
  11. Feelings of guilt: Victims may internalize the narcissist’s blame and criticism, leading to persistent feelings of guilt and shame.
  12. Cognitive dissonance: The victim may experience confusion and mental discomfort as they attempt to reconcile the narcissist’s contradictory actions and words.
  13. Sleep disturbances: The ongoing stress and anxiety associated with narcissistic abuse can disrupt sleep patterns, exacerbating mental health issues.
  14. Physical symptoms: Chronic stress from narcissistic abuse can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, or chronic pain.
  15. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Victims of narcissistic abuse may develop PTSD, experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, and emotional distress reminiscent of their traumatic experiences.
  16. Co-dependency: The victim may become reliant on the narcissist for validation and support, further entrenching them in the abusive cycle.
  17. Difficulty setting boundaries: Narcissistic abuse can erode the victim’s ability to set healthy boundaries, leaving them vulnerable to further manipulation and control.
  18. Emotional numbness: As a coping mechanism, victims may shut down emotionally, distancing themselves from their feelings to avoid further pain.
  19. Substance abuse: In an attempt to cope with the emotional turmoil, some victims may turn to drugs or alcohol, leading to additional health concerns and complications.
  20. Suicidal thoughts: In extreme cases, the overwhelming distress caused by narcissistic victim syndrome may lead individuals to contemplate suicide as a means of escape.

5 ways narcissistic abuse affects your Body and Mind

Narcissistic abuse can have a significant impact on your body and mind. It’s important to understand the effects of narcissistic abuse so you can take steps to protect yourself. Here are five ways narcissistic abuse affects your body and mind:

  1. Chronic fatigue: Narcissistic abuse can cause chronic fatigue, which is characterized by an extreme lack of energy and exhaustion that doesn’t go away with rest or sleep.
  2. Depression and anxiety: Narcissistic abuse can lead to depression and anxiety, which are both mental health conditions that can have serious consequences if left untreated.
  3. Stress and panic attacks: The stress caused by narcissistic abuse can lead to panic attacks, which are sudden episodes of intense fear or terror that come on without warning.
  4. Physical illnesses: The physical toll of narcissistic abuse can manifest in physical illnesses such as headaches, stomachaches, and other ailments that don’t seem to have a clear cause.
  5. Cognitive issues: Narcissistic abuse can also lead to cognitive issues such as difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and difficulty making decisions.

What signs does a person show when they are emotionally abused by a narcissist?

Narcissistic abuse is a form of mental abuse that can affect the victim for a long time. It’s important to know the signs of narcissistic abuse so you can protect yourself and get help.

Signs of narcissistic abuse are controlling behavior, gaslighting, social isolation, lack of limits, and invasions of privacy.

Victims may also have unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and a heightened sense of awareness. If you have any of these signs, it’s important to talk to a mental health worker for help.

Learn More About Narcissism (If Not Ready for Therapy)

What happens if you want to learn more about narcissism—for example, if your parent exhibits this trait—or if you want to work on recovering from the trauma of narcissistic abuse but don’t want to attend therapy or take medication?

There is an advanced course designed just for therapists that provide dynamic and targeted strategies to treat codependency, gaslighting, torn attachment, narcissistic abuse, and the pain brought on by these relationships.

This course equips mental health professionals to assist their clients (or course participants) in moving ahead with their life by offering simple-to-integrate therapies from the most in-demand techniques, such as CBT, DBT, & EMDR.

Codependency, Narcissism & Trauma Bonding: CBT, DBT & EMDR Strategies to Free Clients from Toxic Relationships” (https://onlinementalhealthreviews.com/free-clients-from-toxic-relationships)

How to recognize the Main signs of narcissistic abuse

Narcissistic abuse is often characterized by manipulation, control, and a lack of empathy. Recognizing the signs of narcissistic abuse can be difficult because it can take many forms.

  1. One sign of narcissistic abuse is when someone tries to isolate you from friends and family. They may do this by discouraging you from spending time with them or by making you feel guilty for wanting to spend time away from them. Another sign is if they are constantly trying to control you or your decisions. This could include telling you what to wear or how to act in certain situations.
  2. Gaslighting is another form of narcissistic abuse that involves manipulating someone into questioning their reality and memories. This could include denying something happened when it did, or convincing someone that their feelings are wrong or invalid.
  3. Finally, one sign of narcissistic abuse is if the person has a lack of empathy for your feelings and experiences. They may not listen when you talk about your problems or show any sympathy for your mental illness or struggles.

If you think you may be experiencing narcissistic abuse from an abusive partner, it’s important to reach out for help and support as soon as possible. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/) at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential support 24/7/365.

