Share Information With Women Worldwide

Connect, share information & access knowledge from millions of women worldwide per week.

Sign Up & Post Now

WhatAbuseSurvivorsDon'tKnow:10Life-ChangingTruths

Shahida Arabi
Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
almost 2 years Story
What Abuse Survivors Don't Know: 10 Life-Changing Truths

Image title

Photo Credit:pixabay.com

The journey to healing from emotional or physical abuse requires us to revolutionize our thinking about relationships, self-love, self-respect and self-compassion. Abusive relationships often serve as the catalyst for incredible change and have the potential to motivate us towards empowerment and strength, should we take advantage of our new agency.

Here are ten life-changing truths abuse survivors should embrace in their journey to healing, though it may appear challenging to do so.

1. It was not your fault. Victim-blaming is rampant both in society and even within the mental landscapes of abuse survivors themselves. Recently, the victim-blaming and the mythical "ease" of leaving an abusive relationship has been challenged in the public discourse. Accepting that the pathology of another person and the abuse he or she inflicted upon you is not under your control can be quite challenging when you've been told otherwise,  by the abuser, the public and even by those close to you who don't know any better.

Abuse survivors are used to being blamed for not being good enough and the mistreatment they've suffered convinces them they are not enough. The truth is, the abuser is the person who is not enough. Only a dysfunctional person would deliberately harm another. You, on the other hand, are enough. Unlike your abuser, you don't have to abuse anyone else to feel superior or complete. You are already whole, and perfect, in your own imperfect ways.

2. Your love cannot inspire the abuser to change. There was nothing you could have done differently to change the abuser. Repeat this to yourself. Nothing. Abusers have a distorted perspective of the world and their interactions with people are intrinsically disordered. Pathological narcissists and sociopaths are disordered individuals who have specific manipulation tactics as well as behavioral traits that make them unhealthy relationship partners. Part of their disorder is that they feel superior and entitled; they are usually unwilling to get help and they benefit from exploiting others. A lack of empathy enables them to reap these benefits without much remorse. Giving your abuser more love and subjugating yourself to the abuser out of fear and out of the hope that he or she would change would've only enabled the abuser's power. You did the right thing (or you will) by stepping away and no longer allowing someone to treat you in such an inhumane manner.

3. Healthy relationships are your birthright and you can achieve them. It is your right to have a healthy, safe, and respectful relationship. It is your right to be free from bodily harm and psychological abuse. It is your right to be able to express your emotions without ridicule, stonewalling or the threat of violence. It is your right not to walk on eggshells. It is your right to pursue people who are worthy of your time and energy. Never settle for less than someone who respects you and is considerate towards you. Every human being has this right and you do too. If you are someone who has the ability to respect others and are capable of empathy, you are not any less deserving than anyone else of a relationship that makes you happy.

4. You are not forever damaged by this. Healing and recovery is a challenging process, but it is not an impossible one. You may suffer for a long time from intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and other symptoms as a result of the abuse. You may even enter other unhealthy relationships or reenter the same one; this is not uncommon, as a large part of our behavior is driven by our subconscious. Still, you are not "damaged goods." You are not forever scarred, although there are scars that may still remain. You are a healer, a warrior, a survivor. You do have choices and agency. You can cut all contact with your ex-partner, seek counseling and a support group for survivors, create a stronger support network, read literature on abusive tactics, engage in better self-care, and you can have better relationships in the future. If you suspect you were the victim of emotional abuse, you can read about the manipulation tactics of emotionally abusive people and understand how pathological individuals operate so that you can protect yourself in the future. All hope is not lost. You can use this experience to gain new knowledge, resources and networks. You can channel your crisis into transformation.

5.  You don't have to justify to anyone the reasons you didn't leave right away. The fear, isolation and manipulation that the abuser imposed upon us is legitimate and valid. Studies have proven that trauma can produce changes the brain. If we experienced or witnessed abuse or bullying in our childhood, we can be subconsciously programmed to reenact our early childhood wounding. 

The trauma of an abusive relationship can also manifest in PTSD or acute stress disorder regardless of whether or not we witnessed domestic violence as a child. Stockholm syndrome is a syndrome that tethers survivors of trauma and abuse to their abusers in order to survive. This syndrome is created from what Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D calls "trauma bonds," which are bonds that are formed with another person during traumatic emotional experiences. These bonds can leave us paradoxically seeking support from the source of the abuse. Biochemical bonds can also form with our abuser through changing levels of oxytocin, dopamine, cortisol and adrenaline which can spike during the highs and lows of the abuse cycle.

The connection we have to the abuser is like an addiction to the vicious cycle of hot and cold, of sweet talk and apologies, of wounds and harsh words. Our sense of learned helplessness, an overwhelming feeling that develops as we are unable to escape a dangerous situation, is potent in an abusive relationship. So is our cognitive dissonance, the conflicting ideas and beliefs we may hold about who the abuser truly is versus who the abuser has shown himself or herself to be. Due to the shame we feel about the abuse, we may withdraw from our support network altogether or be forced by our abuser to not interact with others.

