2. Psychological symptoms
- Intense anxiety, nervousness & extreme fear
- Trouble concentrating and impaired memory
- Shame, irritability and guilt
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal behavior
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
- Self-criticism and self-blame
- Ruminations or intrusive, repetitive & unwanted thoughts
- Flashbacks of a traumatic or abusive experience
- Physical or emotional triggers
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Avoidance of triggering situations or people
- High alertness or being constantly vigilant
- Seeking help
These symptoms are often caused by the toxic behavior of the narcissist who feeds their own ego by hurting or emotionally damaging the victim.
10 Signs You’ve Experienced Narcissistic Abuse: How to identify Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
Psychological abuse advocate Jayme Chenoweth of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome explains that this condition “often causes victims to feel defenseless and beaten down.” Narcissistic Victim Syndrome is a serious and debilitating issue that you should not ignore for the sake of your own mental and emotional well-being. Here are a few signs that you need to identify to determine if you are suffering from this condition and need to seek help:
1. You’re unable to make decisions
As you lack self-confidence, have low self-esteem, and constantly doubt yourself, you find it difficult to take any decision for yourself. Continuous criticism and devaluation can make you fully dependent on your abuser and make you second-guess yourself over time.
As you go through frequent manipulation, domination and absorb constant insults, your decision-making abilities start to become weaker. This can also make it difficult for you to decide whether you should leave your narcissist or tolerate their abuse.
2. No one believes you’re abused
Narcissists often use subtle and hidden strategies to manipulate and control their victims. Emotional abuse is often hard to identify and even harder to prove to others. The abuse can be so effectively disguised by your narcissist, that your friends and family may fail to notice it, even when it occurs in front of them.
Although your family and friends may not doubt your claims of abuse, they may feel that you are misunderstanding the situation or may ask you to change your perceptions. This can leave you feeling more confused, disappointed, guilty, and filled with further self-doubt.
Related: How Narcissistic Abuse Changes You
3. You feel isolated
Most narcissists often tend to isolate their partners as it can make you more vulnerable to emotional manipulation. However, you may also isolate yourself due to shame and self-doubt as well. Moreover, as others may not believe that you are being abused, you may feel alone and withdraw from social interactions. Various other factors like misconceptions about abuse, victim-blaming, and lack of social support may push you further towards isolation.
Bestselling author Shahida Arabi explains that people with Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome “fear no one will understand or believe them, so instead of reaching out for help, they decide to withdraw from others as a way to avoid judgment and retaliation from their abuser.”
4. Your narcissist discredits you
The narcissist’s smear campaign can not only make you look bad in front of others, but it can also make others criticize you and make them appear perfect. They can distort the truth to earn admiration from others and disprove you and your claims of being abused. What’s worse, they can use your reactions against you to gain sympathy from others. Hence, they can charm and win over your friends and loved ones making you look like the abuser.
5. You experience dissociation
Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome can often lead to feelings of dissociation which you may use as a survival mechanism. You may experience physical or emotional detachment from the environment leading to disruptions in consciousness, perceptions, memories, and your sense of self. Dissociation allows your brain to prevent the emotional impact of your pain from affecting you excessively and result in emotional numbing.
This can especially happen when you are unable to cope with the terror and trauma of the existing circumstances. Shahida adds “Mind-numbing activities, obsessions, addictions, and repression may become a way of life because they give you an escape from your current reality.”