Narcissistic Abuse in Childhood: What Adult Survivors Need to Know
Guest Post Written By Ivy K.
I’m a narcissistic child abuse survivor. This type of abuse is nearly impossible for a child to explain. I’m an adult, and I still cannot explain it to a person.
How do you explain narcissistic abuse to ‘outsiders’ or other people who don’t understand?
This is what it sounds like; this is an example of why it’s impossible to tell another.
- An 11-year-old Ivy says, “I don’t want to be like them when I grow up.” (Ivy knows she can’t tell anybody her parents are mean because they are so charming in public.)
- Another teenage girl with normal growing pains says, “OMG, I can’t stand my Mom. I hate her. I hope I’m never like her.”
Think about those two quotes; they are very similar. However, only one is coming from a child who is being abused.
Related: Why Being Raised by a Narcissist Could Cause You to Marry One
“But why didn’t you tell someone?”
I tried. When I did voice to another about the abuse, I only sounded like a whiny little brat. Here’s a couple of lines I’ve said as an adult:
“They act differently when people are around.” and “They are putting on a show for you.”
I can easily see how the comments wouldn’t stick and fly over somebody’s head.
“You could have asked a counselor for help!”
Professionals such as social workers, guidance counselors, etc. – just don’t get it. They do not understand that No Contact is the only way to handle narcissistic abuse. I have been asked to speak to my abusers repeatedly, only to open the door to more abuse because these professionals have no training.
Related: How to Find a Therapist Who Understands Narcissistic Abuse
This is one reason why children don’t speak up about the abuse – because there’s always a push for children to interact with their parents. I’m sure professionals with no training on this type of child abuse see the parent “doing everything they can” (when they cry victim as a manipulation tactic) and “the child is just making a mountain out of a molehill.”
No One Believed Me
I tried to tell people I was being abused at age 16. But, unfortunately, because of the nature of a narcissist, nobody believed me. So, by the time I was 17, after many years of enduring the abuse, I had a nervous breakdown and was sent to a mental health hospital.
I missed a lot of school. I shouldn’t have graduated with my class.
Why I Am Sharing This Story NOW
I’m sharing this for one reason, so that, as Pearl Jam sang in Why Go, “MAYBE SOMEDAY ANOTHER CHILD WON’T FEEL AS ALONE AS SHE DOES, it’s been two years and counting, since they put her in this place, she’s been diagnosed by some stupid f**k, and mommy agrees. Why go home?”
Yes, before anything else, I had Pearl Jam lyrics to let me know I wasn’t alone. Their lyrics seemed to zero in exactly on this unexplainable invisible abuse. I knew something was wrong when I was very young. …. I’m talking age 7.
And then, Pearl Jam came along, and a lot of their early lyrics validated my feelings. However, I didn’t know the abuse had a name until much later.
What Narcissistic Abuse Feels Like to a Child of a Narcissist
When the abuse is at its worse, it feels like they secretly want me dead, and they’ll do a real good job of nearly killing me without laying a single finger on me. On a good day, I know their script. I know exactly what they will say before they say it, and I’ll have to concentrate hard to keep from rolling my eyes and/or busting out in laughter.
When you’re a child, you learn not to have an identity. If you do discover yourself, you know darn well you had better hide it from your parents. (*Cindy still describes our mother and daughter relationship as the Two-Headed Monster. Because in her eyes, I’m an extension of her. I am Cindy, not Ivy.)
The setup is backward when it comes to toxic parents. The adults are to be the center of the child’s world – not the other way around. You are to know what they want before they know.
The moment you stop making them the center of your universe, they no longer have any use for you. If you wait it out, they’ll forget about you altogether.
Neglect is easier than abuse. You want to be neglected by your parents. To borrow from Dr. Phil, your parents are not A Safe Place To Fall. Meaning you know not to go to them for advice or for life skills, such as what to do when your car battery dies or how to replace a clapper in the toilet, etc.
Something simple turns into a stressful, dramatic ordeal because of their need to make it about them.
I’m assuming many who have survived narcissistic child abuse don’t know how to build a healthy and safe circle of support to go to when simple life advice is needed.
Related: Get support in our free online support group for narcissistic abuse recovery.
Narcissist Parents and Victim-Playing
There’s another part to this. Because the narcissist’s inner voice is so toxic, they truly don’t feel comfortable until they believe they are the victim in a real-life situation. Then, they have to make real-life matches their toxic inner voice.
Their need to play the victim is so intense that they create situations that make no sense to anybody else.
As the narcissist creates these situations to ensure they’re the victim, the problem is easily forgotten about amongst the chaos. Playing the victim is a manipulation tactic used by narcissists.
Two of the most important things to know about narcissists is they lack empathy and will put themselves first in any given situation.
What to know about narcissistic child abuse: it is invisible, nearly impossible for the victim to explain, and is handed down from one generation to the next. It is a toxic legacy.
Terms to know:
- The Scapegoat
- The Golden Child
- The Runner
- Flying Monkeys
- Circular Conversations
- Smear Campaigns
- Narcissistic Supply
- Complex PTSD
- No Contact
- Grey Rock
*Names changed in the interest of privacy
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.
- Sign up for our free email newsletter service that includes a free guided recovery experience via your inbox.
- Start your narcissistic abuse recovery here with our free narcissistic abuse recovery support system and program.
- Think you might have C-PTSD, but you’re not sure? Then, take our free C-PTSD Self-Assessment.
- Join one of our free online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups!
- Join one of our private small coaching groups!
- Get private, one-on-one narcissistic abuse recovery coaching or counseling.
- Get a therapist who will work with you online. Check out our guide to finding a therapist or psychologist who understands narcissism and narcissistic abuse.