These reasons and more can all interfere with our motivation and means to leave the relationship. You may have been financially dependent on your abuser or feared physical or psychological retaliation in the form of slander. Therefore, you never have to justify to anyone why you did not leave right away or blame yourself for not doing so. Someone else's invalidation should not take away your experience of fear, powerlessness, confusion, shame, numbing, cognitive dissonance and feelings of helplessness that occurred when and after the abuse took place.

6. Forgiveness of the abuser is a personal choice, not a necessity. Some may tell you that you have to forgive the abuser to move on. Truly, that is a personal choice and not a necessity. You might feel forgiveness of the abuser is necessary in order to move forward, but that does not mean you have to. Survivors may have also experienced physical and sexual abuse in addition to the psychological manipulation. You may have gone through so much trauma that it feels impossible to forgive, and that's okay.

It is not our job to cater to the abuser's needs or wants. It's not our duty to reconcile with or forgive someone who has deliberately and maliciously harmed us. Our duty lies in taking care of ourselves on the road to healing.

7. Forgiveness towards yourself is necessary to move forward. Self-forgiveness is a different matter. You do have to demonstrate compassion towards yourself and forgive yourself for not leaving the relationship sooner, for not taking care of yourself better, and for not looking out for your safety and best interests. These are all things survivors tend to struggle with in the aftermath of an abusive relationship and it can take a while to get to this point.

Remember: You didn't know what you know now about how the abuser would never change. Even if you had, you were in a situation where many psychological factors made it difficult to leave.

8. You are not the crazy one. During the abusive relationship, you were gaslighted into thinking that your perception of reality was false and told that you were the pathological one, that your version of events was untrue, that your feelings were invalid, that you were too sensitive when you reacted to his or her mistreatment of you. You may have even endured a vicious smear campaign in which the charming abuser told everyone else you were "losing it."

Losing it actually meant that you were tired of being kicked around, tired of being cursed at and debased. Losing it actually meant that you were finally starting to stand up for yourself. The abuser saw that you were recognizing the abuse and wanted to keep you in your place by treating you to cold silence, harsh words, and condescending rumor mongering.

It's time to get back to reality: you were not the unstable one. The unstable one was the person who was constantly belittling you, controlling your every move, subjecting you to angry outbursts, and using you as an emotional (and even physical) punching bag.

Who are you? You were the person who wanted a good relationship. The one who strove to please your abuser, even at the cost of your mental and physical health. You were the one whose boundaries were broken, whose values were ridiculed, whose strengths were made to look like weaknesses. You attempted to teach a grown person how to behave with respect - often fruitlessly. You were the one who deserved so much better.

9. You do deserve better. No matter what the abuser told you about yourself, there are people out there in healthy relationships. These people are cherished, respected and appreciated on a consistent basis. There is trust in the relationship, not the toxic manufacturing of love triangles. There are genuine apologies for mistakes, not provocation for attention or quick reconciliation.

Consider this: aside from the experience of trauma, these people in healthier relationships are not drastically different from you. In many ways, they are just like you - flawed, imperfect, but worthy of love and respect. There are billions of people in this world, and yes, you can bet there are plenty out there who will treat you better than the way you've been treated before. There are people out there who will see your wonderful strengths, talents, and who will love your quirks. These people wouldn't dream of intentionally hurting you or provoking you. You will find these people - in friendships and in future relationships. Perhaps you already have.

10. It may have seemed this relationship was like a "waste of time" but in changing your perspective, it can also be an incredible learning experience. You now have the agency to create stronger boundaries and learn more about your values as a result of this experience. As a survivor, you've seen the dark side of humanity and what people are capable of. You've recognized the value of using your time wisely after you've exhausted it with someone unworthy. With this newfound knowledge, you are no longer naive to the fact that there are emotional predators out there. Most importantly, you can share your story to help and empower other survivors. I know I did, and you can too.

For more resources for abuse survivors, please be sure to visit Self-Care Haven, home of The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care.

Interested in learning more about narcissistic abuse? Pre-order my new book on narcissistic abuse, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself. Also be sure to check out my first book, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self-Care.

Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare 51J2hcGDg2L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

Introducing the Fifty Shades of Narcissism Mini E-Book Series

Looking for a lighter read? I’ve got just the thing for you. Here are two mini e-guides that tell you everything you need to know about narcissistic abuse!

SUDDENLY   Your Brain on Love, Sex and the Narcissist

UntitledShahida Arabi is a graduate of Columbia University graduate school and the author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self-Care, a bestselling Kindle book also available in print. She is also the author of Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, which became a #1 Amazon Bestseller upon its pre-order release. She studied Psychology and English Literature as an undergraduate at NYU, where she graduated summa cum laude. Her interests include psychology, sociology, education, gender studies and mental health advocacy. You can check out her new blog, Self-Care Haven, for topics related to mindfulness, mental health, narcissistic abuse and recovery from emotional trauma, like her page on Facebook, and subscribe to her YouTube Channel.

You Might Also Like



67 comments

  • tara5588
    almost 2 years ago

    Beautiful words. Thanks for writing this, I definitely needed this today.

