- Lynn Catalano
Are narcissists abusive?
People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder show a pattern of emotional manipulation, verbal abuse, and controlling behavior. The resulting narcissistic abuse feels like the drip, drip, drip of emotional terrorism that narcissists love to use to punish their victims.
You know when you are in the relationship, you will do anything to make it work. You will apologize for things you didn’t say or do, you just keep your head down and try to make peace. You aren’t aware of the terminology or that you are suffering from narcissistic abuse. I wasn’t aware that my father was suffering from narcissistic personality disorder at the time. I had never heard of it. I also didn’t know that his words, actions and tactics constituted emotional abuse. Narcissistic abuse is unlike any other pain you’ve felt. It sneaks up on you, as you keep trying to make the relationship work, you’re unaware of the toll it takes on you.
Narcissists consistently use tactics like gaslighting and the Silent Treatment to punish their victims. The resulting trauma bond is what keeps us coming back to the abusive relationship.
Narcissists cleverly manipulate our understanding and interpretation of events to a point where their “victims” literally don’t trust their own judgment. As a technique, it’s meant to disorient and make people question their very perception of reality. Gaslighting is a powerful sign and a huge red flag that you’re in the middle of a toxic relationship with a narcissist.
The Silent Treatment
A Psychology Today article stated “Clearly, silent treatment creates an atmosphere of anxiety, fear, and sadness that preclude an underlying sense of safety. As such, it causes unhappiness and psychological harm that most often heightens conflict in a relationship. It can lead one to feel anger, abandonment, rejection, and overall distress.”
My father was an expert at giving people the Silent Treatment. I’ve been a witness to him giving it to others as well as to myself for my entire life. Most of the time, he would get angry about some perceived slight, or a perceived offense. Then he would dismiss that person by giving them the Silent Treatment. No conflict resolution. No compromise. No accepting responsibility for actions. Nada. The narcissist took control of the situation and abandoned any opportunity to resolve the conflict.
Trauma bonding, as defined in an article is the formation of an emotional attachment between a person and their abuser, which often makes the victim of the abuse feel compelled to stay in the relationship.
I wrote about this in my book, "Wrecking Ball Relationships: How to Identify, Live With or Leave the Narcissist in Your Life.”
“What you allow will continue. Learn to let it go. These are the narcissist’s issues, not yours. If you remove your tendency toward ownership, you can learn and move on. Let it go. This isn’t about someone who hurt you once and made a mistake. This is a pattern of repeated emotional abuse. You can forgive, as you break the cycle. Victims of narcissists are conditioned over time to accept emotional abuse and outright destructive behavior as normal. “That’s just dad. Sometimes he stops talking to me,” they say.”
If you’ve suffered this type of relationship, it helps enormously to talk to someone. When you're in a toxic relationship, you need to talk to someone about your emotions and your trauma. I’m a survivor of narcissistic abuse and now I coach people on their healing journey. I give people clarity, validation & comfort.
Learn more about me here: https://buff.ly/3wf6tgQ
Click here to book a free session with me. We’ll figure out if we work well together.
You can find my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships” on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.