"Three Messengers" (painted version)
© 2017 by Lise Winne
This time, I'm not going to say as much on this topic because I have a great link at the end of this post.
If you read Part I on healing from abuse, you know that one of the first parts of healing has to do with not exposing yourself to your abuser any more, saying no to any more abuse.
I think many survivors feel as if they have lived in a war zone, and after it is all over, they feel as though they are thrown into a cold desert as well. It is not an easy ride, and is quite painful for most of us.
Your abuser has either become physically abusive, or he's discarded you (and discarded you without any support, and even taking away as much support as he possibly can: your mutual relationships, perhaps leaving you financially stranded as well, perhaps trying to take your kids away, or your dignity away with erroneous allegations and smear campaigns).
Abuse makes you feel alone. Everything feels depleted: there is no love (where you thought there was); there is no kindness (where you thought there was); there is no understanding (abusers mostly throw their interpretations in your face); there is no financial net (it seems they want you to become destitute or suffer in that way too). Abuse will make the huge majority of the people on the planet feel depressed (and grieving). And yet ... it is still not the end of the world!
You may feel alone because you either do not feel comfortable around people the abuser knows, or you don't totally trust them, and that is a big problem. These people will not necessarily become your support group either, or show that they care at all. It is a shock when you find that they love your abuser more. They may even invalidate your feelings, and refer to issues you have with your abuser as "your problem." Some people even laugh at you, as though they are at the movies, watching you suffer. This is shocking, but it happens. But even then, it is not the end of the world.
The awful thing is, you get used to it, the betrayal is like a domino effect. The people who really hear you are the people who are left standing by you. That is, believe it or not, a good thing. It is like everyone in your life is put on trial. Will they betray you, or will they stand by you? Will they take sides, or love you both? If they are your family, they are likely to love you both (which will still mean some discomfort, and separation, because abusers are very manipulative and pit people against each other to get the upper hand).
So, the best thing to do when you are alone in a desert bloodied and bruised from a war is to withdraw from people who know you both, at least in the beginning, when your feelings are too raw and tender, and find other survivors. People who are in all stages of recovery become your best support.
In my own personal life, I got to know many of them in Alanon and CODA. I intuitively knew I needed to withdraw from people I shared in common with the abuser, which was very early in the game, during the devaluation stage, not the discard stage. I knew from what my father told me, that I was going to be targeted (because he knew the people better than I did -- I was an innocent, and I believed that the people in question loved me, unconditionally even, and wow, was I wrong!! -- but he knew better, and I intuited that he might know better, thus seeking support).
When you are targeted, there is not much you can do about it. It's not like you can persuade someone against it. The only thing you have are boundaries, what you will and will not put up with.
For me, being a target had probably been set in motion by people in my life from the time I was a toddler (narcissistic evaluations of people never change, even when you are old, they are that rigid).
My instincts proved to be right about finding new people, and spending a lot of time with people not connected to the narcs, because what an amazing community they are! And most everyone can be contacted by telephone when you are going through a rough patch -- but I'll get to that later as it deserves a post all its own. I'm just giving you a heads-up now so that the desert does not look empty.
However, you have to be very careful at this stage.
The last thing you want to do is to get entangled with another narcissist, or sociopath, or psychopath, or batterer. Overwhelmingly these kinds of people are NOT in survivor groups -- it is too boring and emotional for them (i.e. not fun, and they are all about finding fun after a relationship has ended). They also find empaths sickening, and there is so much empathy-laden talk in these groups that it would drive any narcissist or sociopath away. Narcissists and sociopaths usually like to dominate, lecture, give advice and manipulate people to their way of thinking, and they can't do that either in these groups. However, the rare narcissist or sociopath might feel it is a good way to find vulnerable prey (as empaths are the people targeted for abuse), but if you make it clear that your boundaries are firm, that you are too wounded to be in another relationship, they will tire and give up the chase. Most survivors are raw with wounds: the last thing they want is to be seduced or talked into another enmeshed relationship.
That's a big difference between a perpetrator and a real victim: the real victims are too guarded and hurt to go after another relationship, whereas perpetrators pretend they are victims, but never seek help, live it up and love bomb new targets right away.
So, how do you keep narcissists and sociopaths away from you?
I didn't need to write this part/answer, because I found the perfect article to address this issue (with all of the detail and signs you need to look for to stay out of these kinds of relationships forever):
Never Get Involved with a Psychopath, Narcissist, Sociopath -- or any abuser -- Ever Again -- by Adelyn Birch
from Higher Perspective: