Updated: Sep 10, 2020
If you are artistic, empathic, and/or a highly sensitive person (HSP), you are highly likely to draw narcissistic abuse. If you are an INFJ personalities, you are especially vulnerable. You are an easy target, because you actually care about people.
Narcissists love people like us. They prey on our genuine desire to help others and make the world a better place. The narcissist will cross your boundaries to get what they want. They will tell you that you said, meant, or did something that you did not. If you say no to a request, they will label you a bad friend, partner, spouse, parent, or child.
Subtle Signs of Narcissistic Abuse
Most of us would (hopefully) recognize overt abuse such as physical violence, withholding basic needs, being isolated from family and friends, or outright neglect. But there are signs of narcissistic abuse that can be much harder to recognize, especially when you are in the relationship.
Verbal and emotional abuse includes name calling, criticism, blaming, shaming, threatening, and perhaps most upsetting, raging. The narcissist will make every effort to make you feel like you are worthless. Often this includes spiritual abuse as well. This is incredibly damaging to a person of faith, and the narcissist know this.
Gaslighting is a type of emotional manipulation. The narcissist will insist that you said or did something that you did not say or do. The more you protest, the more they will insist that you are wrong, crazy, or just don’t remember. They will go even further and tell you what you meant by what you said. You will feel crazy and start to think that maybe they are right. You will doubt your own memory and intentions.
FOG, or fear, obligation, and guilt is a key sign of a narcissist. The manipulator will make you fear losing the relationship or maybe some type of retaliation, such as removal of support. They will then tell you know how much they do for you and that you “owe” them. Finally, they play on your guilt to make you give in and give up any boundaries that you have tried to set. You eventually end up giving in and doing exactly what the person wants.
Effects of Narcissistic Abuse
Narcissistic Abuse is very damaging to the soul and spirit. The effects can be physical, emotional, and spiritual. This type of abuse is very hard to recover from, because a part of you always wants to believe that it is your fault. You don’t want to believe that this person you love would really treat you this way.
Physical effects from this type of abuse can range from headaches, stomach and muscle aches, to a full blown condition like fibromyalgia. You spend much of your time and energy trying to “get back to normal” only to be sent into a tailspin once again by these people. And honestly? Some of them delight in having this control over you.
The emotional effects are devastating. If you have been in a long term relationship with a narcissist, you really need the help of a therapist. Your self esteem will need a lot of work, because this type of person excels at making you feel worthless. You become so intent on pleasing the narcissist that you lose your own identity. You can actually reach a point where you don’t even know what you want or who you are anymore.
Spiritual abuse will cause you to completely question your faith. When a narcissist tells you that they are right and God is on their side, you believe them. You question whether God really loves you. In extreme cases, you truly believe that God has turned his back on you and you are going to hell. This type of abuse makes me so sad, because people are told that the one who loves them without condition is their enemy.
Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse
Narcissistic Abuse can come from casual relationships or long term significant ones, such as with a partner. The more significant the relationship, the longer the road to healing. Therapy is a really good idea. Find a therapist who is kind and understands you. Don’t settle. It’s important that you can establish trust with this person in order to heal.
If at all possible, get out of the relationship. We have all experienced this type of manipulation at some point in our lives, but you will have a difficult time healing if you are in a permanent relationship with this person. If it is a boss, that is really hard. Try to find another job if at all possible. Remember, these people almost never change. You have got to put your well being first.
Ways to Help Yourself
Learn to establish boundaries. This will be very hard. You are not used to saying “no”. You don’t have to give in to every request. A good friend, partner, etc. will understand. If someone makes you feel guilty for saying no, maybe you need to re-evaluate the relationship. A good friend should understand and listen to your concerns.
Work on your self esteem and self care. Your value is not based on how much you do for others. Focus on what you enjoy doing. Let yourself learn, grow, and even make mistakes. You are allowed to be happy, and you are allowed to do things that you enjoy.
Work on your physical needs. Yoga is great, because it gets you out of your head, and into your body. Walking and swimming are great as well. So is Tai Chi. Make it something you enjoy. I also really recommend massage. Safe touch is very healing, and massage helps your body relax and release all of that pent up tension. It sounds simple, but remember to eat and drink enough water. It’s easy to forget when you are upset.
Journaling can be very helpful as well. Write out your feelings. Compose a letter to the person who hurt you. Come up with 100 things that you like about yourself. When you feel guilty, write down what the feeling is about. Is the guilt coming from you, or someone else? Is it from the present, or the past?
Take it slow and be kind to yourself. This is a process, not a race. Recovery takes time.
Hang in there. It’s worth the fight.