Surviving Narcissistic Abuse: Reclaiming Your Life and Healing

Navigating life after experiencing narcissistic abuse can be an incredibly challenging journey. For many survivors, having others believe their circumstances is crucial as they often question their own reality and are learning to trust themselves again.  Whether it was in a personal relationship, family dynamic, or even in a professional setting, the effects of narcissistic abuse can leave deep emotional scars. Understanding what narcissistic abuse is and how to heal from it is crucial for reclaiming your sense of self-worth and moving forward in a positive direction.


What is Narcissistic Abuse?

Narcissistic abuse occurs when someone with narcissistic traits or a narcissistic personality disorder manipulates, controls, or emotionally harms others for their own gain. This form of abuse can take various forms, including emotional manipulation, gaslighting (where the abuser makes the victim doubt their own reality), verbal attacks, financial abuse, spiritual manipulation and even physical intimidation  and scare tactics in some cases. What is incredibly difficult is to recognize the abuse because it is often subtle and covert as the perpetrator can be a charmer and well-like member of society. 

Victims of narcissistic abuse often find themselves in a cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discard. In the beginning, the narcissist may shower the victim with love, admiration, and attention (idealization phase), making them feel special and valued. However, over time, this phase gives way to devaluation, where the narcissist criticizes, belittles, or ignores the victim's needs and emotions. Finally, the discard phase occurs when the narcissist either abruptly ends the relationship or withdraws affection, leaving the victim confused, hurt, and questioning their own worth. 


Effects of Narcissistic Abuse

The effects of narcissistic abuse can be profound and long-lasting. Victims often experience:

  1. Emotional Trauma: Constant criticism, manipulation, and gaslighting can lead to feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If this has been occurring since early childhood it can lead to complex post-traumatic stress disorder CPTSD

  2. Self-Doubt and Confusion: Narcissists excel at distorting reality and making their victims doubt their perceptions and emotions. This can leave victims feeling confused, isolated, and unable to trust their own judgment.

  3. Social Isolation: Narcissists often  isolate their victims from friends, family, and support networks, making it harder for them to seek help or validation outside of the abusive relationship.

  4. Impact on Self-Esteem: Constant invalidation and criticism can erode self-esteem, leaving victims feeling unworthy, inadequate, and powerless.

  5. Cycle of Shame and Guilt: Victims often blame themselves for the abuse or feel ashamed for not leaving sooner, perpetuating a cycle of guilt and self-blame.


Steps to Healing and Recovery

Recovering from narcissistic abuse is a gradual process that requires patience, self-compassion, and support. Here are some steps to help you on your journey to healing:

  1. Educate Yourself: Understanding narcissistic personality traits and the dynamics of narcissistic abuse can validate your experiences and help you make sense of what you've been through.

  2. Establish Boundaries: Setting clear boundaries is essential for protecting yourself from further harm. This may involve limiting or cutting off contact with the narcissist, especially if they continue to manipulate or abuse you.

  3. Seek Support: Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist who understands narcissistic abuse. Support groups or online forums can also provide validation and solidarity with others who have gone through similar experiences.

  4. Focus on Self-Care: Prioritize your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, practice mindfulness or meditation, and nurture healthy relationships.

  5. Process Your Emotions: Allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship or the idealized image you had of the narcissist. It's okay to feel angry, sad, or confused. Journaling or talking to a therapist can help you process your emotions in a safe space.

  6. Rebuild Your Self-Esteem: Challenge negative self-talk and replace it with affirmations of your worth and strengths. Surround yourself with supportive people who appreciate and validate you.

  7. Move Forward: Healing from narcissistic abuse is about reclaiming your power and building a life that reflects your values and desires. Focus on your personal growth, set new goals, and celebrate your progress along the way.


Final Thoughts

The insidious nature of narcissistic abuse often distorts one's sense of reality, making it difficult to trust oneself or others. Seeking support from your community, peers, and mental health professionals can play a crucial role in starting the journey to recovery from this form of toxicity. Recovering from the effects of narcissistic abuse can feel isolating and overwhelming, but it's important to remember that healing is possible with time, patience, and support.You deserve to live a life free from manipulation, fear, and emotional harm. By prioritizing your well-being and investing in your recovery, you are taking the first steps towards a brighter, healthier future.

If you or someone you know is experiencing narcissistic abuse, don't hesitate to reach out for support. You are not alone, and healing is possible. If you are in immediate danger please phone 911.


VictimLinkBC can provide confidential support and information in over 150+ languages, help you with safety planning and guide you to find services and support in your community. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week across BC and Yukon by phone or text at 1-800-563-0808 or email

In BC, all employees are entitled to up to 5 days of paid leave and 5 days of unpaid leave for medical, counseling, social services, legal advice, or finding housing due to domestic violence. If needed, they can take up to 15 weeks of additional unpaid leave. Leave can be taken in hours, partial days, or full days, and does not need to be consecutiveIf you 

National Family Violence Hotlines:


Power & Becoming the Narcissist Worst Nightmare (Author: Shahida Arabi)

Psychopath Free & Whole Again (Author: Jackson Mackenzie)



Healing Addiction the Narcissist 

Support Group 

Shereen Khan is a Registered Certified Counsellor and Approved Clinical Supervisor (RCC-ACS) with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors; a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, EMDR, IFS and Somatic  therapy practitioner. Available for appointments online and in person in her North Vancouver office.

Shereen Khan
Noorify Counselling and Consulting Inc.
2586 Hoskins Road, North Vancouver, V7J3A3

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