What is Narcissistic Abuse?

Narcissistic abuse is a physical and mental health risk that affects tens of millions of people worldwide. 

It destroys people’s lives and impacts our society negatively, yet, most people don’t know it’s happening. This includes the targets of the abuse.

It’s a form of domestic violence that is carried out by someone with narcissistic traits or who is a full-blown NPD, which stands for narcissistic personality disorder.

This is psychological abuse by someone who is skilled at manipulation while lacking empathy for the harm they cause.

Narcissists systematically destroy their targets through psychological abuse simply because it’s highly effective at destroying someone’s self-worth, inner power, and sense of reality and hard to detect.

Their victim will question their own memory, perception, reality and even their sanity. 

They desire the victim to be dependent on them in multiple ways. This gives them the one thing they want. Control.

Narcissists get away with so much destruction not only because they are skilled at manipulation, but because their skill is underestimated by most.

If it can’t be identified, it can’t be treated and victims stay victims.

Narcissistic abuse is just as life-threatening as physical abuse, if not more. It’s just that the destruction is internal and not seen on the surface of a body like cuts or bruises.

Many victims are re-traumatized when they reach out for help. More often than not, therapists and counselors are not trained around this type of abuse. The DSM only describes one style of narcissistic personality disorder and it does not have a diagnosis for victims of this abuse. Often, what the victim is going through is minimized or misdiagnosed.

If we could see the wounds like we do physical abuse, we would be mortified.

Individuals that are abusive and have narcissistic traits or full-blown NPD are not usually the type that shows up in a therapist’s office taking accountability for their actions and wanting to change themselves.

They actually think everyone else is the problem, so there are many undiagnosed narcissists walking about inflicting pain on a lot of people throughout their lifetime. The type of pain and destruction that destroys lives.

On top of never being diagnosed, many do not have arrest records or a visible history. They are very, very skilled at hiding their disorder and getting themselves out of hot water. Their targets are the only ones that usually see their abusive side. When victims reach for help, many people simply don’t believe them.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking OH MY GOD, this person sounds evil and you would be able to see them from a mile away. That’s a common assumption that is wrong.

If you can imagine the most charming and humble person you know and then someone coming to you and telling you they are evil and go into abusive rages, it’s going to be very hard for most people to believe because every time you see that charming and humble person, they are always charming and humble.

Narcissistic abusers are bullies. Some look the part but many don’t and they are normally supported by other bullies or people that can’t see through them.

Some narcissistic abusers are easy to point out, but others are not and these are some of the people that do the most damage. They can look like the most caring, giving, loving person that you would never suspect could harm anyone but then behind closed doors, they wreak havoc on certain people. Not everyone will experience their abuse.

Because there are different types of narcissists, victims’ experiences can look and feel different as well.

Someone wrote on our Facebook that their therapist told them they were mistaken and their partner was not a narcissist because narcissists are not nurses and do not take care of people. As a result, this person believed they were crazy and went through years of not seeing the abuse that always pushed them into suicide.

So, yes, narcissists can be caretakers and this is extremely important to understand because these types can do some of the most damage to their victims. They don’t look like what most people would consider an abuser.

It makes it harder for victims to reach out for help when they are disguised like this because the victims see others believe in the good side of the abuser and they want to believe this is who they truly are.

Their abuser is most likely charming, maybe funny, and really easy to like. This is part of their strategy though.

This goes for therapists, law enforcement, and family court professionals as well. They are able to make life changing decisions, but they are not trained on this type of abuse. They don’t know how to recognize it and normally look at the victim as the problem because of their emotional and mental state due to the abuse.

I’ve seen case after case, where loving parents that were domestically abused by the other parent lose custody of their children in the court system.

They are filled with anxiety, panic, emotions, and don’t have the right strategy for court with a narcissist. And then the abuser is sitting calm as a cucumber and in the judge’s eyes, the victim looks like the problem. It’s a horrible situation and kids often suffer the most. 

It’s the type of mind screw that only people who have lived through it would understand.

I’ve heard people say this is the type of abuse where the abuser usually goes untreated and everyone else around them needs therapy.

Healthy vs Unhealthy Narcissism

Some teach that there is a healthy level of narcissism. I don't agree with using this term and I think it waters down how damaging narcissism can be. It's an oxymoron.

What they describe as healthy narcissism is really "self-care." It's getting your needs met without damaging others to do so.

Narcissists operate in more of a "someone has to win" and "My feelings are more important than yours" mentality. They will purposely undermine and diminish other people to get what they want. They don't care who they hurt as long as they get their needs met.

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