Any person who has experienced narcissistic abuse has been harmed, injured, and in some cases, even killed as result of the narcissist’s behaviour. They are a victim and will need those around them to understand and support them to the best of your ability.
While the abuse is happening, because of how the narcissist goes about it, the target will be confused and after they have left their abuser, they are still left dumbfounded as to how it happened. The power to control to rage to love and grandiose have effects that are so crippling they can result in a lot of confusion and other debilitating symptoms for the victim. It takes a lot of self-talk and a lot of support from other people to get through the abuse. Narcissists have this extremely complex dance they do. The consequences for the victim are huge for not understanding the intricacy of the dance. It leaves you open to re-entering your relationship with the narcissist or another abusive person. It is very important you take a lot of time to heal and grow as a person and learn what your part in that dance is. The abuse is insidious. The abuse is covert, cunning and often indirect. It is subtle. As we have discussed, Narcissists have this false sense of self and are very subtle so as not to be called out in public. They are very concerned with how they look to others and go to great lengths to be the perfect citizen in public and have the perfect family and wife/husband. This Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde behaviour of the narcissist (loving one minute and totally enraged the next) can inflict great harm on the victim. The fear, distress, confusion, inner turmoil, and chaos that the victim experiences leaves them “walking on eggshells” in order to avoid further conflict. The narcissist believes that they are superior to others, and have little regard for other people’s feelings, regardless of whom they are (i.e. spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, peers etc.). Other people are merely there to serve their every need, and they will use every form of abuse, without guilt, empathy or conscience, in order to make sure that their needs are served.
As a result of the trauma, victims tend to “compartmentalize their experience.”; in so doing, they may appear to be detached from their emotions, body, or immediate surroundings. I know I did this all the time and I still do it when things feel unsafe. The trauma can be so bad that I disassociate myself and I actually become numb. The abuser, even after you have left them have a way of keeping themselves under your skin. I have a constant inner dialog with myself when dealing with him or my children after they have been with him or when I talk with his friends. I have to keep myself in check and understand that he has this facade and people are buying into it just as I did at first. They are just as confused as I was. Not to the extent of course, but something feels off for them as well but they are still charmed by his facade.
You have to do your work. You have to suck it up and take and accept help from others. No one will ever truly understand how you feel and the trauma, not even your best friend or your parents, but they can be there for you. They can understand your need to feel safe, not have contact, not hear about your abuser.
You need to find a counselor that not only understands you are grieving the loss of the relationship, but also processing the unreality of a “fake relationship.” Furthermore, often psychological abuse (and sometimes physical and sexual abuse) has permeated the relationship. In order to heal, therapy must focus on grief work and trauma recovery, in addition to understanding the elements of the toxic relationship, so that patterns are not repeated in the future. People can support you by listening and making you feel safe but most importantly, like any bullying or abuse, they need to validate you. They need to hug you and tell you they believe you and they are sorry. You deserve that.