Love-Bombing Is Crack Cocaine: The Addictive Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

By Shahida Arabi

IDEALIZATION AND LOVE-BOMBING

Highly skilled manipulators know how to seduce their prey – even without ever touching them. They are skilled wordsmiths and psychological puppeteers, pulling the strings each step of the way. They learn your love language and they know how to appeal to what you want to hear. They open doors, they take you out on extravagant dates, they take their time with foreplay – both verbal and physical. Their initial chivalry masks their cruelty.  Their tenderness is a very convincing façade for their chilly interior.

The idealization phase can only be described as pure, unadulterated ecstasy – both for the victim and the predator. Love-bombing – the excessive praise and flattery the predator showers on the prey – might as well be crack cocaine. It is a common manipulation used by cults to control their members – and in a relationship with a narcissist, you become a one-man cult. Your devotion to them becomes servile, disturbingly teetering on the edge of worship. And it’s usually because you’re following their lead.

The target is groomed to become addicted to the narcissist’s loving words and caring actions – not knowing they are hollow. We begin to invest in the predator as they seem to invest in us. They mirror our deepest needs and desires; they even mirror our interests, hobbies, and viewpoints. They tantalize us with the promise of a brighter future, a relationship where we are deeply validated and taken care of. We get used to the daily praise and laser-focused attention. Sex with the narcissist during the idealization phase is explosive – filled with just the right amount of tenderness and aggression – the narcissist knows exactly how to bring us to greater heights. It’s because they’ve studied what we like and have learned to mimic it. Little do we know, sex will later be used as ammunition.

During idealization and love-bombing, our place on the pedestal is secure and complete. We become the center of the narcissist’s world – or so we think. Really, they become the center of ours as we strive to measure up to the ideal image they have of us. They make us feel like God, only to cater to their own God complex.

Along the way, we deepen our investment because the bond feels so special and unique. We feel we’ve met our soulmate, our other half, our “twin flame.” What we’ve really met is someone who would burn us to ashes without a second glance if it meant getting what they wanted. This connection is heightened in a way that demands our attention on a physical, spiritual and even biochemical level – and before we know it, we begin to rely on this new person for survival. And that is when the danger begins.

Within even the most perfect period of idealization, there are tiny moments of recognition and fleeting red flags. Predators will always ‘test’ the boundaries of their victims early on – with provocative comments designed to make the victim doubt their perceptions. There will always be slippings of the mask where we get a terrifying view of the true self.

Yet these are so scarce during this phase that we are led to doubt whether we’ve seen anything at all. During love-bombing, the luckiest of survivors pick up on the cracks in the narcissist’s mask and see the empty shell beneath – and they do not attempt to rationalize or fix the fractured pieces. They are able to depart with their savings and sanity intact – they are able to leave, still whole. The rest move onto the devaluation phase, to be tattered and broken.

DEVALUATION

An adept emotional predator knows how to exploit a target’s strengths as well as his or her weaknesses. From the very beginning of the relationship, they’re taking an inventory of the qualities you possess that would enable them to exploit you. That means that they’re not only zooming in on your vulnerability, they’re also preying on your resilience and empathy – your ability to bounce back and your capacity to sympathize with their excuses for bad behavior.

When devaluation begins, it’s not always sudden. In fact, it can be like a gunshot in the dark or a quiet murmur in the corner. You just ‘feel’ that something has shifted, but you’re not sure why, how, where, or when. Your lover stops taking your calls. They withdraw without an explanation. You see them interacting with others in a playful, flirtatious way – in the same way they used to act with you. They praise others the way they used to praise you. The once coveted partnership you two used to share seems to have been displaced onto another replacement target (or multiple targets) – someone who is now on the receiving end of the flattery and attention you once cherished.

Meanwhile, you seem to be on the receiving end of their criticism, their harsh insults, their never-ending rage attacks.  The number of disappearances, discrepancies and marked evidence of infidelity start to climb. When they pull away, they pull away with full force – and they enjoy seeing your humiliation when you pine for them. They enjoy actively provoking you to respond, making you out to be the crazy one. And they love bringing in others into the dynamic of the relationship – whether they be friend, foe, ex, or stranger.

Then there is the stone-cold silence after stonewalling you during arguments. The narcissist’s silent treatment is deafening – and it hurts, literally. You feel an invisible, solid wall placed between you two – it’s an inexplicable feeling of being trapped yet tethered. You ache for the person you had constructed in your mind – a person he or she was all too happy to portray for a short period of time.

But the man or woman you love does not exist. And this is a painful reality for anyone – let alone someone who has a high level of investment in the relationship – to swallow.

Targets who are devalued are torn to shreds by the verbal and emotional battery inflicted by their narcissistic partners. Their psyche is infiltrated with disempowering belief systems and messages about their worthiness. They live day-to-day in a perpetual battle – a power struggle that never seems to end. They try not to internalize the criticism and blame, but they feel ashamed about being treated so viciously. This is not a shame that is theirs to carry – it belongs to their perpetrators. Yet they feel it deep down to their bones. It burdens them on sleepless nights and through countless weary days. Throughout the vicious cycle, pain is periodically mixed with pleasure. Victims are overjoyed at receiving crumbs of attention from their abusers – only to be devastated by blow after blow.

Those who are able to survive the devaluation phase unfortunately move onto the final phase (although, to be fair, there is no such thing as a ‘final’ phase to a narcissist, who never seems to let his or her victims go).

THE DISCARD

Those who are able to escape and ‘discard’ the perpetrator first do not really escape, as they tend to be stalked and harassed even years later by the vindictive narcissist.

Those who are discarded suffer a horrific trauma as well – they are pummeled by the narcissist’s cruel and callous indifference as they are seemingly rejected and disposed of by someone who they thought loved them. After having their body, mind and soul violated, used, destroyed, they are then subjected to the ultimate betrayal. They are left in a way that leaves no closure. The discard is staged in a way that is excessively painful and humiliating for the victim. Perhaps it occurs in public, or happens shortly after the narcissist has galivanted off with their new victim. Maybe it is accompanied by a sickening twist of events, an unraveling of shocking truths about the extent of the narcissist’s betrayals or an especially violent rage attack. However it happens, it is merciless and calculated to destroy.

Victims of narcissistic abuse are often brought to their knees and left blindsided by the narcissist’s departure. They are depleted, drained, belittled, diminished. They are left with more questions than answers, more doubt than certainty. Many fall into depression, spells of anxiety, and suffer the symptoms of trauma. In extreme cases, some even commit suicide or get close to the precipice of death. If they are not familiar with or well-versed about the cycle of abuse, they have a tendency to blame themselves for being abused, not realizing that this malignant predator has just sucked them dry.

