A narcissistic abuse cycle is a form of psychological abuse that involves manipulation and brainwashing. It typically starts with the abuser building up the victim’s self-esteem, introducing them to other people who are also victims of abuse by the same person, and then slowly breaking down their sense of self-worth before finally discarding them.

The cycle begins when an individual meets someone new or gets into a relationship with someone they admire. They may be flattered by this person’s attention and compliments, which makes it difficult for them to see any red flags in their behavior at first.

The narcissist will use tactics such as gaslighting (making you question your own sanity), triangulation (bringing in another person to support their machinations), and projection (accusing you of the things that they themselves are doing) to persuade the victim that they’re worthless. The longer this goes on, the more confident the narcissist gets in their ability to brainwash them, and eventually, it will get to a point where the victim is completely under their control.

The Four Phases of a Narcissist abuse cycle

The cycle has four phases: idealization, devaluation, discard, and hoovering. Victims may be subject to emotional and verbal abuse as well as physical violence during these phases. The cycle can repeat indefinitely if not stopped or interrupted by outside sources such as family members or law enforcement agencies.

Idealization-The first phase is called “idealization”, in which the abuser will lavish affection on their partner while projecting an image of themselves as perfect partners and people. They will flatter their victims by telling them how unique and special they are, dispelling any concerns the victim might have by playing it down or making fun of it.

Devaluation-Eventually, this behavior will start slipping. The abuser will begin withholding emotional and physical intimacy as punishment for small mistakes or just because they can. The victim will begin to feel less than and undesired by their partner.

This stage involves verbal insults, belittlement, humiliation, and frequently blaming the victim for anything bad that happens in the relationship. They may try to make themselves seem superior by putting down their partner in front of other people, showing off in front of them in an attempt to humiliate them, or gaslighting by denying everything they’ve said earlier.

Discard-Once the victim is completely broken down, the abuser discards them like yesterday’s trash and moves on to someone else with no second thoughts. During this phase, the abuser will completely withdraw from their partner until they are left feeling alone and abandoned.

Hoovering-After moving on to the next target, the narcissist might attempt to make amends with their former partner. They’ll try to get them back into the cycle by showering them with affection again in order to convince them. If the victim agrees, it will start all over from the beginning.

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Signs of narcissistic abuse :

The following are some signs that a person might be subject to narcissistic abuse:

1) They’ve been concealing their bruises with makeup or long sleeves- Victims of verbal and emotional abuse may downplay what’s going on because they feel ashamed of the situation. This is often accompanied by a fear of judgment from others who might not believe them, so they keep it a secret.

2) They have developed anxiety or mood disorders, such as PTSD- The emotional turmoil brought on by the psychological abuse from a narcissist can cause long-term mental damage that often leads to anxiety and depression.

3) They frequently feel worthless, helpless, hopeless, overwhelmed, and/or empty- The more the narcissist breaks them down, the harder it will be for them to rebuild their sense of self.

4) They feel like they can’t do anything right- Narcissists are perfectionists who will constantly criticize everything about the victim including their personality, appearance, accomplishments, etc. This constant negativity can lead to feelings of inadequacy.

5) They have problems with boundaries- Narcissists are extremely selfish people who rarely recognize personal boundaries, so it’s common for them to cross physical and emotional boundaries frequently without being aware of it.

6) They have trouble completing tasks- When the narcissist is belittling their victim during their devaluing phase, it can cause them to believe that they are incapable of doing anything right. This leads to frustration and the eventual loss of motivation.

7) They have an unstable sense of self During the idealization phase, narcissists will build up their victim’s self-confidence before destroying it during the devaluation stage. After being discarded, victims may feel lost and confused because their identity was based on what the abuser wanted.

8) They blame themselves for everything that goes wrong- Since abusers are extremely manipulative people, they will often make it seem like everything is the victim’s fault. This causes them to believe that it’s their own poor judgment that caused the downfall of the relationship.

