We’re all capable of abuse once we’re hurt or frustrated. We may be guilty of criticizing, judging, withholding, and controlling, but a few abusers, including narcissists, take abuse to a different level. Narcissistic Abuse can be physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, financial, or spiritual. Some kinds of emotional abuse aren’t easy to spot, including manipulation. It can include psychological blackmail, using threats and intimidation to exercise control. Narcissists are masters of verbal abuse and manipulation. They can go so far as to make you doubt your own senses, called gaslighting.
Remember that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and abuse exist on a continuum, ranging from silence to violence. Rarely will a narcissist take responsibility for their behavior. Generally, they deny their activities, and fortify the abuse by blaming the victim. Particularly, malignant narcissists are not bothered by guilt. They may be sadistic and take pleasure in inflicting pain. They can be so competitive and unprincipled that they engage in anti-social behavior. Do not confuse narcissism with anti-social personality disorder.
The objective of narcissistic abuse is power. They act with the intent to diminish or even hurt other folks. The most important thing to remember about intentional abuse is that it is intended to dominate you. Abusers’ goals are to increase their control and authority, while generating doubt, shame, and dependence in their victims. They wish to feel superior to avoid hidden feelings of inferiority. Understanding this can enable you. Like all bullies, despite their defenses of rage, arrogance, and self-inflation, they suffer from shame. Appearing weak and humiliated is their biggest fear. Knowing this, it’s essential not to take the words and actions of an abuser. This enables you to confront narcissistic abuse.
Mistakes in Managing Abuse
When you forget an abuser’s motives, you may naturally react in some of these ineffective ways:
1. Appeasement. If you placate to avoid anger and conflict, it enables the abuser, who sees it as weakness and a chance to exert more control.
2. This also shows weakness, which narcissists despise in themselves and others. They may respond dismissively with contempt or disgust.
3. Withdrawal. This is a good temporary tactic to collect your thoughts and emotions, but isn’t an effective strategy to manage abuse.
4. Most abusers are not interested in the facts, but only in justifying their position and being correct. Verbal arguments can easily escalate to fights that drain and damage you. Nothing is gained. You lose and can end up feeling more victimized, hurt, and despairing.
5. Anything beyond a simply denial of a false accusation leaves you open to more abuse. When you cover the content of what is being said and explain and defend your position, you endorse an abuser’s right to judge, approve, or abuse you. Your response sends this message:”You have power over my self-esteem. You’re entitled to be my judge.”
6. Seeking Understanding. This can drive your behavior if you desperately want to be understood. It’s based on the false hope that a narcissist is interested in understanding you, while a narcissist is only interested in winning a conflict and having the superior position. Depending upon the degree of narcissism, sharing your feelings may also expose you to more harm or manipulation. It’s far better to talk about your feelings with someone secure who cares about them.
7. Criticizing and Complaining. Although they may act tough, because abusers are basically insecure, inside they’re fragile. They can dish it, but can’t take it. Complaining or criticizing an abuser can provoke rage and vindictiveness.
8. Threats. Making threats may cause retaliation or backfire if you do not carry them out. Never make a threat you’re not ready to enforce. Boundaries with immediate consequences are more effective.
9. Do not fall into the trap of denial by excusing, minimizing, or rationalizing abuse. And don’t fantasize that it will go away or improve at any future time. The more it goes on, the more it develops, and the weaker you are able to become.
10. Self-Blame Don’t blame yourself for an abuser’s activities and try harder to be perfect. You can’t cause anyone to abuse you. You’re only responsible for your own behaviour. You won’t ever be perfect enough for an abuser to stop their behavior, which stems from their insecurities not you.
Allowing abuse damages your self-esteem. Therefore, it’s important to confront it. That does not mean to fight and argue. It means standing your ground and speaking up for yourself clearly and calmly and having boundaries to protect your mind, emotions, and body. Before you set bounds, you must:
1. Know Your Rights. You must feel entitled to be treated with respect and that you’ve got specific rights, such as the right to your feelings, the right to not have sex if you decline, a right to privacy, a right not to be yelled at, touched, or disrespected. If you have been abused a long time (or as a child), your self- esteem likely has been diminished. You may no longer trust yourself or have confidence.
2. This takes practice and learning to prevent being aggressive or passive. Try these short-term answers to dealing with verbal putdowns:
* I will think about it.
* I will never be the good enough wife (husband) that you hoped for
* I really don’t like it when you criticize me. Please stop.” (Then walk away)
* That’s your opinion. I disagree, (or) I really don’t see it that way.
* You’re saying…” (Repeat what was said. Insert,”Oh, I see.”)
* I won’t to talk to you when you (describe abuse, e.g.”belittle me”).
* Agree to part that is true. “Yes, I burnt the dinner.” Ignore
You are a rotten cook.
* Humor -“You’re very cute once you get annoyed.
3. Know what you want specifically, what the narcissist wants, what your limits are, and where you’ve got power in the relationship. You’re dealing with someone highly defensive with a character disorder. There are certain strategies to having an effect.
4. Set Boundaries. Boundaries are rules that govern the way you want to be treated. People will treat you the way you let them. You have to know what your boundaries are before you can communicate them. This means getting in touch with your feelings, listening to your body, knowing your rights, and learning assertiveness. They need to be explicit.
Don’t hint or expect people to read your mind.
5. Have Consequences. After setting bounds, if they are ignored, it is important to communicate and invoke consequences. These are not threats, but actions you take to protect yourself or meet your needs.
6. Research shows that narcissists have neurological deficits that affect their interpersonal reactions. You’re best approach is to instruct a narcissist like a child. Explain the effect of their behaviour and provide encouragement and incentives for different behavior. This may involve communicating consequences. It requires planning what you’re going to say without being emotional.
To respond effectively requires support. Without it, you might languish in self-doubt and succumb to abusive disinformation and denigration. It’s challenging to change your reactions, let alone those of anybody else. Expect pushback when you stand up for yourself. This is just another reason why support is vital. You’ll need courage and consistency. Whether the narcissist makes adjustments, you will get tools to protect yourself and increase your self-worth which will improve how you feel whether you stay or leave. CoDA meetings and psychotherapy provide support and guidance.