Narcissistic Abuse 101: How To Spot The Signs (Part 1)

Forgive me for the delay with the next post of this series, but these posts can be somewhat challenging to write as they cause me to "remember" my own experiences. But, I'm adamantly passionate about educating as many women as I can on this topic.

Once you understand what a narcissist and narcissistic personality disorder are, you realize that the problem with being in a relationship with one is that there will only be one person who matters: THEM!

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Sometimes we’re in abusive relationships and we don’t even know it. Or, we don’t want to admit it…you know, that something’s wrong and the relationship is not “healthy” but rather toxic. Abuse may be emotional, mental, physical, financial, spiritual, or sexual. Typically, narcissists don’t take responsibility for their behavior and more often than not they shift the blame on you or others. 

This next 3-part "mini-series" of posts will explore some key signs that will help you identify whether or not you are in a narcissistic relationship. This post will review examples of behaviors that you may not have even thought of as abusive. Part 2 will cover some key signs that will help you identify whether or not you are in a narcissistic relationship. They will focus mainly on how you are behaving and operating in the relationship. Part 3 will point out some key signs based on the abuser's behaviors and personality. Hopefully, we'll have covered all bases and you will be well informed to evaluate your own relationship.

Below is a list of behaviors that abusers display in relationships that could very well be abusive. How many of them do you recognize or have you experienced in your relationship?

Verbal Abuse: This includes belittling, bullying, accusing, blaming, shaming, demanding, ordering, threatening, criticizing, sarcasm, raging, opposing, undermining, interrupting, blocking, and name calling. Note that many people occasionally make demands, use sarcasm, interrupt, oppose, criticize, blame or block you. Consider the content, malice, and frequency of the behavior before labeling it narcissistic abuse.

Manipulation: Generally speaking, this is “indirect influence on someone to behave in a way that furthers the goals of the manipulator.” Often, it expresses covert aggression. Think of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” On the surface, the words seem harmless – they may even be complimentary or the behavior charismatic and charming. But underneath, you feel demeaned or a sense of hostile intent.

Emotional Blackmail: This may include threats, anger, warnings, intimidation, or punishment. It’s a form of manipulation that provokes doubt in you. You feel fear, obligation, and/or guilt—sometimes referred to as “FOG."

Gaslighting: Intentionally making you distrust your own perceptions of reality or believe that you’re mentally incompetent. We’ll explore this topic in more detail in a future post

Competition: Competing and one-upping to always be on top, sometimes through unethical means (i.e., cheating in a game).

Negative Contrasting: Unnecessarily making comparisons to negatively contrast you with the narcissist or other people.

Sabotage: Disruptive interference with your endeavors or relationships for the purpose of revenge or personal advantage.

Exploitation and Objectification: Using or taking advantage of you for personal ends without regard for your feelings and needs.

Lying: Persistent deception to avoid responsibility or to achieve the narcissist’s own ends.

Withholding: Withholding such things as money, sex, communication or affection from you.

Neglect: Ignoring the needs of a child for whom the abuser is responsible. Includes child endangerment, i.e., placing or leaving the child in a dangerous situation.

Privacy Invasion: Ignoring your boundaries by looking through your things, phone, mail; denying your physical privacy or stalking or following you; ignoring privacy you’ve requested.

Character Assassination or Slander: Spreading malicious gossip or lies about you to other people.

Violence: Includes blocking your movement, pulling hair, throwing things, or destroying your property.

Financial Abuse: This might include controlling your through economic domination or draining your finances through extortion, theft, manipulation, or gambling, or by accruing debt in your name or selling your personal property.

Isolation: Isolating you from friends, family, or access to outside services and support through control, manipulation, verbal abuse, character assassination, or other means of abuse.

You're In A Narcissistic Abusive Relationship...So Now What?

If you are sure you’re currently in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, know that you are NOT alone even if you feel like you are. There are millions of survivors and those in the same situation all over the world. This form of abuse is not exclusive to any gender, culture, social class, or religion.

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The first step is becoming aware of the reality of your situation and validating it—even if and when your abuser attempts to gaslight you into believing otherwise. If you identify with these signs, especially several of them, and you think you're a victim of narcissistic abuse, the main challenges for you at this point are:

  1. Clearly identifying it

  2. Building a support system

  3. Learning how to strengthen and protect yourself

Get Help!

If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s important to get outside support to understand clearly what’s going on, to rebuild your self-esteem and confidence, and to learn to communicate effectively and set healthy boundaries. Seek help through a therapist if possible. If not, seek out free resources – articles, exercises, online workbooks, etc. Google, Google, Google!! Call the national domestic abuse hotline number to ask questions.

In the eight years I was with my NarcEx, I saw 3 different therapists at different times over that period. It took me about half that time to ACCEPT that I was in an abusive relationship AND to even hear the term “narcissist.” Now, I’m a very passionate advocate trying to bring awareness and educate women about this topic. I will continue to research, share my own story and write about this topic.

The important thing to always remember is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Remember, stay tuned for Part 2! Follow SpunkyDiva Diaries on social media or check the website frequently for new articles.