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.
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.
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.
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!
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Lise Colucci is an intuitive healer and certified life coach, as well as a certified narcissistic abuse recovery coach. She is a long-time admin and mentor for the SPAN Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Group, actively helping survivors of narcissistic abuse in the expansive community to learn and heal.
“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 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.
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.