5 ways to tell you’ve been the victim of narcissistic abuse


Over the last 15 years or so I’ve made the link that most of my clients who struggle with low self-esteem currently have, or have had a narcissist somewhere in their life and have suffered abuse from them.

Could this be you too?

The narcissist could be a parent and/or older sibling, so you grew up with this abuse (remember Caroline from a few blogs ago). This is actually one of the main causes of low self-esteem. It’s covered in my E-book Why Do I Have Low Self Esteem and What Can I Do About it.

Or it could be a boss or partner/spouse, so you’ve experienced/are experiencing it as an adult.

For some unlucky individuals it will be both – child and adult.

Unfortunately, if you had a narcissist in your early life you’re TWICE as likely to have one in your adult life too. In a strange kind of way, it feels like the norm to you.

If you’re a Lovely you’re going to be a very kind, trusting person who generally sees the good in everyone. Because of this, you are particularly susceptible to mistreatment from narcissists and toxic individuals. In fact, Lovelies are often targeted by narcissists because of their adulation and forgiving nature. It’s the classic Narcissist-Empath toxic bond.

Many Lovelies have what I call Saviour Syndrome (I have the T shirt sadly). They love birds with broken wings, they HAVE to help people, they believe their love and support can heal the world. They have lots of compassion and understanding to give, but weak (if any) boundaries so they get taken advantage of and tolerate abusive behaviour in the name of Love. They have so much empathy, they can’t comprehend that others don’t. One of the main narcissistic traits is that they don’t have ANY genuine empathy.

People often use the term narcissist nowadays to describe controlling behaviour. It gets bandied about a lot. This blog relates to TRUE narcissistic personality disorder.

So how do you know whether you’ve been abused by a narcissist?

Here are 5 signs:-


Victims of narcissistic abuse are often uncertain of themselves; they constantly seek reassurance that they haven’t made a mistake or misheard something.

The reason for this is the narcissist will point the finger and shift blame for ALL of the ups and downs in the relationship AND the ones in the narcissist’s personal psyche too. Because the relationship has little or no boundaries, you find yourself constantly PUT UPON and FORCED to accept responsibility for things that you didn’t say or do.

Also, you are constantly criticized. NOTHING you do is ever good enough for the narcissist.

This is a sharp contrast to how they are in the beginning of the relationship. A narcissist will often ‘love bomb’ you in the beginning stages. Being utterly charming and attentive and sweeping you off your feet.


You’re almost permanently confused.

It’s confusing to know that you AREN’T responsible for someone else’s thinking, feelings or behaviour, but you’re constantly scolded as if you ARE responsible for them.

A narcissist purposefully causes this confusion. They know that a divided, conquered mind is a vulnerable, susceptible mind.

This behaviour is called ‘gas-lighting’.

Gas-lighting is a form of psychological abuse used to instill confusion and anxiety in someone to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment.

With gas lighting, you notice that something happens that feels odd, but the narcissist denies it. You attempt to fight this, but you’re confused further by being called names or told that you’re ‘too sensitive, crazy or you’re JUST imagining things’ or sometimes the narcissist flat out DENIES that they ever said anything hurtful or odd in the first place.

Gradually, you learn not to trust your own instincts and you begin to question yourself.

The narcissist will criticize your family and friends in an attempt to isolate you from them. Broken and unable to trust yourself, you believe them and start to isolate yourself further. You now doubt everything about yourself: your thoughts, opinions, ideas. You start to become dependent on the narcissist for your reality.

It is in your CONFUSION that the narcissist is able to successfully CONTROL you and use you as a scapegoat for their problems.


The vast majority of the time the narcissist is PROJECTING their personality disorder onto you. Deep down they have a lot of toxic shame and they will do anything they can to divert that on to someone else.

One minute they’re charming, and the next they’re completely toxic. You don’t know whether you’re on your head or your heels.

Plus having someone tell you constantly (or implying) that you’re going mad is sometimes enough to make you think that you’re going mad!


You don’t know what’s wrong but SOMETHING feels wrong…and toxic. You can’t quite grasp the words to articulate the abuse, yet at the same time, you VERY MUCH FEEL IT.

You feel as if your spark has gone out, you feel unmotivated and unhappy.

Children of narcissistic mothers or fathers might NEVER have had a spark in the first place. They nearly ALWAYS suffer from crippling low self esteem.

Other symptoms of this trauma can include avoidance, loss of interest, feeling detached, a sense of a limited future, sleeping or eating difficulties, nightmares, irritability, hyper-vigilance, flashbacks, excessive anxiety, phobias, hopelessness, psychosomatic illnesses and self-harming.


Victims of narcissistic abuse may ‘dissociate’ or detach from their emotions, body, or surroundings.

When you live with an extreme narcissist, the threat of abuse is always present. Any form of power and control can be used against you – emotional, physical or mental abuse; intimidation; isolation, economic abuse, sexual abuse, coercion, control, stonewalling and the silent treatment.

Dissociation is an automatic coping mechanism against overwhelming stress.

Symptoms sometimes found along with dissociation are PTSD, low self-esteem, depression, chronic pain, relationship difficulties, substance abuse, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Heavy stuff.

These symptoms may lead you to believe that YOU are the source of your problem. YOU ARE NOT THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM…THE NARCISSIST IN YOUR LIFE IS.

Realising you’re the victim of somebody else’s mental disorder can be unbelievably freeing. It’s not you after all. It’s their projection onto you.

Sadly through my therapy, divorce coaching and own experience I’ve become an expert in dealing with narcissistic abuse.

I can now spot a narcissist at 100 paces and when I do I make sure I walk in the other direction… quickly! I can teach you how to do the same thing. I don’t want you Lovelies to be susceptible ever again.

If reading this blog strikes a chord with you and you want expert help to deal with it, then please get in touch. It’s time for the abuse to stop and you to be healed.

Much Love

Christina xx

P.S. Although I’ve used a man in the image, all these traits apply equally to female narcissists.