What is narcissistic abuse?

Narcissistic abuse affects millions of people worldwide, but a limited understanding of the disorder means help for victims is hard to find.

What is narcissistic abuse

Signs of narcissistic abuse

The first step to recovery is understanding the nature of narcissistic abuse. You will have many questions: How can I be sure my abuser is a narcissist? What are the stages of abuse? How can I manage my abuser’s behavior? How can I avoid this type of relationship in the future?

A top US research hospital, the Mayo Clinic, defines narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) as a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.

NPD is one of the most common mental disorders today, affecting 450 million people around the world. More than 5 percent of the population suffer from NPD, and 3.3 percent have Anti-Social Personality Disorder.

Keep in mind that when thinking about domestic abuse -- whether it's emotional, sexual, financial or physical -- narcissism is always at the center of it.

Narcissistic victim syndrome

Narcissists are particularly good at persuading you that you’re the one at fault for all their bad behavior, or that you are mentally unstable and not in touch with reality.

So you make excuses for them and believe that it's your fault, that if you change your behavior the abuse will stop and your partner will return to the amazing person they were when you first met. You may even deny that the abuse is happening, that the abuser is actually trying to ‘help’ you. You believe your abuser when they tell you that you have memory problems, anger issues, mental health issues or financial management problems.

People you confide in may ask, "if you're being abused, why don't you just leave?" You may have asked yourself the same question. If it was only that simple. Where do you go for help? Who will understand what you're experiencing?

Victims of narcissistic abuse have typically formed a trauma bond with their abuser. This is very similar in nature to addiction to drugs or alcohol. You will need help and support to leave the abuser, stay away from them and avoid forming a relationship with another abuser.

Patterns of narcissistic behavior

What are the signs that you are a narcissistic abuse victim? Listen to Emma explain some of the typical patterns of narcissistic behavior.

Typical narcissistic scenarios

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