The Three Phases of a Narcissistic Abusive Relationship
by: Todd Doyle, International Author of Healing the Shattered: Surviving Narcissistic Abuse
Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse that is perpetrated by individuals with narcissistic personality traits. These individuals are characterized by their inflated sense of self-importance, lack of empathy, and tendency to manipulate and exploit others for their own gain. Narcissistic abuse can take many forms, including verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, and psychological manipulation, and it is often insidious, with the abuser gradually chipping away at the victim’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem over time.
There are typically three phases of narcissistic abuse: the Idealization Phase, the Devaluation Phase, and the Discard Phase.
The Idealization Phase: This is the initial phase of the abuse cycle, during which the abuser lavishes the victim with attention, affection, and praise. The victim may feel special, valued, and loved during this phase, and the abuser may seem perfect and charming. The abuser may also present themselves as a “savior,” promising to rescue the victim from their problems and to make their life better.
The Devaluation Phase: This is the second phase of the abuse cycle, during which the abuser begins to devalue and belittle the victim. They may criticize, dismiss, or belittle the victim’s feelings, thoughts, and accomplishments, and they may begin to manipulate and exploit the victim for their own gain. The abuser may also engage in tactics such as gaslighting, triangulation, and blame shifting to manipulate the victim’s reality and to keep them emotionally invested in the relationship.
The Discard Phase: This is the final phase of the abuse cycle, during which the abuser abruptly ends the relationship and discards the victim. The abuser may move on to a new victim or may return to the Idealization Phase with the same victim, starting the cycle anew. The victim may feel confused, hurt, and abandoned during this phase and may struggle with feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt.
It is important to recognize the signs of narcissistic abuse and to seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing it. Some common signs of narcissistic abuse include:
A sense of inadequacy or worthlessness
Difficulty trusting your own perceptions and thoughts
A lack of self-confidence and self-esteem
Difficulty setting boundaries or asserting yourself
A constant need for approval and validation
Feeling isolated or disconnected from others
Difficulty making decisions
A sense of being controlled or manipulated
If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing narcissistic abuse, it is important to seek support from a trusted friend or family member, a mental health professional, or a domestic violence resource center. It is also important to develop a safety plan to protect yourself and to consider seeking legal recourse if necessary.