5 Tips to get recovery from narcissistic abuse

The progression of recovery from narcissistic relationships
  • Acknowledge and accept the abuse: Recognizing that you have been a victim of narcissistic abuse is the first step in your recovery. This can be difficult, but it’s important to recognize and accept what has happened.
  • Set boundaries and state them clearly: Setting boundaries is essential for protecting yourself from further abuse. It’s important to communicate these boundaries clearly and consistently with those around you.
  • Reclaim your identity: During narcissistic abuse, victims often lose their sense of self due to manipulation and gaslighting tactics used by their abuser. To recover, it’s important to reconnect with your values, beliefs, and interests to reclaim your identity.
  • Cut them out of your life completely: Removing the abuser from your life is an essential part of recovery from narcissistic abuse. This can be difficult if the abuser is a family member or close friend, but it’s necessary for your safety and well-being.
  • Practice self-care: Self-care is essential for recovering from narcissistic abuse as it helps you build resilience and cope with stressors in healthy ways. Examples of self-care include getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, meditating or journaling, etc. Try Headspace’s 2-week free trial for evidence-based mindfulness meditation training for sleep and stress.
  • Seeking professional counseling or joining support groups with other survivors of narcissistic abuse can be beneficial for those who are struggling with trauma related to this type of experience.
  • Additionally, victims of narcissistic abuse need to practice self-care activities such as journaling, meditation, yoga, or spending time outdoors in nature which can all help promote healing on an emotional level as well as provide comfort during difficult times.

Is narcissistic victim syndrome treatable?

Yes, narcissistic abuse syndrome and victim syndrome are treatable.

With the right help and support, it is possible to recover from narcissistic abuse in due time.

  1. The first step in recovery from narcissistic injury is recognizing that you are a victim of narcissistic abuse. This can be difficult as narcissists often use manipulative tactics such as silent treatment or scapegoating to control their victims.
  2. Once you have acknowledged that you are a victim of narcissistic abuse, it is important to seek professional help from a healthcare provider such as a therapist or psychiatrist. They will be able to provide guidance and support throughout your recovery process.

It is also important to take steps toward healing your mind and body during your recovery process. This may include activities such as yoga, meditation, journaling, or spending time outdoors. These activities can help reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being.

Overall, with the right help and support, it is possible to recover from narcissistic abuse and its associated symptoms.

What should you not say to a victim of narcissistic abuse?

When talking to a victim of narcissistic abuse, it is important to be aware of the words you use. It is best to avoid saying things that could be hurtful or invalidate their experience. Some examples of what not to say include:

  • “Are you sure you’re being abused?”
  • “I don’t want to hear about it.”
  • “You need to move on.”
  • “You needed to go through that experience to be who you are today”
  • “It couldn’t have been that bad if you stayed that long”
  • “You needed to go through that experience to be who you are today”
  • “You’re crazy”.

Instead, try using phrases like:

  • “I believe you”
  • “It’s not your fault”
  • “I’m here for you”.
  • These phrases can help validate their feelings and show them support. It is also important for victims of narcissistic abuse to seek professional help and create a safety plan with someone they trust.

List of Strategies to Recover from Narcissistic Abuse

  1. One of the most important strategies for recovering from narcissistic abuse is to set boundaries and state them clearly. This means understanding what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable in your relationships and making sure that those around you understand these boundaries as well.
  2. Additionally, it is important to practice self-care and reclaim your identity. This could include activities such as journaling, meditation, or even talking with a therapist.
  3. It is also important to prepare yourself for complex emotions that may arise while recovering from narcissistic abuse. It is common to experience feelings of shame, guilt, anger, sadness, fear, or confusion during this process. It is essential to be patient with yourself during this time and practice self-compassion.
  4. Lastly, it is helpful to lean on support systems such as family members or friends who can provide emotional support during this time.

Overall, recovering from narcissistic abuse requires patience and dedication but it can be done with the right strategies in place.

Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse Conclusion:

Recovering from narcissistic abuse can seem like a daunting task, but it’s not impossible.

By prioritizing self-care, seeking therapy, educating yourself about narcissism, setting boundaries, and surrounding yourself with a support system, you can heal and reclaim your life after narcissistic abuse.

Remember, self-love, patience, and forgiveness are essential for recovery. Take it day by day, and remember that healing is possible.

Please know online therapy for narcissistic abuse offers NA victims numerous benefits, healing, and there are local NA therapists who apply basic NA recovery principles.

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If You’re In An Emergency

In case of a crisis, waiting for an online therapy appointment might not be safe. If you need immediate assistance or have plans to harm yourself or others, please call 911. Alternatively, you can dial 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you’re considering self-harm, as they offer 24/7 help.

Another option is calling the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 800-662-HELP (4357). This free, confidential helpline operates 24/7, 365 days a year, assisting individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues in finding treatment and information.

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