6 Stages of Recovery from Abuse

Bullies Are Opportunistic

Healing from Emotional Abuse that comes with a smear campaign in your name, is never easy. Having domains on the internet filled with lies about you is embarrassing but, it is no longer shameful. I have worked through all of the notes below, though I didn’t go in that order.

I have reached my goal, I feel safe, have an understanding of this mess, and I know what it all means. I have reached clarity. I was powerless to stop the actions of another person, no matter what I did. Adult Tenant Bullies lied and I couldn’t control that.

It took a long time for me to accept that I was not to blame for any of the malicious cruelty that unfolded as a result of these Tenant Bullies’ eviction. I spent so much time going back over all my written documents to them in my job, trying to figure out the how, what, and why, wondering if I missed something. I didn’t. 

The initial big lie, of a prior meeting at some restaurant, that took these tenants 2 1/2 months to mention in such vague terms in the letter sent Aug 31, 2016, was my first sign that something was really off about them and what they were doing. I was so confused over where their lies were coming from, and yes, being accused of racism is very shocking. It threw me for a loop for a very long time and I got lost in it. It is a malicious and scary accusation. My obsessive research on narcissism and bullies became a way for me to not feel so lost.

I have so many posters saved on Pinterest, that reflect this research I did, but if you look, you will notice narcissism has been slowly replaced with positive posters! Even in the past few months of posts, there have been more positive than negative! It reflects my changing mentalities…. It shows my healing…

All throughout these past couple of years, I was healing, as I was coming to understand that during HRTO after I quit, I made mistakes, but I understand that I am human and allowed to do so, and was under severe mental strain. Psychosis was not something I could control and the reactive abuse I show in some of my older posts here reflects my emotional dissonance during those difficult times. I learned so much during this situation and am at peace now with what I did, even on this site.

I admit my mistakes, as I have to be honest with myself, and learn what makes me do what I do too! I understand myself so much better now! This will never happen to me ever again.

Taking back control of my own life, and repairing the damage done by narcissistic Tenant Bullies, whether it is by sharing my story on my own website, or emailing every single service accessible on the internet to advise them to watch for fraud with stellareddy.com and Stella Reddy, has been empowering for me.

Emailing Hosting companies and government officials, even reaching out to lawyers and Police Depts. informing them of all this, are all ways I am taking back my power over this situation. Having to contact the Canada Revenue Agency and fix up my account from it being locked for illegal access by another, also helped me spread the word of what someone else was doing to me. Contacting Credit Card companies about fraud also helped. So many professionals, I emailed them to let them know who is writing those sites.

The more I told people that my identity had been compromised by the personal details these Bullies shared online, the easier it became to talk about. Exposing what you fear to the light, makes it less scary!

Is it embarrassing to contact all these people and point them toward all these smearing sites, like stellareddy.com? You bet, but it is worth it to spread the word and have other people read their cruel contents and see what they do, to a stranger out of revenge. It is hard for me to know that so many people are reading that nastiness, but it is worth it in the end, as long as attention is being brought to their actions online in my name, as it is wrong.

Some day, I will get to experience the pure joy of knowing those sites are finally cancelled for good. Nothing lasts forever! Either KR will get tired of maintaining them, or I will get help to do it myself, either way, one day, all those domains will be gone. In the meantime, I can wait.

I accept what they did, and accept it became my job to expose the how what, and why of it, to take back my life. Time to move forward!


In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described the 5 stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, paving the way for a deeper understanding of grief in the field of mental health. More than 50 years have passed since then, but these 5 stages are still used as a framework to describe many of the experiences of grief and grieving from traumatic events. We now know that these stages can come in a different order, can be skipped over and/or repeated, and newer research has been suggesting that there are different stages that the bereaved and other trauma survivors may go through (Doka et al, 2011).

In research on traumatic relationships, including domestic violence or other toxic relationships, researchers have found similar patterns and stages of recovery to those experienced by the bereaved. Today, we know that toxic relationships can be romantic, platonic, or familial, with recovery from each looking somewhat different.

