Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD)

Borrowed from:  http://www.outofthefog.net/CommonNonBehaviors/CPTSD.html

Definition:

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) – Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological injury that results from prolonged exposure to social or interpersonal trauma, disempowerment, captivity or entrapment, with lack or loss of a viable escape route for the victim.


C-PTSD Introduction

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a condition that results from chronic or long-term exposure to emotional trauma over which a victim has little or no control and from which there is little or no hope of escape, such as in cases of:

  • domestic emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • entrapment or kidnapping.
  • slavery or enforced labor.
  • long term imprisonment and torture
  • repeated violations of personal boundaries.
  • long-term objectification.
  • exposure to gaslighting & false accusations
  • long-term exposure to inconsistent, push-pull, splitting or alternating raging & hoovering behaviors.
  • long-term taking care of mentally ill or chronically sick family members.
  • long term exposure to crisis conditions.

When people have been trapped in a situation over which they had little or no control at the beginning, middle or end, they can carry an intense sense of dread even after that situation is removed. This is because they know how bad things can possibly be. And they know that it could possibly happen again. And they know that if it ever does happen again, it might be worse than before.

The degree of C-PTSD trauma cannot be defined purely in terms of the trauma that a person has experienced. It is important to understand that each person is different and has a different tolerance level to trauma. Therefore, what one person may be able to shake off, another person may not. Therefore more or less exposure to trauma does not necessarily make the C-PTSD any more or less severe.

C-PTSD sufferers may “stuff” or suppress their emotional reaction to traumatic events without resolution either because they believe each event by itself doesn’t seem like such a big deal or because they see no satisfactory resolution opportunity available to them. This suppression of “emotional baggage” can continue for a long time either until a “last straw” event occurs, or a safer emotional environment emerges and the damn begins to break.

The “Complex” in Complex Post Traumatic Disorder describes how one layer after another of trauma can interact with one another. Sometimes, it is mistakenly assumed that the most recent traumatic event in a person’s life is the one that brought them to their knees. However, just addressing that single most-recent event may possibly be an invalidating experience for the C-PTSD sufferer. Therefore, it is important to recognize that those who suffer from C-PTSD may be experiencing feelings from all their traumatic exposure, even as they try to address the most recent traumatic event.

This is what differentiates C-PTSD from the classic PTSD diagnosis – which typically describes an emotional response to a single or to a discrete number of traumatic events.


Difference between C-PTSD & PTSD

Although similar, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) differs slightly from the more commonly understood & diagnosed condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in causes and symptoms.

C-PTSD results more from chronic repetitive stress from which there is little chance of escape. PTSD can result from single events, or short term exposure to extreme stress or trauma.

Therefore a soldier returning from intense battle may be likely to show PTSD symptoms, but a kidnapped prisoner of war who was held for several years may show additional symptoms of C-PTSD.

Similarly, a child who witnesses a friend’s death in an accident may exhibit some symptoms of PTSD but a child who grows up in an abusive home may exhibit the additional C-PTSD characteristics shown below:


C-PTSD – What it Feels Like:

People who suffer from C-PTSD may feel un-centered and shaky, as if they are likely to have an embarrassing emotional breakdown or burst into tears at any moment. They may feel unloved – or that nothing they can accomplish is ever going to be “good enough” for others.

People who suffer from C-PTSD may feel compelled to get away from others and be by themselves, so that no-one will witness what may come next. They may feel afraid to form close friendships to prevent possible loss should another catastrophe strike.

People who suffer from C-PTSD may feel that everything is just about to go “out the window” and that they will not be able to handle even the simplest task. They may be too distracted by what is going on at home to focus on being successful at school or in the workplace.


C-PTSD Characteristics

How it can manifest in the victim(s) over time:
Rage turned inward: Eating disorders. Depression. Substance Abuse / Alcoholism. Truancy. Dropping out. Promiscuity. Co-dependence. Doormat syndrome (choosing poor partners, trying to please someone who can never be pleased, trying to resolve the primal relationship)

Rage turned outward: Theft. Destruction of property. Violence. Becoming a control freak.

Other: Learned hyper vigilance. Clouded perception or blinders about others (especially romantic partners) Seeks positions of power and / or control: choosing occupations or recreational outlets which may put oneself in physical danger. Or choosing to become a “fixer” – Therapist, Mediator, etc.

Avoidance – Avoidance is the practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.

Blaming – Blaming is the practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.

Catastrophizing – Catastrophizing is the habit of automatically assuming a “worst case scenario” and inappropriately characterizing minor or moderate problems or issues as catastrophic events.

“Control-Me” Syndrome – “Control-Me” Syndrome describes a tendency that some people have to foster relationships with people who have a controlling narcissistic, antisocial or “acting-out” nature.

Denial– Denial is believing or imagining that some factual reality, circumstance, feeling or memory does not exist or did not happen.

Dependency – Dependency is an inappropriate and chronic reliance by an adult individual on another individual for their health, subsistence, decision making or personal and emotional well-being.

Depression (Non-PD) -Depression is when you feel sadder than your circumstances dictate, for longer than your circumstances last – but still can’t seem to break out of it.

Escape To Fantasy – Escape to Fantasy is sometimes practiced by people who present a facade to friends, partners and family members. Their true identity and feelings are commonly expressed privately in an alternate fantasy world.

Fear of Abandonment – Fear of abandonment and irrational jealousy is a phobia, sometimes exhibited by people with personality disorders, that they are in imminent danger of being rejected, discarded or replaced at the whim of a person who is close to them.

Hyper Vigilance – Hyper Vigilance is the practice of maintaining an unhealthy level of interest in the behaviors, comments, thoughts and interests of others.

Identity Disturbance – Identity disturbance is a psychological term used to describe a distorted or inconsistent self-view.

Learned Helplessness– Learned helplessness is when a person begins to believe that they have no control over a situation, even when they do.

