Understanding the Language of Narcissistic Abuse.

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I fell hard. And fast.

Overwhelmed by his attention and adoration, I jumped in headfirst without blinking, believing him after only weeks of dating when he declared his never-ending love and that I was his soul mate, that I had brought meaning into his meaningless existence.

I was everything he had ever wanted, ever dreamed for, ever hoped for, he said, and proved it daily by drowning me in love and passion. He couldn’t keep his hands off me, we made love often, sometimes up to five or six times a day. Not an hour went by that I didn’t hear from him. He wrote me notes, he wrote me poetry, he recited poems in public, he told everyone I would be his wife, that I was the mother of his unborn children.

I didn’t have time to think, to reflect, to question. There was nothing I could do but free fall into his love and ride it like a roller coaster with my eyes squeezed shut—it was scary as hell, but I didn’t want to get off.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…

Love Bombing

A manipulation tactic involving lavish demonstrations and constant bombardments of attention and affection in an attempt to gain control by moving the relationship forward quickly.

Everything he did was perfect. Everything he said was perfect. It was as if he had some secret insight into my soul and what I wanted in a relationship, as if I had handed him a list of the top 20 qualities I longed for in a man and within the year had checked off every last one. He said it was because we knew one another in a previous life and we were destined by the Universe to find one another. He had searched for me for so long and then I appeared just at the right time.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…

Grooming

A calculated and predatory act of maneuvering a person into a more dependent and isolated position by claiming a “special connection” where they are more vulnerable to accepting future abusive behavior.

I gave him everything, without question, without reservation: my kindness, my loyalty, my love, my forgiveness (over and over again).

But that was then, before I knew I was an…

Empath

A highly sensitive and empathetic person who feels and often takes on the emotions of others often at the expense of their own emotional well-being.

I was full of forgiveness and understanding. I had to be. Otherwise, I would have been forced to listen to those quieter voices in my head suggesting something wasn’t right, things didn’t add up. I would have had to open my eyes and see the small cracks in the shiny mirror of love that had started to form.

But it was easy to ignore my inner voices when he seemed so full of remorse anytime another side of him was exposed—or rather a side that I had found out about. All his bad behavior was in the past, he promised, over and over again. He hated the man he used to be, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. He was just misunderstood, he said. Deep down he really was a good person who wouldn’t hurt anyone on purpose. Especially me.

But that was then, before I knew I had entered the world of a…

Pathological Liar

A person who habitually and compulsively lies in order to suit their own needs.

Over the years, even if I did stumble upon something new about him that made me question the relationship, he swooped in so fast and drowned me in so much love that I couldn’t help but become dizzy in his grasp, even question my own intentions to assume such terrible things about him. How could I think he would do that (whatever “that” happened to be each time)? Then I would feel guilty for even asking him about it. I loved him, after all, and I was his soul mate, as he claimed. He was a changed man and it was all because of me.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…

Hoovering

Named after the Hoover vacuum, it is a tactic used to “suck back in” the victim by exhibiting improved or desirable behavior.

We became the couple who had it all. He showed me off like a new car. People wanted to know our love story and I became an expert at telling it. I left out the smaller pieces, of course, the unpredictable moments here and there that appeared and disappeared so quickly that it was easier just to push them out of my mind—like the names of women that seemed to pop up here and there, everywhere, and then nowhere.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…

Normalizing

A tactic used to desensitize a person to inappropriate or abusive behaviors; manipulating a person to agree or accept something that is in conflict with the law, social norms, or their own basic code of behavior.

I had never met anyone more charismatic or charming. The first few years I was the sole receiver of his gifts, which made it easier to let that inquisitive side of me, the one interested in the truth, fall away. So by the time he began sharing his charm with others, saving less and less for me unless I had something he needed (such as approval or sex), I had already subconsciously resigned myself to being a part of the audience in his one-man show.

Going out with him in social situations became a spectacle. I was in awe of how he transfixed a room, captured every ounce of energy there was to be had. Everyone liked him, or so I thought. All of his charm was now being directed to any other woman in his immediate presence, no matter their age, no matter if they were married or single. Nothing mattered to him outside of making them laugh or smile through his own efforts.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…

Supply

A narcissist’s insatiable need to gain the attention and adoration of others for the purpose of building them up and confirming their false sense of superiority and entitlement.

I soon became exhausted, focusing solely on getting through each day. I blamed everything on myself. Then I blamed it on having kids. He disagreed. The kids weren’t the reason I was such a mess, he said. It was because of me—I couldn’t handle my own children. He compared me with every other mother in America. They could all do it, why couldn’t I?

At the time I didn’t think I was asking for all that much: on some Sundays I had asked to go grocery shopping by myself, and once I asked if he could watch my infant and toddler while I went to get my teeth cleaned. Figure it out, he said, like every other mother does. So I imagined a scenario where I would hold my baby, nurse him if needed, while my right foot hung off the dentist’s chair and rocked my toddler. This never happened, though, which proved my inadequacy as a mother, since I didn’t go to the dentist until my kids were in daycare, two years later.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…

Ambient Abuse

The stealthy, subtle, underground currents of maltreatment that sometimes go unnoticed even by the victims themselves until it is too late; the fostering and enhancement of an atmosphere of intimidation, fear, and instability; often viewed as the most dangerous type of abuse.

The last few years there were days I wouldn’t leave my house, the dark pockets under my eyes from all the crying and shouting and begging, making it appear as though he had hit me. But he never hit me. On several occasions he placed his hands around my neck, professing his love while squeezing, whispering how he could kill me he loved me so much. But he always let go just as I got dizzy or needed a breath, and then broke down and cried and promised he would never hurt me. I learned to remain stoic during this ritual and listened patiently while he reminded me how lucky I was to have a man who loved me so much, who put up with me. Since I had no faith in my own emotional state, I had no choice but to believe him. I told myself I was lucky to have him, especially considering how crazy I had begun to feel, losing all logic, questioning myself at every turn, staring into the mirror day after day and not recognizing the woman who stared back.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…

Gaslighting

A form of mental abuse that includes brainwashing or convincing a mentally healthy individual that their understanding of reality is false, making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity; the term is from the 1944 movie “Gaslight,” in which the villain used this technique.

As time went on I became more isolated, though he still “allowed” me to have dinner with friends once in a while, or to visit my mom, or to go to my high school reunion. Wherever I went, though, his questions became more persistent, insistent once I came home.

Who did I see? Did I get in touch with any old boyfriends? What did I talk about? Did I talk about him? What did I say? Why was I lying? Did I find that man in the restaurant attractive? Did I cheat on him? Did I think about cheating? Why wouldn’t I just tell the truth?

But that was then, before I knew anything about…

Projection

A psychological defense mechanism where a person “projects” their own undesirable thoughts, feelings, or actions onto someone else in order to seek acquittal from their own conscience; example: accusing the victim of cheating when the accuser is actually the one cheating.

Days, months, years passed and more and more he began walking around me, ignoring me, even at the dinner table when he ate the food I had prepared and I sat at the other end using every muscle trying not to cry. I cried while doing the dishes, standing out on the porch in the middle of winter, sitting in the bath, lying in bed. His presence was felt only in the small breeze that walking by me caused, as if I weren’t a human being but instead a piece of furniture that got in his way.

But that was then, before I knew anything about the…

Silent Treatment

A preferred weapon of Narcissists; a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse in which displeasure, disapproval, and contempt exhibited through nonverbal gestures, such as glaring, while maintaining verbal silence.

The last two years I put myself to sleep to avoid all feeling. That way, even when I knew he was lying or when I found out about something he had done, it somehow made it easier. And I was wholly unaware that other stronger forces were at work, and had been at work, to keep me numb and silent and weakened:

Dosing {small and temporary revivals of the love bombing phase}

Denial {denying one’s actions even in the face of physical proof}

Bait & Switch {luring the victim in with kindness and affection and once they are “hooked” the abuser switches to being demanding, inattentive, and cruel}

Because of the tender physical state I also existed within, plagued by daily stomachaches, nausea, and panic attacks, I also possessed nowhere near the amount of strength or energy required to face any sudden additional traumas, such as when I discovered he had been hiding money, or lying about me to our friends, or his infidelities. In this self-induced emotional coma, daily life took on a dream quality, which softened the edges and allowed me to take shelter while outside what felt like a tornado threatened to destroy everything I knew. I hid, I cowered, I retreated, and I gave up all hope on anything ever being good again.

But that was then, before I found myself in the office of a psychologist who was an expert on…

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A personality disorder in which the individual has a distorted self-image, unstable and intense emotions, is overly preoccupied with vanity, prestige, power and personal adequacy, lacks empathy, and has an exaggerated sense of superiority. NPD is closely associated with egocentrism—a personality characteristic in which people see themselves and their interests and opinions as the only ones that really matter.

And my life would never be the same.

I was a victim of emotional abuse. But my story doesn’t end there. In fact, that is where it begins.

Through empowerment, education, and enlightenment I have not only survived but thrived in my new life of freedom and peace. I was a victim, but I am no longer a victim. This, however, was only due to the journey I committed myself to take in understanding what exactly I experienced in my relationship with a Narcissist, which included understanding the language surrounding it. With this knowledge, I was then able to forgive myself, recognize I was not the one with the problem, and take responsibility for my own growth and emotional development upon escaping the situation.

Above all, however, my healing has come only because I granted myself the love and the time needed to heal. Unlike all those years ago, now when I look in the mirror I immediately recognize the woman looking back. And she is awake, and she is brave, and she is loving and strong and compassionate.

The one thing she is not, though, is crazy. And as I finally learned, she never was.

If you believe you might be a victim of Narcissistic Abuse, my hope is that through your own education and enlightenment you will then gain the tools and find the support necessary to help you escape your suffering and find the peace that you so deserve.

Because when you know better, you will do better. I promise.

~

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In honor of this I hope to shed light on the more insidious form of emotional abuse that, while not physically visible, causes as much damage and trauma while leaving what can be lifelong scars on the hearts and souls of its victims.

Before learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I spent a decade in shame and silence, taking the blame, hating myself, hiding away and gradually slipping into a numbed emotional state to survive the daily punishments from a man who took great pleasure in inflicting them.

Narcissistic Abuse is a dark and confusing tunnel where victims might spend years not realizing what is happening, unaware that their abuser has maliciously and intentionally created a world to isolate, demoralize, and dehumanize their victims to better feed and supply their disorder. It is my hope that by giving definitions to the language surrounding NPD that those currently suffering will see their own story reflected in mine, gain the knowledge necessary to better assess their situation, and then take the first steps needed for escape and eventually healing.

Because as Maya Angelou once said: When you know better, you do better.

