How to Recognize Narcissistic Abuse.

Via Jennifer Hunt
on Feb 19, 2015
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I should have seen the red flags in his insane beliefs.

He had a hatred for Jewish people, he admired Hitler and he believed that the holocaust was a hoax—he had once graffitied swastikas at a Jewish school. He believed that those who follow the religion of Islam must be wiped off the Earth and those of African descent are to blame for their racial oppression.

I should have seen the red flags as I watched his parents brush it all off: how the family dynamic seemed to survive by living off each other’s sense of entitlement and grandiose beliefs and behavior; the way his mother would be unjustly rude to a waitress, modeling narcissistic behavior for her children.

I should have seen the red flags. I was surrounded by toxicity.

It wasn’t until he confessed that he’d once planned to steal his father’s gun to kill everyone in his social circle (the only thing stopping him was the key to where the gun was stored) that I began to piece things together.

Why didn’t I see the red flags?

At first it’s wonderful. They take on all your positive traits during the courtship cycle. I believe in honesty, kindness and compassion. So he became virtuous, a person of complete integrity. Whatever your noblest traits are, they pinpoint those strengths and project them. You begin to think, “They are exactly the same as me! We are so like-minded! A match made in heaven!”

But over time they can’t keep up with the charade. When they know they finally have you, they no longer feel obliged to reciprocate basic respect. When he verbally abused me, broke my belongings or smashed my car window out of irrational anger, he would never apologize on the grounds that I was too needy for expecting one and it put unfair pressure on him to do so.

Their fear of facing guilt is more important than the feelings of those they hurt.

They slowly reveal their true colors: the virtuous man I once knew became disrespectful, emotionally unavailable, bitter, hateful and self-absorbed. On the rare occasions he had no choice but to apologize for his behavior, he would always blame it on his depression. So my weak boundaries meant that I would take his depression onto my own shoulders. I defended all of his behavior and tried to lift the depression to find the man I loved again.

As you are sucked into sacrificing your own needs to help them, they begin to project their own behavior onto you:

You always manage to ruin their good moods.
They can never please you.
They don’t trust you.
You always play the victim.

And you begin to wonder how you could be so demanding and energy consuming? How could you act like the victim when they are in so much pain? You question yourself, change yourself. Then when that isn’t enough, you belittle yourself, degrade yourself and humiliate yourself. You begin to accept that you will never get an apology for the latest form of abuse, because maybe it was your fault that it happened.

You begin to chase them.

You lose your self-esteem, you stop talking to family and friends. You don’t believe you are a good enough. You constantly justify the poison and remain oblivious to it as it slowly seeps into your being.

After a year and a half of crying hysterically, one suicide attempt, loss of self-esteem, loss of ambition and lack of self-care, I checked myself into counselling and cut all contact with him.

At first I was ashamed of myself for not seeing those red flags.

As a holistic counselling student, I told myself that I should have known better. But I realized that we are not less valuable for enabling bad treatment; we are not less valuable for not knowing any better.

We are human.

In the midst of examining my shadows—what attracted the abuse and my weak boundaries—I am slowly learning to understand myself and forgive myself for not knowing any better. We can only work with the awareness that we possess at the time.

From the new awareness we gain by enduring it ourselves or learning from the experience of others, we become safer than ever before.



Identifying Emotional Abuse before it Happens.

7 Steps to Heal from Emotional & Physical Abuse 


How to have an independent kind of love:


Author: Jennifer Hunt

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Photo: Flickr


About Jennifer Hunt

Jennifer Belle Hunt is a holistic counselling student living in Melbourne, Australia. It took her to withdraw from two bachelor degrees (fine art and visual culture, professional writing and publishing) to finally realize that her heart was in healing those in need and inevitably discovered healing herself along the way. She is known for her overly sensitive tendencies and is dangerously idealistic. She is a self-confessed gym junkie, health nut, impatient meditator and wannabe kick boxer. Practicing yoga and visiting her nearest Buddhist temple in her spare time enables her to balance her mind, body and spirit. She believes in the inherent goodness of all human beings and that her purpose in life is to help others recognize their own true beauty, which in return energizes her to recognize her own.


