Breaking the cycle of narcissistic abuse

Narcissism is a personality disorder characterised by an inflated sense of self-importance and a lack of empathy for others. It often stems from childhood trauma or neglect, which can lead to low self-esteem and the need for constant validation from others.


Those who have suffered from narcissistic abuse may develop a tendency to become abusers themselves in future relationships.

The cycle of abuse is a well-known phenomenon, where a person who has been abused may go on to become an abuser themselves. This cycle can be especially prevalent in cases of narcissistic abuse, where the victim may internalise the abuser's behaviour and begin to adopt similar traits themselves. This can lead to a situation where the victim becomes the abuser, perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

The consequences of this can be devastating for both the abuser and their partner. The abuser may not even realise they are engaging in abusive behaviour, as they may believe that this is simply the way relationships work. Their partner, on the other hand, may suffer emotional and psychological damage as a result of the abuse, which can have long-lasting effects on their mental health.

It is important for those who have suffered from narcissistic abuse to seek help in order to break this cycle. There are a number of signs to watch out for, which can indicate that a person may be at risk of becoming an abuser themselves. These include:

  • A tendency to put themselves first at all times, without regard for the feelings or needs of others.
  • A lack of empathy for others, and an inability to understand or relate to their emotions.
  • A need for control in relationships, and a willingness to manipulate or coerce others in order to get what they want.
  • A tendency to belittle or demean others, particularly those who they perceive as being weaker or less powerful than themselves.
  • A lack of self-awareness, and an inability to recognise or acknowledge their own faults or mistakes.

If you recognise any of these traits in yourself, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. There are a number of different methods of support available, including therapy, counselling, and support groups. These can help you to understand the underlying causes of your behaviour and to develop new, healthier ways of relating to others.

If you are currently suffering from abusive behaviour, whether as the abuser or the victim, there are a number of steps you can take in order to protect yourself and your partner. These include:

  • Seeking professional help, either through therapy or counselling.
  • Setting clear boundaries in your relationships, and sticking to them.
  • Practising empathy and understanding for your partner's feelings and needs.
  • Taking responsibility for your own behaviour, and working to change any patterns of abusive behaviour.
  • Being open and honest with your partner about your struggles, and working together to overcome them.

Ultimately, the most important thing you can do is to recognise that you have a problem and to seek help in order to address it. With the right support and guidance, it is possible to break the cycle of abuse and develop healthy relationships.

In conclusion, those who have suffered from narcissistic abuse may be at risk of becoming abusers themselves in future relationships. This can have devastating consequences for both the abuser and their partner, leading to emotional and psychological damage that can be difficult to overcome. It is important to recognise the signs of abusive behaviour and to seek help as soon as possible in order to break the cycle of abuse. By doing so, it is possible to develop healthy, fulfilling relationships that are based on mutual respect and understanding.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, Offering Counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, EMDR & Mindfulness.
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3

Ian Stockbridge is the founder and lead counsellor at Hope Therapy and Counselling Services. 

As an experienced Counsellor, Ian recognised a huge societal need for therapeutic services that were often not being met. As such the 'Hope Agency'was born and its counselling team now offers counselling and therapeutic support throughout the UK.

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