IS IT WRONG TO BE A VICTIM?
Why everyone can’t just “move on” and “choose a happy future”
By Ann Bradley
Harvard trained M.D. and trauma expert Dr. Frank Ochberg says “our culture now disparages, blames, isolates, and condemns someone for being a victim”.
Why are victims told to deny their reality? Sometimes being sad is normal. It doesn’t mean you stay there, but you don’t have to feel guilty for it. Sometimes you need help. The concept that a victim can always consciously choose how to proceed is flawed.
Abuse is trauma and the ability to take steps forward is often impaired.
Sometimes therapists makes the problem worse because they are not aware of what being the victim of a narcissist is really like. The phrase “move on with your life” is commonly used. Sometimes said to those who have lost a custody battle, a home, savings, a family or job, this phrase can be another betrayal.
Just when a victim needs support, they are asked to go it alone.
The entire infrastructure of a life is often destroyed.
When this happens the victim may be:
and perplexed as to why they are expected to “choose” to not be a victim.
Give them a time machine and this can be done. Give them revictimization and it cannot.
The Word VICTIM: It’s time to give that word back its status and in doing so, respect the abused. Respect comes in the form of providing help with a compassionate approach to those stripped of dignity through abuse in courts of law, or by their partners.
What is the definition of a “victim”?
According to the dictionary a victim is: One who is harmed by, or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency, or condition; a person who is tricked, swindled, or taken advantage of.
The victim of a narcissist is traumatized. There are biochemical changes in the body and structural changes in the brain. Thought patterns change, memories are lost, immune system strongly affected, brain cells die, there is chest pain, muscle pain, feelings are intense and emotions chaotic.
Why are victims revictimized?
Because it’s politically correct to say, “I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor.”
Not all victims are the same.
Some have more resiliency than others. Some are without resources or support. Many have physiological changes that need to be addressed. And when those who need help come looking for it, instead of being welcomed, they find “helpers” that tell them they are responsible for their healing NOW. These people are revictimizing because “choice” is NOT always an option.
Reclaim the Word Victim
We must reclaim the word “victim” and renew our commitment to those who are victims. We should examine the role of a victim impact statement and victim advocate for those who are traumatized emotionally as well as from a criminal act.
Are you being victimized again by someone who says, “if you won’t stop being a victim. I won’t help you”? Maybe your attorney, therapist. siblings, or friends are claiming you can just choose to stop being a victim. Maybe they think you can start a company without money, and buy a house with bad credit. Maybe they don’t know what they are talking about.
As a victim of any kind of abuse you deserve:
3 Freedom from theraputic verbal abuse
4. A support team to open doors to resources
5. A friend, therapist or counselor who can teach you the skills to rebuild your life.
Depending on who you are, this may take a long time or not. Variables include amount and length of abuse, health, supportive family or not, finances, genetic explanatory style (optimism or pessimism), coping skills you may already have and many others. As a victim, you have the right to say, “STOP” to those who blame the victim. An entire self help industry has arisen that believes if you just really really wanted to, you can be happy and healthy and fully functional as soon as you choose to be. A starting point for recovery are post traumatic stress sites. There you will find trained and compassionate support people with articles that explain trauma healing methods.
What I Did To Help Women Like Yourself
(Men, I am not ignoring you, but this one is for the women. Everything is just as true for you about being a victim.)
I know what it is like to be the victim of a narcissist – the day after day after day attacks to break you, the changing of reality to suit themselves, the rages…I had it done to me. I may be genetically predisposed to resilience and optimism but he was getting to me. No doubt about that, but I freed myself from being his victim and I work with people showing them how to reclaim their lives, be happy and move on – when they are ready. And when they move on, it is on their terms and no one else’s. I wrote a little guide for my clients about how to have a “do-over” in life. It isn’t just for victims of narcissim, but for anyone.
The feedback was so positive they told me to make it available to others. I think you are going to like this because it’s written to be real, cut to the chase and it talks to women, not men. And because I care.
No one should be miserable. Here’s to Life, Love, and YOU! CLICK HERE
a little more information:
The Scientific Basis of Healing, Happiness and Recovery
It doesn’t matter if you call yourself a victim, survivor or Martian. No one should deny you victim status. It is what is. A victim is not a slothlike creature, nor stupid. Nor is a victim responsible for what happened to her and we must stop worrying about language and start helping. A victim is a person with a life in chaos. What matters is that you get the help you need and the compassionate trained person to give you the skills.
The good news is that happiness is trainable, resiliency comes back and psychologists are moving from the Freudian model which has dominated psychology for too long and was wrong to boot, to a model that moves from pathology as the dominant scheme. The process of de-traumatization begins with validation. It then moves to retraining explanatory style. Depending on the depth and time of the abuse, it may take a long or short time to process to empowerment and control. IT IS NOT NECESSARY to analyze every event. It IS necessary to be heard and listened to and to tell your story. But not over and over to everyone who will listen. Validation is critical.
Hi Ms Bradley,
Do you know any good resources for children of NPDs…especially the scapegoat child?
It has taken me into my 40 years to finally stop talking to my family, the damage was extremely deep.
Because my father was the NPD and he was physically violent with me throughout my childhood, it shaped my view of the world, and it is VERY difficult for me to trust. My mother stood by and LET HIM abuse me , rather than take the abuse herself…i was literally the wastebasket for the entire family, i had NO ONE ..the whole family still plays this game of make believe..and i JUST recently cut them off.
My Husband says my parents are just VILE people.
The parents are getting older now and are playing the “you owe me” game.
I don’t want to be a victim for the rest of my life..
Know any good resources for this?
Thanks for your time…and thank for your blog.
You just took the first big step to undoing the damage and this will empower you more than anything else. Drawing boundary lines in a dysfunctional family is critically important. This will serve you well. I recommend this book by an adult child of an NPD parent: http://www.amazon.com/Control-Unhealthy-Narcissists-Ruining-ebook/dp/B003GSM0KQ
You can also find it in print as well as ebook format. Beth has great insight and I think you will be well rewarded with this. Scapegoating is really painful – perhaps one of the cruelest attacks on another that can be done. Your luck of the draw to get parents like this but as you found out, walking away is always an option and a good one.
Thanks for writing and enjoy your freedom from their tyranny.
I’ve posted a resource at the bottom of the page, it’s a website dedicated to helping daughters of narcissistic mothers. It offers a lot of information and support on it’s forum, check it out at http://daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com/
It’s been a really big help for me,
Hi Erika, I think I know what you are talking about being the wastebasket of the family. I am not trying to say that I know how you feel, i hate it when people do that to me too. I have a narcissistic, drunk father and cold as ice mom that let me get abused, as long as it wasn’t her. I had 2 older sisters and 2 older brothers and they were all self-hating users. If you want to talk to someone that has a clue about what you went through, let me know. Oh, and I’m 42 today 🙂 Take Care, Mary
Happy Birthday from all of us!
Hi Ms. Bradley
Yes, it is extremely cruel to be told to “forget about it”, “move on” when that WAS the problem. I was the family scape goat for five children, but both parents were narcissists and my dad enjoyed hurting all of us, especially me. I finally found a compassionate therapist who listened instead of telling me I am the cause of being a victim. She even helped me understand that I am extremely bright to have invented my alters. I now even ask Fran where my stuff is.
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Thank you for all the information and resources you provide on your website. It is really helping me understand the relationship I was in for a decade. We never married, but did bring a child into the world. There was emotional & physical abuse towards myself and my older children from a previous relationship. I finally separated from this man a year ago, and he recently began court proceedings against me to gain “residential custody” of our common child. In my view based on his behavior over the past year, this is his attempt to retaliate against me because I dared move on to a new relationship; and he also does not want to part with his money and have to pay any child support.
My question is: how do you help your child grow up with the least amount of damage when they idolize their father who has this disorder? When the court forces visitation with an abuser? When the abuser is able to put on such a good act in front of family, friends and those in the legal system — yet systematically brainwashes the child against the mother? In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that he has recruited certain family members AND close friends in a crusade to brainwash my child against me. I think he has accomplished this by making me out to be a wretched horrible person to everyone in his camp. None of these people have ever spent any time with me, to even KNOW anything about me — certainly not anything about me as a mother.
My child is 7 years old, and after every visit he has with his father, he speaks and acts in inappropriate ways (swearing, talking about sexually perverted things and thinking it’s funny etc.) and I am in a constant state of having to repair the harmful influence. I transform into the “behavior police” because I feel it is MY JOB to teach him what is respectful towards himself & others, and what is appropriate. It’s absolutely the most draining thing I’ve ever dealt with, and I’ve had prior relationships with men who abuse. I’m terrified that because my son is simmering in the narcissistic stew of his father’s powerful influence, that my son will literally become his father. I already see signs of my son in various stages of perfecting his own craft of nasty manipulation. I’ve started my son in child therapy, but that is just a half hour per week. The rest is up to me for the times that he is with me.
I thought I was escaping the abuse, and through my child it continues. Help?!
