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The S.A.D. Cycle: The Abuse Phase

The ABUSE phase begins when the narcissistic person/abuser’s use of the target (aka the supply) begins to wane.

No longer are they feeling the massive sense of inflation and fulfillment of ego they were during the seduction phase.

The high and rush of conquering their prey are dropping off and they’re beginning to feel annoyed, irritated, and critical.

They’ve also sufficiently “secured” their supply, meaning they’ve put their target into a position of commitment and growing dependence on themselves psychologically, emotionally, relationally, and often financially. They’ve achieved this through the 4 STEPS of the SEDUCTION Phase:

  • INTENSE interaction
  • GRANDIOSE claims and promises
  • ENMESHMENT of lives
  • ADDICTION through triggering the euphoric state in their target.

This sense of security allows them to take off the mask and reveal what they really are.

For the target, this is a terribly confusing time. They wonder what they did wrong. They attempt to repair and correct things. They begin to inspect themselves for flaws and behaviors. They begin to try to change themselves to fit what the predator wants, hoping that they can get the seduction phase to resume and for their love to “go back to who they were (and I secretly know they really are)”.

This abuse phase activates the codependent’s fears about abandonment and being truly unwanted and unworthy. It also brings to life the “I can fix them/change them” fantasy they’ve had with others, likely their parents.

The abuse also begins to bring shame more and more into the picture. This conditions the codependent to deepen their emotional and mental association of who they are with feelings of shame, inadequacy, and worthlessness.

These feelings end up compelling the codependent to “try harder” to fix themselves, to fix the abuser, and go deeper into their fantasy about their partner being truly loving but is struggling with trauma or their past.

The abuser plays into this with skill through the kinds of abuse they do. This includes:

  1. Claiming that the codependent’s behaviors are the cause of their pain and actions. “Well, if you hadn’t done that or reacted that way, I wouldn’t have been so angry!”
  2. Gas-lighting the codependent about what happened: “Are you sure that’s what happened?” “You’re remembering that wrong.” “IF that is what happened, then you deserved it.” “I didn’t do that. You’re making that up just to hurt me!” “Oh, so that’s what you really think of me, eh? You think I’d do that to you?! Wow! You’ve got some real problems!”
  3. Claiming that the codependent’s wants, needs, feelings are the problem: “You’re too sensitive. Just let it go.” “You want so much! It is like I can never do enough for you!” “Can’t you just be happy with what you get?” “Why is it I always have to do more to please you?”
  4. Attacking the character of their target. “Are you that stupid?” “You’re just selfish and mean…” “You are crazy and need help.”
  5. Vilifying mistakes and benign behaviors: “You deliberately forgot to do the laundry so you could make me look stupid!” “You said that to hurt me!” “You are trying to gaslight me and abuse me (after you hold them accountable for something they did)”
  6. Denial and victim-hood in response to accountability: “I didn’t do that”… “You made me do it…” “People pick on me all the time…”
  7. Making false promises: “Ok. I was wrong there. We should get help…” never follows through. “I’ll never yell at you again…” 5 minutes later they’re yelling again.

This is NOT an exhaustive list, just a glimpse into the dominant expressions of abuse I experienced and my clients/students experience during the Abuse phase.

There are two goals the abuser has in the Abuse Phase:

  1. Deepen their control over their supply: the more beaten down the supply is, the easier it is to control them and manipulate them.
  2. See how far they can go with their behaviors until they get a reaction: this is about gleaning more supply from their target in the form of pain and anguish. Often the most unhealthy and deeply narcissistic persons will go this route. Many “Soft narcissists” or people on the shallow end of narcissism won’t push limits. They have some modicum of empathy that buffers their escalations.

As these are achieved, the abuser feels greater power and more freedom to do as they please. This decays into the Discard Phase

Next: The Discard Phase…

Check out the You-tube Training on this topic:

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