There is no happy ending to a relationship with a narcissist, but for those who’ve never been in one, imagining what narcissistic abuse looks like can be very difficult. Even after the relationship is over, the pain continues to linger in its aftermath and greatly affects your everyday life.
The long-term negative effect of such relationships is why therapy for narcissistic abuse is not only very much needed, but also very helpful. These days, online therapy does the trick just as well.
Narcissistic abuse is, at its core, a traumatic experience comparable to that of physical abuse. The prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder, though difficult to define, is estimated to be up to 5.3% of the general population. This means that narcissistic abuse is not a rare occurrence.
Trauma was even found to cause brain damage. Namely, damage to the hippocampus and amygdala – thereby negatively affecting neurological and cognitive functioning.
Despite that, narcissistic abuse is not as well-known of a phenomenon. This makes it difficult to identify when you’re experiencing it in your relationship, and even once you do identify it – it’s difficult to know what you should do about it.
What are the Signs of Narcissistic Abuse?
Symptoms of narcissistic abuse can generally be divided into two categories: the abusive behavior of your partner and psychological changes you experience as a result of their abusive behavior.
Abusive behavior can take many, many forms, but some of the key traits of narcissistic abusers include:
- Manipulation – covertly influencing you to behave as they want you to.
- Emotional blackmail – giving warnings and threats to make you feel afraid, obligated, or guilty.
- Psychological abuse – including criticizing, interrupting, undermining, shaming, belittling, bullying, accusing, name-calling, and blaming, among others.
- Gaslighting – purposely making you question your perception of reality.
- Ignoring boundaries – invading your privacy by going through your email, phone, and possessions, and ignoring your physical privacy.
- Negative contrasting – making comparisons to negatively contrast you to themselves or others.
- Isolation – isolating you from your friends, family, and others in general.
Signs that you’re experiencing narcissistic abuse include:
- Feeling like you're walking on eggshells – always being vigilant and careful with your words and behavior is a sign of avoiding confrontation and, in this case, the emotional abuse surrounding it.
- Losing your self-worth – through verbal abuse, negative contrasting, and ignoring your boundaries, which imposes their opinion of you upon your own and damages your self-esteem and ability to make decisions.
- Mistrusting yourself and others – as a result of gaslighting and manipulation.
- Self-isolation and loneliness – outside of their attempts to isolate you from others, your shame of being abused and fear of judgment causes you to self-isolate instead of seeking help.
How Can Therapy for Narcissistic Abuse Help?
Coming out on the other side of a traumatic relationship with a narcissist often means you have a lot of self-doubt and not enough self-worth. These can make recovery from narcissistic abuse even more difficult, especially on your own.
This is why reaching out to professional help and receiving proper support is vital. Psychotherapy gives you a safe space to break the cycle of abuse by speaking out about your story without fear of judgment or shaming.
And if you’re feeling too vulnerable to get deep into the weeds with a therapist you haven’t even met yet, the extra bit of distance and possible anonymity offered by online counseling for narcissistic abuse may be just what you need.
What is Online Therapy for Narcissistic Abuse Like?
This is the beginning of talking therapy, a very broad term encapsulating a variety of approaches that all revolve around talking about your past and present experiences with your therapist. It is one of the more common forms of online therapy for narcissistic abuse.
This is because victims of narcissistic abuse are often all too used to not being listened to or to open up to others.
Talking about your experience is therapeutic by itself, but doing so with a warm, validating, understanding, and empathic professional is the right antidote to the narcissistic poison instilled inside you.
Validation from another person is particularly important, as when you feel believed for the things you’ve been through, the self-doubt you feel about them gets pushed aside. It also helps you recognize the extent of the trauma you’ve been through.
From that point onward, therapy can take many forms depending on your personal experience. Many victims of narcissistic abuse also experience anxiety and depression, so therapy could move in a direction meant to tackle those.
Others experience something akin to an addiction to their traumatic relationship, and so addiction therapy that helps rebuild independence, self-worth, and self-love is prioritized.
In some cases, you may wonder how you ended up as a victim in the first place. Answering this question sometimes involves talking more about your past before the relationship, and your childhood, in particular, to explore any possible patterns of abuse in your life.
In other times, the emphasis is on helping you understand that placing the blame of victimhood upon yourself is, quite simply, a mistaken line of thought.
You are never to blame for being abused, regardless of the circumstances.
With that being said, the experience of starting therapy can be very daunting, especially to victims of narcissistic abuse who have gotten used to distrusting others.
Other therapeutic approaches may be considered as well, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.
Remember that online therapy for narcissistic abuse is an option in case you’re not quite ready to open up in-person or simply don’t live near a therapist. Not having to worry about how to find a therapist, as well as being affordable makes online counseling definitely worthwhile.
So Should I Try Online Therapy for Narcissistic Abuse?
Overcoming abuse, or any kind of trauma, is never easy. But there’s no reason to have to go through it alone. The role of a therapist in helping you recover and rise above your traumatic experience cannot be overstated.
At DoMental, many of our therapists are narcissistic abuse experts who can help you heal. If you or someone you know is struggling from a present or past relationship with a narcissist, they’ll be more than happy to help.