If the victim survives the discard, the only path left is the long road to healing. That is, unless they become entangled in the narcissist’s games once more and sucked back into the traumatic vortex of the relationship. If so, the cycle just begins again.

Get my #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare.how-to-devalue-and-discard-the-narcissist-r2-ebook-cover-3

About Shahida Arabi, Bestselling Author

Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school, where she studied the effects of bullying across the life-course trajectory. She is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of three books, including Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, featured as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories and as a #1 Amazon bestseller in personality disorders for twelve consecutive months after its release. Her most recent bookPOWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse, was also featured as a #1 Amazon best seller in Applied Psychology.

She is the founder of the popular blog for abuse survivors, Self-Care Haven, which has millions of views from all over the world. Her work has been shared and endorsed by numerous clinicians, mental health advocates, mental health professionals and bestselling authors.

For her undergraduate education, Shahida graduated summa cum laude from NYU where she studied English Literature and Psychology. She is passionate about using her knowledge base in psychology, sociology, gender studies and mental health to help survivors empower themselves after emotional abuse and trauma. Her writing has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline,  Salon, The Huffington Post, MOGUL, The Meadows, Thought Catalog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O’Neal’s website.

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9 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You’ve Been Abused By A Narcissist

There are nine things you’re prone to doing when you’ve been abused by a narcissist.

Read: 9 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You’ve Been Abused By A Narcissist

For The Girls Who Are Not Afraid Of Wolves

When Little Red Riding Hood
Defeats the wolf –
When the lamb becomes the lion –
And the prey becomes the huntress –
Everyone acts surprised.

As if they did not see her coming.
As if they did not place the salt on her wounds.
As if they did not cut her open, open her wide –
Expect her to swallow her defeat.

Read the full poem: For The Girls Who Do Not Fear Wolves

Like this poem? Check out more poems like this in She Who Destroys the Light: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong.

The Narcissistic Conspiracy: Scapegoating, Smear Campaigns And Black Sheep – How Narcissistic Groups Bully Their Targets

When we speak about narcissism, we often focus on the individual. He or she is narcissistic. He or she is a victim of a narcissist. Yet what about those victims who are bullied and targeted by groups filled with narcissistic individuals or in a group where the narcissistic pack leader has toxic enablers? What happens when there is a conspiracy led by an entire group against one individual?

Contrary to popular belief, narcissism can and does run in group dynamics too – it just plays out on an even more massive and destructive scale. Rather than one partner abusing another, there is an entire group working to undermine and plot against a chosen target – whether in the family, the workplace, communities, or friendship circles.

Here’s how it happens and what to know if you’ve ever been persecuted, scapegoated and bullied by a group:

READ: The Narcissistic Conspiracy: Scapegoating, Smear Campaigns And Black Sheep – How Narcissistic Groups Bully Their Chosen Victims


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“You must believe that your quest can be successful, even if no one else does. You can deal with setbacks, misadventures, and even disasters as long as you still believe you can overcome the hardships and see your way to the end.” — Chris Guillebeau

Check out more inspirational quotes to brighten your day!

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“She’s a pure narcissist, so helping her victims is only about gaining their appreciation and dependence.” — Randy Huggins

Like this quote? Check out more quotes from Criminal Minds.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: The One Thing That Gives Covert Narcissists Away

There is one thing that gives away a covert narcissist – the wolf in sheep’s clothing – even early on. Can you guess what it is?

READ: The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: How To Spot A Covert Narcissist And The One Thing That Always Gives Them Away

11 Things I Learned About Narcissists And Sociopaths By Age 27 – That I Wish Everyone Knew

“How can you be so young and know so much about narcissism and psychopathy?” I’ve been met with this question frequently as an author in my twenties who writes about psychological abuse and covert emotional predators. The answer is, on the surface, simple: the child of a narcissistic parent becomes primed to meet more predators in adulthood. We tend to have porous boundaries, a high degree of empathy, resilience and intuition that gets used against us by toxic people. So we often go through a lifetime’s worth of experiences early on that give us hard-won wisdom and insights about toxic people at every point on the spectrum.

I’ve met toxic people across various contexts – from romantic to platonic to professional. From the familial to the foe. From the garden-variety narcissist to the eerie psychopath or sociopath (colloquial terms for those with antisocial traits and a lack of conscience).

I took my findings from childhood and supplemented my real-life experiences with an educational background in psychology and sociology in adulthood. I spent years communicating with and surveying survivors of covert emotional abuse about their experiences.

As a result, I learned not only to identify predators, but to study them, to find ways to counter their manipulative tactics and help other survivors like myself detach and heal.

Here are eleven things I learned about sociopaths, narcissists and toxic people by the age of twenty-seven – that I think everyone should know…

READ HERE: 11 Things I Learned About Narcissists And Sociopaths By Age 27 That I Wish Everyone Knew 

7 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You’re The Child Of A Narcissistic Parent

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By Shahida Arabi

Being the child of a narcissistic parent is one of the most heartbreaking and traumatizing things a person can go through. Not only are you required to survive a war zone in childhood, you are left with life-long consequences that extend far into adulthood. Here are seven things you might be doing as a result:

1. Apologizing more than you have to, even if no apology is needed.

Children of narcissistic parents tend to become fluent in saying “sorry” – even for just their very existence. It’s because they’ve been taught by their parents that they are a burden. This is especially true for female victims who are also socialized to be people-pleasing and accommodating. It takes time to unlearn this behavior and learn to only apologize for actual transgressions rather than any perceived burdensomeness.

READ THE REST: 7 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You’re The Child Of A Narcissistic Parent

11 Signs You’re The Narcissist’s Worst Nightmare

Image by Tyler Nix. This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

By Shahida Arabi

1. You used the pain they gave you as fuel to create your greatest victories. Whatever adversity you went through due to this person, you’ve used it as a platform to rise higher and become more bold than you’ve ever been. Time and time again, you’ve channeled the toxicity of their actions into your success. Everything you learned from this relationship has been used to rebuild your life, redesign yourself and come into your full power.

