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So, we all know that Tik Tok is an app supposedly used to spy on people.
What a lot of people do not know is how this social media platform is saving lives and helping people all over the world, especially in this crazy time we are in.
I am a mum of two and survivor of a 10+ year marriage to a narcissist. This is my story of finding community, strength and understanding from a social application.
I looked at Tik Tok only recently after a friend showed me a funny lip-sync. I had seen some of the strange clips and it seemed to be mainly young kids having a laugh.
When I took a deeper look, I also discovered a large collective of people (mainly women) who had come out of relationships with people who were narcissistic and/or abusive (physically, mentally, financially) and were actively talking about it and helping each other heal.
Narcissistic relationships are toxic and abusive in so many ways. The trauma caused does not end with the relationship and can frequently be a cause of issues in any new relationship.
It is excruciatingly difficult to demonstrate or prove the abuse as the narcissist has set themselves up in their community as a hero or good guy. Their carefully crafted persona often means that the victims are not believed.
The relationship often involves controlling behaviours that are hidden behind loving moments so the victim does not see that they are losing control over their life, their freedom, themselves.
When something goes wrong, the narcissist is never at fault, it is always because of someone else, normally you. You are told that you did it wrong, aren’t smart enough, can’t learn, are hopeless, with such frequency that it becomes part of you and you don’t question it.
There are simple phrases that can trigger you into a jelly-like mess of anxiety and panic based on years of conditioning, invalidation and mind-twisting. You get to a point that you question if an event really happened, and often question your own sanity—this occurrence is referred to as gaslighting .
Although this relationship officially finished years ago, I still fight the trauma every day as we have children. This means we still must communicate and, occasionally, see each other. Every time I receive a text or email, I still feel sick because I know that however, I respond there will be more attempts to control, demoralise and negate me. There is no such thing as a quick email with a narcissist.
Previously, I could turn to no one about this within my friend group as they had no real concept of the way it affects you. If they were going through, had been through, something like this, I didn’t know, because often when in the relationship, you are conditioned to think this is the norm or they only react to you that way because you are a bad person or at fault. It still amazes me now, that I can see the dangerous relationships others have but I never realised how dangerous my marriage had been until I was out of it.
Now, when I feel this way, I go onto Tik Tok and look at one of the communities, creators or a hashtag. I am guaranteed to find easily accessible and understandable information about what just triggered me, and how to deal with it.
It could be from other survivors or professionals who are giving out therapeutic advice. The good thing about Tik Tok is that it has to be simple and easy to understand, there is not enough time to use all of that complicated professional language. It also means that I have been able to take my time to build my confidence in sharing my story.
I can access information, process what is going on, and talk to others with a degree of anonymity when I need to. I applaud the bravery of people who are creating this content, because they are helping to shift the discussion in the right direction. I am proud to be part of this.
There is even a really insightful page from a narcissist explaining why he does what he does and why he behaves this way when in a relationship—it’s very rare for a narcissist to realise their condition and get treatment for it as they only ever see the other person as the problem, not themselves.
Most of the highly subscribed pages, which often have a million plus subscribers, support each other and really understand. You can have the best friends in the world trying to support you, but until you have experienced the absurdity of the things that are said or done to you behind closed doors, they don’t really get it. Often a single event in isolation to a non-victim could sound like a little domestic argument.
It’s comforting to know that I’m not going crazy, and what has happened and continues to happen is not ok and is not my fault. It is validating for me to have contact with other people, all over the world, who understand how a single word in a text message can trigger a full-scale panic attack.
Sadly, emotional manipulation and abuse that are the typical behaviours of a narcissist, are often not legally recognised for prosecution or granting of protection orders (AVO, personal protection order etc) as the narcissist knows how to fly just under the radar whilst still managing to turn the victim’s world upside down. Even when you try to document every interaction, it can be difficult to provide ‘acceptable’ evidence. As a police officer once said to me: “You don’t get AVOs for emails.”
Hopefully, the more we talk about it on social media, the more aware people become and can see the red flags in the early stages of a relationship so they can get out and move onto a safe, loving relationship.
I would personally like to see emotional abuse being fully recognised as serious as physical domestic violence, as it has the same long-lasting effects on its victims.
The other thing that Tik Tok does is gives me a great opportunity to be fun and creative. I have been making clips, having fun with the lip syncing, maybe a challenge or two, even doing some with my oldest son. I can find things to make me laugh, cheer me up, give me ideas. It genuinely is improving my mental health and resilience every day.
I may be older than the average user, but I am no boomer. All Gucci, sis. No cap.
Need to speak to someone?
- Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
- Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
- Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
If you are worried about your safety or the safety of your family due to violence, seek support
- Domestic Violence Crisis Service: (02) 6280 0900
- 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732