Dr. Lenne’ Hunt looks at what is the impact of narcissistic abuse on the victim who will often accept the burden of responsibility that the abuser refuses to accept for the problems in the relationship.
What is the Impact of Narcissistic Abuse on the Victim
Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse that can have profound and lasting effects on the victim. It operates through a variety of manipulative tactics, with gaslighting being one of the most insidious. In this article, we will delve into the impact of narcissistic abuse on the victim, examining the tactics involved and the resulting emotional wounds.
Gaslighting: The Art of Distorting Reality
Gaslighting, a term familiar to those who have encountered emotional abuse, involves one party in the relationship attempting to distort the other person’s sense of reality. This distortion is achieved through a set of tactics that include outright denial and blame shifting. These tactics collectively create a false narrative, leaving the victim questioning their own perceptions and emotions.
One of the primary tactics of gaslighting is outright denial. When the victim expresses how certain actions or words have hurt them, the abuser’s response is to deny any wrongdoing. They might say, “I never said that” or “That didn’t happen; you’re remembering it wrong.” This denial leaves the victim feeling invalidated and confused.
Another gaslighting tactic is blame shifting. In this scenario, the abuser acknowledges that the event occurred but attributes it to something the victim did. They might say, “Yes, I did this, but it was because of something you did.” This places the responsibility on the victim and intensifies their feelings of guilt and self-blame.
The Burden of False Responsibility
Emotional abuse, particularly in its early stages, often leads the victim to accept the responsibility placed upon them by the abuser. Victims believe that they are the problem and that they must fix themselves and the relationship dynamics. They may go to great lengths to change their behavior, even attempting to change the abuser. This self-imposed burden is emotionally exhausting and harmful.
Twisted Reality and Emotional Wounds
Narcissistic abuse distorts every aspect of a victim’s life—what they think, believe, their values, and their emotions. Victims begin to accept this distorted reality, leading to a disordered sense of responsibility. This distorted responsibility can stem from various factors, including upbringing, personality disorders, or a lack of empathy. Regardless of the abuser’s path to this point, the effect on the victim is consistent: a wounded heart and a false sense of responsibility.
The Weight of Shame and Self-Belittlement
In such abusive dynamics, victims often experience shame and belittlement, initially imposed by the abuser but gradually internalized by the victim. They start to doubt their intelligence, competence, communication skills, and even their emotional sensitivity. This internalized distortion compounds their emotional injuries, creating a cycle of self-doubt and self-blame.
Healing the Victim
To begin the healing process, it’s crucial to address the responsibility disorder in the abusive individual. However, when it comes to helping the victim, the origin of the abuser’s behavior becomes less relevant. The victim’s experience remains consistent—a wounded heart and a false sense of responsibility.
Breaking Free from the Cycle
Living in an emotionally abusive relationship for an extended period can lead victims to become a diminished version of themselves, acting contrary to their own integrity. Breaking free from this cycle is essential for healing. Victims must regain control of their emotions and seek help, even if the abusive party does not change.
Seeking Help and Healing
The good news is that healing is possible for both the abusive individual and the victim. It requires intervention and support, but it doesn’t have to continue indefinitely. If you find yourself in an emotionally abusive relationship, whether as the victim or the offender, seeking help can lead to a brighter, healthier future. There is hope for healing, even if the other party never takes responsibility.
In conclusion, narcissistic abuse, with its manipulation and gaslighting tactics, leaves victims emotionally wounded and burdened with false responsibility. Breaking free from this cycle and seeking help is essential for healing. Remember that you can find support and guidance to reclaim your life and regain your sense of self.
Also read: 3 Common Traits of a Narcissistic Parent
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.