2. You know how to self-validate. Narcissists love making their victims dependent on them for validation and approval. When a victim is able to self-validate and knows deep within how beautiful, successful, talented and worthy they are, it’s deeply unnerving to them. They are drawn to our confidence because they want to squash it and establish their so-called superiority. Fortunately for you, your ability to self-validate allows you to move on from a narcissist’s mind games without so much as a second glance. You don’t need their approval, because you already approve of yourself.

3. You don’t wait for answers – you give yourself closure. Rather than waiting around, pining for the narcissist to acknowledge everything you had together, you were able to give yourself closure and leave your toxic partner, friend or family member in the dust. This means no matter what they put you through, you’ve been able to walk away with your head held high in dignity. Despite any lingering self-doubt, you know deep down that you are better off without this sick and toxic person in your life.

4. You have support and you know how to support yourself. You have a healthy, thriving support network of people who love and care about you. You know when to reach out for help when you need it, but you also know how to self-soothe and take care of yourself. Your coping skills are top-notch. If you need to meditate, you do so. When you need a good runner’s high, you’re the first one on the treadmill. Whether you need to engage in self-care by taking a yoga class, attending a counseling session or taking a digital detox – you know exactly where to go to better care for yourself.

5. You’re independent – whether it be financially, emotionally, mentally, or socially – or all of the above. Narcissists rely on any void we have in our lives so they can temporarily ‘fill’ that gap before terrorizing us. However, your independence makes you a terrifying target not to be messed with, because they know you can survive on your own and can leave at any time. Whether it’s because you make your own money, have a thriving career, live on your own, have a good group of friends or don’t rely on anyone to define you (or all of the above), you’ve got it going on, all by yourself and on your own terms.

6. You pick up on manipulative and exploitative intent – and you make it clear you won’t tolerate it. When you pick up on the conniving, selfish motives of toxic people, you’re immediately turned off. You can’t even fathom wasting more time and energy on these people. Rather than working hard to cater to their needs or bend over backwards to catch up to their moving goal posts and expectations, you remove yourself from the equation altogether. Silence is your best friend and you cut off contact with people who seek to deplete you more than they support you. When you’re done, you’re done, and there’s no looking back.

7. You’re resilient as hell. You’ve come a long way on your journey to freedom and that means you’re not willing to give up, no matter what happens. You didn’t come this far just to come this far. Whatever’s in your way better watch the fuck out, because to you it’s just another obstacle to overcome on your way to freedom and success.

8. You can manifest amazing things in your life. Whether it be meeting your professional goals or finding the love of your life, there is no limit for you. You have gone through so much adversity that you are determined to reap the rewards of your hard-earned wisdom. And time and time again, you do.

9. You know your worth, so you’re always receptive to something better. You know you deserve better and you know you have options. As a result, you close yourself off to the toxicity of the old and become receptive to a future that’s bigger, better and brighter. You don’t push good things away – you welcome them with open arms, because you know you are worthy of it all and more.

10. You speak your mind and you’re a badass about following through with your boundaries. Narcissists and similar-minded toxic people try to rob us of our core values and erode our identity. Because you stand so firmly in your truth, you make no compromises when it comes to what’s important to you. If something doesn’t sit well with your integrity or beliefs, you’ll cut the ties with it fairly quickly because your personal character is of more value to you than a superficial relationship that would require you to sacrifice it.

11. You can reframe just about anything into your highest good and the greater good. The wisdom you gain can help others and you know it. You’re well aware that the obstacles you face can lead to personal development. Whether it be narcissistic abuse or another form of adversity, you’re willing to see what can be learned from each and every experience you have because you know it can be channeled into something greater. You know the best is yet to come.

Get my #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare.how-to-devalue-and-discard-the-narcissist-r2-ebook-cover-3

About Shahida Arabi, Bestselling Author

Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school, where she studied the effects of bullying across the life-course trajectory. She is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of three books, including Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, featured as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories and as a #1 Amazon bestseller in personality disorders for twelve consecutive months after its release. Her most recent bookPOWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse, was also featured as a #1 Amazon best seller in Applied Psychology.

She is the founder of the popular blog for abuse survivors, Self-Care Haven, which has millions of views from all over the world. Her work has been shared and endorsed by numerous clinicians, mental health advocates, mental health professionals and bestselling authors. For her undergraduate education, Shahida graduated summa cum laude from NYU where she studied English Literature and Psychology. She is passionate about using her knowledge base in psychology, sociology, gender studies and mental health to help survivors empower themselves after emotional abuse and trauma. Her writing has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline,  Salon, The Huffington Post, MOGUL, The Meadows, Thought Catalog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O’Neal’s website.

Survivor Poetry: Invisible Girls Will Inherit The Earth

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

This Is For The Invisible Girls By Shahida Arabi

This is for the invisible girls
The ones society sought to erase
From their narratives.
Invisible girls who bloom into magnificence
where no one can see them.
Their petals reach far and wide beyond man-made fences,
yearning to be held
But meet only the thorns
Of creeping hands and lecherous gazes,
Envy and disdain, indifference and blame.

They wrap invisible girls in black curtains,
Shut the windows around their bodies,
Press their fingers against their lips
Pay for their silence.
Keep quiet, they say.
Your body is a loaded gun,
We need no triggers here.

Sometimes the problem is that invisible girls
Are too visible, too powerful, too fierce.
The world likes to box them in to contain them.
Your beauty is a silhouette, they lie,
to manage their storm.
We crown only suns.

Your soul is a maze, easy to get lost in, we can’t keep track
of what you call home. We don’t know where your beauty belongs.
Glorious and unusual, but you are not welcome,
They whisper. It’s not like the beauty we’re used to,
we cannot accept you.
But there’s a tremor in their voices,
an uncertainty in their gaze,
as if to turn their eyes away
from the eclipse.

The beauty of invisible girls
is treated like a crooked house, filled with only lanterns and tiny flames
Lighting the way, but no one dares to climb the darkness
Fifty stories high just for the splendor of the view.
Invisible girls
are either too much or not enough
so they melt their words into wax,
blowing them out like candles before they’ve even begun to ignite,
treating their thoughts like black holes rather than stardust.

Invisible girls are so larger than life
they are taught to hide themselves,
trained to become the shadows lurking on the walls.

Invisible girls cradle unspoken truths in their mouths,
Choke back the broken promises
In the back of their throats

As they watch their more esteemed sisters become
Homecoming queens, as they swallow the lies they are fed
About their worthiness, equating their beauty to their value
and their womanhood to weakness.
As they learn to smile through infinite violations and transgressions,
invisible girls shrink, dim their light, play small,
learn the art of biting their tongues.