    Beautiful words. Thanks for writing this, I definitely needed this today.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I am grateful my words have been helpful and validating to you. Blessings to you on your journey to healing! :)

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I am grateful my words have been helpful and validating to you. Blessings to you on your journey to healing! :)

    • Shahida Arabi
      [deleted]
      almost 2 years ago

      [deleted]

      [deleted]

  • fragrantlilys
    almost 2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing exactly how this insane dance of co-depentant & narcissist is. The irony is that some of us go into these situations as lambs & others as lions who wish to dissolve boundaries of ego & make a difference to another abused child. However self love is so eroded in the other that you joined the crazy dance to see if you could unravel such pain, only to find the most desolete truth, a human being, so neglected cannot show compassion to others - a hopeless case.

    Thank you for sharing exactly how this insane dance of co-depentant & narcissist is. The irony is that some of us go into these situations as lambs & others as lions who wish to dissolve boundaries of ego & make a difference to another abused child. However self love is so eroded in the other that you joined the crazy dance to see if you could unravel such pain, only to find the most desolete truth, a human being, so neglected cannot show compassion to others - a hopeless case.

    • Dforsythe
      almost 2 years ago

      Said perfectly. We try to rescue and get eaten in the process.

      Said perfectly. We try to rescue and get eaten in the process.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Absolutely. The need to "save" or "fix" someone can enable us to stay in toxic relationships far beyond the expiration date - only to discover that we need to give all this love and compassion to ourselves by walking away. Great points!

      Absolutely. The need to "save" or "fix" someone can enable us to stay in toxic relationships far beyond the expiration date - only to discover that we need to give all this love and compassion to ourselves by walking away. Great points!

  • Angel 18
    almost 2 years ago

    This is wonderful encouragement. I definitely have a tendency to take all the blame and responsibility for anything that goes wrong. It has been hammered into my brain over the past 18 years that I am the default "wrong" person. I consider myself a very strong person. That is one of the reasons I stayed married for so long, because I was hell-bent and determined to not get divorced. I learned how to dance around a mine-field and avoid eggshells in a manner worthy of Olympic Gold, but in the end I just grew more and more empty. I was so adept at making things work, friends and family were dumb founded when I left. My ex still thinks I threw away something perfect....but it was only perfect for him. I sacrificed my own needs for so many years, I only now feel like I am waking up to myself. Unfortunately, those self-doubts and self deprivations run so deep, articles like this one really serve well as a reality check for me. I need to remember these lessons.

    This is wonderful encouragement. I definitely have a tendency to take all the blame and responsibility for anything that goes wrong. It has been hammered into my brain over the past 18 years that I am the default "wrong" person. I consider myself a very strong person. That is one of the reasons I stayed married for so long, because I was hell-bent and determined to not get divorced. I learned how to dance around a mine-field and avoid eggshells in a manner worthy of Olympic Gold, but in the end I just grew more and more empty. I was so adept at making things work, friends and family were dumb founded when I left. My ex still thinks I threw away something perfect....but it was only perfect for him. I sacrificed my own needs for so many years, I only now feel like I am waking up to myself. Unfortunately, those self-doubts and self deprivations run so deep, articles like this one really serve well as a reality check for me. I need to remember these lessons.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story. You ARE an incredibly strong person and I am happy to hear you made a choice that honored all the good you deserve in this life. You are not to blame for the abuse and you deserve to have your needs met. I am so glad you are experiencing this awakening and that you are encouraging yourself in times of self-doubt. You have paved your path to freedom and a better life. Blessings to you on your journey to healing! :)

      Thank you for sharing your story. You ARE an incredibly strong person and I am happy to hear you made a choice that honored all the good you deserve in this life. You are not to blame for the abuse and you deserve to have your needs met. I am so glad you are experiencing this awakening and that you are encouraging yourself in times of self-doubt. You have paved your path to freedom and a better life. Blessings to you on your journey to healing! :)

    • Ruth Banda
      Ruth Banda Global Ambassador
      over 1 year ago

      Your comment is like you are talking about me, I did the dance around too.

      Your comment is like you are talking about me, I did the dance around too.

    • Ruth Banda
      [deleted]
      over 1 year ago

      [deleted]

      [deleted]

    • lovie003
      over 1 year ago

      "But it was only perfect for him". How very accurate

      "But it was only perfect for him". How very accurate

  • Dforsythe
    almost 2 years ago

    I love this. Everything is so true and it gives me much to think about. I am not to blame. All I have tried to do was love him to the best of my abilities. I can see that isn't enough. Is there any hope of they are willing to change? What steps need to be taken?

    I love this. Everything is so true and it gives me much to think about. I am not to blame. All I have tried to do was love him to the best of my abilities. I can see that isn't enough. Is there any hope of they are willing to change? What steps need to be taken?

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Absolutely, you are not to blame for the abuse. Always remember this. You have done nothing wrong by wanting to love another, but you cannot fix an abuser. The abuser needs to change on his or her own. For your own self-care, self-love and mental health, however, it's important not to wait around for an abuser to change, as the majority of them do not change. The steps that need to be taken are all about empowering yourself with the knowledge and resources about your situation to make a decision that best honors you and all the good you truly deserve. You DO deserve the best and I hope you know that. I wish you the best on your journey to healing.

      Absolutely, you are not to blame for the abuse. Always remember this. You have done nothing wrong by wanting to love another, but you cannot fix an abuser. The abuser needs to change on his or her own. For your own self-care, self-love and mental health, however, it's important not to wait around for an abuser to change, as the majority of them do not change. The steps that need to be taken are all about empowering yourself with the knowledge and resources about your situation to make a decision that best honors you and all the good you truly deserve. You DO deserve the best and I hope you know that. I wish you the best on your journey to healing.

