Narcissistic abuse is aggressive, vengeful, and calculated. People who experience this type of abuse often feel isolated, confused, and unclear about what went wrong in the relationship.
According to Psychology Today, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is: “Defined by emotional volatility, a lack of empathy, and delusions of superiority and entitlement…” They also state that “NPD is linked with interpersonal exploitation, rage, and aggression, most often directed at family members.”
These abusers are manipulative and controlling, but the physical abuse is not always present. “But they never hit me” is a common phrase expressed by those who experience narcissistic abuse when they finally seek help.
Since narcissistic abuse is insidious, becoming familiar with these warning signs can help you recognize what is happening in your relationship or the relationships of family and friends. If you notice these patterns, please know that you’re not alone, you did nothing wrong, and support is available.
Here are five warning signs of narcissistic abuse to watch out for in your relationship.
- Your Relationship Moves Quickly
Narcissists appear charming. They may buy you gifts, take you on vacations, and check in often via phone calls or texts. The relationship may feel like it’s moving quickly in an exciting way. They may encourage you to take significant steps early in the relationship, including moving in together, merging finances, or getting engaged.
On its own, a fast-moving relationship could mean you’re compatible with one another. However, if you notice additional red flags throughout the relationship, it’s best not to ignore them.
- You Feel Like You’re Walking On Eggshells
When your partner walks into the room, you may find yourself afraid or on edge. You may feel like you never know which version of them you’ll get. It could be the kind, the thoughtful persona you fell in love with or the angry, abusive person they truly are.
You deserve a relationship where you feel safe, valued, and loved. If you feel afraid around your partner, consider taking steps to end the relationship. Safety planning with an advocate can help you make the best choices for yourself and your family.
- You Feel Like You’re Going Crazy
When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you may find yourself second-guessing everything you know to be true. You may wonder if you are crazy and overly sensitive, and you may distrust your memories. You may find yourself apologizing regularly and taking full responsibility for everything the abuser holds against you.
Narcissists are master manipulators and are skilled at gaslighting. If you regularly hear phrases like these, consider them huge warning signs:
- You’re overreacting.
- You need help.
- I never said that.
- Why are you so upset? I was just kidding.
- You’re imagining things.
- You’re so sensitive.
- Are you sure? You have such a bad memory.
- Stop acting crazy.
- That never happened.
Writing your experiences down is an excellent way to validate what you know to be true and maintain records of the abuse.
- You Feel Isolated
Both social isolation and financial abuse are components of narcissistic abuse. You may feel as though the abuser is demanding all of your time and energy, and you may find yourself spending less time with friends and family. You may also notice that the abuser is interfering with your job or encouraging you to stop working altogether.
If you find yourself relying heavily on your partner for companionship and financial security at the expense of your friendships and career goals, this may indicate that there is a bigger problem.
- You Wonder What Happened To The Person You Fell In Love With
Every so often, that kind, caring, thoughtful person, you fell in love with will re-emerge. You may find yourself hopeful that the relationship will take a turn for the better. You may feel like the relationship is worth saving.
Healthy relationships are honest, respectful, and reciprocal. If these are consistently missing from your relationship, it’s a good time to re-evaluate.
Help Is Available
If these patterns sound familiar, you may be the target of narcissistic abuse.
This type of abuse happens slowly over time. It’s not clearly defined for survivors, and since this type of abuse is not always physical, survivors often second-guess whether it is abuse at all.
Without intervention, these patterns will continue indefinitely. Even with intervention, post-separation abuse will likely ensue, so safety planning is paramount.
Help is available. If you suspect you’re experiencing narcissistic abuse, or if you’ve left an abusive relationship and post-separation abuse continues, call our free 24-hour domestic violence helpline at (727) 895-4912 or TTY: (727) 828-1269.
If it is not safe to call, you can reach a CASA advocate at www.casapinellas.org/chat.