**

Bonus videos

 

 

Relephant read: 

Identifying Emotional Abuse before it Happens.

 

Author: Suzanna Quintana 

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Flickr

 

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Suzanna Quintana

Suzanna Quintana is a writer, abuse survivor, women’s advocate, feminist, and single mother of three sons. Along with being a former ballroom & Latin dancer/teacher/choreographer, she is a board-certified holistic health coach, holds a B.A. in History, attended the graduate writing program at Naropa University, and is currently pursuing her second B.A. in Women & Gender Studies at Arizona State University. Holding a life preserver and ready to throw it to any woman still living in the darkness, Suzanna serves as a guiding voice to those ready to claim their space in the light. For more of her work, story, and programs, visit her website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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anonymous Apr 4, 2016 6:12am

I dated someone like that. When I broke up with him finally it wasn’t pretty. And people said how could you do that they all thought it was cute. And at first it was until it became crazy. I never went out with friends and the one time I did I came home and had 300 missed calls and a message saying I drove past your house and your car is gone. He would bring me flowers every single day to school and put them in my locker. At first I thought it was so sweet then it got weird and obsessive. He bought me a phone so he could keep track of me. In the mornings before school I would have to drive to his house to just sit there with him. And then I stopped because I wanted to sleep in the mornings and he would be so mad. I finally got away from him and I am with someone amazing. But I still feel robbed of my high school days. He was out of high school.

    anonymous Apr 7, 2016 2:18pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, Jessica. I am glad you are no longer in that toxic relationship and have found real love! We mustn't blame ourselves for falling for these kinds of people. And any time spent in regret is only taking away time from your new life today. I hope my story helped you find a bit more peace since now you know you are not alone. All the best to you!

anonymous Apr 4, 2016 3:35am

To all those who have made comments here and those who will read this page in the future, my heart goes out to you. My expertise on the subject has been developed not only as a clinician but on a personal level. I was in love with a narcissist and have a young son with her. My love and blessings to you all and especially Suzanna for raising awareness of this subject.

    anonymous Apr 7, 2016 2:15pm

    Thank you for your kind and supportive comments. We need more experts like yourself on the subject of NPD to help the many victims who struggle to heal and recover after leaving since it is only when we realize we are not alone that true healing can begin.

anonymous Apr 3, 2016 6:36am

Thank you for that article. I was looking for something like that from the Empath point of view. The way how you explained. … perfect.
All your emotions and true you . Thank you.

    anonymous Apr 7, 2016 2:16pm

    Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad to hear that my story resonated with you and hopefully gave you some added peace in your life. We empaths must stand together!

anonymous Mar 30, 2016 7:11pm

I was married to a man with NPD for 30 years, all the while trying to figure out what was happening. Kicked him out 5 years ago. Young women need to know these men exist and how to avoid them.

anonymous Mar 7, 2016 10:52am

Thanks so much for writing this article Suzanna. Sometimes we’re in denial of what is going on in our lives or what had happened (marriage/relationship). I realized so much more after reading this, I am still dealing with the dark thoughts from my past relationship, something that doesn’t really go away. In time I know it does get better but at least this serves as a reminder that no, it wasn’t my fault, I was dealing with a Narcissist who I truly loved. However, emotional abuse is never a healthy thing. You’ve got to do what’s right for you in the end because they will never change.

Thanks so much for this again!

    anonymous Mar 16, 2016 2:50pm

    Thank you for your message, Sara! You really summed up what it's like to survive a Narcissist – the darkness, the journey, and the realization that we are not at fault for what the abuser did and that they will never ever change so it's best just to get out. I'm so happy you have reached a place of acceptance and peace in your life so that you can move forward into the life you really deserve. And now you know you are also not alone in this. <3

anonymous Mar 6, 2016 3:58pm

Reading your story was like reading my own story. It was like a mirror I needed to see. My therapist has called my (late) marriage abusive, but I have rejected that term. I couldn’t stand hearing that I could have been a victim, especially since I have been healing so quickly since it ended. Now I see what she meant after reading this. I need to recognize my own responsibility in this game so it will never happen to me again. Thank you for speaking out.

    anonymous Mar 7, 2016 11:25am

    Mary it took me a long time to recognize that I was a victim of emotional abuse. It's such a tough thing to own, yes? But that is how we take that first step to healing. Remember just because you were a victim doesn't mean you still are. Now you are a survivor and can put yourself first so that you can step fully into the light and have a life of peace and love that you so deserve.

anonymous Mar 6, 2016 8:29am

I just want to say thank you. This is the only article (of many) I have read that puts this all together and gives me the knowledge and strength to let him go, to move on AND GET STRONG! I am NOT crazy! I've been told for 4 years that I'm crazy… I know now that I'm not and I need to move on to making me happy. Thanks to you I now feel I can! Thank you and God bless you!

    anonymous Mar 7, 2016 11:23am

    Thank you Michelle! Damn right you are not crazy and now you know you are not alone! Stay strong and all the best to you. You've got this!

anonymous Mar 6, 2016 7:07am

If you have kids with a Narcissistic ex, do you have to co parent? That’s my current struggle. We got out, moved to another country. I’ve tried to allow a relationship between the kids and father via telephone and visit, but the minimal interaction we have seems to be goin

    anonymous Mar 7, 2016 11:22am

    Narcissists are unable to co parent in any capacity. I wish I had the answer for you but in my experience the less contact the better. I tried for years to help my ex see the damage he was doing to his own children to no avail. The only thing I can do is give my kids a safe and loving place to grow, and then pick up the pieces when they fall every time my ex damages them in some way. It's a heartbreak like no other, unfortunately. Stay strong not only for yourself but for your children because they will need you.

anonymous Mar 4, 2016 10:23am

Thank you for your openness.

I recognised every stage you described although my relationship was very recent and not as long.

I reacted to his abuse by challenging him but also forgave him, over and over. Eventually (less than a year later) I asked him to leave my home. It took him 6 more months of applying his skills, with me moving back and forth, with and against my decision that he must leave. Finally, when he was incredibly offensive about my children and grandchildren, I put my foot down and he left, affronted and upset, and, of course, because I was such a bad parent.

Despite his leaving, I continued to support him and so we continued our dance of my need against his distance, which was caused by my not being quite good enough.

Yesterday, I stopped. Hopefully, I will hold strong and not relent – and see our relationship for what it was -abusive, even at our age (60s).

The worst part for me is that I realised that I have been manipulated in all my relationships, so now I must find my voice – being an empath has its blessings but . . . . . .

Many, many blessings to you and yours and thank you again for sharing

    anonymous Mar 7, 2016 11:18am

    Marie thank you for writing and sharing your story. I am so sorry you've had this experience, but I hope you see now that you are not alone in this and your well being and health and sense of peace are the most important, which is why it's crucial you keep moving forward and not going back to the pain and suffering. Stay strong and make yourself the priority. You are worth it!

anonymous Mar 3, 2016 4:58am

Thank you for being brave enough to put yourself out there and write this article. All of these things are true of my own mother. Only after understanding she is a narcissist, I was able to heal myself. For me, I am unable to have a relationship with her and feel no guilt over it whatsoever. The article is beautiful….best wishes to you and your children.

    anonymous Mar 3, 2016 10:19am

    I totally understand how you feel, Heather. Empowering ourselves by learning of this disorder is one of the best tools we have for healing. And then establishing a no-contact policy for ourselves if possible – no guilt involved! I am grateful you are in a better place of peace and that you reached out to share your story. Thank you!

anonymous Mar 3, 2016 4:31am

Hi Suzanna, I’d like to thank you so very much for writing this article. It’s like reading about the almost 9 years I spent with my ex. I was wondering if I could get your permission to use the basic format of this article to write a song? I’ll rephrase some parts but I resonate quite a lot with the part where you say “and that was then, before I knew about …”

It’s just an idea at the moment but I find I communicate & heal so much better through music & this is a part of my life I do desperately wish to heal, even though it’s been two years since we separated.

    anonymous Mar 3, 2016 10:16am

    Meg thank you for reaching out to me. Yes of course you have my permission to use the basic format. I know how much writing has healed me so I'm glad you have the outlet of music to help you heal. It is a journey, and though I left my ex just over two years ago I still am in a process of recovery. It's important that we do whatever we need to in order to keep us moving forward on that road to healing and peace. All the best to you!

anonymous Feb 28, 2016 8:51pm

I couldn’t have said it better, this is my life right now! I live in a world of constant fear, in fact I will check five times to make sure he couldn’t possibly find this post! I live with him and our 2.5 year old daughter, I have no family and neither does he. I don’t even know how to begin to get away! I have no job, and no car, all his choosing! When I did have a job I was constantly asked who I was messing with at work, and I haven’t been allowed to use his car in a year and a half! I’m trapped and alone, and I no longer want to feel this way!

    anonymous Mar 3, 2016 10:12am

    Nikki the first thing you need to do is reach out for help since it sounds like you are very isolated. Begin with contacting domestic violence shelters in your area or go online. There are many organizations to help you escape while protecting you and your daughter. Understand that situations like yours only get worse so it's crucial to get help as soon as possible. Please be safe and I'm sending you much love and support your way. You are not alone in this!

anonymous Feb 11, 2016 7:15am

So similar to my story. Thank you for sharing. My ex and i have been divorced now for several years and I’m finally beginning to heal. But I have a new issue to figure out. My teenage son is now displaying the traits and our home is getting more tense. I have 3 other children who are dealing with anxiety over it as well and don’t know what to do. Any advice or recommendations on what to do, how to find help or someone who specializes in this? Feeling so lost and scared again.

    anonymous Feb 18, 2016 2:44pm

    Stephanie I am dealing with the same issue. I have been free from my ex now for over two years but my 15-year-old is incredibly similar to his father and my other two boys also suffer from the effects of having to deal with both their father and their brother. I was told by a psychologist that it is very common for a child who is already similar to their parent to exhibit the same traits of Narcissism. Of course we have to remember that they are still children and not fully mentally capable yet to understand their behavior, yet I worry as you do about the future. I wish I had answers for you. I would try searching for a psychologist or therapist who is an expert with NPD. It's so heartbreaking, isn't it, to watch our children suffer and be powerless to do anything about it. I wish you all the luck and hope you find some answers.

    anonymous Mar 3, 2016 10:07am

    Stephanie I have struggled with the same issue. One of my three boys is a teenager and displays so many of the same characteristics of his father. We must remember that they are still children, though, and unlike their adult father they are for the most part unaware of their behavior similarities. I suggest searching for a psychologist or therapist who is an expert on NPD and start there. That is what I did and I received much help for my son to better navigate his way. Unfortunately it is hard to find someone who is an expert on this subject, but keep searching because the help you receive is priceless. Thank you for reaching out to me and trusting me with your story!