  • Wenlor
    almost 2 years ago

    Thank you for this interesting article. It opened my eyes even more.

    Thank you for this interesting article. It opened my eyes even more.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Thank you! I am grateful to hear that my article has helped you! :)

      Thank you! I am grateful to hear that my article has helped you! :)

  • Sushmita ghosh
    almost 2 years ago

    I ve been waiting for a counsellor for wich ve faced so mch menatal harasment since long tym back.thsnk you wat rvar u writtten all r facts.. Thnks a lot i got so much hlp aftr reading this

    I ve been waiting for a counsellor for wich ve faced so mch menatal harasment since long tym back.thsnk you wat rvar u writtten all r facts.. Thnks a lot i got so much hlp aftr reading this

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Thanks Sushmita, I am grateful this piece has been helpful and validating to you! Blessings :)

      Thanks Sushmita, I am grateful this piece has been helpful and validating to you! Blessings :)

  • Bethany Heinrich
    Bethany Heinrich Mogul Influencer
    almost 2 years ago

    Fantastic article. Thank you for writing this incredibly important piece.

    Fantastic article. Thank you for writing this incredibly important piece.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Thank you very much Bethany! I really appreciate your feedback. :)

      Thank you very much Bethany! I really appreciate your feedback. :)

  • Peaches57
    almost 2 years ago

    Thank you for writing this. I was viciously and repeatedly abused for 5 years, with the complicity of his family, friends, and church. I divorced him, swore off all relationships until I could fix ME; set my goals, realize my dreams, regain my self. I met and have been happily married to a wonderful man for over 31 years now. He even adopted my abuser's children! So every word you say is true; joy, love, and mutual respect CAN happen, and we all DO deserve it! As for the learning experience - I raised my daughter to never lose her self-respect to a man, and my sons to know that mutual respect was the only way to a relationship. I have been a volunteer counselor to many over the years - because I've been there. There can be joy...

    Thank you for writing this. I was viciously and repeatedly abused for 5 years, with the complicity of his family, friends, and church. I divorced him, swore off all relationships until I could fix ME; set my goals, realize my dreams, regain my self. I met and have been happily married to a wonderful man for over 31 years now. He even adopted my abuser's children! So every word you say is true; joy, love, and mutual respect CAN happen, and we all DO deserve it! As for the learning experience - I raised my daughter to never lose her self-respect to a man, and my sons to know that mutual respect was the only way to a relationship. I have been a volunteer counselor to many over the years - because I've been there. There can be joy...

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Hi Peaches57, thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story with other survivors! I am sorry you had this experience but am so happy to hear it has strengthened you and motivated you towards better self-care as well as serving your community. It is wonderful to hear that you are now with a wonderful man and can pass off those lessons to your children. Thank you for that powerful reminder that there can be joy, success and fulfillment after abuse. Many blessings to you and your family! :)

      Hi Peaches57, thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story with other survivors! I am sorry you had this experience but am so happy to hear it has strengthened you and motivated you towards better self-care as well as serving your community. It is wonderful to hear that you are now with a wonderful man and can pass off those lessons to your children. Thank you for that powerful reminder that there can be joy, success and fulfillment after abuse. Many blessings to you and your family! :)

  • Allie
    almost 2 years ago

    Some can never ever be free of their abuser. Having to deal with being retraumatised over and over through the abusers 'right to the child'. Through access visits video chats and emails the woman has to deal with her abuser who in his smugness continues to attempt wresting control again and again. The law must be changed. If you abuse the mother of your child you automatically lose ALL rights to the child. Enough!

    Some can never ever be free of their abuser. Having to deal with being retraumatised over and over through the abusers 'right to the child'. Through access visits video chats and emails the woman has to deal with her abuser who in his smugness continues to attempt wresting control again and again. The law must be changed. If you abuse the mother of your child you automatically lose ALL rights to the child. Enough!

  • Vinny
    almost 2 years ago

    I was the victim of a female sociopath and endured 4 months of hell that started 11 days after we were married. I was finally able to escape in May. The emotional ups and downs happen regularly, especially since I have been living out of a suitcase for over 2 months. All I wanted was to love my new and beautiful wife. What I got was a person who is a life and relationship coach who used her mastery certifications in NLP, hypnotherapy, human behavior, and communications to completely manipulate, lie, and take control of my entire life, all while accusing me of being the liar and cheater. What started out as one of the greatest times of my life turned into a living hell that no person should ever have to endure. Thank you for this article.

    I was the victim of a female sociopath and endured 4 months of hell that started 11 days after we were married. I was finally able to escape in May. The emotional ups and downs happen regularly, especially since I have been living out of a suitcase for over 2 months. All I wanted was to love my new and beautiful wife. What I got was a person who is a life and relationship coach who used her mastery certifications in NLP, hypnotherapy, human behavior, and communications to completely manipulate, lie, and take control of my entire life, all while accusing me of being the liar and cheater. What started out as one of the greatest times of my life turned into a living hell that no person should ever have to endure. Thank you for this article.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Hi Vinny, sorry to hear you experienced this! Unfortunately, abusers often present a completely different "self" and public persona to the world while showing a radically different private side to their victims. This can throw victims into a lot of cognitive dissonance and also alienate them. I am glad this article was helpful and hopefully validating to you in some way. Blessings to you on your journey to healing!