They forget they are the ones who bring forth powerful verses
Create new worlds with just their hands.
But for years, they watched others star in the stories they’ve written –
using their scars for their own gain.
Invisible girls are the bearer of secrets
Ones that could expose everything –
How the hierarchy is built on glass houses
Just waiting to be shattered by their footfall.

But you have to know this.
Invisible girls eventually awaken from their deep slumber.
One day, they will all dare to take up space.

They will learn how to crawl out of the tombs
they’ve been buried in
They will learn how to walk on fire,
they will learn how to tread water,
With no more stones in their pockets weighing them down.

Invisible girls will rewrite the stories others have written for them —
Transform the rage buried in their throats
Into gold.
They will leave the cages that were forged for them
So their bodies can finally dance
in the spaces they were once shunned.

One day their uncommon beauty will be allowed to grow, tangled like vines
Feasting on the very walls that once contained them.
Their strength will be unyielding,
When they realize the world turns for them too.

One day they will flee
Into the forests where they were birthed,
Reclaim their abundance.
Breathing in the light for the first time, they will soak up the moon
Greeting them through the gaps between wild trees.
They will bathe in the water that was always theirs,
Drink in their reflection,
Finally quenching their own thirst
Rather than catering to everyone else’s hunger.

For so long, invisible girls have felt the fire in their bones
watered down by the disappointment of knowing their gifts were not seen,
their voices were not heard, their stories not read.
They bore witness in silence, watched as others who met some arbitrary ideal
were chosen to represent what beauty and power meant.
Now it is their turn. It is time for invisible girls to inherit the earth.

One day, they will howl at the full moon,
unearth their crowns
dethrone their oppressors and
finally see themselves in the stars.

When the revolution comes,
Invisible girls will learn to melt fire in their palms
Learn to tame the rivers with their fingertips
Learn to call forth the rain with their lips.
With their voices,
Invisible girls will bring the wind
And the earthquakes.

Invisible girls will learn when they are no longer imprisoned
That the bars surrounding them
were never meant to trap what no one wanted to see.
Rather, they contained the light everyone was fearful of.

The world made cages out of their spirits, their hearts, their bodies —
So that invisible girls could never learn the power of their visibility.

There is raw magic when
Invisible girls finally get their reckoning.
When they are seen, when they are heard,
When their stories are finally told —
Their minds bear a universe
No man can hold.

–Shahida Arabi

Featured Image Source: Zulmaury Saavedra 

Dating and Being Single After Narcissistic Abuse

I am always asked about dating after narcissistic abuse. How long should one remain single? How can one protect oneself in the modern dating world, where narcissists and sociopaths are likely lurking? Healing is a process that should be honored and it’s important to be single for a period of time after abuse. Here are some articles of mine that may help:

temptingnarrative

READ: The Powerful Truth About Dating After Narcissistic Abuse Every Survivor Needs To Know

ALSO READ Online Dating Is A Hunting Ground For Narcissists And Sociopaths: Protecting Yourself In The Modern Dating Age

AND Single Women Are Happier Than Society Thinks They Are – According To Research

 

12 Things Narcissists Say And What They REALLY Mean

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This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

If you’ve read my book Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare, you know I have a whole section in it dedicated to translating commonly used phrases that are essentially used as weapons in the hands of an emotional predator.

I’ve created a list of these to give you the shorter version. Spoiler alert: it’s not pretty. But it is useful to decoding the language of a manipulator – and hopefully learning to trust their actions more than their words.

12 Things Narcissists Say And What They REALLY Mean


Anyone who has ever been in a relationship with a malignant narcissist or otherwise manipulative, toxic person is well acquainted with how they use language differently.

The phrases that most people use in everyday conversations bear a far different meaning in the context of an abusive relationship with a narcissist.  As Carrie Barron M.D. notes, “Current thought challenges the notion that narcissists secretly suffer from low self-esteem or insecurity.  Or that they suffer as much as we thought in the ways that we thought. Recent findings indicate they take pleasure in successful manipulations. Putting down unsuspecting, soft-hearted souls in their midst is a sport. They truly believe in their superiority even if objective evidence does not back it up.”

When you’re dealing with an empathy-deficient individual with a high sense of entitlement and a sadistic need to bring others down, conversations become crazymaking minefields meant to psychologically terrorize and divert you. In fact, to decode a narcissist’s language requires listening more to their actions than their words.

When a narcissist’s words are translated into their actual meaning, the results are frankly disturbing. Here are twelve common phrases narcissists use and what they actually mean:

1. I love you. 

Translation: I love owning you. I love controlling you. I love using you. It feels so good to love-bomb you, to sweet-talk you, to pull you in and to discard you whenever I please. When I flatter you, I can have anything I want. You trust me. You open up so easily, even after you’ve already been mistreated. Once you’re hooked and invested, I’ll pull the rug beneath your feet just to watch you fall.

2. I am sorry you feel that way.

Translation: Sorry, not sorry. Let’s get this argument over with already so I can continue my abusive behavior in peace. I am not sorry that I did what I did, I am sorry I got caught. I am sorry you’re calling me out. I am sorry that I am being held accountable. I am sorry you have the emotions that you do. To me, they’re not valid because I am entitled to have everything I want – regardless of how you feel about it.

3. You’re oversensitive/overreacting.

Translation: You’re having a perfectly normal reaction to an immense amount of bullshit, but all I see is that you’re catching on. Let me gaslight you some more so you second-guess yourself. Emotionally invalidating you is the key to keeping you compliant. So long as you don’t trust yourself, you’ll work that much harder to rationalize, minimize and deny my abuse. While you’re working so hard to please me, I am reaping all the benefits without any consequences for my behavior.

4. You’re crazy.

Translation: I am a master of creating chaos to provoke you. I love it when you react. That way, I can point the finger and say you’re the crazy one. After all, no one would listen to what you say about me if they thought you were just bitter or unstable. Forget the fact that I am the one who’s truly rageful and irrational, lashing out anything that threatens my sense of superiority.

5. My exes are crazy.

Translation: I made my exes crazy. It was so fun! All I had to do was provoke, poke and prod until I got a reaction. Finally when I did, I used those reactions against them to show everyone how unhinged they are. Soon, you’ll be the “crazy ex” too.

6. She/he is just a friend.

Translation: I keep this person as a backup for whenever I get bored. They may replace you if you leave. In fact, they may already be acting as a valuable side piece. If you complain about my shady behavior with this person, I’ll make sure you seem like the controlling one.