anonymous Feb 11, 2016 1:37am

YES!! This is the exact abusive hell my X put me through. This is my story, much like hers. I was raped (bruised in the morning for trying to maintain virginity), told it was because i made him want me so much (Christian upbringing was "don't lead a guy on", so i thought it WAS my fault; thanks church), to enter the relationship permanently (because my church taught it was sin to "know" anyone, but 1 man)–now for the baby (he told you to abort), made for the 18 years of abuse that followed. "EDUCATION is the key" is such a true statement. If i knew God was there to forgive me, instead of there to add guilt to my life, things may have been different. Year 14, I signed myself into the Chattanooga Women's Shelter and learned about abusive people and completely defined my current relationship in every question asked on the questionnaire at the start of a small group class they held (but said nothing of the sort, yet). i had to get my kids and left early am. The shelter fit into having to complete a report for school, so the overnight was tolerated but used against me from then on. "PHYSICAL TERROR" followed when he was questioned about the abusiveness, and he overtly denied any of it, used the defense mechanism of blame, and made me the victim of my own accusations. Whined about my abandonment of him every time he saw me from that one night on. Calling me a murderer because of a car wreck in which i lost my best friend when i was 18. Made me feel like a horrible Christian, wife, mother and robbed me of friends by threatening to hurt them, to protect me. I went to counseling at my church during lunch breaks from work (six hours a day for two days he allowed me to work); i told him nothing. Counselor said, "leave him and take the kids, now"–she held my hand and told me she was terrified for me, and gave me her number. The fact that i held pages of information from the shelter that mirrored his behavior toward me caused intense angst– and i was so sweet about it, waiting the right time, never speaking during any conflict he had…but the facts were evident on the papers the Shelter gave me, and for this, i was physically restrained, over and over, and made to hear him until he finished, whatever he had to say, hit a few times (but no fun, he said, because i never fought back), told how wicked i was for not standing by my own husband, was forbidden to leave the house except to go to work, kids' school, and church, and he drove his van around the neighborhood when i went to talk to anyone at all and sat there in his van, by me until the conversation was over, listening to everything, every time. WHAT TIPPED THE SCALE was that he left for 6 weeks, and told me nothing about where he went or what he did; he just told me he needed time away (my fault, he said). Then, came back suicidal, cleaning his new gun, buying bullets with different metals, talking about the gun and that he'd kill us all if he took his own life (which was the threat, "if I can't have you, nobody can"), and leaving the gun out from its drawer when i constantly returned it to the hiding place because the kids were around. And deliberately leaving porn on the computer the kids used for school, said he needed to make men out of them, not pansies like i was making of them. I struggled to protect my kids every minute of their lives; i slept on the floor my entire second pregnancy with the first child–begging God to quiet any cries, trying to prevent the rages. Every door in my house was damaged from my trying to save myself. Locking doors enraged him, but was the only way to get my bearings some times. Mine was a pattern of lying for him, in public, all the time; silent at his side everywhere he took me, and those were the only outings-ones with him, except 12 hours a week at work, Sunday morning church, and getting the kids to/from school. INFORMATION (1) Police do not act fast. (2) Don't go to an attorney from the same group he used for his previous divorce, because what seems fair in court before a judge will be erased when presented as a written document by your attorney, later, and nobody will have the truth about what was said before the judge, it's not recorded anywhere…it's the attorney's word against yours AND HE"S NOT FOR YOU; HE"S THE X's. He may get custody of one child by promising what he never gives and will falsify his income, and deny you money the court states he owes by taking you back to court until you are broke, and then, threatening to take you to a higher court for what three local court hearings said was yours. Then…get this…he may have some Archdiocese want you to deny you ever were married- under- God in a written statement, so he can marry another woman. NOW…10 years later, the losses are stabilized; kids are adults; i have obtained adequate education/income from college (i was smart enough!! and so are you), and i think it's behind me; then, i read this. WOW! I love it. Just reading it made me reminiscent.

    anonymous Mar 3, 2016 10:01am

    I am so sorry you had to endure such suffering. No one deserves this. I am grateful that you are far removed from it now and in a better place. Thank you for sharing your story as it will help so many others.

anonymous Feb 9, 2016 8:12pm

I thank you from the depths of my soul for this article. I have a dear, loved one who married what seemed to be the greatest guy ever when she was freshly nineteen. He turned out to be a narcissist, but she did not escape him before bringing two beautiful children to the family. The divorce was brutal, and the battles over the last decade in and out of court are nothing but torture for her. She is worn, and her son now acts like his father. He seems to revel in it, and now CPS is involved. Any help or support you know of would be great for us. I hope you are all healing, and growing stronger and stronger.

    anonymous Feb 10, 2016 11:57am

    Sandy thank you for reaching out. My heart always breaks when I read of yet another woman's story that is similar to my own, especially when there are children involved. I wish I had answers for how to spare our kids the pain, but unfortunately Narcissists are notorious for causing immense emotional damage to their own children. I am the mother of three boys and my greatest heartbreak is that I am powerless to stop their father from hurting them. All I can do is love them and give them a safe place to be and pick up the pieces when they fall. What has helped me is all the research I've done on parenting with a Narcissist, so I suggest doing the same and empowering your friend with the tools to help herself and her kids. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope your friend knows that she is not alone in this.

anonymous Feb 9, 2016 11:09am

I can’t believe this when I read it. This is what I am living right now with my husband and two young children. My life is a living hell. Oh but when it’s good it’s amazing and so far after 8 years I believe him after every huge stupid fight and all the mean things he says, I forgive and forget somehow. Time goes on and I think oh awesome everything is great and normal we are happy and then BAM another terrible fight erupts out of nowhere. I love him but I have reached he point where I can no longer do this. I’m not happy anymore, I walk on egg shells in my own house and so scared of anything that might set him off and in reality that could be anything so I live with constant anxiety. I’m tired of living this way. I deserve to live a life I’m proud of and be he best person I can be for my kids. My kids also deserve better I do not want them to grow up thinking this is what marraige is like. I need prayer good vibes and any advice sent my way!!!! Thank you for this article!

    anonymous Feb 10, 2016 6:37am

    My advice get out now! I was right were you are now. Depression and anxiety had taken over, because everything is always my fault! I have two children 3 & 5. My husband is 25 years older then me, I am 24. And he was a cheater to his ex wife. When we met it was just like this article. He showered me with flowers, poems, jewlery, and sex was numerous times a day! Then when we got married he went to work and came home and ate in front of the TV. Forgot about my birthday or other special days. He lost his job 3 times, and we had to move numerous times because of it. Then that’s when it all started. I did not cook enough, I did not clean enough, I could not homeschool because I was not smart enough. Yet when we met I was still in HS and I was so smart even smarter then him he would boost proudly. I am pregnant with our son now, and the last couple months I have found out he has been seeing other woman. He has been talking to another young girl and doing the exact thing to her. Writing her poems and all. And he has never met her, but they already love each other. I am back living with my mom, and it is not how I ever saw my life going. But I was so controlled I never could go back to college to get my degree or even get a job. So I need the help now. And I am thankful for my mother’s help. Yesterday was my first day not contacting him. We have to wait a year before we can file for divorce. My son is due in April, and I just wish this nightmare was over! To think about co-parenting with him scares me! But if your life is anything like this article, its going to be hard to leave. Because you want to believe the best is yet to come, save yourself and kids from it. It’s the hardest thing I have had to do, but I can honestly say after reading this article I feel like I have a bit of power back over my life!! I have lost 25lbs during this pregnancy. All he has to say is I am truly sorry. No real man would do this to his wife or his children. No man wants to see his wife in this kinda of pain. But my husband ddoesn’t care because he never loved me. He may thought so with the high he was on, but this article explains him to a tee!! So make up your mind and don’t look back! I am a Christian and I know God has a plan for my life. Jerm 29:11!

anonymous Feb 7, 2016 5:52pm

My first marriage described to a tee, minus the children. I spent years living with this chaos, constantly trying to resolve his extremes. My therapist, too, told me about NPD and it was like that moment at the end of The Usual Suspects. Terror and relief combined when I was finally able to connect all the dots to form a real picture. Writing, art therapy and a truly living new relationship brought me to a life I deserve. Thank you for writing this piece.

    anonymous Feb 8, 2016 10:14am

    I'm grateful my story resonated with you, Kim, and that you are living a life that you so fully deserve. Yes writing has healed me beyond words, along with finally realizing I'm not alone in this. Thank you for reaching out!

anonymous Feb 6, 2016 8:40pm

OMG! “Figure it out”, how many times was I told that, how often was I stunned by that response from the man who was supposed to be my husband, the father of our children, how often did he leave me with my mouth hanging open & act like it was ME who was wrong? To this day having anyone say that to me guarantees an instant flood of anger until I remember it isnt him saying it.

    anonymous Feb 8, 2016 10:12am

    I know that stunned response all too well, Samantha! It's a difficult thing to wrap your head around that this person you thought you knew turned out to be someone altogether different. I hope you are on a journey of healing and peace and away from anyone who continues to bring you pain. Much love <3

anonymous Feb 6, 2016 7:16pm

I am so grateful to have found your article! It was like reading some of my own story as well. I luckily got out after my ex decided to start physically abusing me and threatened my children. We’ve been separated 5 years and the children live with me. He recently decided to try to take the custody of the kids away from me by going to court and I got extremely lucky as our judge saw right through him and cut his visitation in half! Thank you for your story. It’s truly an inspiration!

    anonymous Feb 8, 2016 10:10am

    Anne I am so grateful that you reached out and that my story resonated with you! And I'm very happy that you have escaped your situation and are on a journey of recovery and healing and living a life free of abuse that you so deserve. Our stories connect us and that is where I have found the greatest healing in knowing I am not alone. All the best to you and your children. <3

anonymous Jan 29, 2016 8:48pm

Thanks for sharing! I was also in a relationship with a narcissist and I MST say it was devastating of what I was experiencing. I reasonly educated myself about what I went through, which I didn’t quite understand when I was still with him. I often have flashbacks that make me go in a depression that makes me insulate myself from other.

    anonymous Jan 31, 2016 1:24pm

    It is such a devastating experience to go through, Cheryl, and I'm sorry you had to. I have found that my own healing and recovery is a long process, one with setbacks, but by reaching out and educating myself I can finally say I've come to a place where I am living a life of joy and peace. Take it day by day, one step at a time, and remember to love yourself first. You'll get through this and you are not alone!