I am not surprised this is going on and don’t doubt he has started a campaign to make you look bad. That is common. The hardest thing to do may be to let it bounce off you and by your actions show it isn’t true. You may not be able to control what many think of you, but your child needs your warmth and love and this is an area to concentrate on. It’s good you have begun therapy. Never stop looking for help for him. But I strongly encourage you not to police him. This will make you look bad/desperate/controlling/not fun/not safe in the eyes of your child. When he swears or is inappropriate, do something neutral to get the point across this is wrong. Don’t be harsh; get the negativity out of your response. He will not feel comfortable or safe or loved with your policing him. You can say, very calmly, that using those words are not for kids and not for school. He needs to feel you are a loving and safe to place to be…even if he swears. You are the sweet spot, the home for him, the safety and warmth. If you can put up with his oppositional behavior for a while and show him, while not appropriate, you are ok with who he is, I think it may begin to diminish. Your job is to be what he needs. He needs to be a kid, be loved, be nurtured. Policing is for adults. I am not saying you should condone the behavior, but contextualize it. He’s really, really young. Loving kindness makes a huge difference at this age. Be his safe place.
Natasha,it’s an awful thing to go through,I well know.
Between DNA and the effects of brainwashing that has gone on with your child, friends and family,especially their family, they see this person as a saint caring so much for their child. And you’re the monster. In some ways the child benefits from this acting of the narc with time and I want to beleive love. But to strip the other parent of the respect from their child is no way love.
I have just recently accepted that fact and it has helped me a lot. I hope this may help your peace of mind. That person will never change,never!
Thank you for your thoughtful response Ann. I probably should have used a better phrase than “behavior police” in that while I do try and correct the inappropriate behavior, I also try to do so in exactly the manner you suggest. It’s not always easy, particularly when he gets to bouncing off the walls with disrespectful behavior towards myself or his siblings, and he won’t stop no matter how calmly I try to redirect him. I’m all about loving kindness — often times to the annoyance of others who accuse me of being “too soft” on him, or “too tolerant” or “too babying” of him.
Since it’s a free-for-all at his dad’s house, my son sees me as the bad guy anytime I do or say anything resembling correction/discipline/structure.
A day at a time I guess. Thank you again.
No, it isn’t easy, I quite agree and kudos to you for all you do for your son. Perhaps you can find something fun that he likes to do that isn’t in his father’s arena of activities and something he associates with you and looks forward to doing. That puts a positive spin on you that may take some of your “negativity” aura away from him. I am sorry he sees you as the bad guy, but don’t give up. Kids can surprise us.
Hi Ms. Bradley. Is it possible for children of Narcissists to NOT idolize their father? I have older children, 3 teenagers, and they have spent/spend most of their time with me because I was a stay at home mom. Even on the weekends, their father seemed to find other things to do besides spend time with us. Even now that we are divorced, he has numerous activities that seem to take priority over his children. There is no scheduled visitation, because I thought there should be an open arrangement, plus, the kids are older now. When he DOES want to spend time with them, however, they are often resistant. On the other hand, they have a very close relationship with me. Is it possible that they can see right through his behavior?
My best friend is currently involved with a narcicisst. After 6 weeks of no contact , I was hoping that he would just go away. No such luck. He came back with the same old sob story, “I’m sorry, I get it now, I love you.” Well of course she went back. This has been going on over the course of their entire 13 year relationship. I came into the picture almost 7 years ago. He is the classic narcicisst. We have talked endlessly about this yet she still goes back. He has broken her heart countless times and I am at a losss as to what to do anymore. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to be supportive and now I fear I cannot do it anymore. I cannot hide the fact of how disappointed I am from her. I know it’s her life and it’s her choice to be with him, but it’s like watching someone you care about walk into a burning building over and over knowing the next time they go in they may not come out. What do I do? I do not want to lose my friend, but it’s getting harder and harder to see this happen.
Hey Donna, I really understand where you are coming from because I was the girl who kept going back. I now have no friends. One by one they all melted away and the final straw for me was when I discovered that my very best friend had mocked my suicidal thoughts to another ‘friend’. Yes, the years have gone by and anger I felt towards my friends betrayal has melted away for these reasons – friends are NOT professional counsellors, and when they give advice they are personally attached to it, as you are. I am sure that you see yourself as a kind person who only wants what is best for your friend. Mmmmm. How noble. But she better do it or you will abandon her? Before you blow up (you may, you may not) Please set boundaries with this friend. Recognise your own limitations – cannot live someone elses life for them, can we? Recommend help. Set limits. It is very immature of your friend to expect that you will not be effected by what she is telling you. Tell her that. BUT what is is it exactly that YOU want? She alreay knows what she must do – she just needs to find the strength to do it. After all my friends had gone, I stayed for four more years. If this friend is making you feel ill, drained, etc – or is damaging your life in any way – that’s a different story. But you made this friend in the first place, so how did all of this come about? I’m sure that you know, that abused women are very difficult to help. Goal posts constantly moving. Underneath its all fear – fear of going – fear of staying – fear of what that means – and on and on and on. Please stay with her as a friend – keep telling her the truth but yes, SET LIMITS.
I feel like a victim. if i say something or feel something i am in the wrong why oh why can’t i just be able to move on without allowing these people to affect me
Dear Ann, I am a mess emotionally and mentally. Why? There’s too much to tell so I’ll give you the bare bones in the hope that you will understand.
I was born into a violent alcoholic family… my father was addicted all his life. I’m on my third marriage and all three husbands have been abusive in one way or another. I could never figure out why my mother could be so spiteful and rejecting of me… my sister is a carbon copy of my mother. I have recently found information about narcissism and my mother, sister and husbands have all fit the bill. I was and still am the family scapegoat, my sister was the golden girl. There’s been and still is abuse in this marriage. I am now in my early 60’s and I know that I’m unwell but I also know that previous therapy has left me feeling more confused and hasn’t unearthed any of the core problems and pain that I’m in. It seems that all I have to do is pick up the ball and run with it and all will be well, if I don’t then I’m to blame for not trying to change my life.
I feel totally burned out and traumatised. I seldom go out the house even on days when the sun is shining. I’m not afraid to go out but, I just can’t. The desire to be on my own is overwhelming. I cannot tolerate noise of any kind, sudden noises terrify me.. my nerves are wrecked. I’m a creative person but I have no interest in my hobbies anymore. I fly into rages when my husband does his usual ‘not listen’ bit or, interferes in what I’m doing under the guise of ‘helping’ which reduces me to feeling totally useless. On occasions when he’s refused to listen or reason I’ve become violent and attacked him. He has always been quarrelsome, everything is made a struggle because of his need to be right about everything. He simply does not listen or validate my feelings.
Ann, I don’t know who I am anymore… I feel totally alienated from the person that I was. I know I was a kind, giving, sweet natured person… never violent or abusive. Now, I feel a basket case but I know I’m not insane. I have no energy or interest in life but I don’t want to end it. My doctor hasn’t got a clue… he has even made me worse by comparing me to patients or people he knows, who, have been through awful things and yet are getting on brilliantly with their lives. I have never had a support system of any kind. I’ve always been the one ‘there’ for others but there is no-one there for me… I have always had to be ‘there’ for myself and now, there is nothing ‘there’ within anymore. Where do I go, what do I do? What is wrong with me?
Please can you help me to understand and find the right path forward. I would be forever grateful for any advice you can give me.
Dear Grace, Sometimes we get tired of managing our lives and problems. It seems like we’ve done so for a very long time and end up anesthetized. Whether this is what is going on with you I don’t know. Is there one magic word or theme I can give to turn it around for you. No, there isn’t. As I read your words I felt fatigue from you. This happens when nothing brings us hope or joy any more. I suspect that a period of time using a variety of methods could bring you some relief from what you are experiencing and small joys, small times of fleeting happiness would lead to more and more. I know what I would do in your situation, but whether this works for you – or anyone but me – I don’t know. I would find the energy to get away from my home and partner and go see the world from a different perspective for a while. But assuming you don’t really want to even leave the house is in play I would then make my days as full of peace and pleasure and things I like to do as I could. I would lie in bed, reading a book whenever I felt like it, ordering pizza, drinking a fresh pot of coffee at midnight if I wanted to, and having a Bloody Mary an hour later. I would read uplifting books that I ordered from Amazon that empowered me, I would ignore my spouse and abusive family and whenever a little bit of happiness filtered through I would write down what caused it – taking care of myself, my thoughts, the coffee, the pizza, whatever. I would read poetry and listen to the music I liked. I would get on internet forums with like minded people and let them encourage me. I would eliminate anyone that told me I should be more productive and say, “I’ll get there when I feel like it. Until then, thanks for caring, but I’m doing it my way.” All of this to get to the point that you see you, doing nothing, is as valuable and worthy of life as you, doing anything else. I get the feeling you have over functioned as a woman and need validation and rest. You might have to give it to yourself for now. There is nothing wrong in taking care of you. There is a book called something like, Women Who Try Too Hard or maybe Women Who Do Too Much that might offer suggestions more creative than mine. I would also increase my B complex vitamins and stop going to a mainstream doctor. I know for me that also if I stop my B12 lozenges I get lethargic. I would research fish oil, vitamin D3 and depression = these really do make a difference – and even just a little spark of energy might be all you need to make the decisions best for you to continue forth. What they might be isn’t important today – what is important is finding something no matter how small that energizes the part of you called hope.
If hope is ‘the thing with feathers’ as Emily Dickinson says, our thoughts are the things with mighty talons that can grab us and destroy us or gently carry us to a place where hope is. Let your thoughts take you there and mine are with you.