      Hi Vinny, sorry to hear you experienced this! Unfortunately, abusers often present a completely different "self" and public persona to the world while showing a radically different private side to their victims. This can throw victims into a lot of cognitive dissonance and also alienate them. I am glad this article was helpful and hopefully validating to you in some way. Blessings to you on your journey to healing!

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Hi Vinny, sorry to hear you experienced this! Unfortunately, abusers often present a completely different "self" and public persona to the world while showing a radically different private side to their victims. This can throw victims into a lot of cognitive dissonance and also alienate them. I am glad this article was helpful and hopefully validating to you in some way. Blessings to you on your journey to healing!

      Hi Vinny, sorry to hear you experienced this! Unfortunately, abusers often present a completely different "self" and public persona to the world while showing a radically different private side to their victims. This can throw victims into a lot of cognitive dissonance and also alienate them. I am glad this article was helpful and hopefully validating to you in some way. Blessings to you on your journey to healing!

  • ClaudiaW
    almost 2 years ago

    This article rings so true, as I am recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. I tried to please my ex for years, but after a while I realized that he thrived on making me feel bad about one thing or another, that he discouraged me every time I did something independently from him, from going back to school, to exercising and getting more healthy, to going to a book group with women I knew from church. He even forbade me to go visit (female) high school friends in my home town. It got to the point where he would explode with anger over minor things like if we ran out of milk or if dinner was 15 minutes "late" instead of being ready as soon as he got home. But the last point, that it was not "a waste of time" is very helpful. I have learned a lot about not letting people manipulate me or act like I am somehow less than they are. Thanks.

    This article rings so true, as I am recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. I tried to please my ex for years, but after a while I realized that he thrived on making me feel bad about one thing or another, that he discouraged me every time I did something independently from him, from going back to school, to exercising and getting more healthy, to going to a book group with women I knew from church. He even forbade me to go visit (female) high school friends in my home town. It got to the point where he would explode with anger over minor things like if we ran out of milk or if dinner was 15 minutes "late" instead of being ready as soon as he got home. But the last point, that it was not "a waste of time" is very helpful. I have learned a lot about not letting people manipulate me or act like I am somehow less than they are. Thanks.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Thanks ClaudiaW for sharing your story with us. I am very sorry to hear you experienced this type of controlling and abusive behavior but happy to hear that you have now paved the path to freedom! While it is a harsh, difficult experience, it can help survivors so much to channel this experience into their own self-empowerment! You are just as deserving as anyone else to be treated with respect and consideration. You do not need to tolerate hypercritical people or those who put you down. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. Blessings to you on your journey to healing! :)

      Thanks ClaudiaW for sharing your story with us. I am very sorry to hear you experienced this type of controlling and abusive behavior but happy to hear that you have now paved the path to freedom! While it is a harsh, difficult experience, it can help survivors so much to channel this experience into their own self-empowerment! You are just as deserving as anyone else to be treated with respect and consideration. You do not need to tolerate hypercritical people or those who put you down. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. Blessings to you on your journey to healing! :)

  • StopRapeByFraud
    almost 2 years ago

    Excellent article! And I'd add that recovery can be hampered by people who blame the victim. Sometimes it's necessary to separate from people whose ignorance and naivete cause you to feel invalidated.

    Excellent article! And I'd add that recovery can be hampered by people who blame the victim. Sometimes it's necessary to separate from people whose ignorance and naivete cause you to feel invalidated.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      almost 2 years ago

      Absolutely! Victim-blaming can actually serve to further isolate the victim and make him or her feel as if they do not have a reliable support network. I write more about victim-blaming in my blog entry, "Why Do We Stay?: Dismantling Stereotypes about Abuse Survivors": https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/why-do-we-stay-dismantling-stereotypes-about-abuse-survivors/ Thanks for your comment! :)

      Absolutely! Victim-blaming can actually serve to further isolate the victim and make him or her feel as if they do not have a reliable support network. I write more about victim-blaming in my blog entry, "Why Do We Stay?: Dismantling Stereotypes about Abuse Survivors": https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/why-do-we-stay-dismantling-stereotypes-about-abuse-survivors/ Thanks for your comment! :)

  • Joleen Marie 62
    over 1 year ago

    Thank you for sharing. It was very informative, and I'm sure will give hope to many who are suffering.

    Thank you for sharing. It was very informative, and I'm sure will give hope to many who are suffering.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Thank you Joleen <3.

      Thank you Joleen <3.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Thank you Joleen <3.

      Thank you Joleen <3.

  • Joleen Marie 62
    over 1 year ago

    Thank you for sharing. Very informative, and I'm sure will give hope to many who are suffering.

    Thank you for sharing. Very informative, and I'm sure will give hope to many who are suffering.

  • Demi Chu
    Demi Chu n. Graphophile; Believer of the Tiny White Host
    over 1 year ago

    I hope everyone who has gone through pain can read this!

    I hope everyone who has gone through pain can read this!

