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

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

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  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.

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    • I get the warm, rich certainty that he is The One and we could still work it out. I’m only 5 weeks free and this scares me. I must never go back. That “certainty” is an illness, a delusion. I must bear it like the sickness ir is; acknowledged, never acted on.

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      • Janet gibbs-troendle

        Dont go back. I did and he was able to turn the children against me. I finally had to save myself and get healthy so that i can be strong for my children. After twenty years i finally got away. Staying only made me physically ill. Post tramatic stress disorders. Major depression. On and on. Its a long story, people wont believe it, these people are dangerous. They make others think you are crazy and destroy the neat person you were. They dont have to hit you. But believe everything you hear. Please, twenty years i stayed. He even went as far as trying to poison me. After he had killed the cat and then one dog. They are master manipulators. Please be strong. The abuse will only get worse.

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  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.

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    • 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

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    • Amen! 17 years for me too.

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  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.

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  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

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    • 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?

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

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  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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  9. He just will not let go! He is found credible and is riding on this. Hell bent on my destruction!

    I have felt suicidal, scared to extreme of not leaving house and then later not going out alone for nearly 2 years. I feel unsafe and fear the safety of my children.

    Using everything possible to destroy me including financially and mentally. Everyone in the village is feeling sorry for him and in disbelief of the things he has done to include: breaking into my mothers house to take my bank mail, breaking into a tenants bedroom and demanding cash from her, attempted break-ins all over the place (out of ordinary and seemingly connected), taking and usning against me all financial records, taking and selling all my personal property (clothing, photos, collections, gifts, motorcycle, hobby equipment etc), not giving back all my sentimental historical property (photos, school/work certificates, clothing & jewelery) including that of my children from a former marriage.

    This is one hell I have never ever seen or heard of before. Basically, everything that can hurt has been done or will be done.

    There does not seem to be any support mechanism here or anyone to turn to for advice or help.

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    • :( Trauma recovery / legal advocacy in this area is nearly NILL! But NEEDED! These cons are like teflon dons that seem to weasel their way out of accountability. They’ve had a whole life’s practice at it, so no wonder, they know how to work EVERYONE, including a “system”.

      We will all fight together to develop services around this issue Andrew – it seems that necessity will be the mother of invention in our case.

      Like you, I great damage and trauma and am only now realizing that I need to reach out for services from others to finalize my recovery. I promise to share EVERYTHING I learn in the process, and hopefully, YOU and others like You and I, will benefit!!
      <3

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  10. I was feeling like my soul is being chipped away for the past 4 years. finally, I realized ini july 2014…that I am dealing with a narcissist. everytime my check came in all of a sudden he needed me and treated me better. My last couple of checks have been basically handed over to him. I pay for my own way, and his too. I’ve started no contact this Thursday, his birthday, because he was hell bent to have sexual sessions with street walkers. I work 48 hours per week, he is unemployed, surviving off unemployment benefits. He tries to make me become despondent all the time. He doesn’t care that I’ve been here for 4 years and I have no place to settle, i’m always moving around…I almost quit my job bc he made me feel worthless, but they hired me back…this is the only good thing I have. He moved close to my job, I think to mock me…I can’t find a place close enough to my job…he tried to get me back yesterday, by saying his unemployment was exhausted. I said I have to move on to help myself financially, I just spent 500.00 for his birthday he forced me to entertain him, I decided that would be the last weekend ever. I work every Saturday and I can tell he has been cheating all along. I am scared everytime we have relations because he is always ogling all women sometimes men too. His voice have changed and now he sounds really homosexual. He told me he got an extension for his benefits after calling me 12x and txting me that this is over I don’t exist to him. I saw him as I walked and he saw me drove right pass me with a smirk…he was coming from the liquor store, he only drinks to get women drunk…so I know someone must be there. I spent the whole wkend celebrating his b-day thank god my check was here on Tuesday, I would’ve been broke. I always go broke spending money on him, and he never acknowledges what I do. He always calls me an a-hole. I am so isolated from others because he never invites me to places. There were a few times he and his best friend went out and he said it was a guys night out…only to find out his friend invited a female then he would come back and say I should’ve taken you. I feel so foolish. Never met his famiy, after 4 years. I’m starting to think his whole family are narcissist. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want to meet someones friend or even ask about them. I think I can do no contact….I tried before and came back 3 weeks later, only to find out he went on to visit a friend 8 hours away (an old supplier) who was not attractive at all, he lied said it was a guy…his sole purpose was sex…and I still had took him back…what is wrong with me…I have n other friends since being here for 4 years I feel so torn I think I keep attracting narcissists. I’m from NYC and ppl tend to consider us neurotic…maybe I am a little but is every guy in DC a narcissist….the ratio of women to men greatly outnumbers men…and women are very caddy and sexually inhibitions are more obscure than NYC…I don’t like this state only staying for my job…

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  11. Great blog here! Also your web site loads up very
    fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link
    to your host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

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  12. This is my first time go to see at here and i am really happy to read all at single place.

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  13. Unbelievably me in every way. Day 12 no contact. Its just like hes my heroin. This is so very difficult to escape from. Thank God I have God and the A.A. 12 step program to help me struggle thru.

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  14. My narcissist was a co-worker that went out of his way to be my “friend”.

    At work, I had a reputation among the guys to be “hard to get”, mainly because I am very religious and many of the guys (correctly) assumed that I must be a virgin. The narcissist played on this and introduced himself by saying “I am very religious and I am seeking a wife; when can we go out?” Of course, this line worked because I only date Christian men and he figured this out. The discussions that followed were about church only, etc. However, once in a while, he would slip in a “you’re so breathtakingly beautiful”, etc. Finally, after he begged for three months, I agreed to go out with him.

