Male Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Should Be Recognized, Not Minimized and Invalidated.

Male Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Should Be Recognized, Not Minimized and Invalidated.

If you are a man who has been dealing with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship, you are likely filled with self-doubt and you might not even know where to turn for help. Despite the popular assumption that only women are abused in relationships, the opposite is true.

Men experience toxic relationship abuse too – and they are not at fault.

You are not responsible for the toxic and hurtful behavior of another person no matter what your gender. I was talking with a friend about his feelings of self-blame after being in a toxic relationship. He was told that he was at fault by the abusive woman and because of his ability to be accountable to his own part in things became convinced that even though logically it could not be his fault he must still be to blame. This issue with men seems to go deeper because of the way they are taught by society as well as the lack of support surrounding emotional abuse toward men. Why is this? The issue is complicated. 

Female Abusers Fly Under the Radar.

Female abusers may be more prominent than you’d expect. This video goes into detail about toxic women and their impact on their victims. Any of that sound familiar to you?

Men Are Taught Their Feelings Don’t Matter.

Men seem to be taught that their feelings do not matter and when abuse happens to them in a relationship and it is somehow their own fault.  Women who are abused are also taught it is their fault, especially with narcissists, however, it seems men have a secret shame they also carry about what it means to be a man and experience their emotions around abuse. Male survivors tell me that even though men recognize the abuse,  they lack the support needed to truly personally acknowledge it and leave the situation. Friends may likely say you are weak and should just stand up to the abuser.

Good Men Take Care of Their Wives, Right? 

Or in the case of a man with a narcissistic woman, the message might be something like “ a happy wife is a happy life” leaving the man with the belief that he has to accept the behaviors, that this somehow is normal. Men have told me they use avoidance or shut down in order to cope, pushing their own feelings aside to “ keep the peace”. Having very few outlets for being heard leaves a lot of men totally invalidated.  As an example of what I am talking about, another male survivor of abuse told me, “Many men have this false thought that as a man they aren’t allowed to speak up about abuse. They fear they will be shunned and laughed at and told they “let it” happen. This is, unfortunately, a stigma that is very hard to remove.” 

Men Who Speak Up Might Be Invalidated.

Men who have survived narcissistic abuse face the problem of when speaking out about the abuse they have suffered, people often do not believe them. What can be frightening at times is that people instead believe they, the man, are the abuser.  It is a challenge for people to see at times that being screamed at and devalued by any gender is abuse including when it happens to men, and this can be incredibly invalidating and demoralizing for male victims of narcissistic abuse. Worse, invalidation is one of the most painful parts of this kind of abuse in general – so not being heard or believed can be especially traumatic for men who have been abused by females or any partner in relationships. 

You Are Not Alone

There are so many things that I can not write and even as I am writing this I struggle to say all that I feel needs to be said. In order to help men who have survived narcissistic abuse by any person in their life, know you are not alone and your feelings matter, your experience matters.  The delicate nature of feelings for both men and women makes it very difficult to talk openly about this. Some men find there is no support, not from family or friends when they mention the issues that are facing.  

Your Abuse Experience is Valid.

The message I would like to give to men is this. Your experience is valid. Your feelings around that experience are real and they matter. Most of all though, you did not deserve abuse. Think of the abuse in reverse ( man abusing woman) it would be blatantly unacceptable on all levels. We know with the complexity of narcissistic abuse that in almost all situations the abuse can be covert and very difficult to be recognized by anyone outside of the relationship, This is not to minimize the abuse women also face but instead to illustrate the challenges men face when speaking about the abuse they have lived with. 

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Helpful Articles & Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

 

40 Red-Flag Signs Your Relationship Might Be Toxic

40 Red-Flag Signs Your Relationship Might Be Toxic

Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships is both confusing and debilitating for the victim of the narcissist. But what is interesting is that nearly everyone who has experienced it can relate to certain issues that come up. In fact, you might be surprised to learn how often we hear the same questions, again and again.

For people who are surviving narcissistic abuse, some of the most common questions I hear from my coaching clients are the following. 

Questions like these are asked so often that you might be shocked. But I get it because I’ve been there personally – as have all of our narcissistic abuse recovery coaches and counselors here at QueenBeing.  In fact, that’s exactly why we do what we do! We’re here to provide the validation a survivor seeks to help with moving forward. The truth is that getting out of toxic relationships often feels impossible without some validation that the relationship is indeed as bad as you think it is. 

