When you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, you tend to not realize that you are experiencing “real” abuse, such as victims of physical and sexual abuse. In addition to this, so many people do not understand what narcissism is and are completely oblivious to what narcissist abuse is.
It usually takes years to figure out and usually your self-esteem is in the gutter when you realize THAT is the problem.
Sharie Stines, Psy.D is a recovery expert specializing in personality disorders, complex trauma and helping people overcome damage caused to their lives by addictions, abuse, trauma and dysfunctional relationships. Sharie is a counselor at LIfeline Counseling & Education Inc., in Whittier, California (www.lifelinecounseling.org). Lifeline Counseling is a non-profit organization 501(c)(3) corporation, TAX ID 47-5604036, created to help those in need of support, education, and counseling for healing from the effects of abuse and addiction
Editor: Saad Shaheed
Know this, narcissists tailor make their abuse to fit their targets. Their abuse will go under the radar for most people, including the victims. In many ways, narcissists know what their targets’ weak spots are and use those as the places to hurt.
If a narcissist knows you are afraid of abandonment he will abandon you 1000 times. If a narcissist knows you like a certain pet, he will hate that pet. If a narcissist knows you love to talk about politics, he will refuse to ever comment on politics to you, except to make a disparaging comment about people who like to talk about politics…
If your narcissist is on Facebook, he’ll comment on everyone else’s posts, and not yours. Why? So that he can let you know how irrelevant you are.
See how insidious this is? If you try to tell others, “He doesn’t comment on my Facebook posts,” or, “He didn’t return my text,” or, “He won’t respond when I ask him a direct question,” people will tell you that those are irritating, but not really worth ending a relationship, particularly a marriage over.
“Everyone has problems!” you are told, “after all, no one is perfect!” This implies that you are being unreasonable, picky, overly sensitive, or that you are just struggling like everyone else who is in a relationship.
These types of responses from others lead partners and children to believe that their problems are somewhat innocuous or normal. They develop false hope and increased denial and/or minimization to the true nature of their problem.
Narcissists target particular types of people; conscientious people; people who are either used to abusive relationships or naïve to abusive relationships. If you have a desire to “work things out,” or forgive others, or turn the other cheek, you are good victim for a narcissist.
Narcissists are ineffective with others who are narcissistic because they need victims who are manipulate-able. If you have no conscience and don’t care about others, you are less likely to be exploited by a narcissist.
Narcissists abuse as a compensatory measure for coping with their inner feelings of fear, inadequacy, anger, inferiority, or anxiety. Most narcissists probably don’t even realize they have these issues, but are so adept at masking their inner anguish with abusive strategies that they don’t realize they have any weaknesses.
Here’s how it works:
A narcissist starts to feel a sense of anxiety or fear of abandonment. He will then act abusively. Once he acts abusively he feels relieved, because now he’s convinced himself that he is superior and in control.
When his target responds appropriately to his abuse by either –
(1) trying to adapt,
(2) becoming hurt or scared, or
(3) having any other type of emotional reaction.
This gives the narcissist the reinforcement he needs to build up his belief that he is safe, strong, and in control of his partner or child; and in essence, his reality.
He believes that with this sense of power he will not be abandoned or alone, thus precluding the experience of feeling any vulnerable or needy emotions, maintaining his position in the relationship. This strengthens his false sense of security and safety in the world.
The important thing for the victims of this type of abuse is to realize is the need for recovery. Emotional abuse is injurious. It damages many aspects of a person – his intuition, self-esteem, sense of reality and adequacy, and ability to have healthy relationships.