These are the six stages of recovery from psychological abuse or toxic relationships that I have witnessed in my practice. Like the stages of grief mentioned above, these stages do not always happen in chronological order, can be skipped over or repeated, and survivors can start in different stages. While the end goal is always safety, understanding, and meaning, recovery looks different in all survivors and no two paths are alike.

  1. Self-doubt. This could be called the “Am I crazy?” stage. It means realizing that something doesn’t make sense, but not knowing how, what, or why. This stage can sometimes happen during the relationship, or it can happen during the breakup when you start to realize something feels off. While few breakups are fun or pain-free, ending a toxic relationship has the added cognitive dissonance of feeling freeing, yet confusing and disorienting. Sometimes survivors wonder if leaving is the right choice, or if they are imagining or exaggerating all of the bizarre events that do not make sense. Many survivors struggle during the stage, asking, “Was it my fault? Did I bring these behaviors out of them?”
  2. Learning and researching. This is the stage when you research all. of. the. things. You know something is off with the person’s behavior, but researching everything and anything about it gives you the terminology to understand your experiences. This is often when clients will come in with words or phrases like “narcissistic abuse,” “psychological abuse,” “personality disorder,” or other terms that come from their research. When something does not feel right, our human instinct is to try to make sense of it, to try to understand. This behavior serves to gain clarity and understanding, but can also have the added benefit of being self-soothing. Sometimes survivors find that they become obsessive about researching and understanding as a way to heal.
  3. Clarity. This is when the research starts to slow down, and the survivor starts to make sense of their experiences—even if there is still residual pain, grief, and resentment. This initial surge of understanding can be freeing and calming, as it feels empowering to bring clarity to a situation that feels muddled and confusing. The key element of this stage is the clarity that there was something beyond your control, you were powerless to stop or change it, and it is not your fault.
  4. Breaking free. This is when you take steps to distance yourself from them, physically and emotionally. For some, this stage comes at the beginning, sometimes before they even realize the type of person they were dealing with, especially if they were discarded. For others, breaking free happens after they realize that they need to leave in order to stay safe and healthy. This is the stage where people begin grey rockingno contact, and when I urge my clients to use the N.E.B. techniques that I developed for survivors who must communicate with their abuser (Necessary, Emotionless, and Brief).
  5. Doing the work of healing. Usually, this stage takes the form of developing an understanding of yourself because you realize that this is the only way to fully heal. This is usually the stage when people reach back out to family and friends who had been pushed away during the relationship, and otherwise try to piece together the broken pieces from the chaos that has taken place over the past few months or even years. During this stage, it is important to understand and acknowledge that it is okay to admit that you were human and imperfect during a relationship, that you inevitably made mistakes, but you are not to blame for any malicious cruelty that unfolded.
  6. Accepting and making meaning. Many well-known psychological abuse experts report that finding meaning from your experience is an essential part of the healing process, as it helps you understand how to avoid these people in the future. Many people who have had toxic and abusive relationships repeat these patterns again and again. They come to therapy hopeless and exasperated, saying, “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong to attract these people!” It is usually during this time that we discover that they did not take the time needed to fully heal—not only from the experience but also to develop an understanding and meaning of their experiences in order to recognize red flags in the future and attract people who they want to be with. Many people who have ended a relationship with someone who has narcissistic tendencies or other traits of a personality disorder find that they are left with debt, shame, embarrassment, or reputation destruction as part of a smear campaign. Taking control of your life and working towards repairing all of these things is a major part of the recovery process, and can help empower you to keep moving forward. Many of my clients feel empowered when they consolidate credit cards, reach out to previous friends or acquaintances, and begin to rebuild their lives. Accepting what happened and taking steps to move forward is part of the recovery process. Healing looks different in everyone. If a survivor is also a survivor of domestic violence in their childhood home or family of origin, this trauma can be compounded and felt longer, but this is not always the case. “Practically every aspect of a domestic abuser survivor’s life is altered in the aftermath of domestic violence” (Anderson et al. 2012).

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