Without a psychologist’s diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, we may wonder if we’re misunderstanding things. Because we can’t personally diagnose the abusive person, we doubt ourselves and we wonder if there’s something we could be doing to cause the problems in our relationships.

The thing is that, quite frankly, a label does not matter. What matters is how you are treated in the relationship – and how you feel when you spend time with that person. 

Toxic is toxic.

The struggle to even know if your relationship is toxic is totally normal with emotional abuse. Many of the mistreatments and abuse can be covert and almost impossible to describe. Check out this list of signs that your relationship may be toxic if you need support and validation. Hopefully, this will help you see some common ways people know things are unhealthy and can help you make the decision that is right for your healing and life.  

Some signs of a toxic relationship:

  1. You walk on eggshells.
  2. You are confused by any conflict because it feels like your reality is being twisted (gaslighting).
  3. You are required to check-in and it feels like your every move is monitored. You have anxiety if you do not check-in or check-in late. 
  4. You feel sad when your partner jokes with you because the jokes feel like hidden criticism or emotional attacks. This is especially true for those who normally find joking to be a fun way to enjoy communication with others.
  5. You apologize when you have done nothing wrong.
  6. You fear “hot and cold” moods so you are trying all the time to keep the peace or fix things.
  7. You are hyper-vigilant over your partner’s mood.
  8. You feel like your partner never sees the good in you and that they belittle your achievements. 
  9. You feel like sex is an obligation or even happens against your will. They threaten to leave you if you do not have sex.
  10. They continually withhold sex and you feel dirty or ashamed for wanting it. 
  11. You feel like there is no connection during sex; you are dissociating.
  12. Stress in the relationship causes you to space out or dissociate easily.
  13. You make excuses for your partner’s behaviors or you rationalize the abuse.
  14. Holidays or vacations are stressful to plan because you fear the fun will be sabotaged by your partner.
  15. You notice your insecurities are used against you.
  16. You are desperately trying to “make things like they used to be” and make it like it was in the beginning.
  17. You are soothing and reassuring the abuser after mistreatment happens to you.
  18. You can not talk about issues within the relationship.
  19. You can not safely talk about issues your partner may have that you feel hurt you or the relationship.
  20. You feel shame about yourself for qualities you have that your partner once used to like. 
  21. You feel like communication is shut down and you feel unheard.
  22. You are treated nicer in public than you are at home. The abuse is hidden.
  23. You are begging or pleading for them to end silent treatments.
  24. You are told that you are too sensitive, even if you were just treated horribly.
  25. Your feelings are minimized, belittled, ignored, or negated.
  26. You are feeling jealous when you normally are not a jealous person.
  27. You feel like you are being compared to others.
  28. You are cut off and isolated.
  29. You are constantly protecting your partner’s ego.
  30. You feel the majority of responsibility for making the relationship work out.
  31. You feel like you are the abuser and are told you are when you know what is being said you did not do. The things they do they accuse you of.
  32. You have anxiety.
  33. You have body pain. 
  34. You feel like you are not enough and can not satisfy your partner in the relationship.
  35. Everything feels like a competition with them.
  36. Things you enjoy you do not like doing with your partner around.
  37. You are afraid of making any decisions alone.
  38. You can’t identify your boundaries.
  39. You can not pursue your dreams. You have lost touch with your own ambitions and dreams for your life.
  40. You have lost your sense of self. You don’t really know who you are anymore.

Videos: More Signs You’re Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse in a Toxic Relationship

How to Spot a Narcissist (Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship)

12 Signs You Love a Toxic Narcissist

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Signs of Codependency

Signs of Codependency

Are you wondering if you might have codependent tendencies? Are you constantly doing for others and have no time or energy for yourself? Are you the only one that makes sacrifices in your relationships? 

 One thing to remember is C-PTSD and narcissistic abuse syndrome can look like what people call codependency.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is enabling behavior of one person towards another person’s addiction, abusive/poor mental health, lack of accountability and immaturity. The traits of codependency show extreme reliance on other people for approval and sense of self-worth. Codependent people rely on others for emotional needs in excess as well. Usually the person with codependent tendencies spends so much of their life doing for others and trying to meet the needs of others they can not see that they are not meeting their own emotional needs for themselves. 

