Unraveling the Impact: Identity Erosion After Narcissistic Abuse

Unraveling the Impact: Identity Erosion After Narcissistic Abuse unraveling the impact: identity erosion after narcissistic abuse
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When you’re dealing with an abusive person, they use various manipulative techniques like gaslighting, blame shifting, harsh jokes, sarcasm, and more to make you question or even forget who you are.

When I say “forget who you are,” I mean that you might find yourself dropping all your preferences, friends and leaving your hobbies behind till you get to this point where you don’t really understand your sense of self anymore. You don’t understand your values, and you don’t understand your beliefs. They simply emotionally abuse you to the point where you don’t even know who you are anymore.

For example, you might change your dressing style or just some your preferences to fit into their lives, to impress them or to keep yourself safe in that abusive relationship.

You reach a point where, when you look at yourself in the mirror, you no longer see the person you used to be. The harm from narcissistic abuse has changed and distorted your appearance, making you unrecognizable to yourself.

So, what are some aspects of this identity erosion after narcissistic abuse?


Being in that relationship makes you doubt your own judgments and yourself so much because they make you question yourself a lot. They want to control your life and not empower you to be an autonomous human being or make your own decisions. They make you doubt your sense of reality, so you become dependent on them for validation and approval. This means you’ll always be doing things they want and constantly changing yourself to fulfill their needs. They have the power to make you question your own appearance, passions, interests, and even your career to the extent that you simply let go of them.


Constant Criticism

A narcissist will constantly put you down, criticize and belittle every aspect of your life, from your cooking to your appearance to your work. No matter how well you do, they always find a way to criticize you. This continuous negativity erodes your self-belief and makes you question your own worth and right to exist. They want to strip you of your autonomy and make you feel utterly worthless, to the point where you lose all self-respect. They basically destroy your self-esteem.

Loss of Personal Boundaries

In a narcissistic relationship, you don’t even know your boundaries anymore. You don’t know what you’re not supposed to tolerate from the other person, whether it’s sexually or regarding money or just anything in life. They cross the line so much that you don’t even know who you are anymore. You don’t know that you’re being taken advantage of, and you don’t know what’s within your control.

They violate your preferences, values, and religious beliefs, causing you to disregard them. For example, you may stop going to church or visiting your family, even though it used to be non-negotiable for you. They have verbally abused you for so long that all those things you used to do, you don’t do them anymore. They have violated your boundaries so much that you don’t know where you end and where the other begins.

Identity Confusion

Another aspect you might experience is confusion. They make you question whether you’re an abusive or a good person. Their negativity and provocation leave you feeling lost about your true identity. You’ve engaged in undesirable behaviors to survive and cope in the relationship. You have picked up toxic and unhealthy habits just to endure that environment.

You might have resorted to promiscuity, manipulation, overeating, neglecting self-care, or engaging in activities you once considered “bad” before the relationship. You even start feeling like a “monster,” and wondering if redemption will ever be possible for someone like you. They have labeled you as toxic, and you’ve started to believe it, potentially adopting a carefree attitude.

Dissociation and Emotional Numbness

The last aspect is dissociation and emotional numbness. During the course of the relationship, you suppressed your emotions to avoid upsetting them and to protect yourself from further harm. You’ve been invalidated and told that your emotions are invalid, and as a result, you think that anger, sadness or those other emotions are not valid emotions.


Suppressing those emotions causes a disconnect between who you are now and your authentic self. You feel like you’ve spaced out or you’re are sleepwalking because you’ve lost touch with your true emotions. This disconnect leads to a loss of pleasure and enjoyment in activities you used to love. It’s like something is missing, and you feel depressed. You feel numb and you cannot explain what you’re feeling. You cannot put it into words and it’s eating you on the inside and tearing you apart.


In such relationships, it’s hard to really explain to someone that you don’t even know who you are anymore. The scars may not be visible, but they are deeply affecting you. When you get out of it, understand that all the things you are feeling are just manifestations of what you went through in the past.

The best place to start is by understanding that you’re not insane for feeling that way. They manipulated and abused you to feel that way. Seek help to work on the negative beliefs you’ve developed due to your past experiences and the false identities that have developed because of what they put you through.

You might feel like you don’t know who you are because of what you went through in the past, but working on yourself is about getting in alignment with your authentic self. The authentic self is who you are.

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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