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When most people hear the word “abuse,” they think of bruises left from an angry person’s violent rage. Very few, though, understand the mental and emotional scars resulting from emotional abuse, and even fewer understand those which are caused by the lesser-known Narcissistic Abuse.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a difficult, and sometimes dangerous, disorder to deal with from the outside. The Narcissist lacks empathy, which makes the disorder even more baffling for the abused party. He (Narcissists are predominantly male) is haughty, and has an over-the-top sense of entitlement. He has dreams and visions of greatness (often lying about accomplishments), and associates only with those who praise him excessively and agree with his vision. These characteristics- especially the latter- are what leads the Narcissist to seek a specific type of person to become his partner.
The ideal partner for the Narcissist is the damsel in distress. She is normally lacking in self-esteem, and is in a life situation from which she wishes to escape (such as a bad living situation, or financial struggles). To these women, the Narcissist is a knight in gleaming armor, and he will present himself to her as such. He swoops in and assures her that he is the answer to all her problems, and that he will repair her life. He convinces her that he was made for her, and that he loves her like no one else ever could. A whirlwind romance begins. Things happen so quickly that she can’t take the time to sort things out, and she overlooks many red flags in the process. Before she knows it, they’re living together, or are even married. It is then that the real trouble begins.
A Narcissist is an actor. He will say what others want to hear, and will do what will impress them. To initially get his partner wrapped up in his world, he has gone out of his way to impress her, and to show her how perfect he truly is for her. She bought it all, and fell in love. When the commitment is made, though, the Narcissist drops the act. He no longer needs to impress her, nor try to draw her in. The object now is to revel in the praise and admiration which she will display out of appreciation for him having rescued her. She must praise him constantly and consistently. There are to be no complaints, nor problems with anything he wants. Double standards are the norm.
Only behind closed doors, the Narcissist begins to become demanding of time, attention, and admiration. He demands complete submission to his ever-changing desires. His victim begins to feel as thought she must share here walk on eggshells during every waking moment to avoid his rage- which can be caused by anything which he perceives as criticism. The Narcissist will react with disproportionate anger, and sometimes violence. Trying to find the exact formula to keep him happy becomes an all-consuming task for her, but whenever she believes she’s figured it out, he changes the code. She begins to lose her identity, and to become nothing but a servant to the moods and whims of her narcissistic partner. The victim begins to believe that she is crazy and is no longer in control of her thoughts or her actions. Many victims of Narcissistic Abuse eventually suffer from problems ranging from severe anxiety to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Why does she stay? She stays because she is terrified. He has, by this time, threatened many different things should she decide to leave him. A Narcissist has an arsenal of threats, and they’re all based on the fears which his victim has directly expressed to him at one time in confidence. He will threaten suicide, financial hardship, divorce, to fight her for custody of her children, and many other devastating actions in response to her threat to leave him. The best course of action for a victim trying to leave a Narcissist is to first speak to an attorney. Narcissists are able to lie, cheat, manipulate, and get away with all of it. For that reason, it is better to know one’s legal rights before leaving.
Very little help exists for the victims of Narcissistic Abuse, as very few people with the disorder are ever diagnosed. Their superior view of themselves makes it less likely for narcissists to admit (nor even believe) that they have a problem for which they need help. It is much more likely for a Narcissist to switch the blame and accuse his victim of being crazy, or even of being a Narcissist. Without a formal diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, often others are not aware, nor convinced, of the fact that there is any type of mental issue. Since the Narcissist has always publicly presented himself as a kind and decent human being, many will turn on the victim, accusing her of being selfish and vindictive.
The most important thing for any victim of Narcissistic Abuse to remember is that no matter how crazy and frightening things become, she is not crazy, and this is not her fault. After the relationship has ended, though, the victim should maintain no further contact with the Narcissist (unless they have children together), although he will try to establish contact with her many times in an attempt to bring her back into his world. A victim may return to her abuser during the first months of living without him. After all, he made himself her world, and she came to believe that whatever went wrong between them was entirely her fault. She reasons that his rage was caused by her lack of appreciation for him. She vows to try harder if given the chance. Trying harder will not make a difference. The abuse and manipulation will not end with the Narcissist getting his way, as his way is constantly changing.
Although characteristics vary from person to person, there are some red flags which are evident in the very beginning of a relationship with a Narcissist. These can include:
* He pushes for the relationship to move forward after a short amount of time.
* He demands quick decisions in the relationship, and gets angry when his partner requests time to think.
* He rarely (if ever) apologizes, and justifies most of the things he does by holding his partner responsible for causing him to do those things.
* He promises to support her if she gives up everything she has to be with him.
* He dismisses past relationships by saying he never loved that person or that the relationship was merely convenient.
* All discussions and arguments center around him. If they began with her expressing her feelings about something, they will soon end with how he feels.
There are many more signs, but these are helpful in showing a potential victim up front that she may be dealing with a Narcissist, or at the very least, a con artist. If one encounters such a person, the best course of action is to run away…quickly.
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