Having experienced narcissistic abuse, I have learned that when you first tell people about it, they seldom know what to say. Rather than admit that, they say some things that come across as invalidating or uncaring. To help people avoid coming across the wrong way with victims, I thought I would share some things to say instead. If you are a victim of narcissistic abuse & struggling to ask those close to you for what you need, feel free to share this post with them.
If you have no experience with narcissistic abuse, it’s understandable you can’t comprehend the bizarre things narcissists do. Even when a person has experienced it first hand, the abuse is still hard for them to understand. That being said, don’t assume the person you’re speaking with is exaggerating or even making up everything. Most people aren’t creative enough to make up such things. Even if you struggle to believe what this person is telling you, if you know the person is honest, then trust what they say! Your validation will help!
Unless the person asks you for advice, don’t give it. For many victims of narcissistic abuse, we need to talk about it. A lot. It doesn’t necessarily mean we are looking for advice. Talking about it helps us to process what happened & come up with ways to cope.
Don’t assume that the narcissist is just your average jerk or is just selfish. Narcissists are so much more than that! They have absolutely no empathy & enjoy inflicting pain on their victims. Normal ways that a person deals with the average jerk don’t work with narcissists.
Don’t say things like, “You need to let this go.” All victims of narcissistic abuse know that. The problem is that it can cause PTSD or Complex PTSD, & once you have one of those disorders, there is no letting go no matter how much a person wants to do so. The disorders make letting go of trauma impossible. Managing the symptoms is the best a person with PTSD or C-PTSD can hope for.
Don’t push forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness is a wonderful thing. Yes, it’s in the Bible. However, to really & truly forgive takes time when horrific & traumatic acts were committed against a person. Shaming a person for continuing to feel anger towards their abuser does no good, & only adds to their problems.
Don’t say things like, “It takes two to tango” or, “There are two sides to every story.” By doing this, you’re telling the victim that they are equally responsible for the abuse as their abuser. That is wrong, unfair & nothing but victim blaming! While no one is perfect, no one can force another to abuse them. All responsibility for abuse lies squarely on the shoulders of abusers. Period!
Don’t trivialize the abusive & traumatic events. One of my aunts referred to the abuse I endured from my parents as “childhood hurts”. That may have been the most hurtful thing anyone ever told me. Trivializing trauma stirs up hurt & anger like you won’t believe. If you love this person, don’t do it! Even if events they describe as traumatic sound pretty harmless to you, remember that everyone experiences things differently. Just because that might not have been traumatic to you doesn’t mean it wasn’t traumatic to them. Don’t judge their definition of trauma.
Ask the victim what you can do to help. Chances are, there really isn’t much but knowing that someone cares & is willing to help means so much!
Offer to pray with & for the victim. Prayer is so comforting & knowing that someone is willing to take the time to pray for them will comfort the victim greatly.
Remind the victim how strong he or she is to have survived the abuse. Victims often feel weak & the reminder of their true strength is incredibly encouraging!
Always be non-judgmental, supportive & kind. These three traits can go a very long way with anyone who has endured narcissistic abuse.