101 Struggles Only Narcissistic Abuse Victims and Survivors Will Understand

Written by Angela Atkinson

**Trigger Warning** These statements came from real narcissistic abuse survivors and are regarding actual narcissists. Please read with this in mind**

Living with a narcissist can make you feel crazy, to say the least – but any kind of relationship with a toxic person can really mess with your head!

In my SPAN (Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in relationships) online support group, I asked the following question:

“What are some things that only victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse will understand?”

And they came up with 101 of them!

1. Constantly being put down and told I am crazy
2. Knowing someone is a threat but no one taking you seriously because you do not have a cut lip.
3.Having someone say, “but they look normal”
4. Losing most of what you owned
5. Not being taken seriously by a domestic abuse shelter because you did not fit their picture of abuse
6. Being lied to
7. Triangulation or constantly being dragged into the drama.
8. Knowing no one has your back because they are either flying monkeys or blame you for being in the situation in the first place
9. Being the problem child worker spouse when the narcissist just smiles and knowing you have been set up
10. Not knowing your power, worth, or rights.
And not even understanding that you get them from yourself and your higher power
11. Maybe explaining basic human compassion to your N. I mean not even about his treatment of you but having to explain to an adult why his behavior in a certain situation might be inappropriate. E.g. the death of this person’s father is not about you. It is the other person’s grief and your only role should be to be there for that person and this behavior would be selfish and hurtful to the other person. I felt like I was talking to a child trying to explain why it’s not nice to hit other kids or something.
12. Ongoing fear and anxiety of moving forward to have the N pull you back in…losing yourself in it all…coping skills needed..nothing is working.
13. The tantrums. Like a 3-year-old.
14. For me it’s hard to explain to ANYONE how deeply rooted the pain goes when it’s done covertly. No outwardly scars. I have a very hard time putting my finger on it myself.
15. It is difficult because from the outside looking in the covert narcissist is a saint. This was my father and my most recent experience. People don’t want to hear it and they are condescending and make me feel as if I am damaged and crazy (which I am, but not how they think!). I have been with and known other narcs as well, but the covert narc is the worst!
16. Covert narcissists are skilled manipulators. The proverbial Street angel and house devil. Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde.
17. Whenever I speak to someone, I am hyper-aware of the words I chose because I don’t want them to take what I’m saying as an insult. One of the ways my ex sister in law battered my self-esteem was to twist anything I said into an insult and she was good at it. It made me feel like not talking at all and then thinking and rethinking everything I wanted to say… I ended up coming off as a freak and completely unnatural.
18. Feeling like you are addicted to a substance, but it’s a person so you cannot go to detox.
19. Going into a relationship with a narcissist is great at the beginning. I thought I found the love of my life. Just recently I discovered I’m addicted to him. He’s doing it on purpose with the silent treatment. I wish there was a detox for this!
20. Constantly battling feeling like no one wants to hear what I have to say…worrying that I have no social value and that people think I’m a bitch.
21. Anxiety and fear of moving forward…coping skills and desperately needed support.
22. People thinking I’m crazy when I try to explain my situation.
23. Being told that you are “falling apart” without them holding you together. Without them you are pathetic. They are so much stronger than you….when the entire time you are thinking how incredibly strong you are to handle this abuse!
24. The “You know what you did” stare. It makes you feel guilty when you have no idea why.
25. Constantly being emotionally and mentally exhausted.
26. Feeling unsafe and always doubting your perception of reality
27. Never wanting to trust anyone with your heart again
28. Not wanting to waste my precious time and life on another person that doesn’t value the gift.
29. The rapid beating of the heart when the phone rings and it’s your Narc.
30. The triggers and the need to reprogram them after the abuse ends.
31. That they can not accept love from never having a single hug, kiss…and they are so damaged – it is sad.
32. The fear of authentically expressing yourself and knowing that some form of punishment will follow.
33. Never feeling safe in the relationship because the kind person that you are dealing with is fragile and will flip in one second flat. When that happens and you were already low about something to begin with, the pain you feel can be almost unbearable. You end up not trusting yourself or the universe to bring anything good to you.
34. When you live in a constant state of trying to predict and prevent mistakes, visible signs of failures, messiness, things that could be perceived as laziness, disrespect, or stupidity before the Narc gets home.
35. Hiding small purchases so you don’t get criticized for being frivolous and careless.
36. Cleaning your daughter’s room so she doesn’t get yelled at and criticized.
37. Being hyper-vigilant in all things so that you can try to avoid disappointment and lecture.
38. Looking over my shoulder wherever I go and being afraid that he’s going to be there. Not even going to buy groceries when I don’t have any food because I’m afraid I will see him.
39. The effects of toxic-relationship-induced PTSD.
40. When every six months you are given a list of “improvements” that must be made otherwise the narc is going to divorce you.
41. Emotional blackmail is constant.
42. I have a hard time making choices. And always depend on others to make them for me because it feels safer.
43. Questioning everything and doubting your ability to choose the right path.
44. When you never hear the words: “I’m sorry”, “You look nice”, “How was your day”, “What did you do today”, etc.
45. When your own daughter says “He isn’t very nice to you” or “You know Dad doesn’t like you, right?”
46. My husband and my sons told me so many times to stop talking with my mother. But being a “bad daughter” in other people’s eyes stopped me from doing so. I didn’t want my mother to be right about me. But the support from my husband, sons, family (even her side) and friends totally shocked and encouraged me. They don’t think of me as a bad daughter. But the thing is…their approval though nice isn’t necessary anymore.
47. When your daughter tells you she is afraid to leave you alone with him.
48. The stalking and watching and having decisions made for you…the controlling… you spiral further down wondering where you went.