anonymous Jan 20, 2016 8:15pm

Thank you, -So well written and in such a painfully familiar flow and format. There is comfort in knowing that a situation was so textbook that it was written almost word for word as I would have done having come back into the world as a real “person” again. It’s actually a comfort.

    anonymous Jan 21, 2016 5:28pm

    Thank you for posting, Anita. Yes it is healing for us when we realize others share our stories. I, too, felt like since I escaped I went through the process of becoming a real person again. It is definitely a journey! I'm grateful my story resonated with you. We are not alone!

anonymous Jan 12, 2016 7:37pm

Thank you for writing such a long-overdue article around an method of abuse far too elusive to most who experience it. I too found myself in the exact story you have written about: falling deeply in love with someone who appeared too good to be true. A person who was extremely charismatic and successful in his profession; in fact almost revered. His emotional instability and abuse was so normalized that even after sleeping with my aunt at a family reunion vacation, he told me to, “just get over it” after we returned home. I knew very little about mental health when I decided to leave the marriage, which lead me in the direction of mental health and eventually becoming a marriage and family therapist. Through my studies, I was able to identify what actually had happened and what it was that I had been dealing with for so many years. The term Narcissist gets thrown around often, but when you are in a relationship with someone who truly does have this personality disorder, its meaning cannot be understated. I am now having to co-parent with this person, which has also been a nightmare. The difference is that I know understand his abusive personality and it no longer controls my life. Thank you again for posting this and I hope there is someone out there that can find the type of peace you and I have found through our journeys.

    anonymous Jan 21, 2016 5:26pm

    "I am now having to co-parent with this person, which has also been a nightmare. The difference is that I know understand his abusive personality and it no longer controls my life." — I could have written those exact words, Lara! Thank you for writing. I am happy to hear that you took a horrible experience (being with a Narcissist) and turned it in the end to a journey of peace and healing. I could have actually written most of your story, except just substitute a 19-year-old immigrant girl from Russia for your aunt. It's pretty sick and disgusting and I used to be quite overcome by it but now have risen above the emotional trauma for the most part (still there are days I have triggers and flashbacks). Again, thank you for reaching out and sharing your story!

anonymous Jan 3, 2016 8:29pm

The order of protection has helped so far. I have made it to the point where I ask myself how did I let this happen for 4 1/2 years. I don’t feel sorry for him anymore as I’ve tried to reach out to his family during our relationship & they ignored his actions. The numerous women contacts, the bondage as part of his need during intercourse, the stalking, the emotional & mental abuse has become the past. I’m still scared at times wondering if he’s watching but knowing I don’t have to face him or sleep next to him from now on is my piece of mind. Find your escape as it will make you a happier person not only for yourself but to others.

    anonymous Jan 21, 2016 5:30pm

    I also have an order of protection: for cyberstalking. My ex is now being investigated by the police because I found out he was stalking me for nearly two years. It's scary, isn't it? And I could have written that sentence "the numerous women contacts, the bondage…." myself. I hope you find comfort that there are so many others out there who share our stories. Honestly I am just so absolutely grateful, like you are, to just not have to sleep with him or be in the same house with him ever again. That has helped on my journey of healing like nothing else!

      anonymous Apr 5, 2016 1:20pm

      How did u find out he was cyberstalking you?… I only know basic computer stuff but I did have to have my phone & car checked for GPS navigation as he would show up at places I was at. I'm content with my life now randomly still watching over my shoulder as whn the 2 year order of protection is up……my gut tells me he'll be bavk

anonymous Dec 30, 2015 11:00am

This story is spot on what I’ve been dealing with for 4 years. I’m working on getting out, but the road is slow and I’m too nice. Unfortunately it took things getting physical for me to decide to look into leaving. I’m terrified and feel so small and scared. My only strength comes from my amazing 8 month old baby. I keep telling myself that I might not deserve a better life, but he does. I won’t wait for my husband to hurt him. It’s hard to leave with constant threats being sent my way and the fear and insecurities he’s instilled in me. I don’t know if I’ll have enough money to take care of my son and I’m so afraid I’ll lose him to his father. I’m afraid and feel so weak when more than ever I need to be strong. Thank you for this article and your honesty about your brokenness during that time.

    anonymous Dec 31, 2015 4:56pm

    I feel your pain and suffering, Callie! I was in that space for years, feeling completely hopeless and not knowing what to do. But know this, he will not change and will only get worse, so the best thing for you to do for yourself is to get out of that situation as soon as you can. Even if you feel like you're not getting anywhere, just keep putting one foot in front of the other every day and keep sharing your story and seeking help because this will empower you to begin the road of escape, healing, and recovery. I used to feel for over a decade that I was all alone, but as soon as I discovered that there were so many others out there who shared my story it gave me the courage to move forward and get myself out of the abusive situation I was in. Much love to you and stay strong!!

anonymous Dec 28, 2015 7:27pm

Thank you so much for sharing this. I am in a relationship with a narcissist. We are married 3 months and since this time the physical abuse has started. Looking back I can see the red flags now, at the time I was blind to them and now I see why. I am looking at my options to get out, it is not easy and I am very scared. Most of the time due to all the psychological abuse I am worn out and left drained so cannot think straight.

There was some recent abuse that resulted in a hospital visit and I nearly found the courage then to end it, but I backed away because I was scared. Now I am scared I have left it too late, that I will never find a way out.

    anonymous Dec 31, 2015 4:51pm

    Rachael you will find a way out. In the beginning I know it feels so hopeless, but keep speaking up and telling your story and seeking help and empowerment from others who share your story. You are not alone!!

anonymous Dec 27, 2015 5:46pm

Thank you so much for your writing. Your information on NPD was spot on! It’s so hard to recognize and explain to others. I am just leaving an 18 year marriage. I finally got the courage to end it… After trying three times. It breaks my heart to see all the responses from other women who are still suffering and have not found a way to leave. My message to you is to trust your own heart and you will be able to leave when the time is right. You are not alone and you will be okay on your own. You will be better and feel amazing just to have the relief of not having to deal with a narcissist on a daily basis. It’s so draining and they convince you that you are the crazy one. I have much healing to still do… And I have only begun the separation process… and once that is accomplished I will move to divorce. I have two children who have already suffered from their father’s illness but hopefully my leaving will empower them to see it is possible to stand up to and eventually protect themselves from his affliction. Love and light to all of you in our shared experience. Hope springs eternal. You ARE WORTHY of all you desire and of being in a healthy relationship where you and the other person are equal partners. be gentle with yourself .. It is a process…

    anonymous Dec 31, 2015 4:50pm

    Miranda thank you for your kind and supportive words! My heart breaks too when I realize how many people share my story and have been suffering. But you are right: We are not alone and we will be much better on our own. I love my new freedom and am finally in a place where I am emotionally unattached and it is a peaceful and joyous place to be! Like you said, however, the most important thing is that we are kind to ourselves and love ourselves through it. Many thanks for writing!

anonymous Dec 22, 2015 1:21pm

I can totally understand. My life with my now ex, was like that for 23 years of marriage. He showed so much love an sweet attention, an swore he would never hurt me. I was isolated, an he would get so very mad if I talked to anyone about our life good or bad. I loved him so much, he did very horrible things to me an kids, he was an addict, an is a pathological,compulsive liar still. He lies about darn near everything. I feel I still last he him, but I am dealing with it. I had to get out to survive for 3 kids. The last 6 years we’re really bad, an he basically ignored me. He says what he did was not that bad or he did nothing wrong. Its hard to get on without him cause we been together for so long but I am reaching out an educating myself an well, healing a little. Its tough but I am taking day by day. Thank you for your article, I read up everything I can about NPD…

    anonymous Dec 23, 2015 9:51am

    I'm so happy you are educating yourself on NPD, Lori, which only will empower you to take the steps necessary to recover and heal. I share your pain and frustration of having to deal with a pathological liar. My ex still lies to our kids ALL THE TIME and I am the one who has to help my children decipher it all. But you're on a journey of healing and recovery and now you also know that you are not alone on that journey!

anonymous Dec 20, 2015 10:29am

Thank you so much for writing this. It was like you were writing my story to a T. I suffred 7 years of enitional abuse. Exausted trying to fix myself to make him happy, non of my attempts worked of course. I’m 3 years being seperated, he has been able to talk me back twice. We still are married bur living seperate for 3 years. I house hippes w my kids while ge luved in iyr home. No help financially from him at all. It wasnt until the secind time he talkes me into startung a family then thw moment i got pregnant he said he didnt want it to have an abortiin. I didnt want to I tols him i wont do it. He threatened thar if I had the vaby he would take me to court make my lufe hell make sure I wouldnt have custody bx i wasnt even a “real” woman how could i be a good mother, he told me he’d taje the vavy back home. He isnt american ultimately i did not go through w the pregnancy. It gaunts me to this day I still hate myself for what i did. But that was what nade me see how sick mentally he was. That it wasnt me who was crazy it was him. Thats when I’d finally had it and left. Thank yoy si much for describing what he was. I’m still picking up the pieces of the woman I once was before he shattered me piece by puece. But gearing your story and the comment’s i know have hope one day i will be whole again

    anonymous Dec 23, 2015 9:49am

    Sarah I'm glad my story resonated with you and gave you a bit of peace and hope. This is a tough journey to travel and I wish you the strength and love to keep going and moving forward. You'll get to a better place, I promise! And always remember you are not alone.

anonymous Dec 15, 2015 4:37am

I lived this almost to the last word, for 14 years. I am two years out and can’t believe I didn’t snap out of the fog years before. I am strong, feisty and articulate and yet he got away with it.
I have worked on myself for two years with psychs, I now understand that he has NPD as well as psychopathic traits, but the post-trauma anger still wells up in me regularly. It takes a long time to recover, but articles like this help.
Thanks so much for sharing xx

    anonymous Dec 17, 2015 11:53am

    I'm so happy my piece was able to give you some help and comfort. Recovering and healing from Narcissistic Abuse is a long and difficult road. I'm glad to hear you are helping yourself and empowering yourself with knowledge. It's so important that we share our stories so that others know that they are not alone!

anonymous Dec 14, 2015 7:32pm

I want to stop him and warn all the other women contacts I have, but how? There's soooo much more to my story along with ALOT of proof. I'm in a much better place now without him but don't want him to hurt another family. I'm still scared at times even withthe order of protection

anonymous Dec 14, 2015 7:03pm

Your article is written to the "T". The scariest part for me was the stalking part after I would try & end it. I found two of his cell phones with numerous women contacts he is most likely doing the same thing to. How do you stop the actual NARCASSIST? He asked me to marry him on a Friday & was responding to online date sites 4 days later! The list goes on & on!!

