After enduring narcissistic abuse from a parent, a friend, or an ex, chances are that you’ll be dealing with many unsettling emotions. You’ll be painfully aware that much of what you believed to be true about your life just…isn’t. And no matter where you’re at in your recovery, the best thing to do is to give yourself time and permission to feel what you need to feel as you will be going through three stages.
What is Narcissistic Abuse?
Not all abuse involves narcissists, but in a large percentage of abuse cases, a narcissist is involved. Narcissists of a toxic nature or malignant narcissists are those who have little to no empathy for the people around them and who act from that perspective. That is: they don’t care how you or anyone else feels, and you can tell because of the way they treat the people around them. Narcissistic abuse involves subtle manipulation, pervasive control tactics, gaslighting, and emotional and psychological abuse. Many narcissistic abusers might be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder – if they actually go to a psychologist for diagnosis, but this rarely happens as narcissists don’t feel that there’s anything with them. They may be overtly narcissistic, or they may be more of a covert narcissist. In either case, anyone in a close relationship with one of these toxic people will be used as a form of narcissistic supply and not treated like an actual person. Sadly, even the most intelligent and educated people can be manipulated and abused by a narcissist.
- Think you might be a victim of narcissistic abuse? Take this test and find out.
- Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups
Using the DUO Method for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
I always say that the stages of healing in narcissistic abuse recovery are as simple as they are overwhelming. It’s not just about narcissistic abuse and how to overcome it. You should also work on learning how to identify narcissists in your life and how to deal with toxic people. It may also help to learn the language of the narcissistic abuse recovery community, and learning the red flags of a narcissist will help you avoid toxic relationships in the future. My fellow coaches and I use my DUO Method to identify the main stages of narcissistic abuse recovery.
What are the stages of narcissistic abuse recovery?
The three stages of narcissistic abuse recovery involve feeling as you are the victim, then you will feel you are the survivor. The last stage is that you will feel as if you are ready to move on. Let’s now look into these stages in detail. Learn more about the DUO Method.
Stage 1 – The Victim (Discovery Phase)
This is the stage you are going through right after you break away from the narcissist, or when you first discover that you might be dealing with a narcissist. You will be thinking about how betrayed you were, and you’ll be extremely hurt and confused. You will also be very hurt that you were led on and you’ll be extremely angry. Angry with yourself for allowing yourself to be hurt, and you’ll be angry with your abuser. You’ll feel as if you had lost time by sticking around for the abuser as well. There is also fear, fear of the unknown. And the fear of you not knowing if you can overcome this. Read more about the Discovery Phase.
Stage 2 – Survivor (Understanding Phase)
You are now past the victim stage, and you will start thinking of yourself as a survivor. You’ll still be focused on learning about narcissists and narcissism, but this is the time when you are ready to get counseling or coaching. You’re also focused on learning more about self-care. You will be less angry but you will also be quite triggered by reminders. You have a desire to get back to your old self and to move forward. But at the same time, you will be struggling to release your abuser and you’ll be struggling to rebuild your life. Read more about the Understanding Phase.
Stage 3 – Moving on to Thriving (Overcoming Phase)
Even though you are ready to move forward with your life at this stage, you have the desire to connect with others. However, you still have many trust issues that are holding you back. The angry feelings you have towards your abuser might still be plaguing you, but you’re beginning to move forward. And you might still feel a little embarrassed about your past, and you don’t really feel like discussing it with random people. Still, you’ve joined a support group and/or you’re getting some coaching, so you’re feeling a little better each day. There is now a light at the end of the tunnel and you’re propelling toward it! Read more about the Overcoming Phase.
Many people go on to what could be called stage 4 after this – the “Evolution” phase. This is where they level up their life and begin to become a better version of themselves.
It’s important to note that there is no set time for going through each stage. It is all personal and depends on a number of factors. Where are you in your narcissistic abuse recovery? Take this quiz to find out if you’re not sure.
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.