Our directory of therapists who work with hidden/narcissistic abuse
and the trauma resulting from this abuse, as well as information about physical and emotional safety when leaving hidden abuse.
FIND A THERAPIST
Our directory of therapists who specialize in hidden/narcissistic abuse, listed by state.
Every survivor's situation is unique, and domestic violence resources are the best place to find
information about physical safety when leaving an abusive relationship. But below are some
important things to think about when preparing to leave.
Access Domestic Violence Services
Local domestic violence agencies or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) can help with information related to physical safety as you prepare to leave. They can also help with lethality assessments, temporary housing, and legal resources.
Store Documents and Possessions
Put valuable documents (or copies) in a new safety deposit box or give to trusted friends for safekeeping: Social security cards, birth certificates, tax returns, photo albums, and keepsakes. Do this slowly and quietly.
Consult with an Attorney
Consult with an attorney that understands hidden/narcissistic abuse early to know your rights.
DV services can help you find an attorney familiar with IPV, and county courts typically have resources and directories of pro-bono/low cost attorney resources.
Get a Financial Snapshot
Get as many copes of bank and investment statements as possible and save both digital and hard copies of this information. Get involved with and know about your combined finances prior to leaving.
If your abuser suspects you may be preparing to leave, they may track or monitor you via your phone, your computer, or physically (hidden cameras, tracking devices). Think about getting a new phone for privacy with communications and planning.
Plan a Safe Place
Think about a temporary safe living situation if needed in an emergency, and make arrangements in advance. Think about having a 'go bag' ready with clothing and necessities for several days.
When survivors think about extricating themselves from abusive relationships, there are a few things
to keep in mind for the emotional distancing and recovery after a hidden abuse relationship.
Understand the Cycle of Abuse
Seek resources to understand the cycle of abuse: Idealization, devaluation, and discard (followed by hoovering). This cycle will repeat, though possibly more frequently and with worsening devaluation, until survivors leave.
Prepare for No-Contact
Set a date for when you will end this relationship, and prepare your support team ahead of time. You will likely encounter strong urges to reconnect for several weeks, and will need a team of supportive friends and professionals to help manage these strong urges.
Understand Trauma Bonding
The neurochemicals released in the lovebombing/idealization phase (oxytocin and dopamine) and those in unpredicability/
fear (adrenaline and cortisol) keeps us neurochemically addicted (i.e. 'trauma bonded') to our abusers.
When people ask survivors "Why do you keep going back?' it's because of the power of this neurochemical addiction.
Go No-Contact/Gray Rock
Go no-contact (or gray rock if dealing with shared custody of children). If no-contact, block your abuser on every means of communication: phone, email, social media, etc.
Be prepared for several weeks of strong urges to return to the relationship, and access your support system frequently.
Find a therapist who understands and specializes in hidden/narcissistic abuse. Think about joining a support group to get peer support and validation as you prepare to leave.
Once out of the relationship, healing usually involves complex grief, recovering from PTSD/C-PTSD and cognitive dissonance and learning to trust your instincts again. Further work involves learning how your vulnerabilies to narcissists evolved and improving self-love, boundaries, and learning red flags of abusive and toxic individuals.
Important to Note
The above is purely for informational purposes, and should not replace professional therapy.
legal advice, or recommended consultation with domestic violence (DV) services.