In all of the pain after my ex husband left, there is one pain that stands out as more acute than the rest. After being arrested for bigamy and bailing out of jail, my ex decided to overdose on sleeping pills. It appeared to be a sincere suicide attempt, but he made sure to cover his bases in case he survived.
He composed and emailed a suicide letter to both his new wife and to my mom. I read that email while sitting outside the DA’s office waiting to meet the victim advocate. He was recovering in the ICU.
I felt reality slipping away as I processed the words that distorted the world I knew. In the letter, he speaks of me being “impossible to live with” and “negative.” He talks about my irresponsible spending habits and how I “just had to have my way” and he “couldn’t tell me no.”…
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There is a lot of information already on the internet about the “no contact rule” and how to implement it. The problem is with the passage of time, people develop relationship amnesia and just around the time relationship amnesia begins to set in, the narcissist, like a tornado will regenerate and strike again. No contact is good but going Stover is even better. No that wasn’t a typo. Stover is a term a friend of mine coined that means the relationship is “So Totally OVER” or Stover. Going Stover is a lot like going no contact only on Red Bull, and best of all it protects against dreaded relationship amnesia.
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How A Narcissist Verbally Abuses
Narcissistic verbal abuse is powerful. A talented narcissist can wear down your client and then spin them around so fast before they realize what has happened. Somehow, the narcissist has convinces them that what is up is really down and the verbal assaults are actually your client’s fault.
For this reason, verbal abuse is a favorite tactic of narcissists. It very quickly intimidates the target while simultaneously establishing their dominance and superiority. The attack usually catches the target off-guard thus assuring victory. All of this is done to gain control and manipulate a person into doing something.
The pattern is similar whether the narcissist is a spouse, parent, employer, coach, manager, or preacher. It first begins in secret, is infrequent, is mild in tone with minimal use of abusive language, and sometimes is followed by a shallow apology. Then it escalates to public humiliation, is more frequent, shifts blame to the victim, and is excessive in tone while denying abusive words.
- Narcissists use the volume and tone of their voice to subconsciously establish dominance. They do this through two extremes. One way is to increase the volume by yelling, screaming, and raging. The second is equally effective through complete silence, ignoring, and refusing to respond. Their tone reiterates the abusiveness by combining petulance and pompousness.
- Words have meaning beyond their definition. For a narcissist, words are used to instill fear, intimidate, manipulate, oppress and constrain. Swearing and threatening language comes easily to the narcissist when the person refuses to do what they want. But if the victim tries to use the same method, the narcissistic verbal assault will amplify.
- The manner of a narcissist’s speech is argumentative, competitive, sarcastic and demanding. They will frequently interrupt, talk over a person, withhold key information, bully and interrogate. Many times the verbal assault will be so rapid that the victim does not have the time or energy to fight point by point. This is precisely what they want.
- Mixed in with the assault will be personal attacks such as name calling, mocking responses, defaming character, berating feelings, and judging opinions. To further add to the confusion, the narcissist will mix some truth with a lot of criticism. This condemning tactic leaves the victim feeling inferior and defeated.
- A narcissist will do anything to avoid embarrassment, including going on the defensive over minor infractions by blocking and diverting casual remarks. Their self-inflated perception is so skewed that they frequently accuse the victim of making them look bad. When they perceive an attack, they refuse to take responsibility, become hostile, invalidate or dismiss feelings, lie, and conveniently forget promises or commitments.
- Narcissists are masters at the blame game; anything that goes wrong is the other person’s fault. They accuse the victim of being too sensitive, are overly critical of other’s reactions, “one-up” feelings and oppose opinions. In essence, the victim is to blame for the negative condition in which they find themselves.
- Typical sayings include: “I’m critical for your own good,” “I was only joking when I said that…,” “If only you would…, then I won’t have to be this way,” “You don’t know how to take a joke,” “The problem with you is…,” and “That (verbal abuse) didn’t really happen.”
- As a result of the verbal abuse, the victim feels they can’t ever win, are always in the wrong, have a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, constantly walk on eggshells, are fearful of their response, and are embarrassed by their behavior.
Your client is not going crazy. Verbal abuse is real and can leave a person confused and frustrated. Be careful not to agree to anything the narcissist insists on during the verbal assault. Wait at least 24 hours before making any decision and get counsel outside of them. It is not necessary to jump through every hoop the narcissist requires.
April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month. At The Invisible Scar, we are focusing on emotional child abuse, such as the various types, how to help emotionally abused children, resources for healing, adult survivors of emotional child abuse, and the special case of narcissism.
Adult children of narcissistic parents (ACoNs) know a special type of emotional abuse in being raised by narcissists. (Biological mothers, stepmothers, biological fathers, and stepfathers can be N parents.)
Before we discuss the special case of narcissism, please note that not every emotionally abusive parent has the narcissistic personality disorder. In some circumstances, an emotionally abusive parent who is not a narcissist can change and improve his or her parenting. The same is not true for the narcissistic parent, however. Every narcissistic parent is an emotional abuser.
A narcissist is a person who has the narcissistic personality disorder.
Narcissistic personality disorder is one…
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Many people enter the therapy process with minimal awareness of their trauma history. When the trauma survivors are dissociative, they have the ability to block out an awareness of their trauma. They may know that their family had problems, or that their family was dysfunctional, etc, but they may believe they were never abused.
However, blocking out conscious awareness of trauma does not mean that the survivors have no effects of that trauma. Using denial and dissociative skills does not mean that the abuse did not happen. Denial means that the person simply is refusing to acknowledge or accept the fact that they were traumatized. They are pretending they were not hurt, when they were actually hurt very badly.
Even if the memories of abuse are hidden from the survivor’s awareness, blocked trauma / unresolved trauma creates very noticeable and obvious symptoms that…
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