Why Are There So Few Articles About Healing After Abuse?
I recently saw a quote in which someone was lamenting the fact that there were more articles describing narcissism and narcissistic abuse than how to heal after abuse. I thought it was a strange distinction to make. When survivors of narcissistic abuse read articles about narcissism and narcissistic abuse, that is a form of healing after abuse.
In addition, although the quote acknowledged that there are differences in the types of information that is needed to heal, it appeared to elevate healing core wounds over learning about the narcissistic relationship without acknowledging that they are two different, but equally important, types of healing. They occur at two very different stages in a relationship or post-relationship with a narcissist and they require different methods of assistance for peak effectiveness.
What Is Narcissistic Abuse?
Narcissistic abuse is a unique form of psychological abuse that is characterized by manipulation and deception and, often, includes coercive control. Abusers subject their partners to a four-stage abuse cycle in which they first idealize and love-bomb them before devaluing them and subjecting them to multiple forms of emotional abuse. Finally, the abuser discards the partner once he or she sees no more value in the partner, but then often returns to "hoover" the partner back into the relationship. There may never be physical abuse, however, there is often excessive control and monitoring and the abuser may be juggling multiple relationships simultaneously.
Why Healing After Abuse Articles Are Few and Far Between
- Narcissistic abuse is largely cognitive abuse. Survivors cannot even begin to heal anything about their core selves until they become aware that they are being abused. Narcissistic abuse is largely cognitive in nature, a form of exploitation through mind games. The mind must be healed through an acknowledgment of what has been done, why, and how. That knowledge can only be gained through reading about it from external sources and talking with others who are knowledgeable about narcissistic abuse.
- Narcissistic abuse recovery occurs in stages. Even after survivors become aware of the abuse and are able to accept it, they must still break the trauma bond to the narcissist and leave the relationship. Sometimes, the trauma bond persists even after the relationship ends. People turn to the Internet for answers about and validation for what they are going through because that is lacking almost everywhere else and we certainly don't get it in our relationships or even with our core circle of supporters. This information is also part of the very important healing that must take place, as it enables survivors to empower themselves by defining their own narrative of the abuse, rather than accepting the narcissist's version of events.
- Narcissistic abuse is a social problem with a clear and recognizable pattern. What we all, as survivors, have in common is that our abusers have followed a similar pattern of abuse and said the same things to us and we have even found ourselves reacting in the same ways. Finding that information does help us break up with narcissists and can help us break our trauma bonds by helping us realize we have them. By necessity, it is an intellectual exercise best accomplished by reading and watching materials, which can mostly be done over the Internet for free. It makes sense that the stage of recovery which absorbing information is the most important and in which survivors learn that they have all been abused in similar ways would make up the majority of what they find to read.
- The process of healing core wounds is individualized. When survivors have processed what they went through and learned to let go of the relationship, they are ready to look inward and learn what parts of themselves they need to heal either because they attracted a narcissist or because the narcissist has eroded certain aspects of themselves. What those core wounds are and how we go about healing them is mostly an individual process. Articles on the Internet will be less useful at this stage because, unlike the pattern of abuse that all survivors shared, healing individually is not as universal. Those materials are out there but are less widely shared. This makes sense, as the process of healing core wounds often requires in-depth trauma recovery with a therapist or a more hands-on approach because there is not one path to recovery.
- Lack of awareness leads to a lack of information. There is still a lack of public awareness of what narcissistic abuse is. Even many mental health professionals are unaware of how to recognize the symptoms or to treat someone who has been in this type of relationship. Many of the people writing about it are survivors who are still healing themselves and may not have enough to say yet on the topic of healing core wounds, as they are still doing it. So who is going to write these articles?
Healing After Abuse Alone
There will come a time, if it hasn't already, when you will tire of reading about narcissism and when you will feel the pull to dig deeper and heal after abuse in another way.
I recognized when I reached this stage and I have spent several months in a really difficult place that I haven't written about much. I didn't want to spend much time on what I've been going through in this stage, as I don't want others to think that they have to take my path. I don't want people to think that if they heal the things I healed or only look at the things I looked at or do the things I did, that they will be free.
I am starting to come out of it and move forward into a new place where light is starting to come through. I'm releasing much bigger chunks of pain now that the relationship jarred loose, things that I didn't even know were there.
Once you turn inward, your journey becomes less universal.
The reason why not acknowledging this is a problem is that it implies that victims are spending too much time reading articles about what they went through and not getting the help they need.
I am not advocating for a lack of acknowledgment of looking inward. It is possible to get stuck. At some point, victims should move forward into whatever that next step is for them once they have passed through the stage of healing that enables them to recognize the abuse and break the bond to the narcissist.
Yet at the other end of the spectrum, people do move through recovery at their own pace. There is also not one path to recovery.
We should not let other people tell us when it is time to move on or how. At the same time, we should do our best to hold ourselves responsible for moving down the path to healing after abuse and finding the resources that best help us as we find the strength to do so.
That's the best we can do.
Milstead, K. (2019, May 16). Why Are There So Few Articles About Healing After Abuse?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, December 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2019/5/why-are-there-so-few-articles-about-healing-after-abuse
Author: Kristen Milstead
Thank you so much for putting this information to together and sharing this. It has been a tremendous help. It has pushed me forward towards healing. I am so grateful and am sharing with several friends who have been or are going through this now. It seems the more people I share my experience with, they have been through it too. Scary....there are so many,!
Thank you so much! I really appreciate this article. I'm still in, unfortunately. This gave me hope and hopefully some motivation. It feels like you know me so well! Lol! XOXO
Hi Tamela: I'm glad to hear this article was so helpful for you. I know that sometimes it can feel as if we will never be free, but it is possible to get out. I know you will get there when you feel ready. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. -Kristen