7. You’re so jealous and insecure.

Translation: God, this love triangle is fun. I love the way you compete for my attention. Makes me feel so desirable and powerful when I flirt with others in front of you. Gets you riled up. It’s especially entertaining to manufacture insecurities in you by pointing out flaws that don’t exist or to pick at the wounds that already do. The more diminished you feel, the less likely you’ll try to escape my grasp. The truth is, everything you suspect about my flirtations and affairs is grounded in reality. But let me remind you: I am entitled to everything. That includes the attention of other romantic prospects.

8. You have trust issues.

Translation: I am an untrustworthy person, which I’ve shown time and time again by betraying you. Your gut is right, but it’ll be a cold day in hell if I ever admit it. The best thing you could probably do is trust yourself and run in the other direction – but of course, that would be far less fun for me.

9. It’s not all about you.

Translation: It’s really all about me, me, me. If you ever turn the attention back to your own needs, I’ll make sure to project my own self-centeredness onto you. I’ll make you feel guilty and ashamed of having these needs in the first place, because I’ll never be able to fulfill them. I just don’t have the emotional equipment to do so – nor do I want to, because it takes the focus away from the person who’s really important. Me!

10. Why can’t we remain friends?

Translation: I really don’t like losing members of my personal harem. I’d prefer to keep you on the back burner in case I need to use you in the future. Plus, collecting exes is a hobby of mine. It’s so convenient to be able to reach out to one whenever I am feeling especially bored. Who knew being friends could be such a great way to prevent losing valuable sources of supply so easily?

11. No one would believe you.

Translation: I’ve isolated you to the point where you feel you have no support. I’ve smeared your name to others ahead of time so people already suspect the lies I’ve told about you. So yes, some people may not believe you – especially the ones who still think I am an amazing person. Especially the people who continue to enable me.

There are still others who might believe you, though, and I can’t risk being caught. Making you feel alienated and alone is the best way for me to protect my image. It’s the best way to convince you to remain silent and never speak the truth about who I really am.

12. You’ll never find someone else like me.

Translation: If you never find someone else like me, that’s a good thing. There are empathic people out there who will treat you far better than I ever did. But I’d never want you to find them or discover your true worth. I’d prefer you to keep pining after me.

Get my #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare.how-to-devalue-and-discard-the-narcissist-r2-ebook-cover-3

About Shahida Arabi, Bestselling Author

Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school, where she studied the effects of bullying across the life-course trajectory. She is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of three books, including Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, featured as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories and as a #1 Amazon bestseller in personality disorders for twelve consecutive months after its release. Her most recent bookPOWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse, was also featured as a #1 Amazon best seller in Applied Psychology.

She is the founder of the popular blog for abuse survivors, Self-Care Haven, which has millions of views from all over the world. Her work has been shared and endorsed by numerous clinicians, mental health advocates, mental health professionals and bestselling authors. For her undergraduate education, Shahida graduated summa cum laude from NYU where she studied English Literature and Psychology. She is passionate about using her knowledge base in psychology, sociology, gender studies and mental health to help survivors empower themselves after emotional abuse and trauma. Her writing has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline,  Salon, The Huffington Post, MOGUL, The Meadows, Thought Catalog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O’Neal’s website.

The Psychological War Zone: 5 Ways Children of Narcissistic Parents Self-Destruct In Adulthood

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                                                                                                                                                                Photo by Sarah Diniz Outeiro

Much of society associates the terms “trauma” and “PTSD” with war veterans. Yet we forget about the children who grow up in war zones at home, who suffer psychological scarring at vulnerable developmental stages of their lives. The effects of verbal and emotional abuse at such a young age leaves a devastating mark in adulthood. The children of narcissistic parents are especially susceptible to these effects.

This is one of the most important articles I’ve written about the impact of having narcissistic parents. It addresses the five lifelong consequences we can suffer when we’ve been terrorized in childhood and steps on how to start healing – including how to cut the emotional umbilical cord with our abusive parents.

READ THE ARTICLE: The Invisible War Zone: 5 Ways Children Of Narcissistic Parents Self-Destruct In Adulthood

6 Secrets The Narcissist Hopes You Never Learn

 

6secrets
Image by Caleb Betts. This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

By Shahida Arabi

We all know that that malignant narcissists (narcissists who also have antisocial traits) are manipulative and can even fool experts, psychiatrists and the most experienced of law enforcement officials. Yet there are six crucial truths about these types of manipulators that can come in handy when it comes to resisting their tactics. Use this information wisely and you can find yourself cutting the cord to a toxic relationship with one that much more safely:

1. They will unmask themselves much more quickly when they think you’re not aware of who they truly are.

Direct confrontation of their narcissism will result in further manipulation and narcissistic rage, which can cause you to remain entrenched in the cycle of abuse.

If you suspect you’re with a narcissist, the better route might be to prepare mentally on how to leave while collecting more information about their characterWatch out for the red flags and when you see them, self-validate without relying on the narcissist’s counter-explanation (which is likely to be filled with a whole lot of gaslighting, projection and half-truths). Their actions and pattern of behavior will tell you far more than their words ever will.

Pretend to be the naïve lamb rather than the wise lion and you’ll get yourself a manipulator who won’t work as hard to conceal their contempt, their malice and their joy at bringing others down. Their mask will slip all the more frequently because they don’t feel as invested in managing their image around you. They will assume you’re gullible enough to believe in their façade, which satisfies their need to feel grandiose and superior to you.

This will also give you the ability to observe their behavior more carefully because it will be less filtered by their attempts to charm you. By the time your abuser has realized that you’ve caught on, you’ll be well on your way out the door. That is why I always recommend that when victims recognize that they are dealing with a narcissistic partner, to never confront them using the term “narcissist.” It will only cause narcissistic rage and backlash that can convince you to retreat.

“Hell hath no fury or contempt as a narcissist you dare to disagree with, tell they’re wrong, or embarrass… What is really at the core of narcissists is an instability in their ability to feel and sustain feeling bigger, larger, smarter and more successful than everyone else which they need to feel stable.  Narcissistic rage occurs when that core instability is threatened and furthermore threatened to destabilize them even further.” – Mark Goulston, M.D., Rage – Coming Soon From A Narcissist Near You

Rage isn’t the only response narcissists have to your awakening of the truth. In response to your public acknowledgement of their narcissism, some narcissists will work that much harder to groom you and re-idealize you, thus making you more confused about the nature of their true character.

