17 Steps to Start Healing from Abuse

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don’t think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not a woman in that same role.

First, this is a process and it takes time and active effort on one’s part to overcome it.

There just is not a quick fix because there needs to be a complete unspooling of you, first, in order to understand what happened so it doesn’t happen to you again with the same narcissist or others.

17 Steps to Start Healing from Abuse


1. Get validation as much as necessary from outside sources about narcissism. 

Visit with as many people as you can to validate your experiences with the narcissist because it’s a battle between the real reality of truth and the false one you’ve been in with them. You’re coming out of a cult and you need to deprogram. Once you have enough validation they are a narcissist, then the work begins but you will for a long time need that validation to reground yourself.

2. Accept they are not fixable. Once you know, you go. 

They are NOT fixable. This is about survival now so abandon them and the thought of them.

3. Recognize and admit this relationship is unhealthy for you and that you are addicted to it. 

Keep repeating this over and over to yourself. At first, it’s not a matter of will for you to back out if it, which is why it’s so not helpful for people to tell survivors to “Get over it,” or to go find someone else.

Would we say that to a heroin addict? An alcoholic? Of course not! Then why is it so odd to conceive we can get addicted to drugs and alcohol but not to a person? All addictions are using outside things to regulate our emotions. This is an addiction- treat it as such.

4. Understand the purpose of and go No Contact with zero exceptions.

I think there is a misconception about what No Contact means and the purpose behind it. No Contact is for your benefit and yours only.

It’s not a two way conversation with back and forth flow between both parties.

It’s a one way statement: “My life and existence are more important to me than anything else, and continued exposure to this person is going to kill me.”

Can an alcoholic manipulate themselves into thinking “Oh I’m strong enough to be around alcohol now?” Of course they can. When you finally reach that point where enough is enough is enough and you finally get yourself away from this drug (the narcissist) and go full No Contact you will look back and see all the different ways you tricked yourself into being “No Contact” but not really being “No Contact.” You were still seeking interaction with the drug.

“Oh but we share bills!”

“Oh but what about his birthday? That’s mean to not reach out to him!”

“Her friend asked me how I was doing and told me she was really sad. I should just call to check in.”

“I heard his mom is in the hospital!”

These are all ways for you to get “high” off your drug again. Period. There can be no interaction.

If you want to survive, turn and run.

Look, you can bullshit yourself and be feeling not much different than you do now in 5 or even 10 years, but at some point in order to heal you have to withdraw from your drug and it’s painful.

Zero Contact is the only way to go in order to heal. It’s an addiction.

No Contact is removing the alcohol permanently from your life. You can’t have a taste of it on Wednesday, a flirt with it on Friday. That is not how you heal from an addiction. It is literally wiping their existence from your person, because you cannot heal from alcoholism when you have a bottle of it on your kitchen table or exposure to it. Likewise you cannot heal from narcissistic abuse when you are in contact with the narcissist who was abusing you and who you are addicted (trauma bonded) to. No Contact is not just not talking to or seeing the NPD, it’s removing any energy exchange with them, even silently.

Not looking at their social media.

Not talking about them to friends and family (other than needing validation from above step.

Think of them like a toxic gas and think strategically how to protect yourself from it.

Read this eloquent description of them:

The narcissist is like a sentient bag of toxic gas with a sharp stabber attached. It pierces the victim with its stabber and begins transferring its poison to the victim. Simultaneously, the toxic gas escapes every pore of the narcissist, spreading a blinding noxious fog over the vicinity, engulfing bystanders in its poison, and scrambling their logic as well. ”

5. Identify and heal your wounds from childhood.

There’s a reason you were in a codependent relationship and you must take some responsibility for why lest you sit in victimhood forever. Yes, they are cruel. Yes, they lie. Yes, they manipulated you.

But more than likely the narcissist mirrors to you a caregiver relationship you had from your childhood.