49. The battering that your self-esteem takes and then when you finally get the courage to leave…there is nobody there to really support you because you weren’t allowed to even have any friends in real life… in other words, feeling DISCONNECTED with other human beings that really do care about you.
50. Your trust of other humans is shattered and your general feeling safe in the world is gone because your abuser managed to destroy that, also…if there was any time in your life for others to step in and say “how can I help?” – it is then….not to just ignore you like you have got the plague.
51. How to divorce a narcissist.
52. Trying to understand how a human being with not one ounce of empathy can actually be classified as a human being.
53. Being discarded with no closure.
54. When your 3-year-old granddaughter sees a smiling Bob commercial and says, “Grandma, I think grandpa needs some of that stuff to fix his smiler.” (She thought it was a commercial for smiling pills).
55. When you want to stop celebrating the holidays because of the stress of spending time with a room full of narcs.
56. When you understand that nothing the narcissists do to hurt or upset you could ever be worse than you getting upset at them for doing it. Being upset at them is unforgivable.
57. Being treated and spoken to like a child. He would come into my home office and say, “The window needs opened” and just do it without asking if I would like the window open. Every time I left the house he would have to walk me out to the car and usually give me a lecture on how to drive even how to get in the car and also warnings about all the bad things that could happen. When I told him this made me feel infantilized, he responded, “You just don’t appreciate my helping you and doing things for you. Plenty of women would be grateful for me.”
58. Whenever I bring up ANY topic I wish to discuss that involves ANY involvement his part, the subject is immediately redirected as a missile in my direction. No matter how far off-topic it may be, suddenly I am the immediate focus of the source of the problem, the reason that the solution cannot be obtained, and the villain of the day. Amazing how he is a master of turning the tables. No amount of reasoning no matter how much logic I throw at him can thwart him. His confidence in his beliefs are unshakable. Its a losing battle but still my sense of incredulity overrides my common sense.
59. Cognitive dissonance. For example, you see obvious signs a narc has been cheating on you and you choose to believe the lies the narc tells you about what’s really happening.
60. Always feeling I have to solve everyone’s problems. Or explain why someone is acting stupid – as if it’s all my fault.
61. I used to be the person who would say that every child needs both parents. After narcissistic abuse, I see exactly why some children must never see the narcissist parent. Now people ask me the same question. They are where I used to be and probably think I am cruel for fighting so hard to keep the little one from him.
62. Going to sleep in fear and waking up in dread every day. With no resolution in sight. Feeling stuck. A living nightmare that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
63. The Gaslighting.
64. Flying monkeys.
65. Being isolated from people who actually care about you.
66. Getting married or romantically involved with a narcissist and realizing that you were also raised by one.
67. Being disgusted with yourself for not taking action to leave.
68. Repeated attempts to leave and repeated hoovering and love bombing episodes to keep you hooked.
69. Being shocked by the consistently outrageous behavior they display in private.
70. Smear campaigns.
71.The constant”loop” …that hooks & holds your brain’s thought patterns on a repetitive “rewind/record button” that plays over & over & over again making you trapped with the”what if’s” ??? Why didn’t I do this? Why wasn’t I smart enough, before after the fact? If, I had only? IF, IF, IF??!!
72. The narcissistic flip – when the narcissist gets mad at you for being upset or disappointed in him/her.
73. Never feeling good enough.
74. Feeling like you’re not a “real person”
75. Being treated like property instead of a person.
76. Always putting the narcissist’s needs before your own because you don’t want to make him/her angry.
77. Narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury.
78. Hearing the narcissist’s car in the driveway and warning your kids so they can hide out and avoid the wrath.
79. Becoming so numb that you don’t even feel joy anymore.
80. Dissociation that becomes toxic.
81. Using the gray rock method to survive.
82. The horrible unsympathetic attitude of ‘why are you still with him? You must enjoy it’ (even my narc said this to me, which later would change to “How dare you even think of leaving me?!?”)
83. The long and repeated silent treatments you’re subjected to.
84. You understand what it’s like to be the constant source of criticism and blame that turns you into a frightened, mentally paralyzed version of your former self that you have to bring back to life. Only your youth is gone, your looks are fading, your energy is drained and your hopes and dreams are crushed.
85. Always being told you are weak. So you stand up for yourself and then you are told you are crazy and full of drama.
86. The triangulation and smear campaigns that the Narc perpetrates against the target. Including; using your own family and children of all ages.
87. You understand what it’s like to carry the emotional weight for someone you love only to be told that it’s your fault that they have emotional problems in the first place.
88. Fight and/or flight
89. Walking on eggshells
90. Feeling manipulated and intimated no one seeing it but you
91. The one-sided, manipulative phone calls.
92. Love bombing.
93. Narcissistic altruism – the gift that keeps on taking. The narcissist is not selfless. Whenever the narcissist “does” for you, they expect to be “paid back.”
94. Wondering if the narcissist is right about you.
95. Wondering if YOU are the narcissist.
96. Feeling lonely and like everyone in your life is a narcissist.
97. Being homeless.
98 Believing that you were loved and learning that the narcissist isn’t capable of love.
99. Always feeling like you are dead inside.
100. Wishing you could just talk to someone who understands – and having no one in your life who fits the bill.
101. Dealing with flying monkeys

Would love to hear your thoughts – and your own experiences – in the comments!

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already. Hugs and love to all of my survivors! Get my books at http://booksangiewrote.com and pick up your free 5-day fear-busting email course (especially designed for narcissistic abuse survivors) at http://narcissismsupportcoach.com.


  • Angela Atkinson

    Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own. Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves. Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at QueenBeeing.com and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.

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