After enduring narcissistic abuse from a parent, a friend, or an ex, chances are that you’ll be dealing with many unsettling emotions. You’ll be painfully aware that much of what you believed to be true about your life just…isn’t. And no matter where you’re at in your recovery, the best thing to do is to give yourself time and permission to feel what you need to feel as you will be going through three stages.

I always say that the stages of healing in narcissistic abuse recovery are as simple as they are overwhelming. It’s not just about narcissistic abuse and how to overcome it. You should also work on learning how to identify narcissists in your life and how to deal with toxic people. It may also help to learn the language of the narcissistic abuse recovery community, and learning the red flags of a narcissist will help you avoid toxic relationships in the future. My fellow coaches and I use my DUO Method to identify the main stages of narcissistic abuse recovery.

What are the stages of narcissistic abuse recovery?

The three stages of narcissistic abuse recovery involve feeling as you are the victim, then you will feel you are the survivor. The last stage is that you will feel as if you are ready to move on. Let’s now look into these stages in detail. Learn more about the DUO Method. 

Stage 1 – The Victim (Discovery Phase)

This is the stage you are going through right after you break away from the narcissist, or when you first discover that you might be dealing with a narcissist. You will be thinking about how betrayed you were, and you’ll be extremely hurt and confused. You will also be very hurt that you were led on and you’ll be extremely angry. Angry with yourself for allowing yourself to be hurt, and you’ll be angry with your abuser. You’ll feel as if you had lost time by sticking around for the abuser as well. There is also fear, fear of the unknown. And the fear of you not knowing if you can overcome this. Read more about the Discovery Phase. 

Stage 2 – Survivor (Understanding Phase)

You are now past the victim stage, and you will start thinking of yourself as a survivor. You’ll still be focused on learning aout narcissists and narcissism, but this is the time when you are ready to get counseling or coaching. You’re also focused on learning more about self-care. You will be less angry but you will also be quite triggered by reminders. You have a desire to get back to your old self and to move forward. But at the same time, you will be struggling to release your abuser and you’ll be struggling to rebuild your life. Read more about the Understanding Phase.

Stage 3 – Moving on to Thriving (Overcoming Phase)

Even though you are ready to move forward with your life at this stage, you have the desire to connect with others. However, you still have many trust issues that are holding you back. The angry feelings you have towards your abuser might still be plaguing you, but you’re beginning to move forward. And you might still feel a little embarrassed about your past, and you don’t really feel like discussing it with random people. Still, you’ve joined a support group and/or you’re getting some coaching, so you’re feeling a little better each day. There is now a light at the end of the tunnel and you’re propelling toward it! Read more about the Overcoming Phase. 

It’s important to note that there is no set time for going through each stage. It is all personal and depends on a number of factors. Where are you in your narcissistic abuse recovery? Take this quiz to find out if you’re not sure. 

Which stage of recovery best fits you right now?

Not sure where you fit into the DUO Method stages of narcissistic abuse recovery? Take this quiz to help you figure it out.

How are you feeling about your relationship with the toxic person right now? (Choose the answer that most closely resonates with you in the moment).

Lost and alone. Shocked, confused. Doubting yourself and wondering if you really are the problem.

You get that the person is toxic and you think they’re a narcissist. You’re learning about NPD and CPTSD and you can see the red flags. You have been doing your research and you are looking to heal, whether you’ve gone no contact or you’re trying to figure out what to do next.

You know the relationship is toxic and you’re aware that it isn’t healthy for you. You’re out of the relationship – or on your way out – and you understand that low-contact (with kids) or no contact is the best option for you. You realize that you are important and that it’s better to be alone than abused. You are starting to heal and feeling more confident. You’re ready to evolve and grow past this situation so you can start your life again.

How are you feeling about yourself right now?

You don’t know who you are, and you feel like you’re not good enough for anyone. You feel worthless and hopeless. You feel depressed and/or anxious and like you’re just stuck – you’re not sure there’s a way to get better.

You’re starting to see the light – maybe there’s some hope at the end of the tunnel. You are nowhere near healed, but now you know that with enough effort and intention, you can and you will make it through this. You’re still struggling with your self-esteem but you are working on it and are aware that you can be happy again. You are hopeful in a way that you haven’t been in awhile.

You’re getting better every day and you’re starting to realize that you have value and that you deserve to be happy. You are starting to put your life in perspective and get things on track – and you’re feeling pretty good about that. You’re well-aware that you are and were not the problem in the relationship, and you’re working on healing and growing forward. You might even be thinking about moving on in other ways.

What is the current status of your toxic relationship?

It’s over, but I’m miserable and missing this person. I want to make things right and I’m just not sure I can go on without them.

I’m still in it and have just realized that I’ve been abused for a long time. I’m not sure what to do now.

It’s over and I’m starting to feel like it’s sort of a good thing. Most of the time, anyway. I still miss them on occasion, but logically I know it will never get better and I’m doing my best to move on.

I’m still in it, but I want out. I’m not sure how to make it happen, but I’m working on a plan. I know this relationship is unhealthy and I can’t wait to be on my own again.

It’s over and I couldn’t be happier. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to that person! Life is getting a little better every day!

It’s nearly over and I’m on my way to freedom. Look out world, here I come! By Angela Atkinson