The 7 Descents Into The Hell Of Narcissistic Abuse

Plus: how to rise from the grave after the abuse.

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I thought I’d hit the jackpot.

I thought the Universe was finally rewarding me.

At the age of 29, I’d recently left my first husband after finding out the number of women he’d had sex with during our time together (let’s just say if cheating were an Olympic sport, he won gold without breaking a sweat).

After moving out of state to try and start over — and get away from him because I couldn’t handle seeing his face — my heartache made me desperate, insecure and vulnerable.


In short, a mess.

Add to that a childhood spent begging my father for his conditional love and starving for physical affection, I came to the conclusion that I must not be lovable, which my first husband had backed up.

So as I started out my new life in a new place, I couldn’t help but wonder, "Who would ever want me?"


Then, he arrived.

And like a hungry lion to a red slab of meat, the man who would become my second husband answered my question.

"I do," said the predator, salivating. "I want you."

And so began my descent into the Hell of narcissistic abuse.

RELATED: 9 Signs Of Narcissistic Abuse, Explained By A Therapist

Here are the 7 descents into the Hell of narcissistic abuse:

1. Love bombing

Though my first instinct was to run from the tidal wave that was him, I couldn’t help but fall hard and fast for what he brought in bulk that had been missing from my life thus far.

Passion. Attention. Affection. Devotion. Great sex.

Everything he did was perfect. Everything he said was perfect.


It was as if he had some secret insight into my soul and knew what I needed from a man. As if I had handed him a list of the top ten qualities I was looking for and within the first few months he had checked off every last one.

Plus, he told me that the Universe had sent me to him. And who was I to get in the way of a higher power?

So, I surrendered. And I fell in love. Oblivious that I wasn’t being loved in return.

I was being groomed.

2. The setup

I believed what he said. I trusted him like no other.

He told me things about himself that no one else knew, so I returned the favor and told him everything — my secrets, my fears, my insecurities.


It was us against the world, or so I thought. I had his back and believed he had mine. I gave him my kindness, my compassion, my loyalty — and assumed I had his.

This trust in him made me dependent on the return of what I gave him.

This dependency laid the groundwork for what was to come.

3. The fall

Confusion set in. What he used to love about me, he now criticized. Just when I got comfortable with believing what he thought about me — that I was smart, good with money, a great mother — he’d make comments to the contrary.

Not all the time. But some of the time. And then a lot of the time until years later it was most of the time.

Whereas I used to be everything to him, my value in his eyes diminished. Like a piece of property.


Thus, I defaulted to my behaviors from my childhood with my father. And began performing to get the love he used to offer for free.

This led me to blame myself. Surely it was my fault, right?

I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure of anything anymore.

RELATED: 11 Valuable Lessons I Learned About How Dating A Narcissist Changes You

4. Gaslighting

"I’m sorry you feel that way."

"I never said that. You’re being paranoid."

"That never happened."

"Why do you have to keep bringing up the past?"

"You made me do it."

I lived in two worlds with two different men. There was the man I met who was charming, loving, and kind. And there was that other guy.

I didn’t like that other guy.


He told me I was high maintenance, an emotional hole with daddy issues who needed to get a thicker skin. He told me I was lucky he stuck around and put up with me.

But then the man I met would show up and shower me with all the love and affection that the other guy withheld. And tell me he was the lucky one, and he loved me, and he couldn’t live without me.

It made me crazy. Especially when I spent less and less time in the world of the man I’d fallen in love with, and more and more time in the world of that other guy.

And that other guy had a whole different set of rules I now needed to live by.

5. The game

Every day was spent trying to turn back time. I wanted to go back to the beginning when we were happy — when he was happy with me.


How could I get him to love me like he used to?

I tried everything. I loved him harder. I said what he wanted me to say. I agreed even when I disagreed. I warped myself into something malleable he could shape, like putty in his hands.

And sometimes, on some days, for just a moment, I’d get his love and affection.

But then I’d say something he didn’t like or have a different opinion or stand up for myself and then Poof!

No more love. No more affection. Just silence.

And days of it.

RELATED: What It's Really Like To Love A Narcissist

6. Loss

There was a stranger in my house. I saw her anytime I looked in the mirror.

I didn’t recognize my own body or mind anymore. The voices in my head were cruel and punishing.


What’s wrong with you? What’s your problem? I asked my reflection.

Her gaunt face stared back, the dark circles under her eyes giving away her exhaustion.

The days dragged on endlessly as I spent more and more time at home, unable to fake a smile anymore for anyone outside of our closed doors. I lived in a state of panic, anxiety, and fear, which made me physically sick and gave me another reason to stay out of the public eye.


Besides, I couldn’t risk anyone inquiring about me, looking for me. Especially when I was looking for me too.

"Suzanna who?"

7. Addiction

My life centered around him: pleasing him, placating him, serving him, and trying not to anger him.

He held me hostage with his promises of change, with the carrots he dangled in front of me when I was at my hungriest.

I was attached, dependent, and hooked, waiting like a drug addict for the next hit.

Even when my habit was slowly killing me.

I not only hit rock bottom, I hung out there for a while, unable to find the strength to get up.

In that space is when I realized I had only two choices: to surrender to my life as I knew it…


Or fight to escape it.

So, having nowhere to go but up, I chose me. I chose the light.

And left Hell far behind.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissist, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474, or log onto

RELATED: How To Deal With A Narcissist — 8 Smart & Simple Steps


Suzanna Quintana is a writer, recovery coach, and founder of The Narcissist Relationship Recovery Program. She is a certified holistic health counselor.