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Thank you Demi <3

      Thank you Demi <3

  • Demi Chu
    Demi Chu n. Graphophile; Believer of the Tiny White Host
    over 1 year ago

    I hope everyone who has gone through pain can read this!

    I hope everyone who has gone through pain can read this!

  • cwgarvich@yahoo.com

    This is perhaps the best article I have read on surviving the abuse. The description of the relationship is accurate. The damage these relationships do does make you feel worthless. Thank you for giving us the assurance that we can overcome. I was in it for 40 years. I have five wonderful children. He has poisoned three of them. I was told they knew I loved them unconditionally so they would seek his approval and never get it. I stayed in it for them. He is still so mean. It almost killed me. Doctors told me if I went back it would kill me. Our children are all adults and there is nothing to go back to. I miss pretending I had a happy family. I do not miss him at all. He is evil. I am grateful to have survived. I know that I need more time to heal. Leaving the home doesn't leave the damage behind. It comes out in night terrors. It comes out in lack of trust....but thank God it is coming out.

    This is perhaps the best article I have read on surviving the abuse. The description of the relationship is accurate. The damage these relationships do does make you feel worthless. Thank you for giving us the assurance that we can overcome. I was in it for 40 years. I have five wonderful children. He has poisoned three of them. I was told they knew I loved them unconditionally so they would seek his approval and never get it. I stayed in it for them. He is still so mean. It almost killed me. Doctors told me if I went back it would kill me. Our children are all adults and there is nothing to go back to. I miss pretending I had a happy family. I do not miss him at all. He is evil. I am grateful to have survived. I know that I need more time to heal. Leaving the home doesn't leave the damage behind. It comes out in night terrors. It comes out in lack of trust....but thank God it is coming out.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Thank you for sharing your story. Yes, society does not yet grasp fully the traumatic effects of abuse and how very difficult it can be to leave, especially after an abuser has instilled a sense of worthlessness in his or her victim. You are a true warrior and survivor! I am grateful that this article has resonated with you. There is no timeline to healing as healing can be a lifelong journey. Blessings to you. Sending love and light your way. <3

      Thank you for sharing your story. Yes, society does not yet grasp fully the traumatic effects of abuse and how very difficult it can be to leave, especially after an abuser has instilled a sense of worthlessness in his or her victim. You are a true warrior and survivor! I am grateful that this article has resonated with you. There is no timeline to healing as healing can be a lifelong journey. Blessings to you. Sending love and light your way. <3

  • yogini
    over 1 year ago

    My abusive ex is now in a relationship with our couples counsellor this makes it much more difficult for me to get over things. He was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive to me and yet I still loved him and would have had him back after a serious assault if she hadn't intervened by telling him that she was attracted to him then getting together with him. I know that she did me a favour but I feel betrayed and confused by the whole thing

    My abusive ex is now in a relationship with our couples counsellor this makes it much more difficult for me to get over things. He was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive to me and yet I still loved him and would have had him back after a serious assault if she hadn't intervened by telling him that she was attracted to him then getting together with him. I know that she did me a favour but I feel betrayed and confused by the whole thing

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      I am so sorry to hear this, yogini. May I just say, that was incredibly unprofessional of her to do and I am sure very traumatizing. I am honestly disgusted that there is a mental health professional who would cross boundaries like that. I am glad to hear you are free of both of them and his emotional as well as physical violence. I hope you know that you are a true warrior and survivor! There are better things ahead for you, I truly believe it. I hope you can channel all of the pain, the anger, and the grief of this experience into rebuilding an even better life for yourself, pursuing your dreams and engaging in self-care. Much love, light and healing to you! Blessings <3

      I am so sorry to hear this, yogini. May I just say, that was incredibly unprofessional of her to do and I am sure very traumatizing. I am honestly disgusted that there is a mental health professional who would cross boundaries like that. I am glad to hear you are free of both of them and his emotional as well as physical violence. I hope you know that you are a true warrior and survivor! There are better things ahead for you, I truly believe it. I hope you can channel all of the pain, the anger, and the grief of this experience into rebuilding an even better life for yourself, pursuing your dreams and engaging in self-care. Much love, light and healing to you! Blessings <3

  • yogini
    over 1 year ago

    My abusive ex got together with our couples counsellor after he tired of me. I couldn't let go despite serious physical and emotional abuse. I know that she did me a favour but I think I am finding it more difficult to get over the whole thing because of her involvement. I feel angry and betrayed.

    My abusive ex got together with our couples counsellor after he tired of me. I couldn't let go despite serious physical and emotional abuse. I know that she did me a favour but I think I am finding it more difficult to get over the whole thing because of her involvement. I feel angry and betrayed.

  • Ally Boreham 59
    over 1 year ago

    It's very nice but every abuse survivor already knows it.

    It's very nice but every abuse survivor already knows it.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Hi Ally, every abuse survivor might know it theoretically, but many of us don't feel it and know it internally. I know this because I am also a survivor and have worked with survivors who struggle with this. Self-blame, cognitive dissonance and toxic shame can all be symptoms that survivors struggle with in the aftermath. This article was written to empower survivors who may be doubting themselves as a result of the trauma they've experienced.

