Getting someone away from an abusive relationship is difficult. I’ve been through it and I’m sure many of you have too. It’s stressful and it can take over your life, even though it’s not your own life you’re saving.
However, for the abuse survivors, the real battle starts when they leave.
There’s a lot of healing for them to go through. We and the society in general need to do our best to be there for them. But the problem is, that doesn’t happen as much as it should.
Especially so for the victims of narcissists. As you may know, narcissists are manipulative and masters at pretending. They can come off as kind and loving when they want to. They might not cross the line between verbal and physical abuse either, so abuse survivors often get offensive comments.
Survivors are also expected to heal quickly or say that the victim is responsible for the abuse in some way.
All of this makes healing more difficult or even impossible.
A Narcissist is Not Just a Regular Jerk
Many people assume that a narcissist is just a normal person with a slightly worse temper. Even worse, that the relationship just wasn’t meant to be or that the pair wasn’t compatible in any way.
However, this is not true.
By diminishing the strength of the abuse, you are diminishing the pain the victim has felt. Narcissists exist on a wide spectrum but they are equally harmful to their victims. These people are chronically abusive and they cannot feel remorse. Leaving them, for the victim, is so much more dangerous than just leaving an incompatible partner. A narcissist has no empathy and they can intentionally do harm.
Confronting a narcissist in any way – as people often recommend, assuming it’s just a bad relationship – is extremely dangerous.
Healing is Never Quick
People closest to the abuse survivors sometimes rush the process of healing. They expect them to feel better as soon as they are away from their abuser. However, it doesn’t work like that.
You see, narcissists manipulated and “trained” their victim for so long with intermittent reinforcement and trauma bonding that the victim needs time. The healing process will last.
At first, the victim will think and talk a lot about the abuse and how it happened. They will mention a lot of events where their abuser was nice and kind while trying to understand how it all happened.
This can be hard on the people around them and they may push the survivor to stop. This is wrong and it will make the survivor feel guilty. Let them heal in their own way and in their own time.
Victim shaming is one of the worst things you can do. Asking them why they didn’t leave sooner or what they were thinking is victim-shaming. Telling them that they should just move past it or telling them to get more independent is also bad.
You have to understand that it is not their fault that they were abused. It’s the abusers fault.
Society in general needs to put more focus on the abuser and shame them for their actions. But as a friend or a family member of the victim, you need to be gentle and follow their own, unique healing process.