They will do everything possible to punish you or coerce you into staying – including love-bombing you again to make you remember the good times. During the same time they’re throwing in crumbs of affection, they’re also plotting on how to best covet what resources of yours they can get before the relationship is over.

As you prepare your exit as quietly as possible (preferably with the help of a good lawyer and a safety plan) – you have a better chance of departing safely with your sanity and your finances still intact. Sure, they may think you’re a fool for the time being, but once they realize you secretly had the upper hand all along, they’ll be outraged for completely different reasons – namely, due to the loss of control.

2. One of their biggest fears is being caught and held accountable – so always document their abuse whenever possible.

Recently we’ve had a string of predators being exposed for sexual assault and harassment. It is no coincidence that many of these predators finally ‘fessed up because of being held accountable on a much larger scale this time around. Perhaps the cultural climate protected them decades ago, but when an NYTimes exposé shares the stories of numerous victims stepping forward, it’s a lot more difficult to gaslight everyone you’ve victimized into thinking they’re “crazy” or “oversensitive.” Not only do victims have more evidence, they also realize they’re not alone.

You can use this knowledge of a covert predator’s fear of exposure to your advantage. Document all incidents of abuse so that you have it on hand should you ever need to go to court, take legal action, or for the purpose of getting a restraining order.

Narcissists care deeply about their status and reputation, so if they feel they may be exposed as culpable for their crimes, they’ll scurry quickly because they will consider you a “high-risk” victim. They’re paranoid about being caught – so even just dropping a subtle hint that you mean business (for example, noting that you’ve been speaking to someone else about what’s been happening – preferably someone they can’t manipulate) can cause them to flee quicker than you can say “gaslighting.”

On documenting abuse that is not physical, Heather Debreceni, former sheriff and professional divorce coach advises:

“The best way to protect yourself: writing or journaling as much as you possibly can…download your text messages and keep them in a file. Keep your messages brief and factual, and avoid emotion, whatever you do. Emotion can’t be proved in court, but facts can. Some states also allow you to record phone conversations, so you can record threats from your abuser.”

As Debreceni notes, it is important to stay calm yourself whenever reacting to a narcissist’s provocations through text, phone calls or e-mails because the narcissist is also trying to ensure that they also have you on the record – whether they’re trying to depict you as an unfit parent or a crazy ex (while they’re the ones stalking you), remember to always appear stoic and stick to the facts when communicating with them.

Whether it be photographing injuries or stalking behavior, taking screenshots of online messages, recording phone conversations (if permitted by law in your state), saving text messages, and voicemails and/or keeping a journal of abusive incidents, it can all serve you in the future should you ever want to take legal action or even if you just want to reconnect to the reality of what you experienced.

3. Your indifference is their kryptonite.

Forget any type of petty revenge you may be plotting; malignant narcissists see all of your emotional responses to them (whether positive or negative) as attention, and they live for that shit. Instead, refocus on yourself and on rebuilding a better life (not for the narcissist, but for you). It won’t be long until you’re moving forward, kicking some serious ass and thinking less and less of the person who once terrorized you.

If you do you choose to grant them access to your emotional responses, rest assured they will use it to bolster themselves and feed off of your energy. As narcissism expert and author Dr. Martinez-Lewi puts it:

“When we live with a narcissist – mother, father, spouse, sibling or are involved with them, our psychological energy is continually sapped. Some victims of narcissists describe this process as trying to destroy and annihilate them, taking what is most precious inside away with their cruelties, chronic deceptions, hidden agendas, humiliations, threats and ambushes.”

That’s why it’s so important to go No Contact (or Low Contact if co-parenting) to prevent their parasitic ways of feasting on your empathy. By that time, you simply won’t care what they’re up to or who they’re with because you’ll know for a fact that they’re repeating a similar abuse cycle with their newest victim. And ironically, it is in that state of utter indifference that the narcissist becomes most powerless, because they know they are no longer able to control you.

4. They’re not hoping you’ll come back to them so they can give you the good relationship you truly deserve. They hope you’ll come back to them just so they can have the final say and re-traumatize you further.

Narcissists hate being “discarded” first because it represents a loss of power and a threat to their perceived superiority. After all, if you were the one who initiated the breakup, it means they didn’t get to have the complete emotional control they feel entitled to in their relationships. They need to have the last word; they need to feel like they’ve terrorized you to such an extent that you would be unable to move forward after being in a relationship with them.

So that’s why they really come crawling back and ask for a second, third and fiftieth chance. It’s not because they miss you. It’s because they miss feeling like they own you.

“When the narcissist senses that you are leaving the relationship, they will try to suck you back in…  This is a common pattern in abusive relationships.  There’s an abusive episode, then a reconciliation phase, then a buildup of tension, then another abusive episode.  The cycle doesn’t end.  With a narcissist, the blowup gets worse each time you reconcile.  And that blowup is coming.” –  Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, So You’re In A Relationship With A Narcissist, Now What?

 5. You’re not inferior in any way to their other victims or new targets.

Remember that narcissists don’t see their relationship partners as people – they see them as objects, as sources of what psychologists call “narcissistic supply.”

However, they’d like you to believe that the reason they’re picking on you is because you’re more disposable, less than or somehow defective. That’s why they’ll compare you to their exes or their new targets. In order to resist this form of crazymaking triangulation, remember how the narcissist talked about their ex in the beginning of your relationship, in the early stages of idealizing you.

Chances are, they called their ex-partner “crazy” along with a whole other plethora of disparaging narratives – which is what they’re probably now doing to you as they relay their distortions to their latest target.

Narcissistic supply is the form of exchange that a narcissist will accept from those he is in a relationship with to gratify his insatiable needs; but this supply is not love, because narcissists are rarely capable of receiving love.  – Shari Stines, Psy.D, Love and the Narcissist

They always repeat the cycle with others.  To them, you are no different, even if they’d like you to think otherwise.

6. They’re not really that humble or remorseful – and pity is one of their greatest ploys.

Narcissists project an image of themselves as very charitable and humble human beings in the beginning of every relationship. It’s what makes them so compelling and charismatic to society. It’s what disarms law enforcement and their harem, allowing them to skirt the law with a slap on the wrist and no more than a dent in their reputations.

Even the most hardened police officers can witness an impressive performance of faux remorse from a narcissist they’re meeting for the first time and find themselves thinking, “Aww, how noble.” You look at the same performance after years of being with them and see a snake attempting to put on a furry dog costume.  

