A narcissistic abuse survivor turned trauma recovery coach has revealed signs that a victim need to look out for to identify a toxix relationship.
Hating herself, racked with chronic anxiety and suicidal thoughts, and feeling utterly worthless, UK-based Ronia Fraser’s relationship was literally killing her.
‘I thought I was losing my mind,’ she said. ‘I didn’t recognise the person looking back at me in the mirror. And even worse, the people around me started to believe I was crazy. I reached a point where I knew that if I didn’t get away now, I wouldn’t be alive in a few weeks.’
Now aged 39, Ronia is a survivor of narcissistic abuse – one of the most common yet least acknowledged forms of abuse – after she finally fled the relationship and dedicated her life to healing, both herself – and others.
She has gone on to become the UK’s first narcissistic abuse recovery coach, based in London and LA, and is one of only a handful of dedicated experts in the world.
Ronia Fraser, 39, who is based in LA and London, has revealed signs that a victim will experience that indicates they are in a narcissistic relationship (stock image)
‘Many victims of Narcissistic Abuse don’t even understand that they are being abused,’ explained Ronia. ‘More often than not, it’s all they know and the abnormal has become the norm for them.’
‘When it happens it happens so gradually that you don’t realise that you are in danger until it’s already too late. On top of that, it’s completely invisible to anyone on the outside.’
Ronia went on to highlight the importance of understanding that a relationship with a narcissist is nothing like a normal relationship.
‘It creeps in with a smiling face under the pretence of true love, an out-of-this world connection and immense trust, but it erodes foundations so quickly, in a manner not unlike pouring drain unblocker into your sink,’ she said.
‘Within seconds there’s corrosion. Within minutes erosion of the underlying block. Except when applied to ourselves this type of erosion and corrosion are applied to our fundamental sense of REALITY.’
From survivor of narcissistic abuse to award-winning Trauma Recovery Coach & Clinical Hypnotherapist, here’s Ronia’s story:
Ronia says that narcissistic abuse is one of the most common and least acknowledged forms of abuse which without fail has a detrimental and life-altering effect on the survivor’s mental health and quality of life.
‘Against the common narrative, something can be done about it,’ says Ronia.
‘It is not a life sentence, with the right tools and the right support you can and will fully recover from the complex trauma.’
Ronia had been living her ‘California dream life’ – she was head of finance for a multi-million pound global music business in Los Angeles and had a beautiful home in the sought-after Hollywood Hills.
But behind the successful façade, she was trapped in an abusive relationship and she says that abuse survivors rarely fit the concept of abuse victims.
Her award-winning trauma recovery programme has helped the likes of doctors, lawyers, accountants, head teachers, senior managers and executives, business founders and high-flying performers, who are strong, independent, smart, successful and powerful women.
Considered a pioneer in the field of narcissistic abuse recovery, Ronia has come a long way from the dark days of that relationship.
‘He would break me down emotionally and psychologically and then made sure to leave a knife or box cutter behind for me to use and do his dirty work for him,’ she explains.
‘I was drugged without me knowing for almost a year, resulting in blackouts and a loss of reality. I suffered gaslighting, brainwashing, intentional sleep deprivation and emotional blackmail.’
‘I developed a most profound and unimaginable sense of loss and sadness and deep self-loathing. No-one on the outside world however would have ever known that my life was less than perfect – sunshine, palm trees, the career, the lovely house in the Hills and all…’
To survive, she quit her high-powered job, dropped everything she had created for herself in America and returned to the UK where she went into hiding for two years.
‘Back then, I was really struggling with my mental health as a consequence of the abuse,’ she says. ‘Narcissistic abuse wasn’t really a thing at that time and there was little information available. I got very frustrated with the lack of results I was getting from therapy so went out on my own with a mission to find something that would fix this.’
