Editor’s note: Trigger Warning: This powerful true story of surviving narcissistic abuse and sexual abuse may trigger negative emotions and other issues for you. Please don’t read it unless you feel strong enough to do so.
This is my story of how I survived narcissistic abuse and sexual abuse. Usually, I feel like no one can relate to my life, everything that happened is just way too “extreme.” That was until I discovered the SPANily. Now, I’m sharing my story because I want other survivors to know they aren’t alone.
I grew up in a very sheltered environment. On the outside, my family looked great, and was very respected in our small community.
It’s only now, years after I left them and moved across the country, that I was finally able to open up the huge can of worms that was my past, and face the reality of what happened to me.
My father molested and raped me regularly. My grandfather also did. I was punished if I reacted in any way to their abuse.
Once, I threw up after my father abused me with oral sex. He got so angry because maybe my mother would realize something from seeing or smelling the vomit. I’ll spare you the gory details and just say that he punished me by trying to rape me until I bled. I was 6 years old. This is just one example.
But it wasn’t uncommon: everything my father did, he always blamed on me.
Either it was a punishment, or he would somehow imply that I owed it to him to “cooperate.”
Or he would say, “I know you want this. I know who you REALLY are. But don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”
He would slyly imply that this was the only way to “be good,” or to appreciate him. Often he would do something good for me, and then it was “expected” of me to at least listen to him, no?
Even now it is hard for me to say what it was he was doing to my mind. All I know is that he was smart and sly, and he had my entire being wrapped around his finger. He played with my feelings, my physical sensations, and private things I told him.
Everything was twisted around and used against me.
Being sad in our house was never allowed. He would make us dance and sing even when we didn’t want to. He had this unspoken rule that you are never allowed to be sad, and definitely never allowed to be angry. I lived in terror of anyone finding out my secret, and I learned to dissociate and forget it all myself, in order to survive.
After I moved away, I slowly started realizing how controlling and manipulative my father was. I could not place what it was he was doing! I started feeling awful every time I spoke to him or to my mother.
I started realizing that he was a tricky slippery person. I wished I could just break off contact, I dreamed of it because I was finally realizing how low and horrible he always made me feel.
I reached a point where I finally had the support I needed to remember the stories of abuse. As it started coming back to me, I was filled with such a strong fury. It was like a huge tsunami, powerful and uncontrollable.
It was at this point that I finally broke off all contact with my toxic family. It was hard, but that anger of realizing what he did to me gave me the strength I never could have had otherwise. I was remembering extremely graphic and horrible things, and as I did, I finally gave myself permission to trust my own inner voice and follow my heart.
I started getting rid of everything I owned that was from my former life or my former family. This clean slate enabled me to go further into my past.
Step by step.
I uncovered my mother’s role in it, then the fact that my father would bring other people to abuse me… I realized that my brain has this amazing ability to heal, even the most horrfic and deep wounds.
I saw that my mind knew how to do this, and that my heart was able to guide me as to what step to take next on my healing journey, if only I would be courageous enough to listen to it.
Finally, I was in control of my life, I was free from my family’s toxic hold on me. As I started healing I grew more confident in my own body and mind, and now I am continuing to build myself anew, one step at a time. I feel better than I ever did. I am learning what it means to live a normal healthy life and I am loving every new part of it that I uncover.
When you survive hell, and come out, you are strong and also you’re able to appreciate and enjoy life in a deep and meaningful way that I think only a survivor can enjoy. Sometimes when I do something for myself, I feel as excited as a six year old, like I am experiencing the joys I missed out on as a child.
Life is so bright on the other side and it IS POSSIBLE TO GET THERE! YES FOR YOU also! Don’t take my word for it – don’t give up and you will see for yourself.
Finding Angie’s videos, and this site was exciting for me, because I was finally able to have some sort of place to put my father. He checks off every box on the list of narcissistic characteristics. I connected to everything about what Angie calls Narcissistic Abuse Rehab.
To those of you out there who are here, like me, with the courage to face your pasts and heal, my message to you is: please take a good deep look inside of yourself. Don’t be scared to listen to that niggling deep down voice in your heart. Follow what you know is true, with courage. Don’t let anyone stop you. It is SO WORTH THE FIGHT!
Often, a narcissist will humiliate you in public as part of an active smear campaign – and while I’ve previously explained smear campaigns, today I’m going to go a little more in-depth on the public humiliation part of it – which, in my opinion, is one of the most traumatic parts of the whole smear campaign tactic. So, first off, I’m going to give you a few real-life examples of how toxic narcissists have used public humiliation to hurt the people who loved them.
In today’s digital world, nearly everyone can admit to having snapped a sexy photo for the one they love and even, in some cases, participated in on-camera sexual activities with that person.
And you know how narcissists are, right? Yep. SEVERAL of my clients have told me that their narcissists – both male and female – have either used or threatened to use nude or otherwise compromising photos of them in order to blackmail them into doing what they wanted.
For example, a narcissistic wife of one of my clients managed to humiliate him by spreading gossip among his female co-workers about his sexual health – none of which were true, but all of which really changed the way his co-workers saw him.
Her intention, of course, was to ensure his fidelity as he worked alongside his attractive coworkers each day. But in her selfishness and lack of concern and empathy for her husband, this narcissist had managed to make sure that he felt completely isolated, alone and humiliated in his workplace every day. The environment eventually became so toxic that my client moved on to a new company – and thankfully, he got divorced (and eventually moved on with a much healthier girlfriend).
In all three of those cases, there’s a similarity – and I’m not talking about the obvious one (the humiliation factor). I’m talking about the fact that none of these people recognized at first that they were even being abused – or at least, they couldn’t admit it.
So let’s talk about that.
The Humiliation Factor: No One Wants to Admit They’re Accepting the Abuse
So, how can you possibly “miss” the fact that you’re being abused?
The problem with abuse is that most relationships don’t begin with abuse. Instead, there are subtle shifts along the way, silent reprogramming until the abuser feels confident that they can control the relationship.
In most cases, by the time the abuse becomes recognizable, the victim has been so brainwashed that she or he (men can also be victims of abusive relationships) doesn’t recognize the actions as abuse and actually takes the blame for his or her predicament.
Victims often can’t be convinced that they’re experiencing abuse. They’re so busy justifying the behavior of the abuser that they don’t see it for what it is.
In many cases, the simple answer is that it’s hard to admit you’ve allowed this to happen. But if you recognize some of the following patterns in your own relationship, it’s quite possible that you are in fact, a victim of abuse.
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.