How abusive relationships change when you do

The stronger you get the more a narcissist needs to control you

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Leaving an abusive relationship is when you need to stay strong.

What happens when we build our self-esteem?

What happens when we stop taking responsibility for an abusive partners actions and by default that means they have to be accountable for them? What happens when we start to build our self-esteem, say no this behaviour is unacceptable and set healthier boundaries?

First, we might see them up the ante in their attempts to reign us back in, such as:

  • Hoovering

As like a vacuum cleaner they suck us back in with their remorse, presents and promises to change. But don’t be fooled by this. They’re just testing our boundaries. If we allow them control over us once more and go back to them after abuse, in their mind it gives them permission to abuse us more. And usually, more violently. Too often, it sadly ends in death. Sometimes they bring another person into the equation – known as:

  • Triangulation

They might manufacture a love triangle, which leaves you feeling insecure and possibly jealous and rendering them more control of you. Or bring someone else in to validate their abuse – for example, by saying someone agrees with them that your reaction to something is crazy. At the same time dismissing your feelings about it. Or they may wage a:

  • Smear campaign.

When they can’t control the way you see yourself, they start to control how others see you; then they play the martyr while you’re labelled the crazy one. This is their way of dismantling any support network you might have, making it harder for you to leave them. They’ll create stories that depict you as the aggressor while they play the victim, and mirror onto you their abusive behaviour. They use your reactions to their abuse as proof that they’re the “victims” of yours. Or worse, they may go into a:

  • Narcissistic rage

When we don’t act how they want us to act anymore. When we refuse to be bullied and change our behaviour to live up to their unwritten rules. When they lose control of us, they can go into a narcissistic rage. When you’re a narcissist, you expect everyone around you to be submissive to your control, obey you and adore you. Anything less than that feels like an assault and because of that a narcissist feels justified in raging over it. You need to be very careful of them in this state, as there can also be an:

  • Escalation in violence

When we refuse to be bullied by them anymore. The risk of narcissistic rage and escalation in violence is particularly prevalent at the time they suspect we are about to or when we leave them. This is why 75% of murders and injuries occur at this point in an abusive relationship. They may even:

  • Threaten you

If you challenge them or don’t behave on their terms, narcissists may threaten you to force you into submission. A threat of violence: ‘If I can’t have you, no-one can’; It might be the threat of cutting you off financially; or a threat that they will kill themselves.

This is the time you need to stay strong and be very wary of your safety. When you’re still in the relationship, but starting to pull away from their control. Once you take your focus away from a narcissist or abusive person, the dynamic of the relationship will shift.

The stronger you are the greater their need to pull you back under their control. They’ll double down in their efforts to suck you back into the abusive cycle, to regain their dominance over you. They’ll ramp up the gaslighting, hoovering, mirroring and other tactics to confuse and manipulate you.

I remember it being a very tough time. But keep your resolve and stay strong. Don’t try to defend yourself, if they make accusations against you or try to tear you down. Don’t get drawn into the mind games. Stay silent. They want a reaction. Rise above it and keep living your life in a healthier manner.

Keep setting those healthy boundaries. When we feel stronger and do this they are bound and determined to test them, to show us who is in control. You need more than ever now to stick to them. If they cross them then you need to ask yourself if the relationship is good enough for you and if not, if it’s time to leave.

Originally published at

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