Working the Phases of Trauma Recovery After Narcissistic Abuse

Working the Phases of Trauma Recovery After Narcissistic Abuse

We say the words, “DISCOVER, UNDERSTAND AND OVERCOME NARCISSISTIC ABUSE” often enough that many of you may be very familiar with that phrase. Let’s look a bit at how working the phases of trauma recovery after narcissistic abuse might look.  Each of these phases can go on simultaneously because healing from abuse is in layers. Different discoveries, understandings and overcomings happen at different times. There will be times during your recovery where you will feel like you are going backward but please do not be discouraged, this is normal.  Layers of healing and mountains of growth are what happens for anyone evolving out of toxic abuse into a thriving survivor.

DISCOVER

What we discover in this phase is not only about narcissistic abuse but about how the abuse affects us as survivors. You may come to a lot of realizations as you discover the things about narcissistic behaviors that make it abuse, realizations about how you feel as a survivor of abuse and also that you are not alone. Validation of the way you feel and that what you experienced truly is abuse is what can help you in this phase to realize you truly are not alone. There is a lot of information being taken in when in the discovery phase, it can cause a bit of overwhelm as well. Keep at the discovery and things will become more and more clear as you enter into the next phase of understanding.

UNDERSTAND

Understanding also can mean accepting that the toxic person truly is toxic. Seeing things as they are instead of how you wish they could be opens your mind to an understanding of the situation that helps you to break the trauma bonds and begin to recover. Understanding that this is not your fault can help you to gain more self-worth as well as be kind to yourself through the healing process. Understanding the abuse can help you to separate your own needs from those of the narcissist that you were groomed to emotionally “take care of” so that you can begin and continue to see the path to healing is in self-care, self- focus and letting go of the narcissist.

OVERCOME

Finally, you get to overcome this abuse and thrive! This is not an overnight thing that just happens. Often there is a huge “ah-ha” moment in the understanding phase that leads to a giant perspective shift which then helps you let go of the abuser. Through the overcoming phase there can be a lot of grief, feelings of loss, feelings of not really knowing oneself as well as other not so comfortable things. If you feel this, it is totally normal and part of the healing. What can happen is self-discovery and a renewed focus on your own life and wellbeing. This is where the deepening of healing can take you to great places, to discover and do things that truly create a beautiful life and that get you on the path you choose to be on. Keep the hope up as you overcome narcissistic abuse, you always were enough, you always were and still are worth it!

Get personal support in your narcissistic abuse recovery.

Healing from Emotional Abuse

Healing from Emotional Abuse

“It is not the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.” ~Aisha Mirza

Emotional abuse, which may also be referred to as psychological abuse, is a pervasive and painful form of abuse that is often overlooked by even the victim. As difficult as it can be to detect, it can affect literally every part of a person’s life and can lead to other psychological and physical health issues.

While you might not see physical scars on a victim of emotional abuse, there are lifelong psychological scars that never go away. However, you can heal from emotional abuse if you do so intentionally, and there are a number of ways you can get help if you’re dealing with emotional abuse.

“There are far too many silent sufferers. Not because they don’t yearn to reach out, but because they’ve tried and found no one who cares.” ~Richelle E. Goodrich

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is a form of abuse in which a toxic person subjects or exposes you to repeated behavior that often results in long-term psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder).

Emotional abuse is underestimated by most people, even sometimes its victims. However, it can cause mental and physical health issues that last a lifetime. Emotional abuse is used to control victims and can be inflicted in a variety of ways. Due to its pervasive nature, emotional abuse can be difficult to detect. The abuser’s goal is to slowly wear down the victim’s self-esteem in order to cause the victim to depend on them. This causes the victim to be vulnerable to being abused and controlled. It leads to the victim feeling like they’ll have nothing without the abuser, or they may simply feel trapped and unable to get away from the abuser.

This leads the abuser to develop a sort of power over the victim that leads to the victim developing a sort of “learned helplessness.” This might mean the victim is afraid to make some (or all) decisions without checking in with the abuser, or it could mean that they feel unable to do certain things themselves due to restrictions imposed on them by the abuser. For example, a victim might not go to the grocery store without getting a list or a budget from the abuser first, even if they run out of something important, for fear that the abuser will verbally attack them for doing so.

What are the signs of emotional abuse?

You might need support for healing from emotional abuse if you can identify with some or all of the following signs of emotional abuse. 

See more signs of emotional abuse in this video.

  • They accuse you of being jealous all the time.
  • They accuse you of cheating
  • They are possessive of your time and get angry when you’re not available at the exact moment they want you.
  • They cheat on you and then say it’s your fault they did it.
  • They control you with sex, by either withholding/denying or coercing you into doing things you aren’t really comfortable doing, and/or by forcing or pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to
  • They control your social life, who your friends are and who you spend tie with, and/or what you do
  • They cut you down by saying things like you’re worthless or that you can never do anything right
  • They destroy your stuff
  • They do things and say things that make you cry or feel extreme anxiety
  • They give you the silent treatment
  • They have a certain look that scares you
  • They insult you and/or call you names
  • They isolate you and keep you from spending time with friends and/or other family members
  • They make you feel like you’re not allowed to leave your home alone, or at all.
  • They may threaten you with weapons.
  • They may verbally threaten to hurt you or your kids.
  • They might be jealous of your friendships or even relationships with your kids or other family members.
  • They might break stuff when they’re angry at you without regard for who it belongs to (and sometimes, it’s your stuff).
  • They might make all of your decisions for you and/or make you feel incapable of making a decision on your own
  • They might prevent you from going to work or school
  • They might try to make you drink alcohol or do drugs when you don’t want to.
  • They minimize any accomplishments you have, or they take credit for them
  • They monitor your location and need to know where you are every minute of every day.
  • They say you’re a bad parent and/or threaten to take your kids away from you if you don’t do what they want or behave how they require you to behave.
  • They seem to intentionally do things to incite jealousy in you.
  • They tear you down emotionally and seem to want you to feel bad about yourself
  • They tell you that you’re lucky to have them and that you’ll be alone and/or that no one else will ever love you if they leave you. And then threaten to do exactly that – directly or indirectly.
  • They tell you what to wear or how to look, or attempt to control your appearance in some way
  • They threaten (or actually) hurt your pets
  • They threaten you with violence, either directly or by implying it
  • They use gaslighting to manipulate you and control you
  • They will humiliate you in some way (publicly or otherwise)
  • They will take your money and/or refuse to give you money for things you need, like groceries and personal care items. They are controlling all of the household money.
  • They withhold affection and/or give you the silent treatment as punishment for breaking (often unspoken) rules.

Still unsure? Take our narcissistic abuse self-assessment test, right here.

How do you get help with healing from emotional abuse?

What are the steps you need to take to heal from emotional abuse?

The stages of healing from emotional abuse are as simple as they are overwhelming. You need to understand how to identify toxic people, and what abuse looks like. Plus, you need to work on building your self-confidence and release your codependence on the abuser. There are three primary stages in recovery. And don’t forget self-care.

How do you help someone you love who is being emotionally abused?

What if it isn’t YOU? Are you worried that someone you care about might be dealing with physical or emotional abuse at home? What can you do to help them, and how do you know for sure if they’re being abused? Read More: How do you help someone in an abusive relationship? 

More Resources for Victims of Emotional Abuse

Visit the QueenBeeing Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Resources & Support Page

If you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, you might want to read one of these books.

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