Characteristics of a Victim of a Narcissistic Abuser

Now that you have begun to see some Red Flag behaviors that are common to narcissists, let’s look at some feelings and behaviors frequently reported by the victims.

Feeling guilty for “making” the narcissist feel the way he does
Chronically confused about their partner’s sudden changes in behavior
Frequently exhausted from never knowing what might happen next
Feeling like they have to “walk on eggshells” to avoid “rocking the boat”
Coming home to find Dr. Jekyll and suddenly discovering Mr. Hyde, and never knowing what caused the change
Always apologizing for “never doing things right”
Trying to keep a low profile to avoid being noticed
Making up stories to their friends and family about how they got the latest bruises
Blaming themselves for never doing things well enough
Always feeling anxious when they walk in their own home (or workplace if the narcissist is at their place of work)
Never completely trusting their partner
Never feeling respected or equal in the relationship
Always worrying about their performance in any role, including in the bedroom
Often wondering if it’s OK if they phone or meet with friends or family
Having to ask permission to do anything
Not being allowed free access to their financial accounts
Not being able to give their opinion for fear of being chastised
Never being able to win any argument
Always wondering what they did “wrong” Avoiding arguments at all costs
Always attempting to “try harder” to make things better
Chronically feeling empty
May periodically have suicidal thoughts
Wishing for “someday” when things will change, but someday never comes
After breaking up with their narcissistic partner, all they want to do is run back to them
Repeatedly making excuses for and forgiving their partner’s unacceptable behaviors, which continue to happen
Often wondering how they got into this situation to begin with
Always being told everything is their fault
Oftentimes feel humiliated by their partner
Constantly fearing abandonment by the partner, so “doing whatever it takes” to keep him
Doing things they are uncomfortable with because they feel pressured to do so
Compromising their values, needs, and beliefs because their partner wants them to
Discovering that the narcissist has frequently lied or misled them Feeling like no one else could possibly love them
Believing they are not as important as their partner
Taking their partner’s advice, although their gut tells them not to
Feeling like they’re living a lie – that the outside world sees them one way, while the inner reality is definitely something entirely different Feeling subservient or less-than their partner
Rarely feeling like their needs are being met or even acknowledged
Never doing anything unless their partner says it’s OK Their friends tell them they are being abused, but they just can’t see it
Feeling like they are being parented – that they’re too immature or childish to be able to think on their own
Often wishing they would have never gotten into this mess to begin with and now don’t know how to get out Frequently feeling numb or depressed
They no longer know who they really are
May end up looking like the “crazy one” in the relationship

These are just some of the behaviors and feelings many and victims express. If you find yourself recognizing many of these, perhaps you are realizing you are in your own narcissistic relationship. Extricating yourself from the grips of a narcissist who wants to keep you entrapped is complicated at best.

You may or may not want to leave this relationship, but at least, by acknowledging and understanding it, you can make better decisions and educated choices about your future. Just remember one thing … It is all about choices. Unless they literally have a gun to your head, nobody can make you do anything you don’t want to do.

No one can determine your attitude unless you let them. Deciding to move on or to remain a victim of a narcissist depends upon your own circumstances. Yet, when children are involved it certainly complicates things. For many individuals, the implied security of having a partner may feel safer than being alone in the big, wide world. As a result, you may feel like you are stuck in your situation.

However, as you learn the devastating effects a narcissist can have on those around him, it is important to weigh the effect he can also have upon your children.

Do you want them to learn that these destructive and abusive behaviors as normal, and fulfill a never-ending legacy of narcissism in their own lives? Or would you do whatever is in your power to help them avoid growing up to become a narcissist, or perhaps even the victim of one themselves? Have you considered all possible options for your future? Or will you submit, give up, and continue to let your narcissist control your life?

