Advice from multiple abuse experts helps me move through waves of pain.

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On a long country drive with my narcissistic family member, I opened up about some shameful secrets. I slowly spoke words of my ongoing depression, sexual abuse from older men, and how I almost killed myself. Holding my breath, I looked toward the driver’s seat, hoping for acceptance, love. But when they seemed distant, I felt embarrassed, blaming myself. That was a lot to share. I should’ve done that better.

For another four years, I carried those burdens before sharing again, releasing the self-blame, judgment, and toxic shame.

“I’m intellectually ready to move on from what happened, but I’m still…


When we honor feminine values equally, we experience greater love, connection, and balance.

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In my home studio, I set my iPhone to video mode, tapping to record. Stepping a few feet back from the camera, I breathed deeply as my fingers pressed to the keyboard keys, my mouth moving close to the microphone. For six minutes, I played freestyle melodies and improvised lyrics. But as I watched the recording afterward, I felt waves of shame.

You keep messing up; why haven’t you been practicing? Ah, your hair looks greasy; why didn’t you shower? Yikes, your singing. When will you finally finish that voice class?

Thankfully, I’ve been researching the roots of my shame…


Narcissist abuse experts like Shahida Arabi inspire novel approaches.

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At 27 years old, I’ve spent 26 years being abused by narcissists. My healing journey started nine months ago when my therapist helped me identify two narcissists in my close family (one overt, one covert).

Having been primed for toxic relationships, I connected with many narcissists in my adult life, including an incredibly traumatizing ex-boyfriend. My coping mechanisms included overachieving, people-pleasing, and codependent behaviors.

Most days, I feel proud of my progress; I’m beginning to be authentic and love myself deeply. But attracting more narcissists frequently happens for abuse survivors; I’m not immune.

Despite pouring into topic research, seeing a…


When multiple men abused me, I blamed myself; as long as we shame victims, women will feel unsafe to express themselves.

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Reader note: this article contains a brief description of coercive sex.

At 21 years old, I wore a fitted black dress that swayed as I walked, the design revealing part of my naked back. After a hippie commune adventure, I exuded budding confidence in my natural sexuality. I recently graduated from university with an impressive resume. The Spanish embassy accepted me to their English teacher program for the fall.

Living and working downtown in a trendy city that summer, I felt powerful freedom.

When a charming older man at work — let’s call him Derek — took an interest in…


#3. Healthy relationships are our birthright.

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Nine months since my therapist helped me identify narcissists in my birth family, I still believe I’m not good enough for healthy relationships. Lingering trauma clouds my sense of hope for getting what I want in life. Am I too riddled with internal damage to be valuable?

No, I’m not. But abusers who do not experience empathy or remorse convinced me I’m the problem. Every day I pour my energy into disarming the shame they soaked me in for decades.

Despite pouring myself into healing, i.e., support groups, therapy, mindfulness practices, self-care, somatic processing, emotional abuse research, I carry shame…


Here’s how I identified codependent behaviors and poured energy back into my life.

Photo Credit: Unsplash Ty Feague

On a recent Saturday night, I lit candles and incense in the kitchen. Feeling inspired by a new sense of openness, I turned the pulsing electronic music up. Then I began worrying: Is this too loud? Will my housemates get upset? Will this erotic music make them uncomfortable?

Though the incident seems insignificant, my habit of anticipating others’ needs and putting their concerns before my own is a sign of codependency.

Codependency occurs as a normal response to abnormal people, i.e., people with mental or physical illness. …


I played the “virgin,” became a “whore,” then finally liberated myself.

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Walking through Walmart with my mom, we searched for my first bra. At 11 years old, I felt horrified; she laughed about it. I skirted awkwardly through the aisles, checking for anyone I might know; I wanted to hide.

Thus began my unwilling journey, morphing into a woman’s body. Though I couldn’t have explained myself, I felt humiliated by my physical expression of femininity.

I grew up surrounded by loyal Christians. My social exposure shrank further when my parents decided to homeschool my brother and me. Our modest social schedule consisted mainly of religious events, dinners with pastors, and hangouts…

Allison Crady

❤️ Writing on psychology, feminism, and relationships. Words in: The Ascent, Better Advice, Fearless She Wrote, CYMCYL, An Injustice, and The Virago. (she/her)

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