    Strangely, this is when things first began to change. He would constantly cancel the dates and sometimes, would pretend that he never asked me out and that I asked him out. He would also tell me that he wanted to “make out” but would then rephrase it as if I were telling him that. I had never made out with a man, so I knew that I wasn’t saying those things and he was being very explicit. It was at the point where I could have reported him for harassment, but he made sure that we were “friends” first, so it would not be likely that I would report him.

    I began to pull away because I didn’t understand him, but then, he would compliment me more and talk about how he wanted a wife and ask me out on dates again. Sometimes, I would decline and say “can we go another time?” He would then suddenly become cold and say “well, I’ll have to think about that if you can’t go when I want to go”. I thought that this was unusual because they would be impromptu dates that he would make on the spur of the moment, but would be upset if I already had plans. Afterward, he would not talk to me for a while except for work-related reasons only. A few weeks later, he would make dates and cancel them again. One day, he invited me to his house and against my better judgement, I went. He just hugged me a lot and whispered a lot of romantic things, kept offering me alcohol (even though he knew that I didn’t drink) and danced with me. He tried to kiss me, but I turned my head… I had never kissed a man before and because I could sense that something was not right, I didn’t want my first kiss to be with someone that seemed to be playing games.

    After that visit, he kept making impromptu dates but getting mad when I couldn’t accept them again and on and on. Finally, he said “we should just be friends” and pretty much cut off all contact except for work-related contact only. I was a little sad because it was sudden, but I quickly got over it and I felt that it was for the best.

    When I stopped paying attention to him, he would contact me to tell me things that he was doing to other women of a s*xual nature. He would imply that he would have made me his girlfriend if I had done what they were agreeing to do. Afterward, he’d say “that’s okay, we’re just friends”. A few weeks passed while we were just “friends” and we began to talk about things that we did while growing up and the types of discipline that we would receive. Not many people know, but I was mildly abused while growing up, but other than mild depression, I’ve been fine. However, I made a comment that made him respond with “were you abused?” I didn’t want to lie, so I said “a little” and then he said “well, I want to help you”. He kept asking me more detailed questions about the abuse and telling me that I should completely stop communication with my parents. Of course, I would not do this and he would act as if he were mad and did not want to speak to me if I didn’t.

    Finally, I lost three relatives in a short amount of time and my parents began to argue with me a lot. I was starting to feel depressed and a little suicidal but I didn’t tell anyone. One day, I went to work in a solemn mood and he asked “are you feeling down, like suicidal, maybe?” I tried not to say anything, but I nearly began to cry and I had to admit it. This was the worst thing that I could have ever done.

    From that point onward, he would tell me that he wanted to help me but would turn around and insult me by saying that I needed psychiatric help because “only crazy people want to kill themselves”. He would then ask me how I was feeling and if I were doing anything to change my situation. If I weren’t doing things his way, he’d say “stay away from me if you don’t want to listen to me”. I was starting to feel worse due to his advice, but he was acting as if he was helping me. Finally, one day he asked how I was feeling and I said “terrible” and he said “well, don’t talk to me and I am never calling you until you submit your crazy self to a psychiatrist as I asked… wait a minute, am I talking to you or your other personality? This is not you… nevermind… you’re gone… I don’t know who this is.” He then abruptly ended the conversation and did not talk to me for days. During those days, with my personal situation, the deaths of relatives, and his efforts to try to make me believe I was crazy had me so suicidal that I had to call one of the emergency counseling numbers!

    After that, I felt a lot better and resumed my life reconciling with my parents and moving on by myself. I even met a nice man and entered a relationship. It is important to note that the narcissist is African-American, I identify as African-American, and my boyfriend is Caucasian.

    When the narcissist started to notice me looking refreshed at work, he started trying to re-enter my life as a “friend” again. He asked if I was in a relationship and wanted to know everything about the man, including looks, race, etc. However, he became very upset when he found out that he is Caucasian. At this point, he began to flirt again and try to act as if he wanted me again. I stopped him and told him that it was inappropriate because I belonged to another man. He said “ARE YOU SAYING THAT I AM A THREAT?” This was very arrogant because I would not even consider him over the nice man that I met. This man never played games and the narcissist could never compete.

    The more happier I became, the more the narcissist seemed to become angry. I wasn’t talking to him as a friend much or anything else because he already pushed me away at my lowest, so I could no longer trust him. He now began to call me ugly and say that “if you gain weight, your White boy will not want you”. When I would question him, all of a sudden, he would have no recollection of saying any of these things. He would also invite me to All-Black events and tell me to bring my boyfriend knowing full and well that my White boyfriend would not be able to attend and would be shunned if he tried. He would also reprimand me for any Facebook posts that I make if he didn’t like them and would reprimand me for things that I did at work even though he was not my boss.

    At the end, he said “I control you” and I said “you are a master of manipulation, but you do not control me”. He then went into a rage saying “the whole world is against me, all of you just want to bring a Black man down, everyone is watching what I am doing and talking sideways, all of my friends turn around and judge me, whatever I do is my business, I don’t give a ****.”

    From that point onward, he acts as if I am the wall. This is unusual because he says hello to everyone because that keeps his image “superior”, so it is very noticeable when he looks straight through me at meetings and walks quickly past me glaring, etc. I’m just glad that it’s over, but I still Pray that he does not look for revenge.

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    • Do you both still work together?

      Try not to share his secrets or the way he treated you with others at work unless you are sure that your superiors will support YOU 100% and will fire him. Otherwise, get your support through your healthy boyfriend and a counselor if he continues this roller coaster (push-pull) behavior.

      If possible, you may want to consider employment in another department or company altogether.

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