In the early 1980s, a Swiss psychologist, Alice Miller, first introduced the idea of psychological abuse to the world. Miller said that being in an abusive relationship didn’t mean that you were the victim of violence or sexual abuse. She believed that a parent could abuse their children with indifference or behavior. Miller asserted that cultism, addiction, crime, and even mental illness can be traced back to longstanding emotional abuse during childhood.
Miller felt this insidious type of abuse was harder to identify and deal with because the abused person is likely to cover it up or not even be aware of it. Sometimes, the victim would only realize the abuse after a dramatic event occurred or after they became depressed. Today, we know that narcissistic abuse can happen in both parent-child relationships and in adult relationships. Maybe you have had a relationship with a narcissist. Maybe you are in one now.
Who’s a narcissist?
A narcissist is a person who has an inflated sense of how important they are, according to the Mayo Clinch. Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder and people with it have a need for admiration and lack empathy. Without empathy, you never see anyone else’s viewpoint and will use people for your own pleasure. Behind it, all though is someone with a very frail ego, and they are very vulnerable to criticism. Being a narcissist can be troubling in work, school, and in relationships.
Some symptoms to look for in a narcissistic person is an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They exaggerate their talents and achievements. A narcissist will have a sense of entitlement and will need constant admiration. They will not be willing or able to acknowledge the feelings or need of anyone else. People with narcissistic personality disorder may not realize there is something wrong and are not likely to seek help until they feel depressed.
The Mayo Clinic reported that narcissistic personality disorder could stem from either excessive criticism or excessive pampering during childhood. There also may be a genetic or psychobiology cause (a link between behavior, thinking, and the brain).
Do you have self-esteem issues?
Victims of narcissistic abuse don’t think highly of themselves. You are being controlled and manipulated. We all have human rights to live the life we want and to speak our minds. Being in an abusive relationship strips those rights from you, and you aren’t always aware of it! Read on to learn the signs of being in a narcissistic and emotionally abusive relationship.
Do you feel as if you are going crazy?
It is called “Gas lighting” when a narcissist makes you feel as if the problem is all in your head. They are always innocent and always have an answer – or maybe they don’t have an answer for anything. It makes you feel like you are losing your mind. The push and pull of this makes it harder for you to leave the relationship.
Depression and anxiety are the norm
When you don’t feel that you are getting treated well or feel insignificant, you become anxious and depressed. You may even start to feel invisible, not worthy, and begin to hate yourself.
Never good enough
You try and try but, it doesn’t matter. Nothing is good enough, and your partner is right there to tell you over and over how you have disappointed them or failed. You may get backhanded comments, or they just completely ignore you and your efforts.
Make you come crawling back
The narcissist is manipulating you, they push you to your limit, and when you are about to call it off, they pull out the charm and you are hooked again! They only seem to want you when you are leaving. When they actually have you, they ignore you.
How they feel about your changes – quick
You may fall hard and fast with a person with narcissistic personality disorder. They are charming and make you feel like you are the best thing – ever. Once they have all your love, they don’t want it anymore. It is as if you are no longer interesting at all.
They can be charming, but only when they want to be. They seem to turn on and off the charm like a light switch. They can be charming when you are out in public, but once you get home, it is as if they are a different person. The charm is gone.
Feeling invisible and ignored?
You are with a narcissist. When they don’t give you love and attention, you are theirs. You NEED them. If they did pay you any attention, you would have self-esteem and would realize that you could do better, you may even have enough self-esteem and self-respect to walk away. They can’t have that.
Are you debased and belittled?
Narcissists are experts at covertly making you feel small. They can easily plant seeds of doubt in your head. You may not even know it is happening. But as the seed grows you like yourself and doubt nearly everything you do. For example, if you did something wrong and apologized for it and the only response you get from them is “I am used to it,” they don’t even care you apologized! It is all about them and with that comment they took your apology and stomped on it.
Rage explodes from your partner if you question them
A narcissist needs to be in control and questioning them makes them feel as if they have lost the upper hand. Their reaction will be to explode with rage, and they may verbally abuse you as well. Once they have done this, in their mind they have re-established their superiority.
Nothing is ever their fault
So, they never have to apologize for anything. They never take responsibility for anything – it is all your fault. As masters of manipulation, they will deflect blame and make sure you feel responsible for everything. No matter what you say or do, you are always at fault.
A narcissist has this tool in their tool kit and will whip it out in an instant! Emotional blackmail will be used if a narcissist feels threatened. They may withhold their love or ignore you. In an extreme case, they may threaten to leave you. You will then feel like it is all your fault and will do whatever it takes to win them back. They will then tuck the blackmail card back in their pocket to use later.
Lies, lies, and more lies
Since narcissists have no empathy and have a weak conscience, lying comes almost naturally to them. They make promises that they never keep. They can change their story to make it suit their desires. Since you never know when they are lying or telling the truth, you are confused and have nothing solid to believe in. Keeping you off kilter and off balance is how they manage to keep you with them. Some part of your brain sees them as a constant, stabilizing force when in reality they are the source of your unease and instability. It is a vicious cycle.
You are isolated from family and friends
To make sure they have you under control, they won’t let you spend time with your family or friends. They way you only rely on them. Besides, if you did spend time with other people, you may realize how much they are manipulating you and would want to leave.
Physical abuse could be a reality for you
To gain complete and utter control, the narcissist may physically abuse you – along with the emotional abuse. You do not deserve to be abused in any way – ever. Physical abuse is never acceptable. If you are being hit or beaten – get out and get help. In the United States, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224. The call is confidential, and you will be connected with a highly-trained advocate.
Ready to end it with a narcissist?
You will be helping yourself – and them.
You will be free from the burden
Being with a narcissist is hard work! They need more understanding and patience. Unless you are preparing to be a saint, take back your life and leave them behind!
Leaving may be the “Ah Ha” moment they need to change their ways. It may be the wakeup call they so richly deserve.
Breathing space for all
You may not have had that much time to devote to your other friends and family while you were ‘tied’ up with your narcissist. Now that you have left the narcissist in the dust, you can begin to rebuild and repair those relationships.
A self-defeating relationship
Being in a partnership means you are both in it 50-50 – right? But the narcissist will control you and manipulate you, so it really isn’t 50-50. They will take what they need and rarely give anything back. You have to wonder if they even know what love and commitment mean.
Sure, it will be emotional, and there may be baggage. But, you both can walk away from the relationship with new insights. You won’t be the same person after being in a relationship with a narcissist. But you will have gained knowledge and will have learned that you are important and deserve to be treated better. Self-respect is a powerful thing. Having the strength to walk away from a manipulator means you are on the way to finding a person who will value and respect you for who you are – not for what you can do for them.
Words to ponder by Shannon L. Alder:
“The only person that deserves a special place in your life is someone that never made you feel like you were an option in theirs.”