In my work as a therapist, I encounter a lot of different people. We explore the gamut of depression, anxiety, developmental challenges, personality disorders, and trauma. Some of those people are motivated to learn helpful skills, face their challenges and emotional injuries, and create a life that has a little more hope and meaning.
We encounter these people in everyday experiences: a family member, a partner, a co-worker, a group member. We’re left reeling when they’re struggling to manage their mental health challenges, which can result in too much information-sharing, vicarious trauma, absence of boundaries, and their struggle to remember that each new encounter isn’t going to be another trauma-experience. Their struggle to discern whether someone’s words or behavior aren’t a threat is a profound challenge.
Sometimes these people are aware of their actions, other times they’re oblivious to the damage they’re perpetuating. Their doubts and suspicions can feel unfair to the individual who has no understanding of trauma. Sometimes they expect others to know their triggers, take care of them, and not be held accountable. When expected to take accountability, they react with shock, outrage, sometimes complete withdrawal, and sometimes by demonizing the individual confronting the behavior. Sometimes they perceive threat when none has been offered, and lash out with accusations of “bully” and “abuser!.”
Sometimes their reaction to complex trauma is to become a Victim Narcissist. Abusing others in their attempt to cope.
How does a person cope with this experience? The impact of a Victim Narcissist? They may experience a sense of craziness and confusion, wonder “what the heck just happened?!” They may not feel grounded, and be questioning their reality, words, and actions (gas lighting). They’re left with all the broken pieces, as the VN has probably moved on, shut them out/or down; all after shaming, blaming, and attempting to stomp over other people’s boundaries and concerns…. due to the belief that the VNs experience is the only valid one.
And the Victim Narcissist? They’re still hurting and emotionally bleeding. Their sense of instability is profound, with efforts to re-stablize taking the form of continued denial and avoidance. Avoidance of accountability, refusal to reflect on who they just hurt, and the perpetuation of continued pain.