I’m really traumatized from the psychological abuse from this past relationship along w/ the others domestic violence,emotional abuse. Mike Bruce a man that lives in his van used me so women could have there children and continue use of meth, herion, etc w/out losing children. In exchange for having sound equip. next to my apt (hear this crazy women’s voice that’s annoying, and a man’s too annoying) degarging,emotional,mental torement. At first it was in Brandi ‘s across from me- so she cold get her kids back 3 times, and drug dealing, then for women w/ little girl/ and in Tracy at Motel 6 – for lady w/ baby and little girl that he had sex w/ for 3 days straight up until 5 min till I drove up. He was a complete ASSHOLE TO ME, talked under his breath (about sex w/ other women, that he is only w/ me so women can have there kids.) if repeated it , MIke would get mad and leave and that was excuse to go see his girlfriend on the side he used me for by making AGREEMENT TO HARASS ME ,TORTURE,GOSSIP, SLANDER, UNTIL THEY COULD SET ME UP W/ ANY CHARGES. He made me feel so unloved, hated, like I was only alive to be TORTURED FOR LIFE AND HAVING NO ONE*( BOYFRIEND-LOVER, FRIENDS) JUST USED FOR WHO EVER WANTED TO HAVE FUN TORTURING ME. IT DESTROYED MY FACE(LOOKING OLDER AND UGLY) SOME COULD USE MY PIC FOR FRAMING ME TO PROTECT ALL DRUG ADDICTS. HE WOULD GET ALOT OF WOMEN DRUG ADDICTS IN TRACY, MODESTO,TUOLUMNE COUNTY AND ETC JUST FOR SEX- W/ YOUNG WOMEN ,HE HAD TO DESTROY ME , MY LIFE PSYCOLOGICAL TORTURED DO BAD- THAT IF I HEAR PEOPLE TALKING NOT IN SAME ROOM , IT TRAUMATIZES ME W/TORTURE.. HE TREATED EVERY WOMEN 100% BETTER THAN ME =, I WAS JUST THE BAIT FOR GETTING HIM AS MUCH SEX AS HE COULD HANDLE.. HE MAKES EXCUSES BLAMES ME , JUST SO HE CAN AVOID BEING AROUND ME OR W/ ME.. HE IS A PUSSY ASS PUNK, CAN’T TREAT ME GOOD, BE LOVING, CARING, JUST ABUSIVE TO WHERE I NEED TO HAVE ALCOHOL NOT MUCH TO BLOCK OUT PAIN AND TAKE PM PILLS.
Dear Ann, Thank you for responding and your kind words. At this place in my life any constructive advise, no matter how great or small, is meaningful to me. Yes, you are correct I’m fatigued, fatigued to the degree that I’ve pulled away from life itself. Feeling as low as I am has brought me almost, but not quite, to a standstill. I recognise also that I’m experiencing a degree of guilt because I’m not ‘doing’ anymore. Your advice regarding eliminating those who tell me to be more productive and, ‘I’m doing it my way’ is invaluable. I’m so fatigued that I’m just ticking over like the trees that go dormant in winter. In essence, you’ve given me permission to go with it and allow my body, soul and mind to heal in its own good time.
I do all the things you suggest such as reading… I keep ordering books from Amazon.. I do write poetry and this is how I manage to express my innermost pain. I watch movies and listen to gentle music. I agree that all of those things are productive so, I shall heed your advice and take care of myself. I will however look into starting fish oils and B complex vitamins; perhaps I’ll benefit from a course, they are worth a try.
Your closing sentiment is very meaningful. Ann, I thank you for your kind words.
There is NOTHING wrong with you, other than pain from being mistreated !
I feel for you, like me you have been “narcissistic supply” since childhood, and may not have been allowed to be yourself. Did you survive childhood by learning to please others to get appreciated? If your own needs were never met you may not even know what they are, and your kindness attracts determined abusers before the good guys get a chance to reach you.
Getting time alone to find out who you are is good, to a point: isolation makes the abuser your only support person, and how good is support that shoots you down? All he does is make you feel worthless, which makes you want to avoid bothering others with your company. I responded to verbal abuse by avoiding all human contact, which led me to depression. You are not insane but your sanity is under attack by his “crazy-making” blaming of the victim. Your frustration and his invalidation turns your repressed feelings into anger at him or yourself, which the narcissist will use to “prove” you’re going nuts when he’s the crazy one. (or to portray you as the abuser, a common tactic of narcissists in a divorce).
Your desire to stay alone reflects the need to take care of yourself, but have you ever learned how to do that if you always took care of others and ignored your own needs?
You need the company of people who treat you like a human being for a change! Your feeling alienated suggests you have learned to beat yourself up emotionally when he’s not around to do it. He trained you well, even your therapist may have been fooled. Time to ‘unwash” your brain and change therapists.
You may benefit from balancing your “you” time with the company of positive people, who share an interest with you. You mentioned hobbies, are there clubs or similar groups in your area you could join? Helping others learn your craft is a great way to feel useful. So is volunteering for a cause you believe in, nonprofits often welcome even part-time help and it’s a good way to meet like-minded others. Campaign headquarters can probably use a few extra hands for the upcoming election.
What you feel at this time is not who you are, You can change feelings by changing your actions, for example reading or movies can distract you from your emptiness by escaping from your life, and identify with characters who have different feelings.
One way to get moving when you feel like growing roots is the 10-minute rule: do it just for 10 minutes, if you still feel bad, you minimize the lost investment.
You can also list five things you are grateful for each day, after a few days the big ones (house, health, family) run out and you have to focus on the small things of the day.. For happier sleep try to fall asleep remembering the best moment of your day. It makes a difference for me.
Hopes this helps.
You have good insight and some great ideas here. Thanks for sharing them – they will be read and appreciated by many. You may never know who you helped, but the ripples go wide and far. Thanks. Ann
“good insight and some great ideas”, your Website is full of that ! I am sharing “mine” because they were shared with me, some by professionals in mental units after severe depression. Those tips helped me survive a little longer, maybe they can help others…
When dealing with a narcissist there is never enough support and every little bit counts. Your site is helping me more than you know. Your appreciation is bringing tears to my eyes, I’m not used to being treated like a human. T h a n k Y o u !
You are welcome and I want you to know that your ability to quickly get to the core of the issues of why someone might be involved with a narcissist and how they need to pull themselves out of it is of great value. Your cut to the chase ability of identifying critical issues is a very useful and welcome skill in this arena. People have spent enough time bogged down – you provide a clear beacon of light, easy to follow. That light you provide is hope bonded with a strategy and no matter the source you brought it together and that’s to your credit. I wish you many more appreciations in your life. You will get them. Best, Ann
Dear Ann, thank you so much for such enlightening information. This one about a “Victim” has been especially helpful. As the mother of a beautiful young woman who has been victimized for years by a narcissist, I needed to hear this. I was expecting her to move on with life as she is going through her divorce, but I see now how traumatized she is and how/why she is actually physically ill at times. I thought the fact she is divorcing him would free her to “move on”, and she would feel better. She still has contact with this abuser because they have a seven-year old, and this narcissist tries to manipulate her by engaging her in conversation and “wanting to be her friend” on one hand, then on the other hand blames her for the divorce, etc. I think you are doing wonderful work and greatly appreciate every word you write. Thanks again, Betty
Thanks Betty. Your daughter is lucky to have you and your understanding. This is so important in her healing process. Even though the ex is still playing games, at the same time she is free of his role as husband as abuser. While it may not be readily apparent how this helps it is an important change and is working behind the scenes to get her where you (and she) want her to be. The physical component you mention (illness) is a hugely under-appreciated one. This too takes time but she should find these issues resolving in the future as she heals. I wish her the best on her journey forward. Ann
thanks for this great article, I would just like to add that for daughters of narcissistic mothers there’s a great resource here http://www.daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com/, it also has a very active forum that is superbly moderated and offers a lot of support for DONMs,
thank you very much,
Thanks much for the link. I know there are some who find their way here who will be most grateful to have it. Best, Ann
My 24 yr old daughter moved back to our home after being made to move her belongings out of her boyfriends home, she was living with him approx six months. She has been in a relationship with him for approx 41/2 yrs. and that has been a very chaotic time, a triangle love affair between my daughter and his ex-high school love. My daughter has been rejected from him many times and almost destroyed her emotionally, but she could not seem to break it off, he would ask her to come back and she would, just to find that he would reject her again, each time destroying her more more emotionally. He would go back to his ex-high school love each time he rejected my daughter. My daughter would wait till they broke up and he would call my daughter and she would go back with him. She has been so transformed in her thinking since being with him, he has a hold on her that cannot be broken. My husband and I are not equipped to deal with this situation. On January 26, 2012 she had major surgery and was out on leave for six weeks to recover from that surgery and got pregnant during that time. He did not want the baby at that time and wanted her to get an abortion, said it would ruin there life together, he wasn’t ready for a responsibility of a child, she really didn’t want the child either but because of religious and moral values she chose to carry to term the child. She has been moved in with us for approx 5 weeks now. For the first three she was very cooperative, wanting to have nothing to do with him and actually told him not to call her ever again, he said do worry i won’t, we visited a lawyer to see what her rights as an unwed mother. She was all for gathering data against him so he would not ever get to see that baby or his mother see the baby. But all that has changed since he has made contact with her after the three weeks without any contact. He has told her that he wanted to be part of the baby’s life now, but still does want to be with her, but she has the fantasy of it all working out someday. She has now pushed us aside, is mean spirited to us and ungrateful for the assistance given her. When we express the disapproval of her contact with him she displays anger and resentment of our disapproval and tells us we are not going to control her and manipulate her to do what we want her to do, she tells us that there is nothing wrong with talking to him, it is his baby and he has the right to be involved. He told her that he reacted wrong and has thought about it and wants to be involved in the baby’s life. She tells us that she is not going to not cooperate with him cause the judge would give him visitation rights anyway in the end when the baby is born. We said not necessarily, in Tn the mother has full rights to the baby, the father has to prove to courts that he is fit to see the child, if she can prove that he is not fit, he would get no visitation rights. But ultimately, the fact remains that she wants the contact with him, so her fantasy maybe someday may come true, that they can be a family. Now, how messed up is that? Help!!!!!!!!!!!!
