One of the primary goals of a narcissistic abuser is to not only silence their victim but to shut down their voice entirely. This usually happens so gradually and in such insidious and subtle ways; often, the victim doesn’t realize the manipulative power plays being used against her until it’s too late. With the silencing muzzle firmly in place, it becomes nearly impossible for a victim to speak and dangerous to even attempt to. The suffocating damage is devastating, and the silencing effects go deep.
How can a victim unlock the muzzle of narcissistic abuse and reclaim her voice? Below are some helpful keys, as well as details about Esther Company’s new series called, Her Voice Unlocked, where victims of abuse are empowered to safely share their stories and reclaim their voices while shedding the illuminating light of clarity for other victims still stuck in the dark and disorienting trenches of narcissistic abuse.
Why Victims of Abuse Often Stay Silent
A common question many shocked family, friends, and even leaders often ask when they find out someone close to them is leaving an abusive marriage is, “Why didn’t she speak up?” While that is a valid question, it’s usually not helpful. What is a more helpful question is, “Why didn’t she feel safe to speak up?”
There are many reasons for this. One main reason is the hidden and disorienting nature of covert narcissistic abuse. After years of being gaslighted and told chronic lies, speaking up can feel like an uphill battle for victims. Trying to explain what they have endured can be maddening while, most times, still struggling to understand and put words to what they experienced themselves. Often their only resort is to string together scenarios of things they experienced, leaving them in the unfair position of being misunderstood as bitter or unforgiving. Many times, met with the unfortunate ignorance and judgments of others, it only adds more emotionally damaging fuel to an already raging fire, so silence often feels like the safest alternative.
This isn’t even counting the dangers of speaking up. Many don’t realize that abuse ramps up exponentially if a victim attempts to speak up. Not to mention the church and society at large often lack genuine knowledge about the dynamics of true narcissistic abuse. This, coupled with the reality that someone they once trusted deeply weaponized their vulnerability against them, it’s no wonder it takes almost a sheer miracle for a victim to speak up. To speak up, they must dig deep and use incredible heroic bravery, vulnerability, and trust.
Some reasons victims of abuse often stay silent:
- Fear of not being believed
- Fear of being labeled or judged unfairly
- Fear of the abuser retaliating against them or their children
- Not wanting to be caught in a web of “he said, she said”
- Not yet having the language to express covert narcissistic abuse
Importance of Reclaiming Your Voice
It’s crucial in the healing journey for a victim of abuse to reclaim their voice. Reclaiming is different from restoring. Restoring means to return to its original state, while reclaiming means to redeem something stolen. That is precisely what I believe God wants for every victim of abuse, not to go back to their original state but to move forward in their journey of freedom and healing, having their stolen voice redeemed.
It’s also important for a victim to reclaim their voice because it opens them up to receive comfort, support, and validation and is often the first step in breaking the cycle of fear, isolation, and shame. Sharing their story can also empower a victim by gaining clarity through vocalizing their experience and bringing understanding and freedom to others still trapped in the confusing fog of covert narcissistic abuse. It also can help other survivors who may have never heard a story like theirs. Hearing similar stories can provide validation, make survivors feel less alone, and demonstrate that resilience and thriving are possible after narcissistic abuse.
Why Reclaiming Your Voice Is Important:
- It breaks the cycle of fear, isolation, and shame
- Allows a victim to receive comfort, support, and validation
- Talking aloud can help make sense of emotions and experiences
- Brings clarity and hope to other victims
- Can embolden other victims to break their silence and seek help
- Helps reduce the stigma of abuse
- Gives silent survivor encouragement
- Empowers a victim in their journey of freedom and healing
Keys When Reclaiming Your Voice
Some victims may find it overwhelming to discuss the specifics of what they went through. Deciding ahead of time what you are comfortable sharing can be beneficial. It’s also helpful to be prepared if someone asks an invasive question in response to hearing your story. Please know that you are not obligated to answer prying questions or talk about aspects of abuse you prefer to keep private. How much detail you disclose about the abuse is entirely up to you, regardless of the nature of your relationship or how close you might be to someone. Determining ahead of time how you will respond if asked something you’re not comfortable answering can be very helpful. One simple response could be, “I’m not comfortable talking about that.”
It’s also essential to keep your physical and emotional safety in mind. Talking about abuse can be an intense experience. Preparing some coping strategies can be helpful if you start feeling overwhelmed or triggered. Something as simple as taking a break from the conversation, spending time with God, going on a walk, resting, reading your favorite book, or having a playlist of your favorite songs available are a few things that might be helpful.