    anonymous Dec 16, 2015 9:45am

    Audra thank you for writing! I am going to share with you the advice that every single expert on the subject of Narcissistic Personality Disorder agrees on: Run! There is no changing a Narcissist, so if he is bad now prepare for it to get even worse. I am sending you much love and strength to make the right decision for yourself <3

anonymous Dec 3, 2015 7:03pm

This was a great article! I love how you wrote and presented the information. I was in a very abusive marriage for nearly 20 years…started dating the guy when I was only 14 years old. I wish someone had educated me as to exactly what emotional/verbal abuse was long ago before I endured all those years of torture. I've been divorced about 8 years now, and am happier than I've ever been in my life. It was the hardest journey of my life getting out of that hell.

    anonymous Dec 4, 2015 9:42am

    Thank you for your comments! I am so happy to hear you have escaped your abusive situation and are now living happier than ever! Yes it is the hardest of roads to travel and certainly we don't come out of it without deep emotional scars. And I also wish someone would have educated me about emotional abuse, but now I live in gratitude every day that I am free and I can use my story to help others still suffering. So glad you reached out and shared your story!

anonymous Nov 15, 2015 7:26pm

Thank you, this sums up 8 years for me. Finally free for 14 months and feel like I am relearning how to be me. You sharing your story makes me feel less alone and hopeful for a break through.

    anonymous Nov 18, 2015 1:37pm

    You're not alone, Kristy! I'm so glad my story resonated with you and gave you a bit of comfort. I wish you all the best!

anonymous Nov 8, 2015 2:26am

I am sick from reading this. After 2+ decades trying to ascertain what was the matter with me, reading your stages is the first time it feels like someone understands, right down to the nuances, TTank you.

    anonymous Nov 9, 2015 9:07am

    Darla I am grateful that my piece resonated with you, heartbroken to hear you have suffered, but hopeful that now you recognize your situation and do not feel alone anymore. We are all connected, my story is your story is our story. I am sending you love and light.

anonymous Nov 3, 2015 7:59pm

After unfortunately experiencing more than one narcopathic relationship, I finally broke the pattern by not having relationships at all. However, that's been holding me held hostage to why I kept attracting them, and what makes them prey on me (yes, they are predators). My worries are will I ever attract a healthy individual who loves in a healthy way? After seeing and experiencing so much destruction in relationships, do healthy ones exist? Am I bound to live in fear of possibly allowing another one into my life? After working with many abused men and women, those questions are often prevalent after experiencing these types of individuals: Are they doomed to live alone and in fear for the rest of their lives? The answers are logical, but living them in reality is a completely different thing. The saddest thing for me (among many other things) was people were more willing to believe the people causing the harm than me, as they weren't witness to their behavior. So I ended up be the nut case, the bad person, the bitch, the person who caused it. I wish all of you nothing but a peaceful, safe healing.

    anonymous Nov 4, 2015 10:32am

    Thank you so much, Mary Jo, for sharing your story. As victims it is indeed a long journey to get to a place where we feel safe enough to enter a new relationship, and even then we question ourselves about the other person and whether or not they are the same as our abusers. And another common theme we all share is that people in general are more likely to believe the abuser instead of the victim (we live in a rape culture that proves this). This causes so much more damage and trauma to the victim and I believe the only way to overcome this is by speaking up, speaking out, and educating both others and ourselves about the long suffering effects of abuse in any form. I am grateful for your words! And I wish you a continued journey of love and light. We are all connected and we will get through!

anonymous Nov 3, 2015 7:24am

Thank you so much for this! I have been married 8 years to someone just like this. I’m sitting here crying as I write this because it sounds like you’ve written about my life over the past 8 years…
I’m filing for divorce Nov 13 and I’m so scared sometimes I don’t think I can do it. But just knowing I’m not alone is so encouraging, even as I read the comments of some of these other women it’s heartbreaking, but if you can and they can I know I can do it too! Thank you!

    anonymous Nov 3, 2015 1:42pm

    Elisabeth thank you for writing! I am so grateful that you shared your story. I know it's a scary thing to file for divorce (I filed last year and it was only final a few months ago) but stay strong and stay in the truth and keep record of everything! Above all be kind to yourself and grant yourself the time and space to get through this. You can do it and now you know you are not alone! I highly recommend researching everything you can about Narcissists and divorce — this saved me in so many ways. Remember you are empowered when you educate yourself. Sending you love and light <3

anonymous Nov 1, 2015 8:05pm

Excellent article. I highly recommend visiting http://www.manipulative-people.com to read Dr. Simon’s take on neurotics vs. The character disturbed. Instead of delving into the NPD psyche searching for tragedy, rest assured that the character disordered do these things because they think they are above the laws of decent human behavior. They aren’t hurt people who hurt people. They are selfish and entitled manipulators who may well have been over indulged, not traumatized.

Another very enlightening treatment of the myth of Narcissus is on The Last Psychiatrist blog. The parents were told that they would prevent harm to Narcissus if they made sure he “Never know himself”. We need mirrors and feedback to develop empathy and conscience. Coddling and empty unearned praise turns golden children into assholes. This is how I understand my NPD father.

    anonymous Nov 2, 2015 9:31am

    Thank you for the link! And thank you for so plainly stating the type of people these abusers actually are. I can't speak for others, but in my case my ex is very much as you described: he thinks he is above all laws of not only human behavior but actual laws. And he intentionally and maliciously tried to hurt me and my children (my children are still suffering from his behavior). So I am grateful for your validation because I am a single mom raising boys and am very conscious of not wanting to send any more "golden" children into the world. Many thanks to you for posting.

anonymous Oct 31, 2015 12:43pm

Yours is the first article I've read about NPD that discussed comparing you with every other mom. Despite my hyper-responsibility, I was accused of being the worst mom in the history of moms. I think it was that day that I knew it was finally over. That one, last, impossible pill to swallow. I guess when one tries to attack the aspect you have most faith in, it's the exact moment you see the truth. But, all of this; your whole article, while being incredibly well written and poignant, is nothing compared to extricating yourself from a marriage with children from someone with NPD. I never knew the true meaning of bully until I started down that road. But here's the beautiful thing about that: Every time he whines, rages, insults, accuses, demoralizes, etc., he gets to do so for the short amount of time he has, which has never been more than 10 minutes. I get to go home to peace, quiet, calm, and happiness because I don't have to spend minutes, hours, days, weeks and months walking on eggshells.

    anonymous Oct 31, 2015 4:43pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, Mia. My entire life was being a mom and it was the one thing I was great at and loved — so this is exactly what my ex would use against me since he knew that was what got to me over anything else. I was constantly compared to his sister, to friends of ours that were mothers, and then he would throw out random comparisons to all the other mothers in America. Of course now that I have escaped I can see clearly this was a tactic of his to control and hurt me to keep me weak. Essentially I learned he was the problem, not me. And such a feeling of freedom came to me once I took responsibility for myself and made the choice to not let those tactics of his into my being (because he is still very much on the attack). Thank you so much for your comments. I am happy we are both in better places:)

anonymous Oct 31, 2015 10:41am

Great story and on point. Thank you for sharing this very personal bit of yourself. This hits home because several years ago I lived with a man who I think had NPD. I say 'think' because the relationship only lasted 11 months before I booted him out of my home. He never got the chance to properly groom me because these alarm bells kept going off in the background. I know now I should have never entered this relationship in the first place, but the Love Bombing was a powerful draw, something no guy had ever done with me before so I naively relished the attention; the frequent calls, the flowers, the love notes and cards, gifts, bringing me home to meet his mom early on and calling me his future wife…all the things we've seen or read in those gooey romance movies and novels and think that's how love should be. These gestures are sweet in and of themselves, but too often have a sinister agenda attached when showered early on. This man was an addicted gambler and about to lose his home so he had to make a move, warp speed, and I was the target. NPDs/addicts share a common as-needed charm and they know how to work it to form that perfect symbiotic relationship. Well, that was me then. This is me now: I recently met a man online. There was a bit of a connection so we decided to meet. He was good looking, eloquent, smooth. But on the first date he started talking 'we', started making plans for New Year's Eve (this was August!), started making plans for me to meet his young daughter. He didn't get a second date. This is me now: If a man is hasty to cement a relationship, red flag waving! If a man talks marriage after a few weeks of knowing me, run for the hills! He can't possibly know me well enough in that short time span to plan a life with me. If a man uses words like 'other half', 'soulmate', 'you complete me', beware, there be dragons! A man who needs me is not likely coming from a healthy place in his head. Better a man who simply wants me. It's not a desirable thing to make a man 'whole', he needs to be whole before I'll even think about entering a relationship with him and vice versa. This is me now: perfectly happy being alone and single. My kids and some of my family members call me the Guff Master. I don't take any 'guff'. Knowledge (like your article) and experience has taught me well. If I can be a Guff Master, anyone can.

    anonymous Oct 31, 2015 4:37pm

    I love it! The Guff Master! I am thrilled to hear your story because if only all of us could arrive at that point where we can see the crazy coming from a mile away we'd all be so much better off. I'm at a place in my own life where there are no red flags — only deal breakers, meaning one chance that's it and I'm moving on. Sounds like you are totally there! Thank you so much for sharing!

anonymous Oct 31, 2015 12:55am

There is always a risk involved in telling your story because the whole thing can be doubled back upon you. If you cry, you can be called a professional victim. If you speak out, you are launching a character assassination campaign borne on a tide of narcissistic rage. The list goes on. As with most things in life, one’s personal motivations figure heavily into whether or not what they are saying is an expression of personal truth or a lie designed to elicit sympathy or damage another’s reputation. I have dealt with this dichotomy myself for over a year now, as the man who emotionally abused me in just this kind of way claims that it is in fact me who exhibits more signs of NPD. In a way, I accept responsibility because I knew early on that he was a narcissist, and I loved him so much and had such low self esteem that I didn’t have the fortitude to leave. In another, though, I hold him fully responsible for his abominable behavior toward me. It’s a hard line to walk. I have learned to accept that it is possible to love and hate the same person with equal intensity, and that it is possible to resolve to love from a distance, or even refuse to feed love so that it might lose its fervor. I am learning how to value myself, and build a future that will make me happy. I am learning how to have confidence in my own personality, and that it feels good to desire to be myself without feeling it might be better to be someone else that better suits another’s preferences. I think that in many situations, the victim is blamed because it simply is easier to deny them their reality than it is to accept that someone who puts forth such an attractive face could be so monstrous in private. Over time, you learn to deal with it. That doesn’t mean reactions like the lawyer’s above aren’t infuriating, but I’ve learned that the simple fact of someone’s aims to invalidate me needn’t be sufficient to actually invalidate me. I was there, and I can fully trust my ability to accurately assess how I am being treated and whether or not that is ok with me, or even ok in any rational sense of the word. It was not. I was not. And I am lucky to have finally developed enough presence of mind to leave such a self-absorbed and cruel partner as he was to me behind. I don’t need anyone else’s permission to own that, and neither do you. Thank you for sharing your story. Never stop. You are helping hundreds of others to gather the courage to speak out or leave their abusers every time you do.