Don’t get me wrong: some people truly are modest and humble, which can be wonderful traits. Narcissists, on the other hand, use the image of modesty to mask their true haughty interiors. A narcissist who is truly arrogant and contemptuous may hide it well during the first few months of a relationship (though there may be tiny tells through their facial expressions, covert put-downs and so on) but their belief that they are inherently superior will eventually reveal itself.

Another tactic narcissists bank on when manipulating you involves the art of the pity ploy. Narcissists will try to latch onto your sympathy when they see no other recourse or even as a primary tool to sweep you off of your feet.

That’s why they give you half-assed “apologies” without a concrete change in their behaviors or a true acknowledgement of the harm you must have suffered. That’s also why they present you with sob stories from the onset of the relationship so you’re inclined to see them as victims rather than the true perpetrators.

It’s why they these types of manipulators can even be self-deprecating as a way to pull off their “little boy” or “little girl” act. Seemingly defenseless people are always more appealing to our natural compassion, after all – and so their crocodile tears and pity ploys work – and they work really, really well.

Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, notes that an appeal to your sympathy is actually one of the most powerful ways a manipulator with antisocial traits gets away with his or her abusive behavior. As she writes:

“If, instead, you find yourself often pitying someone who consistently hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to 100 percent that you are dealing with a sociopath… I am sure that if the devil existed, he would want us to feel very sorry for him.”

In order to be a strategic survivor, you have to be able to recognize a manipulator’s pity ploys immediately and resist, especially when there is no actual change in their harmful behavior when they’re called out.

When you start to see how fake their so-called remorse truly is, you’ll find you have much less sympathy for their excuses for horrendous behavior. This will bring you farther away from your idealized notions of their fabricated conscience and that much closer to forging your freedom from the narcissist.

Works Cited


Barron, C. (2014, August 24). If You Are the Target of Narcissistic Abuse. Retrieved November 20, 2017.


DomesticShelters.org. (2015, October 5). How to Prove Nonphysical Abuse in Court. Retrieved November 20, 2017.

Goulston, M. (2012, February 09). Rage-Coming Soon From a Narcissist Near You. Psychology Today. Retrieved November 20, 2017.

Martinez-Lewi, L. (2014, March 12). Narcissists Psychologically Feed Off of Your Life – Protect Yourself! Retrieved November 20, 2017.

Sarkis, S. (2015, December 29). So You’re In a Relationship with a Narcissist, Now What? Retrieved November 20, 2017.

Stines, S. (2017, March 12). Love and the Narcissist. Psych Central. Retrieved November 20, 2017.

Stout, M. (2006). The sociopath next door: The ruthless versus the rest of us. New York: Broadway Books.

Get my #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare.how-to-devalue-and-discard-the-narcissist-r2-ebook-cover-3

About Shahida Arabi, Bestselling Author

Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school, where she studied the effects of bullying across the life-course trajectory. She is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of three books, including Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, featured as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories and as a #1 Amazon bestseller in personality disorders for twelve consecutive months after its release. Her most recent bookPOWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse, was also featured as a #1 Amazon best seller in Applied Psychology.

She is the founder of the popular blog for abuse survivors, Self-Care Haven, which has millions of views from all over the world. Her work has been shared and endorsed by numerous clinicians, mental health advocates, mental health professionals and bestselling authors. For her undergraduate education, Shahida graduated summa cum laude from NYU where she studied English Literature and Psychology. She is passionate about using her knowledge base in psychology, sociology, gender studies and mental health to help survivors empower themselves after emotional abuse and trauma. Her writing has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline,  Salon, The Huffington Post, MOGUL, The Meadows, Thought Catalog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O’Neal’s website.

The Power of Intermittent Reinforcement: Why Trauma Bonding Makes It Difficult To Leave A Toxic Relationship

This story is brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog.

By Shahida Arabi

Flowers after days of the silent treatment. Crocodile tears after weeks of brutal insults. An unexpected extravagant gift after a rage attack. A sudden moment of tenderness after hours of critical remarks. What do these all have in common? In the context of an abusive relationship, they are all demonstrations of intermittent reinforcement – a dangerous manipulation tactic used to keep you bonded to your abuser.

Psychologist B.F. Skinner (1956) discovered that while behavior is often influenced by rewards or punishment, there is a specific way rewards are doled out that can cause that behavior to persist over long periods of time, causing that behavior to become less vulnerable to extinction. Consistent rewards  for a certain behavior actually produce less of that behavior over time than an inconsistent schedule of rewards. He discovered that rats pressed a lever for food more steadily when they did not know when the next food pellet was coming than when they always received the pellet after pressing (known as continuous reinforcement).

In laymen’s terms, when we know to expect the reward after taking a certain action, we tend to work less for it. Yet when the timing of the reward or the certainty that we’ll get it at all is unpredictable, we tend to repeat that behavior with even more enthusiasm, in hope for the end result. We relish the joy of a “hard-earned” reward that much more.

Abuse and Intermittent Reinforcement

There is almost always intermittent reinforcement at work in a relationship with a malignant narcissist or manipulator because abuse is usually mixed in with periodic affection at unpredictable moments. Intermittent reinforcement works precisely because our “rewards” (which could be anything from the fleeting normalcy of affection to a display of the abuser’s remorse) are given to us sporadically throughout the abuse cycle. This causes us to work harder to sustain the toxic relationship because we desperately want to go back to the “honeymoon phase” of the abuse cycle.

Intermittent reinforcement along with the effects of trauma ensure that we become “addicted” to the hope of reaping our “reward” despite evidence that we’re risking our own safety and well-being.

The instability of the abuser ironically drives their victims to become a source of constant stability to them.

This same phenomenon (albeit much more simplistically) is displayed in the behavior of gamblers at slot machines. Despite the low chance of winning, gamblers become “addicted” to investing their hard-earned money just for the chance of a pay-off.

It bears repeating that while this behavior may seem nonsensical on the surface, it’s because humans feel far less incentive to perform a certain behavior when they know it will always yield a reward. An inconsistent, unpredictable cycle of rewards, however, causes them to invest more in the hope for that ever elusive “win.”

Intermittent Reinforcement Literally Causes An Addiction to the Unpredictability of the Abuse Cycle

This effect even works on a biochemical level; when pleasurable moments are few and far in between, merged with cruelty, the reward circuits associated with a toxic relationship actually become strengthened. When pleasure is predictable, our reward circuits become accustomed to it and our brain actually releases lessdopamine over time when with a consistently good partner. It could be argued that in many cases, rejection and chaos by a toxic partner creates an addiction that is far more long-lasting than the predictable quality of “stable” love.