66 Responses to “How to Recognize Narcissistic Abuse.”

  1. Karin says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! It does help to see others describe what it is like to try and live with a narcissist. I only recently managed to finally leave my husband of almost three years, and have experienced a lot of what you went through. For me it basically started the day after (!) the ceremony when he deleted a few of my facebook friends since apparently I shouldn't be in touch with them. The verbal abuse also started very soon after we were married, and he never failed to remind me that I was not as good/talented/snart as him. A year later, he locked me out the first time, this was then repeated six more times before I finally found a new place to stay. They are absolutely awful people, zero empathy, and a strange way of ignoring their own part in the conflict. I wish I could get the last three years back, but sadly realize that won't happen. Disappointed that I stayed around for so long, and am hoping to feel better soon. Would be so much easier if divorce was easier, since I'm sure he'll continue to make everything as difficult as he can, for as long as possible.

  2. Cinamon says:

    I am getting divorced after 27 years of marriage to a narcissist. I too was astounded in retrospect how I just didn't see it. I was miserable the last 10 years, 10 freaking years! Cycles of emotional abuse, neglect, and being made to feel worthless and invisible. People say, well, oh, no one can make you feel worthless without your permission- ha, screw that- they won't understand, only people like us who have spent time and lives with a psychopath know what it's like and how insidious it is. It's slow and proceeds in such a way you don't see it coming, you don't even understand how things changed, but one day your voice is silenced, your fears and desires and hopes and dreams evaporate into trying to salvage this toxic relationship that can't be fixed. I really started to get it when the first time I wanted a separation I started taking better care of myself and was emotionally divorced from him, and felt so free- and then when I took him back I had one health catastrophe after the other, and ended up on the brink of suicide and empty and dead inside. I found out in the course of our separation that he had been cheating on me for over 10 years with all kinds of random things from escorts to the skanky cleaning lady at work, had a sex addiction, porn addiction, but I was sexually starving. All I knew was that he was being a total dick and needed total control over everything in our lives- I had no idea of his secret life. The moment I finally had the balls to tell him to go for good- I had such joy and peace enter my life, I got off medications, illnesses and symptoms disappeared, I lost over 30 pounds almost immediately, I had wonderful people enter my life, new friends, new experiences, and now am dating a wonderful man. My boyfriend was asking me why I stayed when it was so bad- because his wife had left him when he tried so hard, thought he was doing everything right, and yet I stayed, and I explained how I just started disappearing, just kept trying to figure out why, trying to make sense of what he was doing, trying to understand and make things better, but it wasn't until I realized there was nothing more I could do- that I was able to leave. I will always regret the years I stayed, wasting my time, but I wouldn't be who I am, I wouldn't know the true joy of being free without the experiences and pain I went through, and I try to live in the present, and that's all I can do.

  3. Thomas Nilsson says:

    As Charlize's seems to be a case in progress I'd like to mention the importance of not tolerating interference once the culprit has been exposed. A restraining order ought to keep the psycho busy while regrouping and mending broken buckets. Unless available, proxies could be used as tools and some fanatic might be able to keep treating a target Stephen King style without anyone noticing. Check your micro devices or the cable guy would break through to you. Simply assuming illness being a sign of a flawed personality is not flawless.

  4. Jennifer says:

    GREAT article for anyone currently going through darkness with a narcissist. This helped me SO much. With the 800 word limit in this piece (and my main aim to write a more emotional, sensitive expression as opposed to descriptive) I was not able to fit in more details I would like to fit in and that true victims really need. But this is very helpful. My heart goes out to all those who can relate.

  5. Nicole says:

    I am one year out of the relationship and 4 months of no contact. I still have no idea what really happened to me. How did I end up married to him, albeit for 7 months. Fortunately, after I stopped spinning I threw myself into educating myself on the Paychopath Narc, WOW. It’s almost like they run on a script, so many similar stories. Mine was a spiritual Psychopath, using the words of the divine to woo; total confusion, nothing adds up. Enablers, gas lighting and the projections. Sooooooo, grateful to be free. I learnt about boundaries. I learnt about self care. I learnt to love myself so much I will never give my heart to evil ever again.

    Exposing these archon human nightmares is the best action. Silence in communication. So much love dear survivors.

  6. Nathalie says:

    I totally agree.