Some signs of codependency:

  • Low self-esteem. This seems to be the main trait that both creates codependent traits as well as solidifies the need for those traits within a relationship.  Having a lack of trust in yourself can also be a part of low self-esteem.
  • Poor or no boundaries. The invisible line between yourself and others. This can be physical, financial, emotional, spiritual or any other way in which you interact with others. Even taking the emotional responsibility for others as can happen in a relationship with a narcissist is lacking boundaries. 
  • People-pleasing as well as feeling used and under-appreciated. Likely if you are constantly people pleasing it is true that you are not being appreciated for all you are doing. This can look like ‘keeping the peace” or making sure no one is upset in a situation. It usually creates a feeling of fear of others not liking you or being displeased if you do not do the people-pleasing behaviors. 
  • Caretaking, feeling compelled to caretake others. This can look like anything from physically caretaking to time managing others’ lives or offering unasked for advice to situations often.
  • Dependency and the need for others to like you in order to feel okay about yourself. Feeling like you can’t function on your own and fearing abandonment and rejection because of that fear.
  • Denial. Denying the abuses of others or downplaying abuse can be one form of denial. Another codependent denial is the denial of any of the traits listed being an issue. Because the focus of codependent people is on the needs of others they can deny their own needs as well as deny the problem of not knowing their own needs, 
  • Difficulty saying no. This is a form of lack of boundaries but difficulty saying “no” deserves its own mention. With the difficulty, there is also a feeling of fear of rejection. Fearing the reaction of others if “no ” is said fills codependent people with anxiety. 
  • Fixating on mistakes (perfectionism). Feeling like if you make a mistake you are bad, wrong, unlovable. 
  • Trouble honestly communicating needs. Difficulty identifying feelings and needs and fear of rejection or devaluing if any needs are expressed. 
  • Feeling the need to be liked by everyone/fear of displeasing others
  • The constant need for being in a  relationship. It can feel very uncomfortable for people with codependent traits to be alone. Because of the lack of knowing their own needs and lack of self-care skills anxiety can become overwhelming when not in a relationship. This is one reason most people suggest waiting a year after narcissistic abuse, take the time to get to know your needs as well as how to meet and nurture them.
  • Intimacy issues. Feeling judged, rejected, abandoned, as well as difficulty knowing one’s own needs can leave it difficult for people with codependent traits to struggle with vulnerability and emotional intimacy. 
  • Fear of abandonment. The thought of being left creates extreme anxiety. 
  • Emotional reactivity, taking things personally. Because of the constant caregiving and need meeting through people-pleasing of others, codependent thinking can make you hyper-reactive to everyone else’s thoughts or feelings and how they are expressed. 
  • Need to control, expecting others to do what you suggest or say. Control feels safe. It is the main way a person with codependent traits feels like safety in a relationship.  Even things like people-pleasing and caregiving can be forms of control. 

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Healing the Inner Child After Narcissistic Abuse

Healing the Inner Child After Narcissistic Abuse

I’m not enough.

I don’t fit in.

I can’t seem to be heard, no one listens.

No one really knows me or wants to.

Nothing I do is right.

No one will love me, I’m unlovable.  

Who taught you these were truths? Why can’t you think differently even if you know they are not true? Why do you believe these limiting statements? How can you move past these beliefs? I’m sure you can see how gaining perspective and changing these beliefs could improve your life. Let’s talk about a few ways to understand and begin making that change. 

Your inner child is crying out to be loved and heard

Many survivors of emotional abuse experienced things in childhood that set belief patterns for their adult life that sound similar to the ones above. Your inner child, a part of your personality that still reacts and feels like the child you were, may be calling out to be validated and loved and when you do this for yourself you can begin to heal. If you were taught you are unlovable by people who can not love, logically you can see it is their shortcoming but a part of you still holds the feelings of being unlovable as your own truth. If you were taught you can only get acceptance for being perfect, even though now you know that’s impossible for anyone to do, you may still feel the “flaws” you have as reasons you don’t deserve love. These feelings may be locked into a part of yourself that relates to your inner child. Getting what you needed and still need is now a journey of self-care

How to find your inner child

There are a lot of ways to seek and experience your inner child. Many tips are unrelated to narcissistic abuse survival so I’ll give you one example of what survivors have told me over and over which helped them find their inner child. Tracing back the beliefs you have about yourself to childhood “programming” by adults in your life and then seeing how the child you were must have experienced that. Being raised by toxic parents, in particular, can lead to many beliefs about yourself that are limiting and even toxic to your healing. The child you were experiencing those beliefs as a reality. 

Ways to heal your inner child

Once you are able to identify what your inner child is, what can you do to help? Most survivors of toxic upbringings have something in common, they never felt validated or heard. Your inner child may really need to be heard and held. We often explain away to old hurts and never really take the time to quietly listen to the needs we had as a child.