I looked up TN child custody because I couldn’t believe in this day and age any state would have such a law on the books that by default the mother gets the child. And in fact it is clear TN doesn’t say that at all. Your daughter must learn the family code immediately to know what’s going on. This is what I found: http://singleparents.about.com/od/childcustodylaws/a/Tennessee_Child_Custody_Laws.htm Just like in most states, there is no presumptive parent. If your daughter even begins to assert the father is problematic she better be prepared for a big fight. Father’s rights groups are militant and have a lot of power within the courts. How would your daughter prove anything? He says he wants to be involved and the courts listen to this. You may be thinking of the way things were years ago, but all that has changed. As I see it there are multiple problems – your daughter is parenting a child she didn’t want, the father is unreliable in personal relationships and though this may be how he treats his child – proving it to the court may be almost impossible at this point, and your daughter is a prisoner of emotion when it comes to this man. I would say your daughter needs your help, love, and patience now more than any time in her life before. If you constantly disparage her choices she will lose even more self-esteem and confidence in her self and ultimately in her ability to parent. Help her grow up by being supportive, telling her you will be there for her and the child and listen to her. Make her feel understood, secure and well loved. Show her, don’t just tell her, but do that too. She is the one with the unwanted child and an unstable partner as the child’s parent and she is playing the role of mother which she didn’t want.
Did you encourage the pregnancy? If so, she may feel resentful towards you and that she was manipulated by you. That’s water under the bridge but its something to consider when attempting to understand her moods. Now, she needs to grow up, fast. It won’t be easy. But your job is not to make decisions for her when it comes to this man and her relationship with him. She has to do this on her own. What you can do is make her feel good about herself and this may free her to move forward from a position of inner power not weakness. It is this weakness which brings her to the neediness place where she lets him control her and she feels she needs him. It may take her a while to learn this but she has to come to this herself.
The father has rights but also responsibility. He has to pay child support even if they aren’t married. He may realize time and money are correlated and he wants more of the child because of it. (more time with him = less cs) I think the best bet at this time is to back off otherwise your daughter is going to go just where you don’t want her to. Let it be her choice, not yours. Your job is to love her and support her emotionally during this really chaotic and difficult time. Don’t make her feel “wrong”. She already knows how badly she messed up – now she has a lifetime of dealing with the consequences and that includes having a jerk as the father of her child. And for goodness sake – show her how much you enjoy a grandchild! This is really the bottom line here – a kid needs lots and lots of love and she needs to know it is available and is good and there is plenty to go around. Good luck with all of this – and congratulations on the grandchild to be! Best, Ann
I’m having my N served on Monday. I will have the children with me at that time. I opted on my own to have a psych eval. In which they concluded I suffer from symptoms consistant with battered woman syndrome. It blew me away. I knew for at least 12 out of the 15 yrs something was wrong. In hinesight it all makes sense however I still battle in my head the many things associated with my marriage to a narc. The isolation from family. The manip to the point I can’t make decisions. Memory loss. Hypervigilance when he drinks. Confusion in any conversation. The face that he won’t stop until I say ok..u win..I’m wrong. The fact that I trained myself into believing he was my best friend. The lightbulb moment is extremely damaging to our minds. We get it now. But..to think it was not real as I saw it….that while I was busy trying to fix..he was insisting I was in fact the one breaking. The psych eval also showed signs of slight hysteria. I do feel scrambled but I know why now. I’m in therapy and have been for two yrs. I look forward to a life wit my 3 children that will no longer include this sick man. One day I hope to look back and take is as a very poweful lesson that god gave me this life and while my kids come first…I will set boundries for myself. No longer will I be treated soo poorly and then justify it. I thank my mother for saying narcissist. Without her id be deeper into that hole,desp for air,wondering how much more of HIS BEHAVIOR Is MY FAULT. Good luck everyone..like yourself enough to run and do not look back.xoxo
First of all, thank you for having this wonderful website. I was a victim of a NARC father. ( I am assuming that NARC stands for a narcissist) I had called him a “tyrant”, “abuser”, etc, but not understanding the true meaning of the word, I never called him a narcissist. It is clear to me, now, that he was/is exactly that. I appreciate everyone’s testimonials but mostly your input. Without going into my entire past, I will just tell you that I haven’t a shadow of a doubt that I suffered all my 57 years of life because of this man. I will say that I have worked very hard to heal and I have in many ways. Needless to say, I will continue to become whole my entire life.
You wrote, and I quote: “The victim of a narcissist is traumatized. There are biochemical changes in the body and structural changes in the brain. Thought patterns change, memories are lost, immune system strongly affected, brain cells die, there is chest pain, muscle pain, feelings are intense and emotions chaotic.” My question to you is, could my almost total loss of memory of my childhood and young adulthood be because of the trauma I endured as the child of a NARC? I have always wondered why I could not remember anything. My father was not usually living with us–he travelled all the time and there were probably 1-2 years at a time where he was absent but when he would come around, the memories of him are earth-shattering. I have tried to be hypnotized but that did not work. I don’t think I have normal memory loss. I have always had this issue, as far as I know. Would it benefit me to remember or is my memory loss serving me, somehow? I can’t thank you enough for your insight, compassion and the opportunity for so many to be heard.
The question of memory is a complex one. The sands are constantly shifting as to whether we block, whether they were imprinted at all (the moment of a memory being encoded is thought to happen because of a biochemical release that makes some moments ‘outstanding’, thus saved) or whether we simply don’t have ‘room’ to remember all. Do you want the memories to complete an understanding of your childhood? Usually trauma is encoded and hard to forget – but there is also some recent research in genetics and epigenetics that some people simply have the ability to remember more (or less) detail. I am curious as to your question and am going to look into the current research on memory and get back to this question.
What is also interesting is the field of interpersonal neurobiology and the concept that the brain is always rewiring itself – I say this in context of healing. This is a good news finding – we are NOT doomed to suffer forever the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune from narcissists – we are resilient, can change and our brains are being constantly changed (rewired) by what we do.
I’ll get back with more on this also. Stay tuned!
And thanks for your kind words – much appreciated. Ann
I am loving your blog and the advice you give your readers! I’m 52 and have abusive story after abusive story, beginning with my childhood, that I could tell with the latest one having occurred on my 52nd birthday. After reading your blog, I can honestly say that I am feeling really good about myself – because of the way I stand up for myself and will not tolerate any abusive behavior towards me anymore. (In the most recent case, I think that some people – like my current husband – are just not aware… and although it took a day to resolve our dispute, it was achieved through communication… to my satisfaction: I had to express myself in many different ways until I knew he understood and he apologized. We also have a plan of action should another dispute arise… and that is for open, non-aggressive communication.
Let me state – I feel that I have been on a “path” all my life; I love life even with all its trials and tribulations; I am thankful for all my experiences (good and bad) because they have shaped me into the person I am today; I am strong; I am resilient; I am happy; I care about other people…
In fact, I care so much that I am starting a company called Heal The Harm. Our mission is to stop the cycle of abuse by raising awareness of it and healing its harmful effects. Through the sale of our products, I will be funding various programs designed to heal victims of crimes and abuse. I’m working on the last few pages on my website… and would really like to include a link to your blog – or better yet, actually reprint some of your articles. May I have your permission please?
I also have a question… do you feel that a person is born to be a narcissist or an abuser? Do you feel that a narcissist or abuser can be healed?
I know that there will always be abuse… there are just too many hidden cases. Still, if I can help one victim feel better or can prevent one person from becoming a victim, then I will be successful in my mission. Although, in my heart I feel that I will have a positive affect on many!
FYI – Having overcome my childhood insecurities, I became a pro portrait photographer… helping people feel better about themselves – either through conversations during their session or by the images I created for them. Because of my speech impediment during my childhood (aggravated by the 2 popcorn kernels I placed in my ears which remained there for 14 years – all because I didn’t want to get belt-whipped by my dad! Whew! That was a mouthful!) and all the name calling associated with “baby-talk”, plus my experiences in multiple relationships which all seemed to include abuse in some form (from physical to psychological), I am MOST passionate about stopping all forms of abuse.
It’s only one case but the wife I lived with for 29 years suddenly “switched” from abused (possibly codependent of Narcissist parents) to abuser, with lies galore and false accusations of child abuse against me.
This drastic personality change was triggered by her angry, bitter, attention-seeking and suddenly homeless Dad moving in with us, and resuming abusive patterns from my wife’s childhood.