  7. confused says:

    But what do you do when the toxic abuser is your own child? He’s only 12, he can’t be “broken up with”… And 9 years of counseling has only given him the vocabulary to manipulate with. He has a neurological disorder, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to have compassion when he seemingly, purposefully works to tear apart the tattered strands of our relationship and our life. It’s heartbreaking to be the parent raising a child that refuses to respect any of my values and teachings I try to pass on to him. I’m so tired of living with the tears and pain of this, with no escape path, and so much loss (work, self esteem, the unfilled promise of the supposed joy of parenthood). I’m left wondering if I’ll ever get to be the wonderful person I was before I became a parent.

  8. Ruth says:

    Thank you for sharing this, I have just ended my 2 1/2 year and am in the process of wondering how on earth I ever got myself into such a situation. I too am a therapist, and really felt that I should have known better. I was lucky in that he never hit me and yet the mental and emotional abuse was huge and was getting worse daily. We had many many great times, traveled the world and in many ways we were living the dream life, so I think that made it easier for me to justify his outrageous behavior. However in the end I realized how much of me I had lost and how physically my stomach was always in knots and how it was time for me to pick up the pieces of my life and move on. I am still in grieving for what I imagined we had, but I know I will be fine. Your article was perfect for me at this time as it made me realize what a lucky escape I had had. Thank you.

  9. kiwichefnz says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for posting your personal experiences here. I could not help but feel that there is more than one victim and also that I find it sad that you feel your partner was "projecting" the traits that he thought you wanted to see. I prefer to see this kind of man as a victim of his own emotions rather than purposely lying to you about who he really is.

    Often it is not the intention of the male to dominate or to smash things like you have reported. It is a product of spur of the moment rationality that is generally a product of child hood abuse or trauma. You know I find at times you can paint the "bad" brush over an entire person due to a momentary lapse of self control, this is not a healthy habit. It is a defense and self-justification for the partner to withdraw from their partner on an emotional level.

    While I think your article can bring a sense of contentment for certain readers, I do not feel it offers the alternative of a restorative approach to mending a serious realtionship between two people, who have become victims of their joint-disfynctional behaviour.

    I say joint because I am an advocate that the abuse patterns are never one sided, unless the "abuser" is a complete maniac which is in most cases simply not the case. I say we should look to other avenues in order to experience healing rather than tossing a label over our former loved ones. Yes it may have been that the relationship needed to end, but I do not see it as productive to walk away from an experience on an emotional high-horse because of isolated physical acts like breaking of a car window, when that is just a small part of the real dysfunctional behaviour.

  10. Milo says:

    Thank you Jennifer for writing such an enlightening article. Thanks to it I am coming to realize and put a name to what has been going on in my life. I was so confused before.

    I have been in a relationship for 6 years. He was wonderful and incredibly charming at the beginning, and we can NOT blame ourselves for NOT seeing it. I am a health care giver also and felt dumb when I read your article the first time, but they play the act so well that he fooled even my family and friends. He even told me that he believed in God…

    I identify so much with your experience except the part about being depressive and planning to murder (that part makes your ex a psychopath!) the other difference, I have not let him affect my self esteem. He says: I am the cause of his frustration, I provoke him to be angry, I lie all the time, I hardly do anything right, his genes are superior… you know the drill…

    Living with him is a emotional roller coaster, always looking for a conflict to begin, manipulating and threatening about not letting me go with the kids to visit my family when I don´t agree with him (family isolation), so energy draining.

    Now I can see he is a victim also, as he is only child of a Much Major narcissist that is his mother.

    I left my homeland to live with him and my family is far away, so I don´t have much support against TWO narcissist abusers. The worse part is that we have two small wonderful kids and I don´t thing a divorce right now would be the solution. I am sure he will not leave me in peace because he wants to have TOTAL control over everything that has to do with kids. That is a big reason for argues everytime I don´t agree with him. And besides the law in this country dictates half and half custody for the children, and that means the kids living with him (and his mother) every other week, brainwashing them with their narcissistic beliefs and putting them against me and my whole family (he said he would do that, is being severely immature another trait of the Narcissism?).

    At least I have some control now while we live together for what our kids are exposed to. Although I know it is not a good environment, (he ignores me and specially neglects me when his mother is around).

    After our first child was born was when he started being a control freak (I had postbirth depression, no wonder…), and the verbal abuse started last year, after we had our second child.

    I wish he had done that before. I wish he had told me he didn´t trust me before we had kids, I wish he had told me before, that he didn´t believe the holocaust happened or that he didn´t care about anybody, only his children (lack of empathy: sociopath) and now, he doesn´t even believe in God anymore.

    Then I would have been easier to run away from him as far as I could.

    Now I have to be patient and think, speaking and writing is therapeutic. Before I couldn´t even think, I was so tired. Now I can see things more clearly thanks to you Jennifer, but still figuring out the puzzle.

    I know I am not alone, I am strong, I will get out of this. My focus is my children, I have to be strong for them. I have to save them.

    Victim of Narcsissist abuser and his mother

  11. Milo says:

    Patricia, you have to read the whole article. These people are snake enchanters, they don´t present themselves saying they admire Hitler at the begining. They are extremely charming at the begining, the poison comes slowly afterwards when they already have you severely involved. In my case after years, and after having had children together. If they say how they really thing they wouldn´t get anyone.
    Read the whole article before you comment

  12. slowly healing says:

    Jennifer, thank you for this article. 9 months ago I left a very toxic 20 year relationship with an extremely narcissistic man. Only once I was out of the relationship did I see just how early it started, but being very empathic, thought I could make things better. I ended up feeling like I had lost my mind, to the point where I was seen as the aggressor when the police came around during one of our last fights. He egged me on to punch him in the face after pushing me twice. All in front of our then 8 year old son. I was offered help through DV Connect and moved into a refuge, where I lived for 5 1/2 months. It is still a very long road ahead to recovery. I’ve been diagnoses with severe depression and PTSD due to the long term abuse I suffered. My two youngest were seeing a psychologist, until their father told them they shouldn’t be talking to other people about their feelings. They both refused to go after that and it took 2 months to make my son comfortable enough to go back to her. At 42 years of age I am finally learning how to set boundaries and enforce them. I know he no longer has control of me, but sometimes I still feel like I’m in his control. God bless each and every one of us that have endured the pit of hell and managed to climb back to the top.

  13. Billy says:

    Isn’t always a partner either, imagine the impact of growing up in a family of people like this and being the odd one out so to speak until you reach an age where you can leave and then having them continue to impact your life in any way possible so there is basically no escape, even if the person’s effectively cut them off, being family they’re still always ‘there’ in a sense. Having lived with just one of this family as a ‘friend/housemate’ briefly, I can only imagine the long term toll on a person’s health, well being and other relationships being related to and growing up with several of them and never being able to put them completely behind you.

  14. Carla says:

    How rude to post such a comment publicly. I stopped following you after watching your interview with Teal Swan. My gut feeling told me to not trust you. We are all in this to heal and to help others heal. Obviously you are in it for ego and profit. You and Teal give off tons of red flags. Many are talking about it.

  15. Chris HH says:

    Dear Jennifer Hunt,
    Thank you for sharing your story with everyone, as we all have our own stories it makes life easier when we sharer them with others who can learn from our paths within life and maybe save someone some pain or heartache. Our stories are unique to us and it is beautiful to her or read them and see if we can take anything from the story to improve ourselves or quality of living.

  16. Rene says:

    Hello, thank u for ur article. I run to a narcissist many times. One time, I was watching my favorite program, the guy asked me to buy him Thai food. I did buy him, I left my TV only there he ignored me. The other guy, borrowed money from me, never pay me back n run away with the woman friend I had introduced him to. The other guy, I helped him a lot. He refused to get me soda. I asked him to hold me, he said no n shut down. He screamed at me from the top of his lung n had kick me out from his car. I cut connections with all my guy friends n my exes as he ordered me. After 9 months I dump him. He texted that m a whore n I did my friends. M not attracted to my guy friends. My ex like a detective going through my phone, never believe me with money or I told him one night I was at Z bar, he did not believe me, so I gave my phone to my friend to talk to him. When we fought he always run away, when I was upset, he got more upset he said no one look at him sing at karaoke. Weird after a few months we broke up he has a new girlfriend. I don’t know why I kept forgiving him, when he called me, I heard his voice I wanted to b with him again. From one narcissist, it took me 4 years to have a boyfriend again. Now, it will take longer years for me to trust a guy again. I appreciate ur article. Hopefully instead of 9 times m forgiving the guy, next time I’ll put up with three. Thank u.

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