Can Narcissistic Abuse Cause Social Anxiety?

Can Narcissistic Abuse Cause Social Anxiety? can narcissistic abuse cause social anxiety?
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

Actually, one of the greatest contributors to your social anxiety is abuse. When you have social anxiety, you are fearful of social situations, you are afraid of going out there and meeting new people. You are afraid of chatting with friends and you end up just mostly isolating yourself in your room or pushing others away. You freak out at the thought of interacting with other human beings. Despite once feeling confident and adept at social interactions, you now find yourself isolated and anxious in such situations. What used to be effortless now fills you with fear and worry, whether it’s meeting new people, engaging in social gatherings, or attending family and work functions. How does years of narcissistic abuse contribute to social anxiety?

Erosion of Self-Confidence

Narcissistic abuse can significantly undermine your self-confidence. When in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, their constant criticism, belittling, invalidation, and gaslighting can make you feel inadequate and deeply doubt yourself. Consequently, you start to question the value of your own voice and the validity of your thoughts.

This pervasive self-doubt can diminish your belief in yourself at a fundamental level, making social situations particularly challenging. You may feel provoked by social interactions, fearing that speaking up will only invite criticism. This anxiety stems from internalizing the belief that speaking out will inevitably lead to judgment, a mindset ingrained by the consistent criticism in the abusive environment. As a result, you may find yourself feeling anxious and dreading social interactions.


Another critical aspect is isolation. When dealing with an extremely manipulative individual, they often seek to isolate you from others. They aim to sever ties with your friends, family, and even hobbies, as part of their control tactics. Their goal is to maintain dominance and keep you solely dependent on them. By isolating you, they hinder your ability to thrive and develop in your relationships and social interactions.

Subsequently, prolonged isolation leads to a decline in social skills. Over time, lack of social interaction can result in the erosion of social skills. If you remain isolated for extended periods, such as 10 or 20 years, it’s inevitable that your ability to engage socially will diminish. This loss of social skills contributes to feelings of social anxiety, as you may struggle to communicate or connect with others due to lack of practice and exposure.

Social Situations are Triggering.

Another significant aspect is hypervigilance for threats. When you’ve experienced abuse, you may find yourself in a state of heightened alertness, constantly scanning your environment for potential dangers. This hypervigilance stems from the trauma you’ve endured. When trauma remains unaddressed, everyday occurrences can serve as triggers, reigniting painful memories and emotions.

For instance, social situations may serve as triggers, reminding you of past abuse. Seeing someone who resembles your abuser or encountering situations reminiscent of the abuse can transport you back to those traumatic moments.

So, social situations become associated with fear and distress. Without addressing these emotional wounds, the fear of being retraumatized intensifies, leading you to avoid social interactions as a means of self-protection. The avoidance of social situations becomes a coping mechanism to shield yourself from potential harm and emotional distress.

Lack of Trust

Another aspect to consider is the difficulty in trusting others. When you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you may reach a point where you struggle to trust anyone fully. You may have entrusted the narcissist with everything — your deepest secrets, passwords, friendships, even your mental well-being — only to be betrayed. This betrayal can lead you to generalize that perhaps all people are untrustworthy.

Without trust, it becomes challenging to form meaningful connections and engage authentically in social interactions. Trust is essential for vulnerability, sharing secrets, and building bonds with others. However, due to past experiences, you may fear that opening up will only result in further harm. This fear of vulnerability and potential betrayal contributes to social anxiety, as you dread social situations where you may have to trust and connect with others.

Work On Your Inner Belief System

The solution remains the same: addressing the pain inflicted by abusive relationships and working on your inner beliefs. Being exposed to someone who’s hurtful can lead to developing negative beliefs about yourself. These beliefs shape how you perceive and approach interactions, often filtering them through distorted lenses.

By working on your inner belief system, you can recognize that while people can betray you, they can also support you. It’s crucial to take care of yourself by setting boundaries, managing expectations, and understanding that ultimately, your well-being is your responsibility. Once you address these underlying issues and repair your belief system damaged by the abusive relationship, social situations will no longer pose the same challenges.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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