Nowadays, Ronia is an internationally-certified, highly sought-after coach and has run her narcissistic abuse recovery coaching business for the last five years, helping and supporting women from all over the world to get back on their feet, regain their mental health and recover who they were always meant to be.
Pictured: Ronia Fraser has gone on to become the UK’s first narcissistic abuse recovery coach
‘I was convinced that there had to be something that could undo the damage as effectively as it was caused,’ she says. ‘I had nothing left to lose so I went all in. Once I found it, it took me only five months to become symptom-free.’
‘So I got extensively trained in the modalities that worked and modified and refined those for the particular purpose of recovering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD), which narcissistic abuse always causes.
‘Today I’m a certified Trauma Recovery Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Hypnotherapy Trainer, NLP Master Practitioner & Trainer, and Havening Techniques Practitioner.’
She adds: ‘Today I’m leading a drama-free life I couldn’t have even imagined before. Healthy, free and so authentically me.’
‘I let go of everything that didn’t serve me and held onto all the good qualities I like about myself. Ronia 2.0. I love my life, I love my work. This is what I’ve been put on the planet to do.’
She added: ‘The interesting thing about narcissistic abuse however is that even though every survivor’s story is complex, dramatic and straight out of a movie, the tactics used by the abuser and the symptoms experienced by the survivor as a consequence are always the same. And the recovery also follows the same pattern.’
Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, the award-winning Trauma Recovery Coach & Clinical Hypnotherapist has revealed some of the things everyone who experiences narcissistic abuse has said more than once:
1. ‘I’m walking on eggshells’
Ronia explains that victims of narcissistic abuse are often ‘strong, confident, smart and successful’ – but all of a sudden find themselves walking on eggshells all the time.
‘The kind, caring and loving person they fell in love with has turned into an unrecognisable cold, distant and cruel monster,’ she says. ‘But every now and then the good mask comes back on, making it impossible to predict who they are dealing with at any given time and which can change any second.’
To avoid conflict and out of fear of being abandoned and not being loved, the women’s mental health advocate says the victim compromises their boundaries, values and beliefs, which ‘never ever is enough.’
‘As a result, they experience constant anxiety, afraid to do or say something wrong, that will unleash the abuse,’ explains Ronia, who shares her tips on Instagram.
‘To keep the victim on edge at all times, the abuser often times adds other tactics such as silent treatment (not replying to texts or calls), triangulation (always making sure the victim knows someone else is more worthy and deserving of their love, openly playing them against each other) and sleep deprivation.’
2. ‘I don’t recognise the person looking back at me in the mirror’
‘We all have building blocks that make up who we are, be it emotional, financial, societal, aspirational, professional, relational or reputational,’ she explains.
‘And just like in the game Jenga, the abuser takes out one of those building blocks after the other until the victim’s life comes crashing down, literally playing Reality Jenga.’
‘Everything they thought they were, doesn’t exist anymore, leaving the victim looking at a complete stranger in the mirror, no idea who they are, where they are going or how they even got here, feeling dead inside.’
She goes on to note how victims of narcissistic abuse experience a ‘profound sense of sadness and grief’ as they are mourning the loss of themselves.
Ronia adds: ‘At the same time they develop a strong sense of self-loathing as the abuser continues to despise everything they supposedly used to love about them and always ensures that the victim knows that they will never be good enough and worthy of their love.
This often time leads to suicidal ideations and self-harm.’
3. ‘I feel like an addict’
The award-winning Trauma Recovery Coach & Clinical Hypnotherapist says that when it happens, narcissistic abuse makes no sense whatsoever.
‘The victim most likely doesn’t even realise that they are being abused but they do know without a single doubt that something is horribly wrong,’ Ronia explains. ‘They try to leave, usually numerous times, especially in the beginning when there’s still a little bit of self-respect in place, but find themselves very quickly drawn back in by the promises that things will change (they won’t).’
She continues: ‘In an attempt to make themselves understood and justify their oftentimes out-of-character, victims use phrases like “(S)He’s my drug” or “I feel like an addict.” The truth is that it doesn’t only feel that way. They are hooked on the highest high there is: Love.