Questions to Ask Your Inner Child

Asking yourself questions can give you ideas for how to help yourself.

  • What does this child need?
  • What is this child feeling?
  • What would the child like to have happen right now?
  • What is a source of comfort and safety for this child?

Once an answer to any of these questions arises, simply start giving your inner child what they need. Visualize yourself as a child and listen to all that child needs to tell you. Spend some time asking and giving to yourself in this way then affirm to the child within that you are there, always have been and always will be. Offer a safe adult to turn to when things hurt or get scary. Be that for yourself with intention and love. 

Write to Your Inner Child

Writing a letter or journaling to your inner child is another technique suggested and used by many people. This can give you a safe way to not only express what you need to say but to also receive words of kindness and nurturing directly from the person that knows what you need best – you. In being there for yourself in this way include words and phrases that you would tell a child who is experiencing the things you experienced. 

Treat your inner child with THIS kind of love

Consider what you would tell your own child or a child you know personally. What would you tell your own son or daughter who was in the kind of pain you once experienced? Tell that to yourself. Every time you hear negative self talk use the words you would give to your own child towards yourself. 

Check in with your inner child

Check-ins with your inner child when situations in life cause you pain or grief may also help you to honor and nurture your inner child. You may also find benefit by checking in with your inner child when you have successes as well. Talking to, writing to, or just thinking about the child within during times in your life where you feel a lot of emotion can help by adding validation both to your current situation as well as your past. 

Get therapy or coaching to heal your inner child

Seeking the help of a therapist can be another approach to doing inner child work. Having the therapist there to guide and help you with the issues that come up for many people is invaluable to their healing. Coaching with a narcissistic abuse recovery coach can offer ways to begin to question the beliefs set up in your childhood and to shift perspective on those beliefs. Some people combine both to really begin a self-discovery journey while healing from abuse. Finding a trauma-focused and knowledgeable person to help is highly recommended.

Get more information on inner child healing in this playlist.

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Narcissistic Friends

Narcissistic Friends

The sad truth is I have had to let go of a lot of people in my life in order to be free from abusive situations and toxic relationships. Narcissistic friends can be so hard to see and very challenging to remove from your life. I know I doubted the narcissism I so blatantly saw and wrote it off as “just how they are” in an effort to let people be themselves and be a friend anyway. Once I saw the patterns I was repeating with similar people to the narcissistic abusers I had as partners it became clear that the only way to truly be free from abuse was to be very discerning with whom I keep and nurture as friends. 

Narcissistic friends can look like someone that has your interest at heart, who would have your back, someone that even though they are difficult to others seems to be ok with you. They will groom you to need them and push your boundaries ever so slowly until you are no longer able to say no to them. They will set you up to fail with the illusion of being your biggest fan. The narcissistic friend will lie to you and go behind your back to smear you. They will find ways to destroy other relationships you have and make you reliant upon their friendship as the only true support you have in your life. Eventually, they will turn on you, knocking you off the pedestal they had you on down to a devalued position. If there is conflict because of this devaluing they will cut you out and give the silent treatment likely while smearing your name to anyone that will listen,  The problem then becomes the issue of no one else knowing or believing that person is a personality-disordered abusive friend. You are left with losing more than one friend in the process often and can feel quite alone. 

Seeing Toxic Truths

After you leave an abusive relationship it often happens that you begin to see other toxic relationships in your life. This happens to many survivors because once your eyes are open to what a toxic relationship really is and especially once you start researching what a healthy or emotionally safe relationship is you begin to see truths about those around you. When your only pattern of relationship is one that has you as an abused survivor, it’s all you know of relating even if it never feels quite right. As you heal you begin to need healthy interactions and hopefully become less tolerant of anyone pushing your boundaries or gaslighting you or any other toxic behavior a narcissist will throw at you. Seeing the truths, while painful, is necessary for many of us in our healing. Narcissistic friends keep you in the abuse cycle that you are trying to free yourself from. There is no way to “manage” those relationships in a healthy and constructive way just as there is no way to do so in a romantic relationship with a narcissist. Narcissists make terrible friends. 

Letting go and making room for healthy friendships

One very positive thing is that letting go of toxic friendships makes a lot of room in your life for healthy ones. Toxic people take time, a lot of time. They take your energy and focus in order to keep them happily full of your supply so being free from that means being free to welcome in positive friendships. It may feel like you have no one after abuse because of how many people it seems you have to let go of. Use this time to focus on your own wants, wishes and

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