“Most relevant to our story, activity in several of these brain regions has been correlated with the craving of cocaine addicts and other drugs. In short, as our brain scanning data show, these discarded lovers are still madly in love with and deeply attached to their rejecting partner. They are in physical and mental pain. Like a mouse on a treadmill, they are obsessively ruminating on what they’ve lost. And they are craving reunion with their rejecting beloved—addiction.” – Dr. Helen Fisher, Love is Like Cocaine

Dopamine is a powerful “messenger” that tells us what feels pleasurable but also alerts us to what is important for survival; it is the same neurotransmitter that causes the brains of those in love (especially in adversity-ridden relationships) to resemble the brains of cocaine addicts (Smithstein 2010, Fisher, 2016). As Dr. Susan Carnell, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, writes in her article, “Bad Boys, Bad Brains”:

“What’s more, if the reward always follows the conditioned cue, then the cue can also become less dopamine—inducing—what’s the point of wasting all that precious motivation potion telling you to pursue a reward when, likely as not, it/he will show up anyway? Dopamine actually flows much more readily when the rewards are intermittent, e.g. you don’t get to eat a cookie every time you see one; or when you see Edward he’s nice to you sometimes…but not always… their sheer unreliability sets off your dopamine neurons.”

The Small Kindness Perception and Why We Stay

We literally become “addicted” to the unpredictability of the abuse cycle (or even just a toxic relationship in general), as well as the severe highs and lows. What’s more, the abuser’s sporadic acts of kindness cause us to mistrust our own gut instincts about their true character and compel us to give more weight to their sob stories after abusive incidents or surprise displays of gentleness. Clinical psychologist Dr. Joe Carver calls this phenomenon “the small kindness perception.”

“When an abuser/controller shows the victim some small kindness, even though it is to the abusers benefit as well, the victim interprets that small kindness as a positive trait of the captor…Abusers and controllers are often given positive credit for not abusing their partner, when the partner would have normally been subjected to verbal or physical abuse in a certain situation…Sympathy may develop toward the abuser and we often hear the victim of Stockholm Syndrome defending their abuser with ‘I know he fractured my jaw and ribs…but he’s troubled. He had a rough childhood!’ Losers and abusers may admit they need psychiatric help or acknowledge they are mentally disturbed, however, it’s almost always after they have already abused or intimidated the victim.” – Dr. Joe Carver, Love and Stockholm Syndrome

As Dr. Joe Carver reminds us, abusers are able to use periodic affection or small acts of kindness to their advantage. By employing pity ploys or giving their victims some affection, a gift, or just the absence of their abuse from time to time, their positive behavior becomes amplified in the eyes of their victims.

Their victims hang onto the hope that these small acts of kindness are evidence of the abuser’s ability to change or at the very least, justification for their malicious behavior. However, Carver is clear that these are excuses and diversions, not signs of redemption. These intermittent periods of kindness rarely last. They are embedded in the abuse cycle as a way to further exploit abuse victims and to manipulate them into staying.

Severing the Trauma Bond

Whether the abuse is primarily physical or psychological, the power of intermittent reinforcement lies in the power of uncertainty. The abuse victim is thrown into self-doubt about the abuse because there are usually periodic moments of affection, apologies and faux remorse involved.

Abusers can deliberately harm you just to seemingly come to your rescue. They act as both the predator and the hero because it causes their victims to become dependent on them after horrific incidents of cruelty. Intermittent reinforcement is used to strengthen the trauma bond – a bond created by the intense emotional experience of the victim fighting for survival and seeking validation from the abuser (Carnes, 2015).

Trauma bonds keep victims attached to their abusers through even the most horrendous acts of psychological or physical violence, because the victim is diminished, isolated and programmed to rely on the abuser for their sense of self-worth.

Victims are then conditioned to seek their abusers for comfort – a form of medicine that is simultaneously the source of the poison.

In order to sever the trauma bond, it is essential that the victim of abuse seek support and get space away from the abuser, whether that come in the form of No Contact or Low Contact in the cases of co-parenting.

The most powerful way to heal from the uncertainty created from intermittent reinforcement is to meet it with the certainty that you’re dealing with a manipulator.

Survivors can benefit from working with a trauma-informed professional to safely get in touch with their authentic anger and outrage at being abused, which will enable them to remain detached from their abuser and grounded in the reality of the abuse they’re experiencing. Learning to identify and “track” the pattern can help to disrupt the vicious cycle before it begins again.

Only when survivors allow themselves the complexity of their emotions towards the abusers can they fully recognize that their investment in their toxic partners has little to no positive return – it is, in fact, a gamble that is far too risky to take in the long run.

Works Cited

 

Carnes, P. (2015). Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships. Health Communications, Incorporated.

 

Carnell, S. (2012, May 14). Bad Boys, Bad Brains. Psychology Today. Retrieved November 16, 2017.

 

Carver, J. (2006, March 6). Love and Stockholm Syndrome. Retrieved November 16, 2017.

 

Fisher, H. (2016, February 04). Love Is Like Cocaine – Issue 33: Attraction. Retrieved November 16, 2017.

 

Skinner, B. F. (1956). A case history in scientific method. American Psychologist, 11(5), 221-233. Retrieved here.

 

Smithstein, S. (2010, August 20). Dopamine: Why It’s So Hard to “Just Say No”. Psychology Today. Retrieved November 16, 2017.

Get my #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare.how-to-devalue-and-discard-the-narcissist-r2-ebook-cover-3

About Shahida Arabi, Bestselling Author

Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school, where she studied the effects of bullying across the life-course trajectory. She is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of three books, including Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, featured as a #1 Amazon Bestseller in three categories and as a #1 Amazon bestseller in personality disorders for twelve consecutive months after its release. Her most recent bookPOWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse, was also featured as a #1 Amazon best seller in Applied Psychology.

She is the founder of the popular blog for abuse survivors, Self-Care Haven, which has millions of views from all over the world. Her work has been shared and endorsed by numerous clinicians, mental health advocates, mental health professionals and bestselling authors. For her undergraduate education, Shahida graduated summa cum laude from NYU where she studied English Literature and Psychology. She is passionate about using her knowledge base in psychology, sociology, gender studies and mental health to help survivors empower themselves after emotional abuse and trauma. Her writing has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline,  Salon, The Huffington Post, MOGUL, The Meadows, Thought Catalog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O’Neal’s website.