9) They have issues with boundaries- Narcissists are extremely selfish people who rarely recognize personal boundaries, so it’s common for them to cross physical and emotional boundaries frequently without being aware of it.

10) They drink or use drugs to cope-  It’s not uncommon for victims of narcissistic abuse to turn to drink or drugs as a coping mechanism because it gives them an escape from the pain.

11) They often feel like they’re going crazy-  Narcissists are extremely manipulative, controlling people who will convince their victims that everyone else is wrong but them. This can lead to further confusion and eventually psychosis if it persists.

12) They have trust issues- Since the narcissist probably cheated on them during the devaluation phase, there’s a good chance that their trust has been broken. This makes it difficult for them to form new relationships because they are constantly wondering if their new partner will do the same thing.

How to recognize a narcissistic person

It’s critical to be able to identify the red flags of narcissists in order to avoid being taken advantage of.

Gaslighting (making you question your own sanity)

Narcissists will often gaslight their victims in an attempt to deflect from the abuse. They’ll twist around the facts of a situation until you start to question your own sense of reality.

Triangulation (bringing in another person to support their machinations)

In order to make themselves look better, narcissists will frequently bring in a third party to support their agenda.

Projection (accusing you of the things that they themselves are doing).

One of the most obvious signs of narcissists is when they start projecting their own negative traits onto you. Instead of admitting to their faults, they’ll try to blame you for them instead.

Tips for recovering from narcissistic abuse

It’s imperative to take the time to heal after suffering from narcissistic abuse. Every person’s journey will be different, but here are some tips for getting started.

1) Accept the fact that you are a survivor of narcissistic abuse- Narcissistic people are predators who will use any means necessary to control their victims. That includes undermining your sense of self-worth to break you down before discarding you. It’s important to acknowledge that it wasn’t your fault and that you’re not alone.

2) Take care of yourself- It can be difficult because so much of your identity was based on what the abuser wanted, but it’s absolutely imperative to take care of yourself now. During this time, remember all the amazing things that the narcissist tried to convince you didn’t matter.

3) Learn about narcissistic abuse- There are a variety of forums and websites dedicated to helping victims of narcissistic abuse heal from their experiences. These resources can provide tips, advice, and other important information that will help you get better.

4) Isolate yourself- Narcissists are constantly trying to keep their victims in a state of fear, so it’s important to build up your support network slowly. Narcissists are excellent at convincing you that the whole world is against you, so it can be difficult not to feel like others will treat you badly too.

5) Surround yourself with positive people-  It can be difficult to open up at first, but it’s important not to surround yourself with the same people you used to associate with. Narcissists try extremely hard to isolate their victims from others in order to control them more easily, so a fresh start is necessary for your well-being.

6) Keep going forward- It won’t happen overnight, but you will get better. Don’t let the narcissist win by stopping your life because of what they did or trying to go back to them under the guise of “working things out”.

7) Leave all doors open-  There’s a chance that you may want to reconcile with your abuser later on, so it’s important to leave all the doors open. In addition, it’s important to realize that just because you might have a chance with them doesn’t mean that you ought to take it- being involved with a narcissist is terrible for your mental health and this is a time when you need to be careful of yourself first.

8) Educate yourself about Narcissistic Personality Disorder-  It can be difficult to get away from someone who has a mental disorder, but it’s important to recognize the signs of NPD so you don’t put yourself in a position where you’ll have to deal with them again.

9) Remember that Narcissists Suck!- The more time passes after your breakup, the more you’ll come to realize that narcissists suck! They’re in it for themselves and don’t care who they have to hurt in order to keep their image up.

10) Support groups- It can be difficult when your support network is away from you, but there are support groups available almost anywhere via online networks or other resources.

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By Honey Let's Talk

I'm a certified relationship expert, professional counselor, and pastor. I've been helping people with their relationships for over 6 years. I'm passionate about helping people find and maintain healthy relationships.