‘And the abuser is both the drug and the drug dealer at the same time, giving them complete control over their victim. That’s one of the reasons why walking away is so hard as it literally means having to go cold turkey and cutting off the supply.’
Ronia, who offers workshops on the art of self-hypnosis on her website www.roniafraser.com, says that’s the very reason why ‘no contact’ is rule number one of narcissistic abuse recovery – adding that it is ‘absolutely vital for the healing process, no ifs not buts.’
4. ‘I think I’m losing my mind’
Ronia explains that through a manipulation technique known as gaslighting, abusers intentionally create confusion and severely distort their victim’s sense of reality by twisting facts for their own purpose.
‘Because they trust the person, there is no reason for the victim to suspect any wrong-doing at this stage,’ she explains. ‘It starts so subtly, that it’s barely noticeable. Simply a mere “Huh? That’s not true / No, I didn’t say (or do) that / Yes, you did say (or do) that.” Nothing they remember seems to be true anymore.’
She goes on to say how over time the victim starts to question their own sanity and has the sense of losing their mind.
‘Once they mention something along the lines of “I think I’m going crazy”, the abuser will not hesitate to confirm this to be the truth and continue to push that narrative going forward,’ Ronia explains.
Ronia Fraser (pictured) is a survivor of narcissistic abuse. Speaking to FEMAIL, she has revealed some of the things everyone who experiences narcissistic abuse has said more than once
‘As a result the victim starts believing them and acting accordingly, which in turn makes it very easy for other people to believe it too. And so it very quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.’
According to the narcissistic abuse survivor, mind-altering substances such as alcohol and drugs are often added to this tactic to take advantage of intoxication-induced blackouts for even quicker reality distortion.
5. ‘No-one understands me’
Ronia points out that experiencing narcissistic abuse is a very lonely endeavour.
‘It feels like being stuck in a never-ending loop with Mr(s) Jekyll and Doctor Hyde, while the victim’s mental health and agency continues to decline rapidly,’ she explains.
‘Friends and family most likely offer well-meant advice such as to “just leave”, “snap out of it” and “get over it” already, which unfortunately is not as easy as it sounds due to the complexity of the situation.’
She goes on to say how even therapists often don’t get it, which results in the victim feeling misunderstood, judged and utterly alone.
Ronia continues: ‘Narcissistic abuse is one of those things, that unless it has happened to you, it is impossible to comprehend the horrors the victim is experiencing and the extent of damage that is being caused.’
‘And because of that it seems like you’re going through the darkest time of your life all on your own.’
6. ‘I knew something was wrong right from the start’
The Trauma Recovery Coach says that every single person who has come to her for help tells her that they knew right from the first moment that something was wrong.
‘They couldn’t put their finger on it but they could feel it in their gut and chose to ignore it,’ Ronia notes. ‘If they are already familiar with the topic of narcissists, they may even call the new partner out on it, but then go for it anyway.’
She adds: ‘Overwriting the alarm bells over and over again will continue throughout the relationship until the connection to the intuition is completely lost and the victim doesn’t trust themselves anymore at all.’
Ronia goes on to highlight that you actually don’t need to know what’s wrong, you just need to know that it is.
‘If something feels wrong it’s because it is. Trust your intuition and walk away immediately,’ she continues. ‘While the trauma caused by narcissistic abuse is deep and complex and requires specialist treatment, the actual reason why survivors get stuck and don’t recover, is because they obsessively direct all their focus and energy trying to understand and figure out the narcissists instead of paying attention to themselves.
‘This can include how they tick, how to catch them out, how to outsmart them, how to beat them at their own game (you can’t).’
Ronia concludes: ‘Against the common narrative, this doesn’t have to be a life sentence. The good news is that with the right tools and the right support, you can and you will recover from this.’