Taking your life back after abuse
Trauma from emotional and psychological abuse is common and often misunderstood. It can feel a very lonely and isolating place. But, one way to help someone know that they are not alone is to write about it.
The abuse I'm writing about today is malignant narcissism. With tactics that can be overt or covert, it is important to understand that this is a serious and dangerous form of abuse and the narcissist may not change. As hard as it is to imagine, they want to harm you and the abuse may never end whilst you remain unchanged in this relationship.
If you are aware that you are (or have been) in an abusive relationship, what can you do?
- Be proud of yourself. You've realised there's a serious problem and you are moving into a place of knowledge and acceptance.
- Understand that you are the holder of power. The malignant narcissist in your life needs you and, with that knowledge, you can see that it is you who can do something about this.
- Learn and research. Knowledge can put an end to the feeling that it is your fault, you being too sensitive or going mad.
- Accept your conditioning. You've been manipulated into pleasing, caring for and rescuing others, perhaps over many years.
- Rename the perpetrator of the abuse. My term is the 'Wizard of Oz'. Look behind the curtain and you'll see there is no intellectually powerful giant; there is no power when you don't play your part.
- Find a trusted confidante to talk to and seek specialist professional support. You may benefit from seeking counselling to help you deal with past trauma, or a coach can help you to look forward. Whatever you decide is right for you, it's important they understand this form of abuse and how to help you.
- Withdraw from the game. You can't win, educate, rationalise or convince the Wizard of Oz that they are the problem. They cannot feel empathy, compassion and have no capacity to know that they are in the wrong.
- Consider your position. Are there are other 'players' in this dangerous game? Are other people continuing the abuse on the narcissist’s behalf? This is particularly common in families where the role of ‘flying monkey’ is handed from one family member to another in order of their perceived power over you.
- Be smart and start to see the patterns. Look out for guilt-making, lies and confusion-making. Eventually it can become clear that this is a one trick pony, that cannot harm you if you stop your involvement.
- Anger and a need for justice can feel very strong. The best revenge is your recovery and living a full and happy life.
- Sometimes no contact is the best way forward. Cut your ties. Experienced professional support can help you to explore this option and take this brave step.
Most importantly you are the one who can stop this abuse. You can walk away and you can stop looking for ways to please the narcissist and create a temporary reprieve. The power lies with you and you can move on, create new boundaries and start to live a life where you understand it's ok to meet your own needs.
Finally, no one has the right to harm you, no one. If at any time you feel you are being harassed or stalked, you can, of course, seek professional legal advice.
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