When we are in the safe space for narcissistic abuse recovery, we often find a few people who try to poke around at certain terms or phrases that we use to talk about our traumatic experiences. I want to talk about how important it is to know that these people are out here for conflict. They want to see you frustrated and they want to see you fight back so they can get their form of supply. They know a lot of survivors are in vulnerable - easily triggered places and they take advantage of it. So let's talk about trauma, abuse, and using the terms narcissist, sociopath, and psychopath.
This blog is for educational and awareness purposes only. The terms narcissist, sociopath, and psychopath are used as descriptors to identify toxic and harmful personality traits. The said terms are not intended to diagnose anyone with any disorder.
The terms “trauma” and “abuse”
Sometimes we encounter a person who preaches “everyone has trauma” to invalidate your experiences. These individuals often get enraged because they believe we are using trauma and abuse interchangeably. We actually can do that when our trauma is a result of abuse.You can absolutely say, “I was abused,” or “I have trauma.” Both are valid and both are true. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of what those details are. It’s not required for you to explain your trauma. It happened and you have every right to tell whoever you choose.
Of course, trauma will happen to everyone in life in some form, but it is much different than the trauma that we face from abuse. When we are dedicated to recovery from narcissistic abuse and domestic violence there is no need to criticize individuals who discuss the trauma that has been caused by abuse.
Sometimes this is a response these people have when they are in denial of their own trauma. They do not want to accept any pain that came from their upbringing so they decide to leak out that pain onto others instead of allowing themselves to accept their traumatic experiences for what it is.
The invalidation we feel forces us to often curl up into our shells and suffer alone in our situations. We have fought hard just to share the experience we have gone through. We end up self-gaslighting and forcing ourselves to say, “Maybe what I went through wasn’t so bad,”
“Maybe it’s my fault,”
Or even, “I deserved it”
You didn’t deserve any form of abuse. If someone is saying that you can’t say that you have trauma because you were abused or that the abuse you went through caused trauma, they are not a safe person to be communicating with.
If this is experienced in person, it’s very hard to handle. We may have a trauma response and feel the need to defend ourselves or begin to dissociate, but I want you to remember that people who are unaware of their own trauma or haven’t been through familial abuse or domestic violence will never understand if they are close-minded. We have to remember that not everyone will think like us. Not everyone will hold space and not everyone will have empathy and compassion for others.
The terms narcissist, sociopath, psychopath
You will often hear how many people fight for the terms narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath because they deem them as “overused terms” that are insignificant. These types of people most likely haven’t been through what you once have or are the narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath.
Unfortunately, our society was conditioned for years to accept toxic behavior as it’s normal. Toxicity behind closed doors was okay. That was classified as a “personal issue” or as a “domestic dispute.” Abusers easily manipulate law enforcement and make their victims look like they’re crazy.
One of the biggest issues with people who pick at others who use these terms is “you aren’t qualified to give a diagnosis,” It’s not a diagnosis. You are not diagnosing anyone clinically. You are looking at:
“What relates to my experiences that can help me understand how to protect myself?”
“How do these types of people work?”
“How can I get away?”
“Can these people change?”
No. They don’t change. They trick, manipulate, and most of the time get worse.
The clinical diagnosis for a narcissist is narcissistic personality disorder and the clinical diagnosis for a sociopath or psychopath is antisocial personality disorder. Narcissism (narcissist), psychopathy (psychopath), and sociopathy (sociopath) are terms to describe character traits that lead to toxic and harmful behavior. Some individuals will have tendencies and behavioral traits of narcissism, psychopathy, and sociopathy, but will not meet clinical diagnostic criteria for a personality disorder. This fact does not make abuse from an individual less painful.
Narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths are descriptive terms to help you understand your experiences and the toxic actions of others. Like how we use the terms scapegoat, golden child, and lost child to learn what role we were forced to play growing up. We can’t know how to heal, move forward, or grow if we can’t have some of our questions answered. We grew up with no answers. We grew up in chaos. We have every right to have some liberation and understanding of what was done to us.
Know that you can use the terms that are comfortable for you. You have to focus on what works for you.