    anonymous Oct 31, 2015 4:34pm

    Becca, I am grateful for your eloquent and supportive words. Yes we live in a society where it is generally easier to blame the victim, especially when they speak out, which explains why so many don't and stay in silence. I wrote this piece because I am in a place where, like you, I don't need anyone's permission to tell my story. I was bullied into silence for over a decade so I know full well the types that try to silence another human being. And another unfortunate fact is that it is easier to believe the abuser. I have seen this in my own life. It's difficult for some people to wrap their heads around the truth. I understand that. Plus, especially with Narcissists, they have a gift for charm and seduction and getting people to believe their lies — I don't have that gift. So when I started speaking out about what happened to me I was first met with skepticism and with people thinking I was making it all up out of revenge or anger (serious cases of Projection going on with so many of these people). So be it. The truth always wins, and I'm not interested in convincing anyone of it. Just as long as I live my own truth then healing and recovery are sure to come (in many ways they already have). Thank you so much for your comments and being another voice to support all of those who cannot raise theirs!

anonymous Oct 30, 2015 4:24pm

I just wanted to add one thing to all our comments…the person with npd is that way for a reason. I am not excusing them one bit. However, they too, more than likely, have been the victim of narcissistic abuse, or some other trauma in their childhood. This is what makes them who they are. Unfortunately, they don’t have much of a chance of getting better. On the other hand, we have a part in the situation as well although we should never be shamed for this. We as empaths fall victims to their abuse because we have unfinished business in our past that we are trying to fix. We do this through the narcissist who is quite like someone from our childhood. It is unfortunate in that this is an ironic, sad, choice. The person with NPD is no better than the person with whom we have unfinished business. So, only we can take care of ourselves, love ourselves and then we will not be subjected to such ever again!

    anonymous Oct 31, 2015 4:26pm

    Thank you for your comments, Shelly. Yes of course the abuser more often than not possesses a past that includes abuse or trauma. I can tell you from experience, however, that the years I spent trying to understand and feel compassion for his story only stripped love and energy away from myself. I now look at it through a perspective of separation: like a bus coming at me full speed, I get myself out of the way and don't spend even a moment wondering why it's trying to run me over. And you are so right about our "unfinished business". In my piece at the end that is why I shared that taking responsibility for my own growth and recovery and future was crucial after I escaped in order to find peace and healing. Just as you said, we take care of ourselves, love ourselves, and this will protect us from falling for these types of toxic people ever again!

anonymous Oct 29, 2015 10:05pm

Thank you for sharing your story. “Coincidentally” (I don’t believe in coincidence) I read about gaslighting yesterday somewhere else. I’m currently working on writing about my own experience with emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse and I’m also an empath. My question for you is if he has contact with your kids? While I left my ex before our son was a year old, 10 years later he has frequent contact with him. While I know he’s not physically abusive to our son, I worry about the negative effect he has on him. I do what I can to counteract it and guide my sweet kid, but it’s still difficult. As much as I’ve healed, my wounds reopen because of the constant contact and I don’t want my son to get hurt. They’re so manipulative and I worry that some of the behavior is learned. Any parental advice?

    anonymous Oct 30, 2015 11:03am

    I wish I had answers to your questions about children. Unfortunately when dealing with a father who is a Narcissist (like I am), the children end up being the real victims. Currently I am powerless to stop my ex from causing my kids pain and suffering, all I can do is love them through it and pick up the pieces as they fall. I am so happy to hear you are writing about it because that is what has brought me a great deal of healing and validation. Tell your story! So many out there do not have the ability to tell theirs. And give yourself the time and space and love needed to fully recover and heal. I have heard from women all over the world who share our story and I have learned that this particular type of emotional abuse can take years to recover from, and as I am currently experiencing (and as you said having those wounds reopened) there are triggers that can send me back a few steps and they hit me out of nowhere. But we'll get there. And we are not alone. Thank you so much for your post!

anonymous Oct 29, 2015 7:53pm

I used to think that “narcissistic” was just an adjective used to describe someone who acted like a self-centered jerk who lacked the ability to recognize the feelings of others. Within the last couple of months, I have learned about this “disorder” as I am at the final stages of a divorce. I feel like I got played, that’s for sure. We got married, and right from the start, he never wanted intimacy…I knew something was wrong. Then I found the porn, then the affair, then the monthly porn subscriptions, and ALWAYS….the lying. Then, he moved to another state, rented a one-bedroom apartment, and “visited” me and the kids every other weekend for awhile (yes, I had kids because even though he never wanted intimacy, I begged for it occasionally and kept track of my cycle). After six months, I realized he was still not looking for permanent housing, then I discovered his best friend from our state moved out to work for him in his new state 600 miles away. Once he filed for divorce, I saw how desperately treacherous he really was as I discovered hidden income, secret bank accounts, and the lavish bachelor lifestyle he was enjoying as my kids came of age. I’m weary writing about it….there are so many disgusting and despicable details of how he treated me and the kids. I swear I could write a book. I just had to go to court again today because he refuses to obey court orders. I feel this is never going to end. I was euphoric when the divorce was final, but the harassment hasn’t stopped. This is the most bizarre thing I have ever experienced in my life. Is it hereditary?

    anonymous Oct 30, 2015 10:57am

    Suzy, your story gave me chills in its similarity to my own: I thought when my divorce was final there would also be some sort of end, but it continues with the same you experience – hiding money, disobeying court orders, harassment. And all the disgusting details, as you say, of how he treated you and your kids. I believe you and I don't even know the details. Because the same is happening to me. And it's frustrating to wonder if it's ever going to end. One of the many things that has helped me in the process is understanding the disorder NPD better. I would urge you to look up everything you can about Narcissists and their children and in a divorce. It will give you some sort of support, tools, and validation. You are not alone. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

anonymous Oct 29, 2015 12:29am

Interesting– I find the article itself somewhat narcissistic in tone. As a divorce lawyer with 25 years of experience, I certainly can spot a person (male or female) with narcissistic tendencies. But there are reasons their significant others are attracted to them. Issues of self-esteem seem to prevail. In my experience, the answer it not in rallying behind lablels like “abuser”, but fostering and embracing an understanding of one’s own self worth. My young adult daughters wouldn’t fall for the bag of tricks a person with NPD has. In fact, they would find them laughable. The answer is in ourselves. Blaming the other party is unnecessary to one with real self-esteem, and diminishes the power within all of us to intrinically know our own value . My 2 cents.

    anonymous Oct 29, 2015 8:25am

    Thank you. I feel the same. You will see a comment by me, here, that speaks to precisely what you just said.

    One of the things narcissists learn is his playing victim gets them attention.

    Narcissists have also learned how to use the tools given to victims by psychologists (most psychologists are also narcissists), against the victim.

    No contact is one of those tools, though in the real victim circles, it’s known as “the discard”

      anonymous Oct 29, 2015 3:29pm

      I think it's important to be careful about labels, such as all -fill in the blank- are Narcissists. My piece was written to help others understand the language of Narcissistic Abuse, which is a form of emotional abuse. My hope was in telling my story others would know they weren't alone and could then seek the help they needed to escape. Even the words "no contact" can be misleading for victims, especially those who have children (like myself), so I try to be very careful about not generalizing or labeling or further victimizing those who are already suffering. Thank you for your comments.

    anonymous Oct 29, 2015 3:18pm

    Thank you for your comments. I'm not sure how being a lawyer makes you an expert on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but can I just share that if you read the other comments regarding my piece (the other 95%) you will see story after story that are similar in their pain and suffering. While I understand you feel a need to express your opinion on the matter, your words only negate every other person who has suffered and has been a victim of emotional abuse. Stating that your daughters would find this laughable only enforces a victim's feeling of shame and guilt that they did indeed "fall for the bag of tricks." Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but for the sake of all of those commenting and reading their comments I would hope you might take more care before casting even more pain with your words on those reading them.

      anonymous Oct 29, 2015 9:24pm

      Thank you Suzanna. I'm 18 months out of a 3 yr marriage with someone who has NPD. I'm still trying to cut the cord by holding him accountable for the terms of the separation agreement but I count my blessings every day that he chose to discard me and I did not have children with him. Once the terms of the agreement are met I will be free from him forever. That divorce ultimately shed light for me on the abuse projected by narcissists. Yes, I fell for the bag of tricks – namely the love bombing probably due to some deep seeded emotional insecurities, but once the lying and gas lighting started and that bumped up against my strong moral code and life values he moved me through the devalue and discard phases fairly quickly. At that point I still wasn't aware of what I was dealing with – I just knew subconsciously it wasn't "right." To speak for those you are defending in your comment above – I take offense to Jeff's comment that we are so "dumb" to fall for them and that we lack self-esteem. Unbeknownst to me at the time – it was my self esteem that helped catapult me out of the situation. These NPD people are manipulative and go straight for the jugular of the heart. To the point in the article – I'll agree it generally is more empathetic people who find themselves wrapped up with narcissists, but forgive us for having an open and honest heart. If the narcissist had any sense of awareness of their own heart/emotions and didn't hide their deep-seeded self-loathing and insecurities behind a facade of confidence, the world would be a happier place. Keep talking everyone – only through sharing our stories will we be able to help others. Stand tall, be brave!!

        anonymous Oct 30, 2015 10:53am

        I am so grateful you wrote about this, ALK. Your story is my story, and so many others. To blame the victims by claiming stupidity or weakness as reasons for why we fall for our abusers is irresponsible and shameful. Unfortunately that is the society we live in where the victim (usually a woman) is put on the witness stand instead of the abuser. It is no wonder why so many victims stay silent. Even for me it is incredibly tough to put my story out there because of fear of comments like the one you responded to. What people don't understand is these abusers do not appear to us as their true selves when we meet them. If I had met my ex and he behaved the way he did years later I would not have given him the time of day! And to suggest staying is some kind of weakness is a horrible accusation that only enforces shame and guilt with the victim. Thank you so much for sharing your story in such detail. Your words are powerful and we must stand tall and be brave together! I am humbled by and grateful for your comments.

anonymous Oct 29, 2015 12:16am

I can't believe how stupid it is to feel shame for being abused, and how those feelings are so embedded! Why is it that the victims always feel responsible? So many factors combine to make that so… the grooming, the sense that we invited it in some way, and then if there is any pleasure in the sexual part of abuse, there's shame for that too…. great article, so clear and organized, thank you so much.