A Few Keys When Reclaiming Your Voice:
- Decide whom you feel safe sharing with
- Decide when and how you want to share your story
- Decide how much or how little detail you feel comfortable sharing
- Don’t feel pressured to answer questions
- Keep your physical and emotional safety in mind
- Have coping strategies prepared if you feel triggered after sharing your story
Remember, you have complete discretion on if you choose to use your voice, how you choose to use your voice, when you choose to use your voice, where you choose to use your voice, and with whom you choose to share your voice.
Safely Reclaiming Your Voice
A powerful step in reclaiming your voice can be talking aloud with a trusted person, like a therapist or support group. Often, keeping emotions and experiences trapped inside can make them more challenging to sort through. Sharing aloud in a safe setting can be incredibly freeing, bringing clarity to the fog of abuse and a greater understanding of what you have experienced. You may even discover encouraging things about yourself that you might not have known otherwise.
Another powerful step in reclaiming your voice can be to speak more openly or to write about your experience. There is wisdom needed in this, however. Especially considering if you are still with or trying to leave your abuser. It’s also essential to consider if speaking up could hinder an open court case, as well as safeguarding your children from information that isn’t necessary and could potentially cause them more harm.
It’s important to note, reclaiming your voice doesn’t always mean others will hear your story. Many times, broadcasting to the world or social media isn’t safe. It might simply look like writing in a journal that you eventually rip up or burn, to purge all the mental and emotional turmoil festering inside. However, there are times when reclaiming your voice more publicly can be safe for a victim and has the potential to unlock clarity and empower other victims who are still stuck in the stronghold of narcissistic abuse. Whether reclaiming your voice more openly or privately, no one way is greater. What’s most important is to do what is best for you. You will know what that is, how, and when the timing is right to share your story in a way that feels most comfortable and safe for you.
Your Voice Deserves to Be Heard
Going through abuse can almost force you to live according to your abuser’s “truths.” These are usually lies about who they are and the false reality they want you to portray to the world. Beginning to move away from upholding that false reality can feel scary at first, but it’s a heavy weight you were never meant to carry. While speaking out in bitterness differs from reclaiming your voice, you do not have to stay under the burden of false loyalty to someone who has continually and systematically tried to destroy you.
Please know, you do not owe your abuser anonymity. If a narcissist didn’t want to be known as an abuser, then they should not have abused you in the first place. You do not have to conceal or downplay the truth of what you have experienced. However, you do owe it to yourself to break free from the muzzle of abuse and safely reclaim your voice!
Her Voice Unlocked
I believe an army of women warriors is rising out of the tormenting grave of abuse with the sword of the Lord in their mouths that pierces the darkness with truth, unlocks prisons of pain, and shatters strongholds! Carrying the heart of the King, they are leading a reformation of purity and justice, spreading refreshing waters of freedom and hope.
God created you with a voice. He never intended for you to be silenced. Are you ready to reclaim your voice? Are you ready to break the suffocating muzzle of abuse and help shine a guiding light for others still stuck in the chaos and confusion of covert narcissistic abuse? If so, I would be honored to hold a safe space for you to reclaim your voice and share your story through the new section on the Esther Company website called, Her Voice Unlocked. Victims are invited to submit their stories which may be picked to be featured on the Esther Company blog, newsletter, and social media. All submissions will remain anonymous unless you want your story publicly shared.
You can share your story now by clicking here: Her Voice Unlocked
Your voice deserves to be heard. It’s time to acknowledge the truth, lift the weight of the terrible events of your past off your shoulders, get the validation and support help you need to move forward, as well as bring clarity to others still stuck in the mud of narcissistic abuse and validation to other silent survivors. I hope you find this safe outlet encouraging and empowering as you put your pain to purpose, and unlock your voice, bringing illuminating clarity and freedom to others. Your story is essential. Your voice deserves to be heard.
“Tell the world how he broke through and delivered you from the power of darkness and has gathered us together from all over the world. He has set us free to be his very own!” – Psalms 107:2-3 TPT
Please note: If you would like your story shared publicly, please upload a clear photo of yourself along with a brief bio, including what you do for a living, any accomplishments, or even fun facts. For those who are safe to speak publicly, the goal of this is not only to share who you are but to counter the stereotypical idea of who a victim of abuse is and drive home the fact that it can happen to anyone.