Low Self-Esteem – Low Self-Esteem is a common name for a negatively-distorted self-view which is inconsistent with reality. People who have low self-esteem often see themselves as unworthy of being successful in personal and professional settings and in social relationships. They may view their successes and their strengths in a negative light and believe that others see them in the same way. As a result, they may develop an avoidance strategy to protect themselves from criticism.

Panic Attacks – Panic Attacks are short intense episodes of fear or anxiety, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as shaking, sweats, chills and hyperventilating.

Perfectionism – Perfectionism is the practice of holding oneself or others to an unrealistic, unsustainable or unattainable standard of organization, order or accomplishment in one particular area of living, while sometimes neglecting common standards of organization, order or accomplishment in others.

Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia – Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia is the use of memory, or a lack of memory, which is selective to the point of reinforcing a bias, belief or desired outcome.

Self-Loathing – Self-Loathing is an extreme self-hatred of one’s own self, actions or one’s ethnic or demographic background.

Tunnel Vision – Tunnel Vision is the habit or tendency to only see or focus on a single priority while neglecting or ignoring other important priorities.


C-PTSD Causes

C-PTSD is caused by a prolonged or sustained exposure to emotional trauma or abuse from which no short-term means of escape is available or apparent to the victim.

The precise neurological damage that exists in C-PTSD victims is not well understood.


C-PTSD Treatment

Little has been done in clinical studies of treatment of C-PTSD. However, in general the following is recommended:

  1. Removal of and protection from the source of the trauma and/or abuse.
  2. Acknowledgement of the trauma as real, important and undeserved.
  3. Acknowledge that the trauma came from something that was stronger than the victim and therefore could not be avoided.
  4. Acknowledgement of the “complex” nature of C-PTSD – that responses to earlier traumas may have led to decisions that brought on additional, undeserved trauma.
  5. Acknowledgement that recovery from the trauma is not trivial and will require significant time and effort.
  6. Separation of residual problems into those that the victim can resolve (such as personal improvement goals) and those that the victim cannot resolve (such as the behavior of a disordered family member)
  7. Mourning for what has been lost and cannot be recovered.
  8. Identification of what has been lost and can be recovered.
  9. Program of recovery with focus on what can be improved in an individuals life that is under their own control.
  10. Placement in a supportive environment where the victim can discover they are not alone and can receive validation for their successes and support through their struggles.
  11. As necessary, personal therapy to promote self discovery.
  12. As required, prescription of antidepressant medications.

What to do about C-PTSD if you’ve got it:

Remove yourself from the primary or situation or secondary situations stemming from the primary abuse. Seek therapy. Talk about it. Write about it. Meditation. Medication if needed. Physical Exercise. Rewrite the script of your life.

What not to do about it:

Stay. Hold it in. Bottle it up. Act out. Isolate. Self-abuse. Perpetuate the cycle.

What to do about it if you know somebody else who has C-PTSD:

Offer sympathy, support, a shoulder to cry on, lend an ear. Speak from experience. Assist with practical resolution when appropriate (guidance towards escape, therapy, etc.) Be patient.

What not to do about it if you know somebody else who has it:

Do not push your own agenda: proselytize, moralize, speak in absolutes, tell them to “get over it”, or try to force reconciliation with the perpetrator or offer “sure fire” cures.

  1. The hardest part is her convincing the system its me. She has denied everything she has done. Makes you feel crazy. Im so broken she uses my pain to validate her lies. Im so trapped. What mother keeps her child from the father for 2 years and blames everyone else.

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  2. It’s hard to navigate the feelings and living sometimes. I agree with the academics of removing the narcissists from your life.The hardest part is when it is your mother who was also the abuser on many levels. I get my balance from working as a Mental health Nurse[of course]. Then I let myself down with going back into my addictions of alcohol and promiscuity. Probably why we live a long time just to get our shit right aye??

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  3. Very informative and describes my life to a tee

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  4. I can’t believe I found this post. I am 45 yoa. At age 40, I realized through talking with my pastor, friends and extended family that My Mother is a Narcissistic Personality disorder ignoring Mother. Step Dad Enabler. Little Sister, Gold Child. Me the scapegoat. All my life! She doesn’t love anyone. She truly is a covert psychopath. I had years of pretty bad physical abuse from my Father till I was 10 years old. I have carried all of this all my life not knowing what is wrong with me. I married a Narcissist and left him and stopped there. I should have went no contact with my Family. Psychological Warfare and abuse. Harassment and lies they spread about me to my family and even tried to turn my own grown children against me. It couldn’t figure out why I am anti social, revictimizing myself over and over and completely devestated after each episode. My Mother is an absolutely horrible human being. I have struggled because I hate her. I will never forgive her and I will be relieved and reborn when she dies and I secretly say to myself all the time I can’t wait for her to die so it will be over. I have studied up on NPD since finding out 5 years ago that there was actually answers to my very disturbed and dysfunctional upbringing. I divorced 17 years ago, and I am all alone. It hurts to much to try to trust someone. My heart and soul can’t take anymore pain. If I do date and it doesn’t work out, I am rejected and the pain of knowing that my own parents don’t care if I live or die, I am never chosen but always rejected. I know now that it is CPTSD because of the physical abuse, neglect, abanndonment, verbal abuse. My own family has betrayed me and I don’t know if I will ever get over it. I find myself in isolation all the time but its easier to cry because I am lonely than to socialize. I am exhausted! I will definitely try to find a great therapist and start dealing with my emotional problems.

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  5. I definitely recognize myself reading all the characteristics. Thank you.
    I have been described as a “sensitive” person most of my life and become quite damaged by the aftermath of a narcissistic parent, and the choices I made, possibly as a result from this trauma, I never even recognized until I was an adult.
    My biggest fear is that I inadvertently may act from a place of trauma and could possibly be repeating some of these negative behaviors in my own parenting. Any further reading on this, that can be suggested?. Thanks again.