      Hi Ally, every abuse survivor might know it theoretically, but many of us don't feel it and know it internally. I know this because I am also a survivor and have worked with survivors who struggle with this. Self-blame, cognitive dissonance and toxic shame can all be symptoms that survivors struggle with in the aftermath. This article was written to empower survivors who may be doubting themselves as a result of the trauma they've experienced.

  • dixiedol
    over 1 year ago

    I especially appreciate your acknowledging that forgiving the abuser is not mandatory. "Forgiveness is a must for healing" is a concept I've struggled with these five years since I divorced my abuser.

    I especially appreciate your acknowledging that forgiving the abuser is not mandatory. "Forgiveness is a must for healing" is a concept I've struggled with these five years since I divorced my abuser.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Thank you dixiedol <3 I know there are survivors who have benefited from forgiveness, but I believe that is because they were ready and willing to forgive. We should not force ourselves to feel anything we're not ready to do or can't do. We've been invalidated for a long time - forcing ourselves would only further invalidate us. Self-forgiveness is more important. Blessings to you and your journey to healing <3.

      Thank you dixiedol <3 I know there are survivors who have benefited from forgiveness, but I believe that is because they were ready and willing to forgive. We should not force ourselves to feel anything we're not ready to do or can't do. We've been invalidated for a long time - forcing ourselves would only further invalidate us. Self-forgiveness is more important. Blessings to you and your journey to healing <3.

  • dixiedol
    [deleted]
    over 1 year ago

    [deleted]

    [deleted]

  • Sandra Gonzalez-Dennis 19
    over 1 year ago

    Hi did you doing YouTube video on narcissist?

    Hi did you doing YouTube video on narcissist?

  • Sandra Gonzalez-Dennis 19
    over 1 year ago

    Hello did you do a YouTube video on narcissist? If so I think that's the first time I ever saw you that was really great video very informative, and it was my first look into what kind of relationship and person I was dealing with. Thank you

    Hello did you do a YouTube video on narcissist? If so I think that's the first time I ever saw you that was really great video very informative, and it was my first look into what kind of relationship and person I was dealing with. Thank you

  • Sandra Gonzalez-Dennis 19
    over 1 year ago

    Hello did you do a YouTube video on narcissist? If so I think that's the first time I ever saw you that was really great video very informative, and it was my first look into what kind of relationship and person I was dealing with. Thank you

    Hello did you do a YouTube video on narcissist? If so I think that's the first time I ever saw you that was really great video very informative, and it was my first look into what kind of relationship and person I was dealing with. Thank you

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Hi Sandra, I do have a YouTube channel which deals with the effects of emotional abuse. I am glad you found one of my videos helpful! Blessings to you <3

      Hi Sandra, I do have a YouTube channel which deals with the effects of emotional abuse. I am glad you found one of my videos helpful! Blessings to you <3

  • Melanie Fuller 22
    over 1 year ago

    This was an amazing article, so very accurate and encouraging.

    This was an amazing article, so very accurate and encouraging.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Thank you Melanie. Many blessings to you <3 :)

      Thank you Melanie. Many blessings to you <3 :)

  • Amy Wertzler Manuel 91
    over 1 year ago

    Thank you.

    Thank you.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Blessings to you Amy! <3

      Blessings to you Amy! <3

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Blessings to you Amy! <3

      Blessings to you Amy! <3

  • Preethi Madhuri.P
    [deleted]
    over 1 year ago

    [deleted]

    [deleted]

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Thank you so much Preethi <3 I am so sorry to hear about the abuse you've been suffering for so long. Many of us try to seek validation after a smear campaign by our abusers, but are unfortunately retraumatized by the lack of support we receive. The validation we need is within ourselves. You know what you have experienced and felt. You can and will survive this experience. In fact, you can transcend it and use it to fuel you towards a life better than what you've ever known. Use it also to spread awareness and use your voice. You've already begun by sharing your story here. Do not blame yourself - many abuse survivors are overwhelmed by the pathological mind games these abusers tend to play. You can read more about pathological narcissists here: https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/five-powerful-ways-abusive-narcissists-get-inside-your-head/ as well as reasons why abuse survivors feel so bonded to their abusers here: https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/why-do-we-stay-dismantling-stereotypes-about-abuse-survivors/

      Thank you so much Preethi <3 I am so sorry to hear about the abuse you've been suffering for so long. Many of us try to seek validation after a smear campaign by our abusers, but are unfortunately retraumatized by the lack of support we receive. The validation we need is within ourselves. You know what you have experienced and felt. You can and will survive this experience. In fact, you can transcend it and use it to fuel you towards a life better than what you've ever known. Use it also to spread awareness and use your voice. You've already begun by sharing your story here. Do not blame yourself - many abuse survivors are overwhelmed by the pathological mind games these abusers tend to play. You can read more about pathological narcissists here: https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/five-powerful-ways-abusive-narcissists-get-inside-your-head/ as well as reasons why abuse survivors feel so bonded to their abusers here: https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/why-do-we-stay-dismantling-stereotypes-about-abuse-survivors/

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Many blessings to you and your healing journey, Preethi <3

      Many blessings to you and your healing journey, Preethi <3

  • christine louis de canonville

    Great article Shahida, simple and concise.........but simple does not usually mean "easy". I hope you continue with your Sacred Work, you have such a great understanding of narcissistic abuse, and people, especially victims, need this information. Peace to your mind and heart.

    Great article Shahida, simple and concise.........but simple does not usually mean "easy". I hope you continue with your Sacred Work, you have such a great understanding of narcissistic abuse, and people, especially victims, need this information. Peace to your mind and heart.

    • Shahida Arabi
      Shahida Arabi Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
      over 1 year ago

      Thank you so much Christine <3. I really appreciate your support. It certainly is not easy. The mythical ease of leaving an abusive relationship, especially one with a pathological narcissist is one that needs to be challenged in the public discourse. I invite you to read "Why Do We Stay?: Dismantling Stereotypes About Abuse Survivors": https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/why-do-we-stay-dismantling-stereotypes-about-abuse-survivors/ For readers who are new to learning about pathological narcissism, I invite them to read "Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head": https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/five-powerful-ways-abusive-narcissists-get-inside-your-head/

      Thank you so much Christine <3. I really appreciate your support. It certainly is not easy. The mythical ease of leaving an abusive relationship, especially one with a pathological narcissist is one that needs to be challenged in the public discourse. I invite you to read "Why Do We Stay?: Dismantling Stereotypes About Abuse Survivors": https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/why-do-we-stay-dismantling-stereotypes-about-abuse-survivors/ For readers who are new to learning about pathological narcissism, I invite them to read "Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head": https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/five-powerful-ways-abusive-narcissists-get-inside-your-head/

  • letimendoza11
    [deleted]
    over 1 year ago

    [deleted]

    [deleted]

  • letimendoza11
    over 1 year ago

    Your reading is inspirational, educational and uplifting. I walked away from my husband because he was emotionally and psychologically abusing me. Now, I'm on my journey to heal and recover from the trauma. Your reading resonated so much within me, and what I experienced. Your reading describes exactly how the relationship started; there was so much love and attention at first. Then I was blindsided. I was blindsided with control, possessiveness, hostility, conditional love, and slowly cutting important people out of my life. I continue to remind myself every day that nothing about his behavior was my fault. For anyone that has endured any type of abuse, know that it not your fault. Believe in yourself. I am stronger now, and so are you.

    Your reading is inspirational, educational and uplifting. I walked away from my husband because he was emotionally and psychologically abusing me. Now, I'm on my journey to heal and recover from the trauma. Your reading resonated so much within me, and what I experienced. Your reading describes exactly how the relationship started; there was so much love and attention at first. Then I was blindsided. I was blindsided with control, possessiveness, hostility, conditional love, and slowly cutting important people out of my life. I continue to remind myself every day that nothing about his behavior was my fault. For anyone that has endured any type of abuse, know that it not your fault. Believe in yourself. I am stronger now, and so are you.

  • SleepingBeauty1023

    Thank you for the hope. I read this in the middle of the night while being blamed by entire family for all life's problems. Sadly, I'm surrounded by Narcissists. It's a daily lesson in maintaining composure and basic mental/emotional survival!

    Thank you for the hope. I read this in the middle of the night while being blamed by entire family for all life's problems. Sadly, I'm surrounded by Narcissists. It's a daily lesson in maintaining composure and basic mental/emotional survival!

  • SleepingBeauty1023

    I needed the mental reinforcement in the middle of the night. Ever so grateful this information was available. I'm surrounded by Narcissists in my life. My choices? Love them all for what they are or Leave them all for what they are. Not an easy decision because it includes adult children & a minor kept from my influence for far too long. But I can't forget what I deserve in the process. Thanks again.

    I needed the mental reinforcement in the middle of the night. Ever so grateful this information was available. I'm surrounded by Narcissists in my life. My choices? Love them all for what they are or Leave them all for what they are. Not an easy decision because it includes adult children & a minor kept from my influence for far too long. But I can't forget what I deserve in the process. Thanks again.

  • 5mo ago

    What's up,I check your blogs named "What Abuse Survivors Don't Know: 10 Life-Changing Truths - Mogul" on a regular basis.Your humoristic style is awesome, keep up the good work! And you can look our website about اغانى مهرجانات http://www.aghanyna.com/arabic/songs/cat/sha3by.

    What's up,I check your blogs named "What Abuse Survivors Don't Know: 10 Life-Changing Truths - Mogul" on a regular basis.Your humoristic style is awesome, keep up the good work! And you can look our website about اغانى مهرجانات http://www.aghanyna.com/arabic/songs/cat/sha3by.

  • Jeni Mawter 88
    4mo ago

    Excellent article. Hugely appreciated. Thank you.

    Excellent article. Hugely appreciated. Thank you.

  • Jeni Mawter 88
    4mo ago

    Excellent article. hugely appreciated.Thank you.

    Excellent article. hugely appreciated.Thank you.


Report this post
Report this post
Shahida Arabi
Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care

Shahida Arabi is the author of The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care, a bestselling Kindle book also available in print. She graduated with a Master's from Columbia University and studied English Literature and Psychology as an undergraduate student at NYU, where she graduated summa cum laude and was [...]

Want an amazing job or internship?

Join millions of women who have found their dream jobs and internships on Mogul.

Get A Top Job Now

Trending Jobs

See All Jobs


Trending Questions

See All Questions