She may have shielded herself from his damaging attitude with behaviors learned from her even more abusive mom, the only person my wife saw fighting her dad successfully. Her mom kidnapped the kids, took them to France to be out of reach of their dad, then abandoned the kids to go to Switzerland. She was in the custody of the French social services when I met her in high school, and live in a shelter for homeless orphans while Mom collected welfare from both French and American governments, and child support from Dad.
Losing the kids reduced their mom’s welfare payments and she retaliated by telling social workers her kids were hardened criminals, drug dealers, etc (all lies) and have them transferred to high-security detention facilities. They never recovered from that trauma. My mom hated me too so we connected as most people can’t imagine a mom not loving her kids and called us crazy.
My wife is now repeating her mom’s behaviors with terrifying accuracy. Her brother and her dad both died intentionally. I almost followed in their steps, and my kids are kidnapped and out of my reach. I worry about them. I have no clue what is said or done to them, but they sound scared the few times I reach them on the phone. I hope the courts act before they are hurt beyond repair.
In her family NPD, or something similar, seems to be transmitted by exposure to the abuse, and the lack of knowledge of how to relate to others other than being abused (weak) or abuser (strong).
For a long time those two abused related wonderfully with love, but the trauma was “covered up” rather than addressed. New trauma seems to have waken up the sleeping monster.
Hi, I was wondering if a Court can find that a victim can be manipulated into suicide. I was told by a referee that “no one can be made to kill themselves”, they choose to.
I think when all the better choices are taken away there may seem to be no other or no acceptable option left, especially with a control-freak spouse. (I am not licensed to diagnose NPD or other mental conditions my wife may have)
This is my situation, sorry for the long post but there’s a lot going on.
My wife is so convincing she almost had me believe I actually beat up my son, and my memory was failing me due to the extent of my denial. She said I hit his back, beat the poor boy to a pulp, and was so mad I was trying to kill him. She said I suppressed my memory of the assault because it’s so out of character for me, but I have lost my mind and now I am such a monster the only thing I can do for my family is to die. She will do anything to save her children from my insanity, but if she has to kill me our children will have no parent so for their sake I should do the right thing, act like a man for once, and take care of the problem.
She was not a liar before that, but she had so much power and control over me that even though I questioned her allegations, I complied with her demands and attempted suicide. It did not matter to me if she was wrong if her opinion of me was so negative. Actually it was worse because there is nothing I can do about other people’s imagination. I left the message “I die innocent”.
In the hospital I was treated for uncontrolled anger, violence, domestic abuse and delusions about being innocent.
I was chemically restrained by psychotropic meds, and severely incapacitated, “for the safety of my family”. Our kids were sheltered in an undisclosed location from their crazy dad, and indoctrinated to become scared of me.
On my first day in the psych ward CPS interviewed the family. They were not able to find the alleged bruise, let alone severe beating, and dismissed the case due to lack of injury. I was not informed of this finding. That was back in summer 2010.
I went through many therapies, coping strategies, DBT and anger management. I researched the many personality disorders my wife had diagnosed me with. My wife, a LPN in a dementia unit who knows mental disorders well, made up behaviors to lead doctors to diagnose me with the conditions that are treated with the meds she wanted me on to control me (if she reads that she will save it as “proof” of my “paranoia”). As I graduated from programs without relapse, my meds were gradually tapered off, and I found out protein from eggs is beneficial to brain fonction and emotional regulation. I started eating 4 eggs every morning, and my memory and brain power improved significantly. Eggs are not illegal, and cheaper than meds, but my wife says eating eggs is abuse. I’m not kidding. She told our kids they won’t go to college because I’m wasting money on eggs.
As I began to recover, she lost hope to control me by drugging me to total lethargy and inability to prove she is lying. She resumed her false allegations to cause my despair to return.
I reacted by suggesting we install a home security system. She should be overjoyed as it would give her proof of the abuse she accuses me of. Instead she accused me of harassing and intimidating her with cameras, and being paranoid and delusional trying to make her look bad.
Therapy proved effective, and she failed to push my buttons as before. Instead I started recording her, and had a recorder near me at all times to build the evidence needed to prove my innocence.
Then one day I was kicked out of the house before i had a chance to get the recorder, and it was left on all day. When I listened to the audio I realized our children are subjected to the same verbal assaults, shaming and blaming when I’m not around. This was a line I did not want crossed. Our kids did not learn all those coping skills, and can’t just drive away from her hostility. They’re trapped with her. I left a recorder on every day after that. She agreed to go to marriage counseling, but did not comply with the agreement we reached.
After I met all the requirements set by the counselor, she knew I was serious about preserving and rebuilding the family she wants destroyed. She kicked me permanently out of the family home with a PPO (personal protection order), obtained with open lies. It was written to be violated before I even knew it existed, to guarantee my incarceration. After I was served orally but before I had the document, she came to me using the kids as human shields against my alleged anger. She left after seeing I had 911 on the phone in one hand and a video camera in the other. The responding officer said if she comes to me without police escort why did she get a PPO? He failed to arrest me, let alone call backup and have me jailed for 20 years for assaulting a police officer, as my wife hoped (paranoia again).
I filed for divorce on the advice of…our marriage counselor. CPS called my audio evidence “very disturbing” and started an investigation.
The court awarded joint custody and alternating weeks of parenting, to my wife’s great dismay.
As a result, and to win the “negative ad war”, she escalated the false allegations, while “programming” the children to believe her stories, and coaching them to testify against me. She asked the children to choose sides, made it clear it’s a war, not a negotiation, and she will not accept less than annihilation of the enemy so choose your parent. She hired a counselor to get the children scared of their Dad, and tell them the only father they need is God.
She also ignored the Court order, leaving the kids with me when it’s convenient for her.
I tried to counter her bad-mouthing with good times, hoping actions speak louder than words. The kids always came aggressive and hostile, trying to find things to criticize and complain about. After a while they relax and we usually end up having a great time.
Days of brainwashing destroyed in hours is not acceptable to my wife. Zero contact is the only way to get the kids to hate me.
Last month she claimed my daughter (9 years old) was not comfortable spending the night with me, and insinuated sexual abuse, a common way to eliminate a dad from a family for good.
Knowing how much torture it would take to get my sweet and innocent daughter to say she won’t stay with me, when she sometimes asks if she can sleep in my bed, I can’t begin to imagine what it would take to have her coached into a false testimony of having been molested. My wife’s war on Dad was really going too far. The Court is encouraging her by not stopping her, and what kind of a Dad lets their kids be subjected to this nightmare without a door-smashing, Schwarzenegger-like rescue mission?
It takes two to fight. By letting her win I was hoping to spare the children from being casualties of her war. I did not want to die but attempted suicide by exhaust fumes to protect my children.
I woke up the next day and realized the car had stalled again (I had restarted it during the night). I managed to open the door and passed out for several more hours. I drove the car back to civilization, where a friendly police officer was waiting for me and took me to the ER.
The psychiatrist really understands the situation, and literally ordered me to abuse my kids by keeping up the fight (her unresolved anger will not diminish if I’m gone, but the kids will have to endure all of it, right now I take a lot of it). In dealing with evil I have to choose the lesser evil, he understands these innocent kids deserve zero evil but it won’t happen with their mom.
In typical blame-the-victim fashion my wife uses my distress against me, claims I am abusing her with suicide blackmail, and will not leave the kids with me as Court ordered until I get psych-tested and she agrees with the results (meaning I am ordered drugged into a vegetable). They have been abducted 150 miles away and are held hostage again, just like 2010. She now wants full custody and decision-making power, backed by new false accusations including one that is physically impossible. The hearing for contempt of Court is in 4 weeks, enough for her to disappear with the kids under new identities (she took the passports and has plans to leave the country). Police says they can’t intervene in custody conflicts so the order is not enforceable.
The attorneys agreed to a joint psych and custody evaluation, maybe this will help her get treatment… or escalate her abuse. Or make her “take the kids and run” as she said she plans to do.
I may be wrong but I feel I have been pushed to suicide against my will. I never wanted to die, but did it for my family, based on my wife’s distorted perceptions. of reality
If I can demonstrate severe or extreme verbal abuse can push someone to suicide I can better counter her blaming maneuvers. I would appreciate any pointers to medical findings or legal precedents.
Thanks in advance for your help, your site has already improved my sanity significantly.
I don’t know how you would prove what you are trying to do. People can be pushed to the edge by any number of variable traumas and each individual has their own breaking point. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem it is often said. In your case the abuse you have been subjected to is ongoing, intense, chronic and horrifying in its intensity. Please, look at the book Splitting by William Eddy who is both a therapist and an attorney. The book is about divorcing someone much like your wife.
Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Do you have someone who can help you frame everything for a legal audience? Big dramas need to be boxed in sometimes, presented correctly, summarized with back up evidence. They need to be constrained so they present in a legal manner, not a hodge podge of emotions and scenes. I know this is how it plays out in real life, but courts like things tied up and presented their way. Find someone to help you do this and I think you can come across as the victim you are. Good luck. PLease, look at that book. Ann
Thanks for the great advice, I bought that EXCELLENT book about a week after the PPO, and am in the process of reading it again. It helped me communicate to my attorney how he can be more effective, and I faxed him a copy of the open letter at the end of it. The tests in that book show half the traits of Borderline, ALL the traits of a Narcissist, and 9 of 10 for Antisocial. The “Oz” book (WIzard of Oz and other Ns) strongly suggests “malignant” N, psychopath, and “evil”, with similarities to Bin Laden and Hitler, including being controlled as a child and symptoms exacerbated by inheriting wealth, that are truly terrifying. We both grew up in terror, and I don’t want my kids to endure that !