  1. wish my mum had read this fifty years ago. May have saved her son and her sanity

  2. What about anger outbursts? I used to get all the above and those too.

  3. “After breaking up with their narcissistic partner, all they want to do is run back to them”

    15 years after he left me I still want to go back to him. I don’t know how to stop feeling this way.

  4. Yep, every last stinking one of these explains my seventeen year marriage, except for the one about the bruises (because he is covert, and didn’t physically abuse). And then the people that look down on you for divorcing: destroying a marriage and a family, and the poor children and whatnot, they DON’T GET IT, that it was a living hell for ALL OF US! Honestly the kids are better off with me divorcing their dad than they ever could have been with him stomping around the house, and all of us walking on eggshells. Thanks for the wonderful article. It’s so uncanny how well it describes the hell I endured.

    • Dear Ana

      Thank you so much for this, and all the other posts. This describes exactly how I felt in my last relationship. I’ve told friends, family and my domestic abuse counsellor that it felt like I was dying – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

      I ended the relationship three months ago and changed my phone numbers immediately. He may have tried to call or text me, but he hasn’t reached out in any other way. Mostly I’m glad of that but of course there are times when I miss the illusion he fed me and want to hear from him just to stop the pain of the loss.

      Do they always make contact? Should I be prepared to hear from him? Right now it helps me to believe that it’s completely over. But is that a mistake?

      Thanks again.

      Fern. x

    • Amen! 17 years for me too.

  5. This has been my life. I always knew it and denied it but now I have true clarity. When my narcissistic husband of almost 41 years discarded me on October 1, 2013, he did so leaving behind a nasty note, hand scrawled financials and a letter of separation. He moved to a house we own out of state where he had already established new supply. Discarding me is the kindest thing he has ever done for me and I now live my life free of his anger, control, cheating, screaming, demeaning comments and manipulation and I see with clarity what he did to me, our children, his family, my family our employees and friends. My empathetic heart allowed me to forgive him for what he had done to me and so many others and forgiving him allowed me to move forward without hatred. I despise his actions and the way he treated me and still does on the rare occasions he bothers to remember I am alive but I do not hate him. It must be torturous to live your life this way, unable to change even if you desire to do so. Sad, really, so sad. Do I have sad days? Sure, I am only human but because I now have free will I don’t allow sadness to overwhelm me. Instead, I call a friend, go to yoga class, go to the gym, take a drive or go shopping. If none of those work for me at that particular moment I fall back on throwing perfectly good eggs at a picture of him I nailed to a tree off my back deck. Works every time!! Don’t wallow in pain and regret or should have, could have, or would have. Express your feelings and cry when you need to, laugh when you need to, rely on your friends and family, practice self care but whatever you do, don’t hate him. Hatred gives the narcissist exactly what he wanted to extract from you in the end and it will make you confused and vulnerable to him. I hope you will see the light of hope as you work your way through the aftermath of narcissistic abuse….it is there…..just open your big and empathetic heart.

  6. Thank God for this article words don’t even express how helpful this is, thanks from the bottom of my heart and soul to the other mum at school who signposted me here. These articles are helping me change my daughters life and mine forever xxx

    • After 12 years, I am now learning of this word “narcissism ” it describes my husband to the fullest degree. We have been seperated for almost 1 year and after time and understanding of what I thought I could do better, it became clear to me that I was doing fine all along… I’ve tried to reconcile, but literally every week he changes his mind about wanting to be with me or not and looks for things to blame me for from a million years ago. I just wanted to fix my family! Now, I’m miserable and my children are acting out from their emotions .. I have lost my best friend and I can not seem to get past the hurt and pain.. How can I overcome such a horrible situation? And how is he living with himself knowing that he sees my tears and hurt behind these circumstances?

  7. how can you help a family member who went through such pathological relationship.

  8. It is as though you have just listed my marriage history. Thank you for blogging this. It is helping me every post!

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  3. Pingback: Characteristics of a Victim of a Narcissistic Abuser | Missives by Michelle

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