    anonymous Oct 29, 2015 3:12pm

    Thank you, Terry. We blame ourselves because the abuser manipulates and alters our thinking, our mental state. So moving forward it is important for you to remember that: these aren't actually your thoughts! You are not alone. I still have a voice in my head that says I'm crazy or stupid or weak. But now that voice is more of a whisper and I have the strength to tell it to shut up. Much love to you <3

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 9:53pm

I literally cry when i was reading this, I just broke up with my boyfriend and now I feel free, my friends ask me that how exactly I was feeling then, with my partner and I didn’t know how to explain them, my best description I think was “that I feelt like I was un drugs, still walking but with no sense of life whatsoever with no energy, numb like I was in a dream” I didnt feel I was living
but thanks to you article I have realize so many things thank you very much.
my situation was a little different He was my first boyfriend ever and im 25 I have always been anti-love relationship/dating things, but he caught me in a vulnerable moment & he needed my help that guy was lost with bad habits, I feed him, pay for his stuff, found him a job, he was living with friends that only party so I open the doors of my apartment for him and he didnt help in anything but he told me I was his one and only that I made him change, he did but not in everything. I have always been independent live by myself, about to start my master degree, go to the gym every single day, i have a lot of good friends… my life was perfect I have always consider my self the most happy girl ever till I met him. I didnt know how it happen till I read your article two years after I met him, I didn’t recognize my self, I gain 6 sizes I was not happy I didnt talk to my friends at all, go out, do my make up, care about myself he find a way on isolate me with his compulsive jealousy for every men that look at me, I didnt have a life I was with him 24/7
he told me once that he was jealous of me that why I had everything I have the good friends, the oportunity to travel, my life as a whole.
I always forgave me for everything even cheating my excuse was that it my first relationship maybe im overreacting and he always find a way in how to make me feel bad then tell me he loves me, I ended up in the hospital twice for stress once my nerves on my neck and face got infected for the stress they gave me morphine for a whole week I couldn’t move from bed, then I didnt get a heart attack because my heart is to healty but I got all the sysmptoms of a heart attack , my hair was falling my constant migraine, I was literally dying.
He always always was trying to make me feel less for him to feel superior, he told to stop traveling that is one of my passions, he told me not to go to the gym because he didnt want me to have the body i used to have ……
and I can keep going but the important thing is that Im not longer with him I feel alive again I feel happy but I still cry for him and Has been 3 weeks and havent seen him but we still text and I try to keep thing as friends because i still care about him no matter he ruin my life, im still trying to be friends but I still say to him everyday that theres no going back that we will never be together again.
Im happy and scared because I know myself and im really weak I dont want to go back to that life 🙁

thank you

    anonymous Oct 29, 2015 3:10pm

    Your story is my story, Marisol! And my heart breaks that you had to suffer so much. I hope now you can see you are not alone and that you are in a better place away from that toxic relationship. Please give yourself the space and time and love needed to recover and heal. You'll get there. Keep moving forward and away from him. It will get better, I promise!

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 9:07pm

Thank you for this. I am currently living this nightmare and trying to figure a way out. I have 3 children and am pregnant with our 4th. The mental and emotional abuse is more than any person should ever have to handle and I cannot do it anymore. I’m scared to leave but know I can’t continue on like this. At least I now know what I’m dealing with and that I’m not “crazy” like I have been told for years. Thank you so much for giving me some clarity by sharing your story.

    anonymous Oct 29, 2015 3:07pm

    Thank you for writing, TM. I honestly feel your pain. My ex tried so long to convince me to get pregnant a fourth time. If I had I honestly don't know how much longer I would have been in it. Just know you are not alone and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You are not crazy and I hope you will continue to research and educate and empower yourself so that in the future you will one day be able to look at all this pain and suffering "behind" you. Much love <3

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 5:13pm

Thank you so much for this article. Now I know what my daughter had to go through. Her experience was devastating and so controlling of her self esteem. Her father and I being very concerned about our daughter tried several times to find out info on the guy that was such a narcissi quality about him. We didn't like him. It was only years into the relationship when our daughter talked to me about the missing funds. They both made so much money but they couldn't make ends meet. I was honest with her and told her our trying to find out just what if any records with the authorities he might have had and told her that we couldn't find anything out. Well it must have put a seed of thought back into her brilliant mind – she did a search on line. He was not only a sick man but also a pedophile. The girl was overwhelmed with grief. Her strong constitution and her two kids kept her going and still do. She is so much better but every once in a while the guilt and all the fault fall right back on her. I tell her she needs to lover herself and her kids. She knows she is so much better off – I just want her to be back to normal, but I am not sure if that is going to totally happen.

    anonymous Oct 29, 2015 3:05pm

    The best thing you can do for your daughter is support and love her through this incredibly traumatic time. And to allow her the time to recover and heal and be a mother to her children, offering her full support and validating her strength. She is lucky to have you both – my father is a full blown Narcissist and a bully and makes my life so much more difficult. I would give anything to have parents like you are!! All my best to your daughter.

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 4:44pm

Suzanna, I have been through this. I left my abuser in 2007 but in all the years since, he continues to abuse our children. Please share if you can how we can protect our children from this kind of abuser.

    anonymous Oct 29, 2015 3:02pm

    Thank you for sharing with me, Marion. Yes I have heard from so many women asking how we can best help our children. It's heartbreaking and I wish I had a solution. But I will write more on this because we need this conversation!

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 2:56pm

This is my stepfather to a T. I had many years of therapy because of this. My mother is still caught(35 years in). I only lasted 2 years in this kind of relationship as an adult. Ladies, you are stronger than you know.

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:56am

I think that this experience is the road to wisdom. Even sharks serve a purpose in the grander scheme of things. Some people continually seek these types of people because they fill a need, a deep, subconscious, dare I say, Soul need to experience, fulfill. Transmute and transform themselves and sometimes the other person. In spite of the myriad of consciousness raising efforts, there is a never ending trail of masochistic people seeking someone to oblige them.

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:11am

I am in the healing process now and have been No Contact for 5 months. John was also a Sociopath and it feels like I will never heal from all the pain from physical, financial, sexual and the extreme emotional abuse of 11 years. Nobody gets it…not family, not friends and not therapists. I am looking for a specialist but haven’t had luck so far. I get support and validation from online groups which have been helpful. The PTSD is taking a toll. Night tremors have ceased but he still manages his way in to my dreams every night in one way or another. I plan on talking to my daughter’s high school friends about what happened to me and to educate them on NPD and sociopaths. I took a lot of psychology classes in college and can tell you about many theories but I never remember hearing anything about these disorders. If you would have asked me 1 year ago to picture what a sociopath looks like I would have immediately thought of a serial killer…Hannibal Lector or Charles Manson. Now I know they look like normal men we interact with daily, date and marry. So scary. So damaging. So destructive. So painful. So sorry ♡

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 3:56pm

    I feel your pain and suffering, JFD, because I am also in the midst of it. That is the horror of emotional abuse because recovery and healing take so long, and sometimes just when I think I'm out of the woods BAM it hits me like a cement truck. I am glad you are getting support online – that has been tremendously helpful to me. I do hope you will find an expert to actually seek help from. They are hard to find (I went through 3 therapists before I found the psychologist who helped me escape). It's so hard for people to understand NPD if they've never been in a relationship with a Narcissist. And I'm totally with you on what monsters look like. I used to think the same but now I know that I was in love with one for over 16 years and had children with him. It is scary and painful. But we are not alone and we will survive and thrive! Thank you for your comments:)

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 10:22am

This article was spot on in describing something which can be so hard for people to verbalize the experience of emotional abuse. I have a dear friend going through the recovery process of leaving someone who may have NPD. I sent this her way, hoping that it will give her some clarity and realize she is not crazy, none of this is her fault, and she is much better off now. THANK YOU for shedding light on this topic which so many women are unaware of. This is huge.

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 12:03pm

    Thank you, Ruby, for sharing my story with your friend! I am so grateful that my story is able to bring hope and validation to others. In gratitude <3

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 9:48am

This story is almost exactly my marriage. How did you get out? What did you do? I’m afraid of how he’ll react or what he’ll do if I try to end it. Please send me a response of some kind. I need someone who has been there to guide me.

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 12:01pm

    Ashley the first thing you need to do is seek help from an expert such as a psychologist or a therapist. Leaving my ex was not the hardest thing I did, instead staying away and dealing with the aftermath was the most difficult. I couldn't have done it without the support of others who shared my story, educating myself on NPD, seeking help from experts, and putting one foot in front of the other on a daily basis. Nowadays social media is so awesome to find support for what you're going through. Facebook in many ways saved my life because I was able to connect with others who could help me. I wish you love and light moving forward and know that you are not alone!

    anonymous Mar 9, 2016 11:54am

    I too am in that same boat and asking the same questions. I have been dealing with this NRAC spouse for 26 years and it is getting worse. From his anger, mental intimidation, social isolation and his constant need to suck the life out of me is beyond bearable. He now displays his gun on his dresser next to our bed.. guess this is another tactic of a NARC controlling the situation.

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 9:25am

I’ve read several articles on this topic, and few of them were as well written and on-point as this one. I literally had a gut-level reaction to reading it. It’s like it was written about current relationship, which I should have ended a number of times due to several instances of cheating, lying, inappropriate conversations with other women, etc., and which I have allowed myself to get sucked back into when I did attempt to end things. There have been times where I have felt he was deliberately and literally trying to make me crazy. I know I need to end things with him, and have been slowly but surely putting up some walls between us, which has only caused him to go overboard on the whole love-bombing thing. And we work together, which makes it all worse, because people are always saying, “Oh, I LOVE you guys! You’re the best couple” even as he flirts constantly. The narcissistic process seems so insidious…I would never have thought I was a person who would end up in this kind of relationship, where I feel constantly on edge, insecure with him ( and insecure to leave), diminished. Someone commented earlier that she didn’t know herself anymore…that’s exactly how I feel. I wish I knew how to get out.