Of course (unlike her) in court documents I don’t diagnose, I describe behaviors, as advised in the Splitting book. Unfortunately the progression described in the Splitting book is right on, and while the book helps me prepare, telling others what I expect gets me labeled pessimist, negative thinker and even paranoid… then of course it happens just as the book describes, and I don’t think she read it for inspiration.
I don’t care what she does to me, but I can’t let our kids get destroyed like we were !
The hardest job for me is to listen to the hundreds of hours of audio to find the most “legally useful” evidence of verbal abuse. I just can’t eliminate my emotions and become objective and analytic, those are my kids being tortured and I just can’t stand it. 15 minutes of this gets me crying for half the day, and makes it hard for me to not just blast in and rescue them. I think child abuse should be stopped, not documented.
This behavior is a pattern in her family. Friend of the Court finally gave my wife’s dad custody of his son after coma from a suicide attempt allowed the mom’s parenting abilities to be questioned. My wife stayed with her mom because she was not in a coma, she was “just worried about her brother”.
Six years later the mom told her son she was coming to see him, and he killed himself.
I don’t want our sweet children to be in a coma for their mom to be held accountable… They have no way to run from her.
I too am a victim of an abusive spouse with NPD. I have often thought he had some type of personality disorder — but of course “Dudley Do Right” would never consider psychoanalysis.
He thinks he is normal and that I am the cause of all his problems. I believe he has convinced
himself that I am a dirty, white trash, uneducated whore, drug addict that drags him down. He
is obsessed with getting rid of me. He said he wants me dead or living under a bridge somewhere.
He means it.
I’m in prison at home with him. He controls all of the money so I cannot hire
a lawyer, see a counselor, get a prescription filled, buy cloths or personal care items, go to the grocery store, or make any decisions about the care of my 17 year old son. He enjoys seeing me
humilated and defeated, it empowers him somehow. I need a court order directing him give me access to our money so that my son and I can leave this hell hole. I am scared of him. I believe if I took out a protective order he would actually kill me. What can I do?
Hi – You have rights and the sooner you know what they are the sooner you can exercise them….carefully. Forget what he thinks of you and concentrate on the facts you need to be out from under the criminal possession he has of you. A marriage is an economic unit – you have rights to take money out of the bank. Can you do so? Go to different lawyers and find those that give free 30 minute consults. Get some help from Domestic Violence organizations. Do all of this in stealth mode. Plan an escape. Ask for help from organizations prepared to help. NOW is one of them. Look them up, be sure and erase history for your searches. You could quietly go to the police and ask them what to do. That way it is documented and you are beginning a paper trail. Google how to leave abusive husband for your state – state laws differ. Do all, quietly at first. As you learn, you can be more proactive. You do have rights – go to a bookstore if you can or library and see what help is there. You need some strong help to get to the court order. Learn what that is before you do anything. Help is possible. Begin….and best to you on this journey. Ann
Just got here while searching info on divorcing an N. Very helpful and healing words here. He wants to settle out of court knows I have a strong case against him. BUT I am very wary of cutting a deal with the consciencless. My lawyers say its to my advantage and will benefit the children. I am asking for nothing but our lives and safety. My gut says go on to trial. What is your advice please?
Hi – Trials are huge energy drains as well as financial. You have nothing to lose in negotiating first, so why not? you don’t have to cut a deal on anything. Don’t like his offer? Walk away. Or play tough. Smile and say, “That’s interesting. What other daydreams do you have?” Or, “I’ll be back when there’s a real offer on the table.” You are in control now, learn to use your power. A trial can make you look like a revengeful spouse. You never know what may happen to turn it against you. If you have the upper hand, use it for finances to help you get started in your new life. I just don’t see the advantage in going to trial, especially if you are not asking for anything tangible.
I tried everything to keep from going to trial but my spouse insisted on it. He lost of course, but it was one of the worst experiences in my life. Then he appealed the judgment. More hell. I won that also, but it was all so exhausting and infuriating – and like you, I had a strong case. Please understand you have nothing to lose at this point so why not see what is on the table as far as a deal goes? If you like it, it becomes an enforceable court order which is a good thing. Thanks for joining us here and let us know how things go for you. Best, Ann
My name is Sarah. I think Your article and comments are very compassionate and insightful. I’m hoping you might have some helpful thoughts for me. I’m 36 and 2 years ago withdrew from having contact with my mum to who I was always very loyal. When I was 17 I began Counselling because I didn’t want to feel angry about my life when I was 40. I have a very compassionate counsellor who I have seen regularly when I need support. She thinks from what she has seen in my counselling over the years is that my mum is narcissistic. I stopped contact with my mum as she instigated two incidents in a couple of months which really shocked me and made me think I needed to be away from her and protect myself, my partner, and anyone important to me, as well as my future and choose a healthier life for myself. My younger sister who is 33 and has children has responded in anger about my need to take a break from my mum and will not meet me or enable me to see my nieces and nephews who are 5 and were aged between 4-9 years old at the time unless I agree to also see my mum.
It is heartbreaking for me. I grieve everyday for my sister who has been the most important person to me in my family, which has a history of estrangement (my dad since I was 17 and my older sister aged 41 only allowed me intermittently to have contact and our relationship made strained by her being scapegoated by my mum and my concerns over my sisters poor treatment if her children which I witnessed, as well as her lying (red is blue kind of scenario).
I have a cousin who lives inrerstate and is welcoming of me and accepting of the situation although her mother struggles with it and feels I should reunite with my mum to which I have said no, in my own time if at all.
My partner wants me to be happy and healthy and she worries that I will have a mental breakdown. My counsellor thinks I’m doing well. I feel like the joy has bled out of my life because I miss my sister and it feels like she has died but she hasn’t. I feel she has been taken away from me but worse that its my fault and that I could choose and see her if I would do what she wants.
In all my contact with my sister I express that I love and care for her and her family. But she is so angry that it escalates to the point where I had to take a few months time out from her emails or calls too. It’s awful because now she has moved house and won’t give me the address to send bday cards to the children. She has told them I don’t care about them.
I feel that I’m being made out to be the abuser instead of a victim. As I said my partner is concerned about me and it has impacted our relationship. I feel like I have become angry and bitter and disconnected with the world and she can see this in me.
I want myself back. I used to feel strong and positive, even when recognizing when I had depression or that I felt a victim of childhood emotional abuse which I have worked to understand although I’m still confused.
I worry that I’m allowing my feelings to make me a horrible person even though I don’t mean to be horrible I feel like the loving person i was or try to be is false. I don’t know what to do to help myself, except for keeping on going to Counselling and trying to keep as grounded and connected to the life I want as much as possible but this is a struggle. I have constant pain from back and neck injuries which I find wearing and I get tired or feel sick a lot with migraines from this and emotional situations. Thank you for the opportunity to post this about my life and issues.
This does seem a complex situation. You should not be forced into a choice between families by your sister who seems to want to control you. Obviously there is a huge struggle within you which is manifesting in physical symptoms. Is there some benefit you might find from seeing a different counselor to get another perspective? Your partner is perceptive and sees what is happening to you. Maybe you need to take some power back from this situation that you seem to have given to others – your sister seems to have the power to manipulate and scapegoat. This could be the result of the negative parenting she received – a narcissistic parent will have a different effect on each member of the family. Perhaps you need to take a tough stance as difficult as it is to break the control over you by the family: “I’m sorry you feel this way but it’s my decision and I will not let you hijack my positive emotions because of it.” You don’t have to use these words but perhaps something that fits you, or perhaps you just say them to yourself. You need to take back control. They use and scapegoat you because they can. Lies may never be stopped – there may be nothing you can do about it. Your sister is so wrong in lying to her children but you can’t control her, only yourself and your reaction. Lucky you to have a good partner…use her wisdom and perception to help you through this. Best, Ann
Thank you so much for responding, and so quickly – I really appreciate it and the sound advice. It is really helpful and spot on, thanks! 🙂 I think it’s so important to do everything I can to be a healthy person.
I greately enjoyed your wise words. They are so true. Thank you. For the first time, I feel that someone acknowledges that unfortunately there are people who are victimized in this world and to further victimize them by accusing them of being weak and not being able to just change out of the blue is just not nice. I have been told this over and over again by my narcissictic father and sister. Having gone through many traumas as a child, I never had anyone supporting me in anything and yet when it came down to it, was told all the time to just shut up and shake it off! It was very hurtful and this betrayal wounded me deeper than ever. I have since then, moved across to the globe to stay away from these people.
Unfortunately, their treatment of me caused me to have no self esteem at all and as a result I chose another narcissist for a partner. After 4 years I finally broke it off with him and feel this incredible fear of not being wanted anymore. Yet, just recently, I thought to myself it is better to have no one in the world than to have someone put me down every now and then.