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  6. Joyce Navolynski

    I was diagnosed by My councilor with PTSD in 2011. But with further education I see that what I have is indeed C-PTSD. I guess being sexually abused as a child and the 26 yrs married to a Sociopath take their toll…

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  7. My mother was one of my perpetrators. I couldn’t get away from her deeply embedded narcissism until I was 35 years old. Then I made a break from my entire family of origin. For 10 years I didn’t speak to anyone. I briefly visited them 10 years later and then broke contact again. It’s been 29 years since I first made my break.

    My father also was my perpetrator. He was a narcissist and a psychopath. He forced me watch him commit murders. He abused me physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and sexually. I was fortunate in that I didn’t live with him full time. I lived with my narcissistic mother and stepdad in between visiting my father. Unfortunately though there was no safe place with any of my personality-disordered parents. My stepdad had a personality disorder too. My older brother was/is a narcissist as well as my mother. He relentlessly abused me along with my mother. Two narcissists in one family. My mother had a second personality disorder.

    And my mother insisted that nothing ever happened to me even though I had all the symptoms; C-PTSD which began when I was 3 years old. That’s when I witnessed my father murder someone for the first time.

    It wasn’t until my mother died that I finally had the freedom to remember what really happened to me not my mother’s white washed version of my life. I’m still remembering what happened to me and trying to cope with it.

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  8. My narcissist is my husband’s ex wife who left him 33 years ago for another man. She also left her 3 little boys, 4,6 and 8. We brought them up and now she has Parkinson’s and lives with the middle one and his wife and 4 children. Because we got an annulment in 2014, she has turned all the boys against us (she, actually had done this for years when she did see them) and we are not allowed to see any of our 5 grandchildren. She also told my husband this weeks, after he had tried to send her a conciliatory email, that he is no longer their father; they are her sons. Our grandchildren had developed a great relationship with us in the short time we were allowed to see them and are very very sad they cannot see us. In fact, my stepson says I am too immature when I play with them (they were 5, 3 and 2 year old twins when we last saw them 9 months ago yesterday.).

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  9. All of the above is me. After my diagnosed malignant narcissistic/sociopathic ex husband contested 3 of my attempts to divorce, he did something stupid. Even though I had him physically removed from the home 6 years prior.. He broke in again ( narcissists have no regard for authority including police and judges, thou they yes them to death and absolutely don’t feel they belong in jail) and held me inside my house against my will for 9 hours. I was bruised everywhere. He was arrested on Federal Felony Kidnapping charges along with about 15 other charges. A few days later it hit me that I was given a gift. I would cut a deal with my narcissist; sign my divorce papers and be before the judge at 8am. In exchange I would plead the fifth at his trial. It worked. He jumped at it.
    Well, I’m only going to inform people that I was forewarned that because I was his “stand alone” secondary supply source that was only put in place for things I possessed that HE would benefit from, whether it be social skills, attractiveness, good job where I could provide home, children, new car, etc.. All the things that would make his life appear normal…he was not going to stop the abuse post divorce and with NO CONTACT, that I implemented.
    The divorce occurred in March, 2014.
    The team that was advising me were correct. He has taken me to court 17 times in the last 2.5 years on fabricated contempt charges, attempting to modify our divorce agreement, attempting to have me pay him spousal support.. Etc. Because I was told years ago to start saving everything.. Document, document…document. And save every text, every email, screen shot FB messages, etc.. I was able to prove the contempt charges in every case were fabricated. He lost each time. But that’s not what it was about for him. I spent my $30,000.00 savings so I’m now broke. That’s what he was trying to accomplish. He slowly and coercly manipulated my adult daughters wth the goal being alienation. He reverses stories to accomplish this by describing his begavior as my behavior. I haven’t seen my children or my beloved grandchildren in almost 3 years. Why? Because unlike primary supply sources that are plentiful , overlap, diquarded, honked back in simply as a fame to the narcissist only to be disguarded again… I, the public person that made his life to the public look ” normal”.. Disguarded him. Leaving him caused narcissistic injury. He has no contact so his platform for continued abuse became the courtroom. Post divorce he has sucked up all money saved. I disprove his contempt charges by proving he fabricated them. I always put in place that he re-emburse my legal fees which is up to the discretion of the judge. She’s never addressed it. His legal fees are being paid by my replacement so it costs him nothing.
    Then, he fabricated stories to my daughters. Describes his behavior as mine… ” she’s constantly taking me to court for more money… You get the picture. Now, he’s attempting to take my home away because ” I have failed to remove his name from the mortgage.
    Reality, my divorce agreement states I get the house and everything in the house. He is to sign the deed over to me bus a quit claim deed within 10 days of the divorce judgement. That was 3 years ago March. He has consistently refused. I gave a hundred emails requesting he do this and I get back ridiculous responces like ” I’m advised to not sign and register a quit claim deed!!” Doesn’t ever say names and of course it’s ridiculous that he’s stating he’s being advised to go against a court order. He’s in contempt yet his latest is he’s again taking me to court because I haven’t refinanced and gotten his name off the mortgage… Which I cannot do with mailing the mortgage company a copy of my divorce agreement and a copy of the Quit Claim Deed he was supposed to sign and file 3 years ago. At one time he lied and told me he did it… Just as the refinance was approved… Only to find out that he lied.
    I’m fortunate that I save and file all these emails so I have proof.
    Point is, they absolutely want to destroy what that can’t have. Leaving him, I knew I was putting myself at risk. He took my money with his court garbage, he manipulated my daughters.. And now he is taking me to court requesting the judge order my home to be sold because I’m in contempt not refinancing my mortgage to get his name removed, even though he gets nothing from the sale. And even though he has prevented me from getting his name off the mortgage by not signing the court ordered quit claim deed.

    I can’t say “lie”, “narcissist”, even though I’m in possession of his psych test results, I can’t say he fabricates stories, reverses stories .. None of this in court. The judge will stop me and say she’s not interested. I was able to prove to the judge he comitted fraud on his financial statement which he admitted to the judge when he couldn’t produce cancelled checks on his expenses.. Yet the judge did not sanction him even though all judges hate when a party lies on their financial statements. And unless he has consequences from the courts ( which a narcissist always sees as unfair and unjust) he is given free reign to continue to abuse me until I’m dead.
    This next court garbage he’s thrown at me about my home I will be representing myself.
    The point is, this narcissistic sociopath still owns me. He takes up my time non stop even though he was removed from my home 7 years ago and I divorced him 3 years ago after the kidnapping charge. I try to keep my faith in our judicial system , I have proof with my in court that will drove any lie on paper or verbally told to the judge .. I win but he’s not sanctioned fr lying or wasting the courts times . Until the courts stop him he’ll continue until I die.

    If anyone has any thoughts, ideas, comments about this please feel free to post . I have no life anymore. My life consists of reading thru files and documents, which is re-traumatizing , to find the inner that are applicable to whatever his newest contempt of court crap he’s throwing at me now. I’m tired.

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  10. Reese Daniel

    What not to do about it:

    Stay. Hold it in. Bottle it up. Act out. Isolate. Self-abuse. Perpetuate the cycle. Which is exactly what I was forced to do, being born to a Covert Malignant Narc mother who portrays herself as a saint. And of course the powers that be have a vested interest in covering up this type of abuse because they are from the same “vine” (Cluster B psychopaths) and this is why the mainstream media has everyone believing that people like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson are “psychopaths” when in reality, they are the FAILURES in their group. These things are EVERYWHERE from the top down, in most famiies, workplaces, schools, you name it. They are intra species predators. Dr. Robert Hare has proven via X Rays that these Cluster “F”s have a reptilian brain unlike normal human beings. They literally PREY on us with societys approval and frankly, I AM SICK OF IT! IT’s HIGH TIME we EXPOSE THESE MONSTERS! They should ALL be behind bars!

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  11. And most victims/survivors with cptsd are misdiagnosed as having anxiety disorders(including social AD), borderline personality disorder(which doesnt actually exist), schizoid PD, general depression and even autism or autistic disorders(which also dont exist)

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  12. I think its ridiculous, iv’e read the first ten posts, quickly flashed through the rest.
    apart from the guy with the abusive mother, all posts iv’e flipped through seem to be written by women and about abusive man, accept the one on this girls sister, that surprisingly sounds like my current GF and her younger sister, I, for a change,I am a man, and for two years suffered from emotional and physical abuse, gas-lighting included, by the hand of my EX. just wanted to put it out here. just to say its not just man who are abusive narcs.

    I HAVE EVERY SINGLE SYMPTOM ON THAT LIST!!!

    INCLUDING VANDALISM AND KLEPTOMANIA!!!

    I HURT SO BAD!

    i feel so broken beyond repair.

    man can be the victims to.

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  13. Great article. People think that they can fix me by forcing me back into therapy. Therapy didn’t stop the abuse. So why would it stop the after effects??

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  14. I have this so bad after six years with a sociopath extremely narcissistic nightmare, and when I can’t keep it stuffed sown anymore I will have horrible days of flashbacks and crying, ultimately I will spend hours thinking what I should have done, what I should have said or be angry because I missed signs and was so manipulated by a horrible person who abused me terribly. It is very scary and terrifying, I actually have to leave public places because I am so focused on a flashback. It is horrible and EVERYTHING reminds me of this horrible person.

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  15. This seems to affected me and man I love. It has been one traumatic event after the next. Its been times I felted we should have push thru not truly knowing how much it meant to him and how he was feeling and he acted out. This has been repeated cycle for 6 years and I believe we both suffer from diease…I wish him the best….#superpower

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  16. I have C-PTSD because I’ve been through a lot of crap growing up for years and still am.

    2 people tried to murder me and stuff, was abused physically and psychologically, which is only some of the many things that have lead to me living a life I don’t want to live now and every day I feel messed up and I’m tortured psychologically by my own mind and body because of my experiences.

    Anyway thank you for the article it’s great and I’ve shared it with someone. More people need to read about this.

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    • I feels extremely difficult to live any kind of a life is you’rentruly dealing with C-PTSD, it makes it almost impossible to hold down a job let alone deal with a family.

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  17. I have CPTSD, I went public, my parents tried to have me committed, when that didn’t work they got me evicted then tried to get me to move in with them. I had to go underground which meant going homeless for a month during transition. Three months later, today, I exploded for the umpteenth time at all the noise from construction everyday this summer. I am now being evicted again and will be homeless again. Life is much better since going no contact but I’m beginning to lose hope my situation is going to improve and am getting resigned to living in shelters rather than keep going through this. I can’t concentrate, my work is nothing like it was since this all came out in the open. I’m in shock still after a few years at what has transpired. I feel like a war veteran about to say screw it all and just live outside where I have nothing to lose and don’t have to deal with society on society’s level. Still I wouldn’t talk to either parent for more than maybe five minutes maximum in exchange for a palace and a million dollars. They killed my brother then tried to do the same to me. I am running for my life. Suicidal ideation is with me but its not my biggest threat.

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  18. Wish there was more from the perspective of the one who has to deal with someone with cptsd. How they can tear your life apart.

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  19. I think this is describing me…i think I need help..

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  20. I have finally made a breahthrough. My pattern has been to go into hyper vigilance and complete obsession anytime the slightest possibility of a romantic partnership appears. I saw an image recently of a lost dog running panicked through the streets and realized this was the pattern set up by my earliest abuse. This was me leaving myself during the assault. I journaled about it and understood this was my protection devises short curcuited. I label what this dog was 1-5 as in positive hopes and dreams, protection, etc.. It helped me to understand they were normal feelings or devices, just frozen in overdrive, and outside of myself and my control. I think this understanding is a big break through in bringing it home where I can breath and keep things in perspective.

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  21. I have trouble even “getting my mind around” the things that have happened to me; there are so many, many traumatic events associated with my narcissistic husband (well, caused by him). I am very depressed and lack hope; am trying to get away from him. He appears to have no remorse but has told me instead what a terrible person I am. Sometimes I feel so very alone because I know no one who has experienced this. My friends are great but they cannot really understand

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  22. So true. Great article…. This information needs to get out… To families, courts, counsellors! Lived through it… Still healing and trying to move forward. I’m a mother of older children who have experienced the carnage of a father who has narrsisistic personality disorder. SO damaging… Like an atomic bomb went off

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  23. Oh myy…..this is me:'(

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  24. Makes me so sad! I love you

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  25. After suffering years from a narcissistic husband as a CPTSD victim I still have to every day mindfully self check to stay steady but I have finally the found peace I craved by soothing myself from inside out. Knowing faith in God helps me me stand my ground and I am so proud I was courageous enough to fight and get out of that relationship. I wish I could have taken my kids from the control as well but they will have to learn their own path out when they are ready. I suffered with pervasive gas lighting mind manipulations from someone
    cruel to the core who understood plausible denial. I know my limitations and avoid exposure but prolonged abuse left scars.

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  26. My narcissist abuser is my older sister, and it has been a long and VERY terrible road. A shaky and curvy road that I had been on for 29 years. Finally, when she tried to ruin my wedding I decided I had enough. I have not spoken to my sister in over six months and I have never been so proud. Each month I feel prouder. Today, she sent me another text message, and, of course, like narcissist always tend to do: never really say they are sorry. My sister drinks a great deal of alcohol, as many narcissists do, and that is when she always contacts me. The messages don’t really make a whole lot of sense and are always sent to me late at night. I almost gave in tonight and responded to her text, and thank god my husband came in the room and caught me. He has seen me go into very dark depressions over her and feels very strongly that I should avoid contact with her. I feel that way too, but sometimes it is hard. What do I do about Christmas? What do I do when her daughter has a birthday? Do I just forget about the pain? Do I just tell myself that I can handle it? If I told my dad or my younger sister that I think I have c-ptsd from my older sister they would probably just think I was being dramatic. My younger sister has suffered from my older sister’s abuse, but I was her most prominent and favorite victim. But, I think about how happy I have been in the past six months, and, guess what? the only time I feel down is when I remember her. All these horrible flashbacks enter my mind. But, now, these flashbacks actually work for me, and not against me. They remind me why I continue to keep her out of my life. I hope there is somewhere out there that can relate to this, in fact, I know there is. Stay strong!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I relate to you very much:-) I have the same situation with my own mother. The longer I’m away the more I feel empowered. It’s been 3 years minus our COURT meetings ….I don’t give her the time of day to even look at her In court ….. As a child I realized that I wasn’t the most important person I was just an annoyance. She made a decision to drug traffic when I was 4 years old. UNTIL 16. She is a Felon who still does not care about anything or anyone ….well unless they have something she wants.she is still willing to commit fraud…don’t worry she be back in the pen where she belongs…I was just another dude …a thing and tool , a punching bag ,a yelling board ,a person to share deep dark abusive true stories with …..not a son. I was Dropped off at a aunt’s house or a grandparents for months during summer time growing up. I was NOT in the know for sure. Very naive…I got bullied at every school all 3 states and 10 of them! My mother had to hide the ring leader who happens to be her older brother from prison so began the running from the feds. On the run???? I didn’t do anything wrong!!! They did…It was always scared of everything including cops. I was told to lie to the cops ….No real love just control, judgement selfishness[ if you don’t????? I’m going to !!……….. {{{{And guilt.}}} No wonder I left looking for some kind of family or camaraderie. Semper Fidelis! Just always feeling like no one really cared about me the only child in a broken family with a humongous extended family….. absolutely huge. but I’m a outsider who is part of the bad side of the family so I don’t matter to them either. Although I have repaired and custom built computers for all the extended family they don’t care and also all listen to my mother who says negative stuff about me…..where was or is the love? At a young age… My grandma did and later on in young adulthood my step grandfather did. But they were tired and old and they passed on so that’s it. Take what’s left. A meager amount. I have major issues with those people and always will therefore I shall never be around them as they are all unassuming spineless creatures of habit. I’m just someone who needs to see what real love is. No real examples for me yet.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was wondering how you get away from this type of person. He is into everything, bank accounts, phones, computers, emails, social media accounts. He has camera’s up all over even at my request not to. Nothing I do is ever good enough. We have kids and he says he doesn’t care when he is yelling at me and they are crying. I try to suggest we stop and he just gets madder. Even kicked in the bathroom door and broke it once when I took my son in to have a bath and get away from dad’s yelling. Another time he pushed me into a tanning bed and my head hit the corner and was bleeding. He went to bed. I walked in the room and said I felt strange and needed the doctor and then woke up on the floor he said, 2 hrs later. He had left the room and left my new born son on the floor next to me, the room was cold and my son wasn’t covered so his fussing brought me back to. I went to ask my husband why he just left me there and he left the room again and went to bed. I still had now dried blood on my face and so I tried to call the police and my husband had taken our internet down which my phone was through so I went to my cell, couldn’t find it. I went to get my house keys to leave and try to get some help and he had taken the keys so I could do nothing. All this happened because he was showing me a $1000 check transaction online to the escort company he hired for the weekend while he was out of town for work. He continually shows me graphic pictures and video’s of him having unprotected sex with strangers and gets angry when I don’t act happy for him. He is controlling and narcissistic and I had a Social Worker friend of mine once tell me that he is a sociopath and that I have to be very careful about how I leave someone like that. I am unable to prove any of this as any video’s, recordings or photo’s I had, he found and destroyed. I don’t know what to do. I need to get my kids he is threatening to take away from me away from him. So how did you do it? Just last night he told me that he limits the amount of money I have access to so I won’t do something stupid like contact a lawyer????? Is there any help out there to catch him so he can’t lie his way out? Right now it’s my word against his and he made sure no one will believe me over him.

      I don’t know what to do. I’m scared I’ll lose my kids. He has already shown me how he could manipulate photo’s and with his squeaky clean record I just look like a liar….

      A

      Like

    • I’d love to talk to you. I’ve been crippled by my older narcissist sister. Big our parents passed away within months of each other and her abuse was really amped up then.

      Like

    • I’d love to commiserate. I’m having a horrible time moving on from my older sister abuser and narcissist.

      Like

    • Ty, my mom and sister are the same way. I miss my neice. Pray for Shelby, please.

      Like

  27. The worst part for me is that I was dumb enough to believe him. A self-assured woman was drug into the con and I was powerless against it. No matter how badly he treated me, I loved him. I twisted myself into a pretzel to please him and failed continuously. And the weird things he did, like I’d fall asleep on the couch and wake up to see him staring directly into my eyes. I’d scream and he’d laugh insanely. I eventually couldn’t determine fact from fiction. He had me convinced I was the problem. He would tell me things I knew I hadn’t said and somehow have me believing I actually had said them. He was a monster. I finally escaped and moved 2000 miles. I’ve been free a year, yet his taunting continues in my mind. I haven’t heard him say one word in a year, yet he never ever shuts up. One day at a time…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know how you feel. I don’t speak to my abuser but I hear him all the time, when I get up, when I get dressed, when I see friends I wasn’t allowed to see. He controlled my every move and I don’t know how to get him out. I’m sorry for what you went through but its helpful to know others understand this feeling. You’re not alone.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know just how you feel your statement ” I have not heard him say one word in a year, yet he never shuts up” Is 100 % how I feel. It is horrible and I want so bad to be able to wake up and be me again. I know you do also. Best of luck on your healing journey, I am 1 1/2 years out and it feels like yesterday.

      Like

    • Ty, my mom and sister are the same way. I miss my neice. My abuser ganged up with my family and tried to have me committed. SO thankful I am no longer under that demon’s control. He truly is and was a monster. Im sorry girl, i cant get his eyes out of my head, much less his voice. Its only been a month and i have made so much progress. No contact is my best friend at the moment. Soon I hope to be my own best friend again.

      Like

  28. My narcissistic husband of 15 years is divorcing me. With two children and having MS, my stress level is off the charts. He stayed living with us for 2 months to try to get some dirt on me to use to get custody. And I now have a civil protection order because of domestic violence. I am having a hard time with all the premeditation he’s been doing to me for the past two years. How do I cope?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have the similar situatuon. My husband/partner of 12 years spent three years crazy making premeditated plans to divorce me. He would record our conversations and I thought I was losing my mind, he would say I didn’t hear things, or my mind was illogical, or that I said things I never said. In the audios he has one I found where he actually talks into the recording while I am not in the room and speaks about how he will “pretend to be asleep” while I am left crying and confused so that “all hell will break lose”.

      He gave me psychedelic drugs to “cure” me of my supposed prescription drug addiction. He then would make records of me and confuse me mentally and gaslight me. He would take me out to party then when we got home he would take pictures and make notes sayin (“she was out all night again, passed out and she is no longer herself I have lost her. I am so afraid for her life”). He would threaten to call my family if or when I left the house after an “episode”.

      All of this was done very intermittent with him being very loving and kind, taking me to the best places/dinners, New Zealand and South America etx. he suprise trip and renews our wedding vows in Vegas, then out of nowhere the pity party plays, the testing of me and my love or support (I wasn’t supportive enough or normal), follows with public displays of how I am the “best ever” can’t live without me. The other abuse was financial, leaving me months on end then returns, sales our primary business behind my back, sends me out of the state for “rehabilitation” while filing and lying the the courts that he doesn’t know where I am. All this while telling me he is busy with work and “let’s keep talking. I love you and I am so scared for your life. Your in a safe place right now.” He would define my reality and say…I am “always angry” and I am “never happy” enough. I “want to be unhappy”…then me trying to prove constanly that I am not unhappy or unhealthy. After four years finally in woth a therapist that specializes in sociopath/narcissistic abuse she says it is the worst case she has ever seen.

      He has gone on in a very public way with a smear campaign. I was court order of protection and could not even go to the home I personally own (it’s empty…he doesn’t even live in it). I could not call a single friends because I am “dangerous unstable and want to murder him”. He took my messages out of context over years and pulled off such a con with the court. It is hard for me to even imagine the mind involved in premeditated actions to hurt me, make me craxy, make me react. I was suicidal and now diagnosed with Complex PTSD. I have spent four months institution and almost a year in solitude. I had no idea how unhealthy I was. I lost myself completely. Humiliated and trauma bonded just in hopes of his return of kindness.

      The most difficult part is the premeditated actions. Things that made no sense for years now make sense, but I have lost years of my life and he just left on as if nothing happened. He was able to justify taking everything. In fact he has sympathy from others because I was labeled a “drug addict”, “bipolar/crazy” and abusive.

      The scariest episodes were the psychedelic “cures” the one recording I actualky have he is brainwashing me and telling me literally “you are no longer you…the old you is gone.” And saying that he can’t connect to me because I am a stranger in my body. I have no recall of the events.

      This has been my life sorting out memory’s and madness for 2 years. The divorce is still not finalized and I am out of money.

      He is so good and able to convince everyone because to look and talk to him no one would ever believe that this is possible. We had 10 stronger years where publicly I was normal and appear very happy with him.

      We have no children so it makes it seem I am just after his money.

      I have 2 friends and parents who believe me, and to the rest they either have no idea where I went.

      I am scared and I have nightmares, I don’t know that I can ever work a job like normal, I have severe emotional attacks or panic out of the blue and it’s unpredictable. I over react to slights and my startle response is massive. It is taking a lot of EMDR, therapy and drugs to help and I still feel hopeless.

      Before I was bright and quick mind, full of love and hope, always believed in the best. I, had a great career (supported him actually he was in debt), I was very social, great health and nutrition, wanted to go back to school for a master’s degree.

      Now I am just getting through the days hoping I can get to the store and back without dissociation where I keep driving my car and get lost…going on 2 years of the symptoms that bad.

      I know how bad it can get.

      I want to get well and devote my life to helping others. I am at the very beginning of a long road back.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh my god. I think I just realized that I don’t have all the mental illnesses my husband has told me I have……..Ive been reading on CPTSD & PTNS all day today because I keep feeling like something is wrong with me or someone wouldn’t be so blatantly MEAN to me. He has taken a second lover because “they are positive and Im nothing but a depressing mess”. I used to be the light in the room, but now I just think everyone is talking about me all the time and I finally left a while ago and filed papers and he lied and had people say i was a drunk/drug addict/depressed/suicidal mess. He sent me to “rehab” too because he said I needed help and it would fix everything. Then said I HAD to go because I was a danger to my kid when I WAS THE ONE WHO FILED FOR DIVORCE. He had “friends” write letters about how horrible of a person I am and how I hadn’t ever even read a book to my kid or fed him or anything and that he basically came home (from where ill never know, he never had a job. . . I DID) and that i would be passed out drunk on the floor with my son running around in shambles. NONE was true. NO physical proof. . . But aha! I was the one who went to rehab. RIGHT THERE ON PAPER. Goodbye custody. Judge said “drop the kid off by 4pm or you will be arrested” ???!!!!!??????!!!!!!! Yep. Within weeks he was begging me to come back and “fix our family”. There was a short period where I seriously was SO HAPPY. It was like everything I ever wished for in a marriage or family. Then we went out to a really nice amazing date one night and he told me he was in love with someone else………………………………………………………………yeah. Refer to “taking another lover” as referenced above. I feel insane every day and he neglects me but sleeps with her and tells me because she is happy and fun and im depressing and mean. But he made me like this? When I try to say “but maybe im reacting to how you are treating me” he says “Oh god always the victim arent we?” and says thats another trait of me that “turns him off”. Ive told him I should seek therapy if this is really how I am and he says “oh yeah because you are weak and cant do it on your own. not everyone has the luxury of therapy you know. there you go again trying to be better than everyone” And its like? But shouldn’t I WANT to get better if there is something wrong with me? Why am I still so MADLY INSANELY in love with him? Shit.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Word for word my experience when my wife divorced me one day before our ten year anniversary. I had saved her and our three little girls, and her sister and brother in law from a burning house in 2012, watching my pets burn alive around my feet when I saved my wife and thought I was saving her over one of our daughters who we thought was trapped in the bathroom which was engulfed. We had been homeless for about 8 weeks before moving back into our house. Renters had kept up our finances for about 3-5 months and after moving in my wife “accidentally” burned the house down in our sleep. This was January, 2012. Back up to about October of 2011, I had just recovered from an otherwise terminal autoimmune disease where I was paralyzed and all the nerves in my body were unraveling so I was in absolute pain at all times without medication. After the house fire my wife became far more abusive than before. It used to be all the brainwashing, blaming, labeling me with insane mental illnesses but not listening to my actual doctors, starvation, locking me out in the cold in Maine, leaving me hours away alone in the ER after being treated with nitroglycerin. Kicking me down the stairs twice in a month, after verbally abusing our 3, 5 and 8 year olds screaming what profanities at them. Trapping me in my house, blocking the door, sucker punching me to knock the wind out of me, keeping me up sleepless nights gaslighting, projecting, blanket statements, vicious suspicions, multiple suspicious near deaths for me always with saying I’m too sensitive and just need to be a real man and not care what happens to me. I was the sole breadwinner for ten years, a pastor, a recording artist, a father and a husband. When I discovered the cheating and that her mom and sisters where helping her to meet men who looked like me, and that her mom, her sisters and her brother had been cheating and there was a history of incest with my wife and her step-nephew (she was 12, he was 21), my sister in law and her full nephew who now have a baby passed off as another man’s. My father in law and my brother in law then in the divorce talked about murdering me. My ex’s boss got involved as well and was private messaging her on Facebook joking about how seriously her husband belongs in a concrete foundation. I was practically an invalid, I can’t pour my own cereal from pain and adrenal fatigue. My PTSD started when my dad took box knife to his arms years ago, and I had witnessed a pileup car crash at age seven and a lot of blood on air bags. My ex had initially left me our daughters (my mother was staying in town for home health care for me, and to transition the kids). My ex said she lived for fun now, had taken up partying, drinking, and apparently cocaine. Drinking and driving on our last family vacation… embarrassing me with the divorce at Disney World right where I proposed when we met in 2003 on tour with my Christian band (at the time), New Influence. But her parents bankrolled an attorney and she told me they told her she would look like a bad mother for not taking the kids. So then she took my vehicle and everything but our house which I had purchased after the house fire… she changed her mind later and is suing to take my house. I am in treatment, but my C-PTSD is so severe I can’t work, let alone focus to take my medication because I often forget to eat or drink and stare at the wall for 4 hours until someone alerts me. My ex wife’s new boyfriend immediately molested my two youngest daughters. My ex is enabling him despite what our kids said. When the trial started, she and her mother coached our children. I lost the trial and the boy friend returned. I am so sick with multiple health issues at 29 years old and now that I’m going to be homeless again and lose my rental income, I don’t have food. I lost 60 lbs when I couldn’t keep down water or broth and I’m wasting away. I was 284 at my heaviest. In the rare event I’m hungry, I lose my appetite as soon as I taste food. I sleep 15 minutes a night, two hours at times. When the abuse was just for me, I never reported it or talked about it because I was so convinced it was an illusion and I was crazy… But whenever I was well enough to work, I managed underwriting credit and customer service of financial advisors and investment bankers. I thought surely I couldn’t be crazy or imagining a false narrative since everybody I encountered outside of my abusers made me feel completely normal like before marriage. After our house fire our second home had a couple near misses with fire while I was at work and one involved our dryer again and my wife again just like our first house fire. After the divorce her childhood friends told me she was violent growing up. I just don’t know why she isn’t giving up if I don’t matter, unless the new guy isn’t a doormat. I was never a doormat before. And I’m not a doormat with other people. Oh and the medication rollercoaster in that relationship… ugh

          Like

          • Reese Daniel

            You should have saved your daughters, then your pets and left that MONSTER in the burning house where she belonged.

            Like

    • OMG, my husband of 11 years met someone else and left me when I went on disability for MS! After I spent a decade taking care of him in and out of prison, this is my thank you. Thank goodness we have no kids, but I’m still so full of grief that he has done this to me and to us! I feel so victimized, yet there is no justice for me! He belongs back in prison for doing this and using me for financial benefit; if it were a complete stranger, he’d be charged…10 months later and I’m still so sad and angry! I am so alone, kids all grown and have their own lives, there are a lot of days I don’t want to be here any more!

      Like

  29. Michelle Skeen

    i just lost my husband to whom I was his caregiver for the last 5yrs. I couldn’t leave the house due to his illness and if I was able to leave it was for food,pharmacy,doctor and then hurry home. He had Jeckyl/Hyde syndrome which is what I called it especially after dialysis then the hospital stays, and lifting and all the other stuff and I love him dearly. Now that he’s gone I still can’t leave the house and I can’t feel happy anymore. I fake it in front of ppl that visit just so they will leave quickly so I can be alone again. I’m tired all the time quick to get angry or enraged at nothing. I just can’t seem to pull myself together to who I know I use to be. I’m forgetful not able to organize anything even my thoughts. I feel horrible. Thank you for posting this article. I hv sought out counseling to begin in June, I feel crazier when friends I hv 1 that thinks I should snap out of it now that he’s gone and automatically be HAPPY….NOT!!!!!
    I just want to laugh again.
    Thank you.

    Like

  30. I have been in a relationship with a strongly narcissistic person. I did not realize until after the damage was done, and now I feel the creeps by the thought of this person.

    Sometimes I find myself having very special nightmares where I am trapped in a feeling of being frightened and paralyzed. This is probably the feeling I mostly felt when being around him, although unable to recognize or act upon it.

    I completely let him control me and put me down in the search of wanting to feel safe. I went through a major illness because of this highly damaging situation, and I have been on the recovery from it since last summer.

    With hopes for a better future, with love, action and responsibility-seeking behavior.

    All the best.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I have experienced everything that is known as CPTSD. It is so amazing how emotionally draining it can be. I also feel after reading more into this, I almost get ashamed or want to denies certain personality traits. Not because they are not true, but maybe i am unable to control the complex and hopelessness of the trauma. On the other hand what to me makes it so complex is not wanting to open up about painful or preventable problems i know still exist and yes i can learn to cope, teach and express traumatic events it is a learning process that is always going to be complex, my traumatic issue is post a stress i endured, It has to be recognized and treated to the worth and re-parenting process that is so worth every souls worth to practice honesty to stand up and feel safe and not let stress from past make your future complex. It is growth and proper regulations that complicate, We can control our on destiny not create it.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I have recently, within the last year or so left my narcissistic ex-boyfriend. I am having a hard time expressing myself emotionally. I blew up at my current fiancee last night because of my suppression of all my stresses and worries. I didn’t know I had this condition.I used to do the same thing as a child. My mother was a narcissist. I just thought suppression was a normal thing. I don’t know what is “normal” emotional behavior.

    Like

    • This is really common Lindsay. You’ll learn proper emotional regulation and expression, now that you (Im assuming) 🙂 have a HEALTHY fiancée that is open to listening to and responding to your emotions. Keep practicing your emotional honesty with safe people and you’ll begin to teach yourself how to express yourself and stand up for yourself. Hang in there, this is a reparenting and learning process that is so worth it in the long run. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Thanks for posting this. I have been struggling with this all my life

    Liked by 1 person

  34. This article IS NOT about PTSD. This is C-PTSD, they are two different critters, from different causes with different, treatments.

    Like

  35. I just got out of a very abusive relationship and I am going through almost all of the above symptoms. I am seeing a therapist and taking Wellbutrin. I am currently not working because I am so anxiety ridden some days I cannot even work. When does it get better and this awful pain go away. I feel at time I am loosing my mind. I have been away from him for 2 months.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Good god. Thank you. This is very validating and am glad to know I’m moving in the right direction.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. I know I have suffered this 4 years ago (doesn’t time fly) and I was lucky enough to have a doctor who diagnosed me with PTSD!

    Like

  38. Thankyou f.or posting this succinct explanation of what is such a complex condition. It is frightening but also a relief to finally be able to give a name to something that effects me on so many levels.

    Like

  39. PTSD can take a very long time to heal. You will need some professional help to manage it. “:’*:

    My very own website
    http://www.caramoantourpackage.com

    Like

  40. This is exactly what I have been dealing with. Thank you for posting this!

    Like

  1. Pingback: Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) | Roll Away My Shame

  2. Pingback: Narcissistic Abuse Part I: When The Right Fit Is All Wrong - HolyVegGYogi!

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