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:58am

    Holy shit you are writing my story! Everyone loved me and my ex as a couple and thought we had it all, even in the face of him being totally inappropriate and sometimes downright disgusting with other women (and teenage girls, like our babysitter or my oldest son's girlfriends). It was all an illusion. No one knew how awful he was to me and our kids behind closed doors. Leaving was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life (and I even went back to him once) but I will tell you it was the best thing I've ever done and now I'm in a place of freedom and peace, still recovering and healing but at least moving forward. What helped me the most was educating and empowering myself on the subject of abuse and victims of abuse. The more I learned, the better equipped I was to move on with my life. I urge you to read everything you can and find support and validation from others who share your story (and there are a lot of us!). But above all grant yourself the time and space and love to figure this out. You are not alone! <3

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 8:36am

In recovery myself! Proud to say it’s been almost 3 years since my escape. Loved your article, however, reading information on mental abuse always, always, causes past feelings to resurface from deep inside. Stronger now, I am able to cope, evaluate and move beyond them. I do wish your article would have been available years ago. I did have someone hand me a book one day at church, which is what helped me put together a mental plan that was eventually put into an plan of action. Not to promote another’s product, but help is help. I feel that getting as much help to assist them in removing themselves from a potential or escalating situation is a wonderful thing. Your article had much of what this book included as well. It’s entitled, “Why Does He Do That” by Lundy Bancroft.

Once I read it, it wasn’t an overnight progression to my recovery though. I re-read it, and highlighted those situations that were similar to mine. I began to “think”. It pushed me to research and explore my own feelings. I even started taking notes, and writing down things that happened (as I recalled them) to keep my thoughts straight.

I fell into the “sucked back in” Hoover mode SO many times. Even after a few months break-up, I felt as though it was “me” not being forgiving or being “mean” for not giving in. At the time I STILL did not realize the tactics they use. Even knowing in that book there was yet another phase called, “The Hearts and Flowers” stage. I’d read it time after time, but kept going back to him. Sadly, I’d even told friends who asked why I kept going back, “the make up sex was amazing”. Ugggh. Again, another of their tactics is to use passion as an attractant.

After hiding my book, and jotting down incidents, It wasn’t until then that I started “noticing” that I was able to “identify” his habits (and my faults) for believing he’d changed or even wanted to change. Broken promises (lies) and building his “fan club” were all he was interested in doing. I was able to precisely “predict” what mood change was about to occur. Their personality, much like bi-polar behaviors, can be such that they can even convince YOUR family to side with HIM. What? Yes, and to this day my sister who was never friends with him during our 5 year relationship, remains his biggest fan. (This tactic is a sneaky underhanded way of proving to his other fans, “see, her sister knows how she is…”) Turning others against you, or at the very least, making himself feel accomplished because he is still somehow “in” your life.

With all that said, I pray each woman reading your article can overcome fear and step outside of their partners control. It is NOT easy, but knowledge is power and I am thankful you took the initiative to get the word out!

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:53am

    Paula thank you so much for sharing! Our stories are so similar — I, too, was "sucked back in" many many times. Though at the time I had no idea it was happening. In fact I didn't know how awful it was until long after I left him. This journey is not an easy one by any means but my hope with this piece was to give voice to all of those who cannot raise theirs. So thank you for your support and encouragement!

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 6:27am

Thank you, for this article, I was in a marriage like this and thought it was just me and that I was lazy and couldn’t do anything right. After enough of this abuse and the cheating, I had, had enough and finally mustard up the courage to kick him out and get a divorce. I am now in school getting my degree and feeling wonderful. My children even say I am happier and my old friends say they have their old friend back, the one they knew. It’s so nice to get up and not feel dread and loving life again. It’s not perfect and I still have bad days, but every day is better and will continue to get even better.

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:51am

    Thank you for writing, KC. My friends said the same thing about me "Welcome back to the land of the living!" Yes it is so nice to get up every day and not feel that dread anymore. I am so grateful for my freedom and I am so happy to hear you are moving forward and in a better place of healing and peace.

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 6:14am

I was married to a man who has NPD. I lived with him for 14 year s, putting up with his temper tantrums, abusive behavior, cheating, etc. Once my children were all in school and I was able to go back to work and support us, I ended the marriage and never looked back. Why did I wait so long? I had to be able to provide support for my family because I knew he would never pay me a cent in child support. I went on to have a very successful career, and several more failed marriages that I wasted no time getting out of when I realized they weren’t right. I met a wonderful man and had a 15 year relationship with him. We never married, but it was like a marriage. I got bored and got involved with another man who I thought was my “soul mate” and guess what….he turned out to be another NPD! I’ve left him twice and both times he’s enticed me back with promises of being a better person. In many ways he is, but of course he will always have that personality disorder. He’s tried every trick in the book to intimidate and manipulate me, but I’m a step ahead of him all the way. It has actually become a challenge to take on his personality and make him see his flaws. Most NPD’s pick on women who are passive and nurturing. I can be this way, but my strength is in my life experiences and how I deal with them. He was attracted to the fact that I was a business woman and could speak his language. I was someone he could talk to like I was one of the guys. He was quite surprised when he tried his manipulative techniques and I didn’t fall right into his game. Sometimes I even play him the way he tries to play me, just to watch his confusion. He’s getting a little bit of his own medicine, but I think he is learning that his actions will not pay off with me. The big question is…will I stay in the relationship or go….probably go, because over time you lose respect for someone who treats you in this manner, even if they control their actions. The big thing I have going for me, is I’m financially independent, and my kids are grown and out of the house. I would not suggest that anyone try this on their partner, because you never know if they have the tendency to be physically abusive. I didn’t do this until I was confident that he was not someone who would physically abuse me. If nothing else, this relationship has been a learning experience for both of us. Can one really pick their personality at birth? What causes someone to be this way, and can they change? I think they can, but only if they really want to.

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:50am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Kara! Your words could have described my ex perfectly: "his temper tantrums, abusive behavior, cheating, etc". So many people don't understand the reasons we stay with such partners. I stayed longer than I should have (and even went back to him once) because he was also financially abusive and I had three kids. That's a scary place to be. I hope with all the knowledge you now have that you only choose relationships that are respectful, loving, compassionate, and equally committed. One of my biggest mistakes in my life has been waiting and hoping for people to change, but as a million experts will say: when people show you who they are, believe them. I wish you all the best moving forward and hope you find a place of freedom, love and peace. <3

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 2:07am

Wow. This was so spot on. So much so that I desperately wanted to stop reading but then you’d make a really good point by opening my eyes,having me realize there was a name for everything, everything I went through or that I was put through. I kept reading. I needed to know if you knew it all and you did. As if you lived in my head and in my heart the whole time. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I’m just now finally getting away. I’m willing to struggle, house hop with my children until i find my way or figure it out as he would say. This was perfectly written in every way possible. Thank you so much for sharing this.. thank you for reassuring me that I’m not crazy and that one day I will come to recognize the women staring back at me in the mirror. You are an amazing writer. My heart is truly touched and I’m forever encouraged to do better.

Thank you!!

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:45am

    Krystal everything in the piece I wrote I was totally oblivious to when I was in the marriage. I existed in a semi-coma state, feeling crazy all the time, confused, emotional — and this went on for over a decade. It was only after I left and heard the words "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" that I was able to take the first steps and educate myself on the disorder so that I could recover and heal. So many people ask "why didn't you leave?" which is a terrible question because it only induces shame and guilt for the victim. I honestly didn't know how awful my situation was until I got out of it. I am so grateful my story resonated with you and gave you validation and support. You are not alone and you will recognize the woman in the mirror again! <3

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 2:02am

Thank you so very, very much for writing this article. I am so very happy that you have healed and that you thrive. I am 3 years out after 10 years together (9 of them married). We have 4 children together. My question is- how did you heal when you had to interact with him for the sake of the children? He continues to win every court battle and he is using financial abide with everything he has to wear me down- and it is working. The stress of caring for 4 children and teaching full time without adequate financial support is making me a stressed-all-the-time mess. I see him using his control, manipulation and normalizing with our children and it scares me. How can I fully heal when the abuse continues to our children and me through financial abuse? I’ve been told to become financially independent of him in order to cut every possible tie that he could use to abuse, but right now that is not possible, but it is my goal. The constant injustice from the family courts makes me feel further victimized and that speaking up, once again, is only met with consequences to me. There has not been one professional (and there have been many) who has seen him as he is and who was able to support me and my children the way that we deserve. I am feeling worn down and defeated. How did you heal when you share children?

Thanks again for your amazing article,

Jessica

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:42am

    Jessica your story is my story. I have been struggling for two years as I watch my ex continue to cause my children to suffer and I am powerless to stop it and the courts do nothing about it. I urge you to read everything you can about "parallel parenting" with a Narcissist. Unfortunately we cannot go no-contact because we have kids together, but I have come to a place where I have only the most limited contact and it has brought me much peace through a traumatic time. But it's up to you to establish it because your ex will continue to try and manipulate and pull you back in to his games. Again, empowering yourself by learning everything you can about parenting with a Narcissist is the best road to take. But also remember that you must allow yourself the space and time to recover and heal. I am still very much in the middle of that process. I wish you light and love. You are not alone. <3

anonymous Oct 28, 2015 12:17am

Yes, yes, yes!
It’s a painful, destructive story that left us feeling like the crazy ones, and seriously, how do us super vibrant, intelligent women not only get sucked into but then stay! Which has the, “I must be crazy!” going on repeat in your head. But then, your tears dry up, and in those silent, deep sobs at the pit of your stomach; you find your strength and your sanity and best of all, your smile and laugh.
Thank you for sharing your story that left the resounding echo of, “ME TOO!”

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:37am

    Exactly! It is a good place to be when we can finally realize we are not the crazy ones and those tears dry up and the silence is ended and we can claim our place of freedom in this world. Thank you!

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 9:01pm

1,000 thanks for your incredibly accurate and informative piece. I lived with a narcisstic sociopath ( 2nd marriage – love bombed) and it was a life of chaos. My gut knew something was off early on but he kept reassuring me ….until he buried me in a such a financial mess that I was stuck till I could plan an exit. ‘Outing’ them can be dangerous. But when he walked I started holding my head high again and have been doing a happy dance ever since. I lost my home but found my spirit again….no contact for over 3 years. Thank you for sharing that leaving and starting a new life can happen. NEVER lose hope and even in the craziest moments know that you are not alone.

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:36am

    I could have written your story above! That is exactly what happened with me and I am still suffering financially because of it. And I am also in the process of "outing" which is why I can't speak about certain things due to legal reasons. But like you I will get there where I can open my mouth and tell the whole story! I am so grateful to hear you are in a place of freedom and peace. And I am beyond grateful for your support — We are not alone!

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 8:59pm

Excellent article. For 2 years my boss (female) exhibited many of these qualities. I was sucked in by her charisma and she put me on a pedestal at first. Slowly she began the abuse, it was obvious to others but not to me. I would always defend her. But by the end she would walk past me like I was invisible. I witnessed a similar pattern when each new person was hired. I hung on for two years and during that time the entire department turned over, some positions several times over. It was crazy. So it’s not only men who do this. And they are not only spouses, but bosses, ‘friends’, etc. Beware. