5 Signs You’re In A Destructive Trauma Bond With A Narcissist

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A trauma bond is a bond that forms due to intense, emotional experiences, usually with a toxic person. Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, it holds us emotionally captive to a manipulator who keeps us “hostage” – whether that be through physical or emotional abuse.  According to Dr. Patrick Carnes, these types of destructive attachments are known as “betrayal bonds” and can take place in any context where a relationship can be forged. They can occur in romantic relationships, friendships, within the family, and the workplace.

Trauma bonds are rampant in unhealthy, abusive or otherwise toxic relationships. They are usually strengthened by intermittent reinforcement, the periodic love-bombing, false promises or “small kindnesses” that a manipulator throws our way to keep us ensnared to the relationship. They can also be exacerbated by our own abandonment wounds.

Here are five signs you may be in a trauma bond with a toxic person.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE: 5 Signs You’re In A Dangerous Trauma Bond With A Toxic Person

Featured photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris.

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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What Is Histrionic Personality Disorder? How Does It Differ From Narcissism?

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Have you ever met someone who seemed to be highly emotional, theatrical, dramatic, obsessed with their appearance and overly seductive in their interactions with others? Someone who couldn’t stand not being the center of attention? Someone who would consistently go to extreme lengths just to draw attention back to themselves whenever anyone threatened to take the spotlight from them?  You may have come across someone with the traits of Histrionic Personality Disorder.

I am often asked about the differences between someone with histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. There is some overlap, but here are the key criteria you should know.

READ THE ARTICLE: Histrionic Personality Disorder: Drama, Seduction And An Insatiable Desire For Attention

Featured image by Erick Marroquín

Stonewalling And The Silent Treatment: The Narcissist’s Silence As An Abuse Tactic

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Has your partner, friend or family member ever ignored you when you tried to have an important discussion or addressed something significant to them? Have you ever been silenced by a toxic person’s silent treatment? You may have experienced what is known as “stonewalling.”

Stonewalling and the silent treatment are some of the most devastating forms of emotional violence. These abusive behaviors affect the same parts of the brain that register physical pain. Being stonewalled by a toxic narcissist can often times be as injurious to the psyche as physical torment.

To read more about the effects of stonewalling and how it works to undermine the victim, be sure to read my latest article:

Stonewalling And The Silent Treatment: When The Narcissist’s Silence Is Deafening


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.

Self-Isolation from Abuse vs. Avoidant Personality Disorder

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A lot of us self-isolate, distrust and suffer from social anxiety after being abused. The effects of this trauma can be severe and debilitating. However, these symptoms can be managed and coped with more effectively over time. Avoidant Personality Disorder is a bit different; it includes hard-wired behavioral patterns that may or may not be caused by trauma. It is a diagnosis that requires a professional’s expert insight. It’s important to remember that when we’re experiencing the effects of trauma that there are a myriad of disorders our symptoms may overlap with. Avoidant PD is one of them.

Here is what to know about Avoidant Personality Disorder and what to know if you think you have it.

Featured image by Anh Nguyen.

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.

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.