Did you know narcissists can “spot” their victims when they first make eye contact with them? It’s that wounding, that vulnerability that you carry that’s the bloody wound on the deer that they smell, so you have work to do to heal those wounds. There are tons of people that at the first sign of distrust or dishonesty with another person would walk- you did not. Go find out why and fix it.

6. Accept and repeat to yourself that no one is coming to fix this for you- you rely solely on yourself. You have the power.

The narcissist can’t fix it, and they’re as stable as WiFi in the wilderness so we wouldn’t want them to anyway. Your mom can’t fix it. The narcissist’s friends, your therapist, etc, can’t fix it.

Is it fair what happened to you?

No.

Was it your fault?

No.

Is it your responsibility to fix it?

Yes- that’s personal empowerment, which is what the narcissist took away from you.

7. Stop romanticizing this shit-show relationship.

This grand love story didn’t happen for you with them, and it’s not going to happen without you when they are with someone else.

You don’t “lose” a personality disorder when you change partners- it’s not a backpack you take off whenever you want.

You will eventually have the self control to flip the switch on your brain when it wants to get all melancholy and woe is me…but I love them… you’ll look back with copious laughter at how you used to pine away for this person.

You were involved with the Wizard of Oz and you’ve seen the background, you know he’s just a scared little guy running around focused on looking like he’s all powerful. They have tiny person syndrome. Be gone.

You can’t unsee what you’ve already seen. Once you’ve seen what’s really behind the curtain you gotta walk.

Reassign Dark into Light

For every bad thing they did to you, go do something good for you or someone else.

This is a game they created in your head- now finish them off.

8. Hire a therapist that knows about abuse or PTSD

Screen them and even interview them to see if they have had clients who have suffered this kind of abuse, as it is really known only if experienced.

9. Become wise on the topic.

Find out for sure if you are in such a relationship by reading books about the topic, YouTube videos by psychologists, and answers on Quora on the topic.

10. Leave safely.

Once you have established that you are in such a relationship, set up plans to leave. Go no contact on all social media and all phones and accounts. Do this the same day you leave the relationship. If you have property or children together, hire an attorney.

11. Practice being loyal to yourself first

“There is never a day where it is better to be in a relationship that undermines, undercuts, manipulates, abuses or takes advantage of us than it is to be …in a relationship with ourselves that’s filled with self-love.” A statement of self-love could be said every day in addition to other ways of caring for yourself such as relaxation, eliminating negative self-talk, taking yourself out to dinner, or putting fun in every day. The statement is pledging allegiance to yourself and honoring your gifts, talents, and goodness. Commit to being loyal to yourself from now on.

12. Create and set Boundaries.

Practice with friends first but if you’re a people pleaser, setting and sustaining boundaries can seem overwhelming, or worse, impossible. So commit to creating one boundary, and seeing it through. Start small. And remember, “Being good, as it turns out, isn’t about pleasing. Being good is about being just to others while also being true to yourself.” (Molinary)

13. Spend time with yourself for a while until you regain your balance.

Don’t try to rush out and date or meet lots of new people. You are healing from a trauma and you will not be in any shape to do anything but lean on friends and use some simple healing techniques. Treat yourself as a sick person who is convalescing.

14. Practice good self- care.

This is related to loving yourself but basically means: get a good night’s sleep, eat well, exercise, and do some socializing with safe and gentle people. A good support network is also recommended or community such as a church, women’s group or even a hobby group.

15. Journal.

This can be tied to a gratitude journal or just keeping a journal of your emotions and how you have changed over time once you are out of the relationship.

16. Walk in Nature.

This practice is easy to do–connect to nature, and if a forest is available, take in its atmosphere. Walking in nature is an easy practice that can start with the mountain yoga pose and then walking in nature.

17. Pets. Borrow or find a rescue pet.

Stroking a cat or dog can be very healing. Support animals are even better. I could not have survived without my support cat. He started gallivanting at night after I healed–a sure sign that I had recovered.

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