Hi – yes, this is one of my core beliefs – that the re-victimization is also abuse. However your recent letting go of the narcissistic relationship is a huge step to be proud of. It means you are back in the game and taking control of your life. Before you go into the fear of not being wanted, take the time to congratulate yourself for recognizing a bad situation and getting out. Do you know how many wish they were in your position and had that strength? I realize this may be small comfort but I hope it gives you a little vision into how you are re-establishing self esteem by taking care of yourself. I just read a book that I think you will find very insightful and helpful and it’s very funny too – a down to earth, cut to the chase how to guide with a huge understanding of how hard it is to move on when the world conspires against you and you feel powerless. I laughed my way through this entire book with the witty style of the author – it helps in so many ways to have this style of writing – as if she is inside our head with us as a coach, making us happy as we see ourselves differently. It’s both print and digital-
If you get it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. But at any rate, let me again say congratulations on moving on. You do realize you just did what they all told you, you never do. Being alone for a while isn’t such a bad thing. It’s a growing time. I like to think of it as post traumatic growth. Take care of yourself and I think you may be surprised what journeys are around the next corner. Life is full of surprises and twists and turns and as we learn from the past we learn to recognize the good and embrace them and walk away from the bad. Take good care, Ann
Toads, and the Women Who Kiss Them. Aunt Alex's Army Manual: How to Free Yourself From the Narcissist
I have been constantly told by my narcissistic parents (particularly mother) and friends and family, to “get over it and stop feeling sorry for yourself” – ” you are a weakling”. I have seriously tried , but have failed so silently internalised my pain, making me feel further inadequate and depressed.
I am 60 and my life to date has been unhappy despite not wanting for anything and being of fair health; full of self destructive choices (including repeat emotionally abusive partners) and unfulfilled potential, and ‘nothingness’. Over the decades I got a sense of it, but only the past few years am I understanding that I am the victim of a powerful narcissistic mother and likely father and siblings. Just reading today about gas lighting and triangulation, and scapegoat child is a huge revelation which frees me enormously, as it is the story of my life with my mother and family – that it has a name and it isn’t me and I am not crazy or bad or a failure or weak …..etc!
I read Susan Forward’s book “toxic parents’ – it read like my life, and was so confronting it put me into an depression whereby I sought help and have made good progress. I have a lovely partner – he is healthy and loves me, and my choice of him informs me that I must be recovering, and his insight & support validate me for the first time in my life. My father is dead, and my mother is 89 and uses her Will to control her kids and grandkids. Her favouritism & manipulative cruelty makes me crazy, so i recently cut all contact as the impact of her and my siblings makes me quite depressed . This has cost me financially – and to see my manipulative siblings get all whilst i am cut out is more than at times I can bear, especially as I have done most of the caring for her over the decades.
I do not wish my mother unhappiness, but I feel tight in the chest & will only be able to breath and relax when she is dead – only then will i relax in knowing that the toxic ongoing cruel criticisms, manipulations, undermining, neglect etc ……..will stop. I will never see any of my family again – they are all too messed up and toxic on me and do not wish to change (i have tried).
My issue is that although the gig is up & I know I am OK and I have a wonderful partner and all I materialistically need, I cannot seem to let go of the anger and jealousy, despite years of therapy. I can never imagine forgiving . I lost 60 years of happy life and potential – I do not want to lose what i have left grieving for something I know I will never get.
I want to be free of this – but i feel stuck. What should I do?
Hi – Congratulations on so much progress! That’s wonderful news. Are you familiar with EFT? This process was designed by a Stanford engineer and is now being used by VA hospitals for helping vets become free from PTSD. It works quickly in resolving many situations that otherwise remain unresolved. It’s got many psychiatrists amazed at how quickly it works on long lasting issues that have not been resolved by other means. Issues that remain “stuck” as you say. You can download the book for free and try a little on yourself – I did this for insomnia and it worked. I’ve recommended this to people who are stuck because it is quick, cut to the chase and no long term analysis is involved. Take a look for yourself and see if it is something you might want to consider:
There are many, many other sites besides this. I like watching the youtube videos – they are very compelling to see someone go from a full blown panic attack to calm in a matter of hours – or racked with tremors from trauma become calm in days.
You are so close to a life so good. Keep on going…Thanks for writing about your strength and a life turned around. Best, Ann
Thank you for your timely response and information. PTSD was mentioned to me by my therapist; I had understood it to apply to those of war or of a clearly defined dramatic incidence. I will read the book on EFT for PTSD. I am also interested in changing feelings, thoughts & behaviours by means of brain neuroplasticity and bought ‘The Stress Answer’ by Frank Lawlis recently.
Although I can intellectually analyse & accept the situation that I lived within a narcissist family that was destructive to me, there remains a lingering feeling that due to the (at times subtle) insidious nature of decades of living in such a chaotic irrational cruel family but where there are few physical bruises or easily defined abuses (as neglect by omissions, inequities, verbal & emotional abuses are not as easy to pin point when all are masters of gaslighting) to evidence my reactions, that I am simply blaming my mother/others for my life’s dissatisfactions. I find the barrage of her/their reasonings in redirecting blame onto me for being so “provocative/ emotional / unbalanced / troublemaking” to be head playing stuff!
I can only cope with avoiding the intense negative feelings by avoiding all members of my family, and even the thought of them and past events makes me angry. I understand that my anger means I am still engaging & giving away control, but I cannot let go of the rage – I have a sense I hang onto to it for clarity and control so I do not fall back to victim status? Although the intensity of my negative feelings have diminished, I have a lingering sense of anxiety of life in general which holds me back from my potential, for I am a classic underachiever.
I hope I am close to a good life. I at times feel excited about achieving things that my negative thoughts thwarted me from doing in the past – but I have to fully resolve this baggage to be free & energised, and will keep working at it.
Thank you for your site and help.
ps – please would you remove my email address from public view – I am quite happy for my writings to be there though but do not wish my address to be identifiable.
This is the most helpful, compassionate and understanding article I’ve read on the internet ever. And I’ve been online since 1993. I needed to read it as much as I need to breathe. Thank you.
Karen, So sorry for not responding. Thank you for taking the time to say this. Hopefully your life has changed and you are experiencing the fullness of life and knowing you are okay and just right who you are. My many thanks for yours. Best, Ann
Hi. Your website is so helpful. I am going thru am ugly divorce from a narcisisst at the moment. In addition he is a police officer. I did retain an attorney but I truly hope he will be forceful enough to deal with a narcisisst. I have been thru hell and back in the almost 20 years . I was lied to , betrayed and cheated on Only to be blamed for all those actions. I was told I was too fat, too old, too boring. So it was my fault I was cheated on. He finally walked out of my life and I decided its time to put an end to this abuse and filed for divorce. I know it will be rough time ahead but nothing could make me stay in this abusive relationship. I never mattered to this man. There was no empathy and I know it now there was never any love. Because a narcisisst has no need for love because the only petson they truly love is themselves. I feel sorry for my son but we will have a Better life. Nobody deserves this. Nobody.
I am looking for resources to help myself against my abusive soon to be ex wife. Finding actual help as an abused man is near impossible and most things online are geared towards and written for women.
Websites, blogs, therapy any and everything. Thank you for any help it would help far more than I can relate.
Hi, So sorry for the abuse you have endured. Hopefully as you read some of the words geared to women you will find that they apply to you as well. I totally get it that it is difficult to find help when it looks like everything is spoken to women. But the common denominator is human. Change the gender of the pronouns and see if you can find value. Yesterday and the day before I have been communicating online with a man here – I think you will find this of value and I make the same offer to you to tell your story. Please read comments here: https://narcissisticabuse.com/surviving-relationship-narcissist/
Google – male victims of narcissistic abuse – and you will find forums. Be well, Ann
I am just beginning to learn it may be possible to live without your eyes staring at your feet. That some day it might be safe to glance upward every once in a while. My husband of 24 years was removed from our home earlier this year for actions that even I was able to understand as being violent.
I cannot understand and perhaps never will, the transition that happens starting with the man I married to the man who, three months ago, threatened me with a rifle in our home. Right now, I don’t feel much hope for what is to come. I can’t identify what seems to have happened from what didn’t happen or what did happen. When I am momentarily brave enough, I see the people around me and know that normal people don’t have this problem- making mine much more obvious.
You use the word chaos in many places- a word that is the closest to describing my life. I have a full time job and a 16 year old son in whom I see remnants of his father’s behavior. I live in a house that has been neglected for nearly all of my married life. I love the house but nothing was ever repaired or changed or remodeled unless approved by ‘him’ and it never was. Now he is not there and I have no heat,no hot water,a roof that leaks badly needing replacement,a high mortgage and never enough money. My income is at a level that excludes me from receiving any type of monetary assistance as debts (and there are many of those) and high priced repairs, that are essential to the home, are never considered in the calculations for assistance. Neither is the fact ‘he’ was fired from his job nearly a year and a half ago.
I have read some of the descriptions of a narcissistic abuser on you site and while some of the descriptors strongly if not completely are characteristics of ‘him’ others are not. Which is confusing to me. One major difference being that ‘he’ was indecisive in all ways- except in resistance to everything. requiring that I make necessary decisions. He didn’t control our money, it caused him too much stress, but he demanded there always be enough for him to purchase anything he wanted and when he wanted it- which was hours after the demand. After we were married he stopped presenting himself (to me) as a strong dependable person becoming one who must be cared for in every way but mostly being reminded how special he was, how unique and intelligent. I was never able to provide the care he needed and constantly told how I was destroying his life, making him so crazy that he would never be able to recover from my sadistic treatment. He would remind me he married me because I needed to be rescued. That he has been a savior to many other needy people. However, he came to the conclusion I was too badly damaged to be saved. Then he would tearfully remind me that he had married me and so he would have to spend the rest of his life with someone beneath his intelligence, sensitivity, and general ‘goodness.’ I was repeatedly told that my actions were destroying a very special person whom God sent here with a purpose which no other human could ever attempt, let alone achieve successfully and many times- such as he had- he hoped I realized the total amount of damage I was doing to something as precious as himself. Are these types of behaviors considered to be narcissistic in nature? I am unsure as it seems some are in direct opposition to what is given at this site. Of course, none of these characteristics were visible to other people. If we had to go out in public he always presented himself with regal manners and charm. Regardless of the answer, this site has been more valuable to me in 10 minutes than years of wondering why I could not find the strength of character to pack up and leave, or if I wanted to I could have just put an end to the situation and as I did not then I must therefore be content in it. Now the advice is different “you’re out of the situation you should be feeling happy”, “just enjoy yourself – there’s nothing standing in your way except the choice not to be happy” “to change your behavior is a matter of choice. Make the choice and change.” One thing is sure the chaos you speak of is everywhere and I can’t even decide what a ‘real’ person would do.
Please give yourself the gift of time. You don’t have to listen to anyone, think anything, or do anything right now. For the first time, in a long time, you don’t have to be abused and it will make a difference, but allow it to happen, at whatever pace you want. It’s hard to be happy because someone tells you to be. I think after what you have been through, being a little content with quiet time is a good goal. From this quiet, from your alone time, you will find out what to do. And so what if your first choice changes? Be kind to yourself, go out for a coffee or a drink, go hike, or to a bookstore, whatever in your life is what YOU like to do. Put a little good in your life each day. Your husband may have been borderline, it’s hard to tell. Labels sometimes overlap. He did control money – in a different way perhaps, but he insisted on having enough for his desires, so that was a form of control.
Right now, you are on a path, it takes time to heal and you have been injured. But we are resilient people. Post traumatic growth is as real as it gets and it is good! Look it up…
On your road forward, you may not see all of us, but many are there in spirit, cheering you on. Take that with you.
It’s been a little more than a month since I wrote to you for the first time. I’m writing again to say thank you for your reply and to say your words inspired me to do some reading about Narcissists in general and in relationships with others. What I found was really eye-opening.
As I read I was able to identify behaviors my husband displayed over the past 23 or so years. In some cases it is haunting to read descriptions that are almost identical to incidents that have happened and my husband’s behavior in the incidents. I had no idea of the subtly with which some things can happen. However, one of the most puzzling for me is gaslighting. It’s hard to get a accurate picture/ or idea of what it really is. Would the following be an example of a form of gas- lighting?
One time my husband had gotten angry with me for some reason and after about an hour of being yelled at I decided to take a shower. To be honest, it is the only way to get away from him that has the possibility of being ok with him. At the time I thought that walking away to take a shower, which would mean leaving his presence, would be a grueling event. I was surprised when he simply chose to ignore me. As I showered the water became scaldingly hot. It was so incredibly hot that after I got out of the shower I realized it had burned me like steam from a boiling pot. I immediately turned off the hot water, from outside the shower, and realized that the cold water wasn’t running at all; with the hot turned off the cold water should have still been running from the faucet-but there was no water whatsoever. Seconds after jumping from the shower, really hurting from the burns, I called out to my husband -which actually came out more like a scream. He was in the very next room, working at the computer which is on the opposite side of the bathroom wall. I called many times as the burning sensation didn’t stop, hoping he would be able to somehow get cold water I could use to stop the burning. He never answered and never came. After a few minutes the cold water came back on- full force out of the faucet that I had not yet turned off. I don’t understand how that could have happened. When I finally managed to carefully get into a bathrobe I went out and found him at the computer reading something online. I asked why he hadn’t at least answered me. He told me I couldn’t possibly have called in the first place because there was not way he wouldn’t have heard me. I asked him if he had for some reason needed to turn off the cold water that went into the bathroom, then told him what had happened. He responded telling me that he had not moved from the computer since I had gone in to shower. After which he told me, in no uncertain terms, what I had just described is an impossible thing. The plumbing in the house could not cause anything like that to happened. Then he told me what really happened must have happened -absolutely nothing at all and besides accusing him of doing something so nasty, I was now putting on a dramatic act. Then he laughed and told me that he wished it had been him because the shower is always too cold for him and it must be nice to have a warm shower for once. In fact he was going to go shower in a few minutes and he hoped I hadn’t used up all the hot water which is the reason he never has hot water in the first place. I didn’t know what to think. I decided that my accusations were way out of line, that the hot water wasn’t so hot after all and I actually was being dramatic. I remember thinking how stupid I was, and possibly am, to believe anything like that, he would never do something like that to me and I should really be ashamed for even thinking what I am about the situation. Is it really possible that he could have done this? Could I have actually had those thing happen? Looking back it seems to be a made up story but then again not. I still can’t decide but I do know that my skin in some places was extremely tender for quite awhile. However, maybe I am overly sensitive and dramatic. It’s so hard to say. At the same time I think about so very many other times where things like this have happened. Things like saying I said something but I really don’t think I did. Or me telling him something important like the times and date of things we were going to or expected at, then having him say I never did and that I like to put him in that position whenever I screw something up. That way I can make my screw up his fault and blame it on him. But so many times it seems like I really did tell him about upcoming engagements. I really must be losing it.
What do you do when you work together with a narcissist and he can and does demote you and lower your salary as you go through a divorce?? And you still need to work and have been out of your field for 25 years?
Try Encore.org and some of the other sites about re-inventing yourself. File a complaint with HR and cc narcissist’s licensing board, if applicable. You have workplace rights, find out what they are and use the law to help you. Paper trail everything for evidence as in: Dear Mr/Ms Boss, I was previously employed at the salary of $XXX and now at $XX. My position was, and now is….Please explain in writing the specific reasons and rationale for the changes …etc…don’t be a drama person. but don’t be a doormat. Good luck flying onward!
Hi my name is melissa. I had to grow up with my dad being a narcarcistic parent. He has recently been classified as psychopath. I have therepy. Ive come so far. The things I still have issues with is trying to completely let go and not let the thoughts of my dad get to me. I have dreams about him trying to get me and I wake up feeling like crap. Like years and years of his torment, humiliation, verbal and physcial abuse and neglect have like left me scarred and feeling fucked up. I was diagnosed with Alexithemia. Which is not being able to explain how I feel in words. I believe I have used the term survivor because it is seriously like living in hell with the devils spawn. I cant explain everything hes done because its 19 years of my life.
But what made me crack and I didnt even care if I was homeless or whatever. I left my home and walked out. When my dad wanted me to call him God. Not dad or his name but God. I could no longer deal with the crap.
But anyway I am studying at the moment to build my learning and confidence back up.
Should I be doing more exercising or something to reduce my stress. I need confidence boosting methods of some sort as I have no confidence in myself to do my best with my studies. Everytime I go to study my management work for my exam I seriously want to go to sleep. I have even had to start from scatch as a 22 year old to get my maths back up to scratch.
But anyway what are some things I could do for confidence building. Please help me out
What would be surprising would be if you didn’t feel bad right now from all thats happened to you, so cut yourself some slack and congratulate yourself on doing as well as you are. Let’s separate two things: one is how poor you were treated and how that makes you feel, and two, the person that recognizes she needs to prepare herself for the rest of life’s journey. These are both parts of you and need different things – we need to learn to be kind to ourselves while in recovery from abuse. Get strong – yes, exercise is great, but so is sleep. So sleep away! As your energy returns you will sleep less. And then, one by one, do the things you know you can do and gain strength from knowing your own strengths – and practice using those strengths. The field of positive psychology is all about looking at what is right with us, not what is wrong. You will build your confidence level as you move forward. Your dad wanting to be called god would be comical if behind weren’t such pathology. You’re going to be fine, read books of motivational quotes or find them online, take yourself out to do what you like, make a comfort zone in your life where you forget all this. Look into EFT – it is used by VA hospitals to help returning vets get over PTSD. You can do it yourself, the Stanford engineer who designed it has a book online for free to download. It involves tapping on meridians to balance sympathetic and para sympathetic parts of the body. It will calm you down, rapidly. Look it up. You got a great life ahead, glad you are making moves to make it happen. Best, Ann
I enjoyed the first half of the article. As a victim of narcissistic abuse, I’ve experienced victim blaming and have been told many times to just move on. However, as a man who was victimized by a woman narcissist, I find your article confusing. You might be aware that there is a stigma associated with a male being victimized by a woman and, in my opinion, it is sometimes even harder for a man to find sympathy. I often see things written about narcissist and sociopaths, etc that refer to the abuser as, “he”, and the victim as, “she.” I have no problem with this because there’s no unisex word for “he” or “she”. However, I’ve never read an article where the author made it a point, not once, but twice that women were her intended audience, not men. Even when you say that the same applies to men too, you make clear that your not talking to them. It made me feel like I shouldn’t read the rest and I had a hard time finishing. I don’t see anything in what you’ve written here that would necessitate the affirmations that you’re only talking to women, not men. I feel these things go against the general idea of an otherwise very important article
You might want to look at my website http://www.narcissisticwomen.com It’s not been updated in a while and is for sale.