7 Signs Someone Has Suffered Narcissistic Abuse

Hey Optimist Minds!

The term narcissistic abuse seems to be trending on the internet. You might have come across blogs, YouTube videos, and conversations where people use this term to describe a specific kind of abuse. It’s not as visible as physical or sexual abuse, but the effects can be just as debilitating and trauma-inducing.

Since this type of abuse is insidious and hard to recognise, we’ve created this video to highlight some typical signs. You can use these to understand better why someone in a toxic relationship is struggling with their mental health.

However, it’s important to note that surviving narcissistic abuse is not a diagnosable condition as the DSM does not consider this a psychological disorder. That means that not everyone dealing with a narcissist will be displaying these behaviours. 

If you suspect someone you know might have gone through narcissistic abuse, it’s best to consult a licensed mental health professional for any intervention.

Now, let’s describe seven signs someone has suffered narcissistic abuse.


They have excessive amounts of self-doubt.

Is this person always anxious about whether they are saying or doing the right thing? Do they repeatedly question their own decisions and seek validation from others? When you spend enough time with a narcissist, you end up losing all trust in your judgement.

That’s because narcissists tend to blame you for all sorts of things in the attempt to make themselves feel better by making you feel guilty. Whether it’s something as simple as ordering food, choosing a traffic route, or picking a movie or more complex decisions like changing a career, buying a house, or having a baby, the narcissist will make you feel like you made a wrong decision. It’s entirely your fault if something doesn’t turn out to be perfect.

When you go through this over and over again, you seriously question whether you’re competent enough to make the right choices.


They’re unsure of who they really are.

If you ask this person about their likes and dislikes, they’ll probably have trouble answering you. Try asking them what their favourite movie is or how they like their eggs. They might say they have no preference, whatever the narcissist would have said, or they pick what someone else chose right before them.

Since narcissists make others feel terrible for not choosing the same things as themselves, they end up making people forget parts of their identities. When you’re consistently made to think that you picked the wrong thing, you stop feeling confident about your own decisions. It’s just easier to go with what others want as it feels safer and will probably avoid conflict.

Unfortunately, this ends up making you agree to things you normally wouldn’t agree with.


They’re always justifying what they did.

Does this person go to great lengths just to explain why they behaved a certain way? Do they send long texts or emails clarifying every step they took before a particular outcome? Is this more common if they’ve assumed someone is upset with them? Sounds like they’ve been asked to do so more often than necessary.

When you live with a narcissist, you endure frequent conversations where you have to justify every move you made, especially if the narcissist has accused you of bad behaviour. With enough exposure, this becomes a default mechanism.


They struggle with boundaries.

Another usual sign of narcissistic abuse is an inability to assert and uphold personal boundaries. Does this person allow others to treat them like a doormat? Maybe they can’t say no when they want to, so they end up in sticky situations.

Narcissists are experts in demolishing boundaries in slow and unnoticeable ways. You don’t even realise how or when it happens, and before you know it, you’ve become a people pleaser.


They’re hooked to the toxic relationship.

No matter how badly they are treated, do they always get back together with their abuser? This might look like they don’t know what’s good for them or that they’re asking for it. But in reality, it’s exactly like an addiction.

Trauma bonding is a biological consequence of narcissistic abuse. It forces you to think about the narcissist and make your way back to them despite how bad that is for you. Check out the further reading links in the description to learn more about trauma bonding.


They’ve socially isolated themselves.

Does this person seem like they’re incredibly lonely and alienated? Do they purposely push others away even though they could really use some support?

In all likelihood, this is because they feel so embarrassed to be in their situation. They feel like people will judge them for finding themselves in this position, and they don’t know how to explain why they can’t just leave the toxic relationship. Generally, that’s because they aren’t aware of how narcissistic abuse works, and they’ve grown to have low self-worth. 


Their physical and mental health is in bad shape. 

It’s never easy to survive narcissistic abuse. No matter what you do, you can’t make the relationship any better, and it’s next to impossible to end it. This can lead to helplessness and even hopelessness.

These individuals might develop mental health conditions like depression, complex PTSD, or anxiety disorders. They might even experience physiological issues like sleep disturbances, dramatic weight changes, and dysfunctional immunity.

Is someone you care about going through these problems? Do the signs mentioned here describe their behaviour? There is a possibility that they have suffered from narcissistic abuse. 

Let us know in the comments if the information given here helped you or your friends and family. In addition, a link for further reading and the studies & references used in the making of this video are mentioned in the description below. 

Thanks for visiting optimist minds, take care. Until next time.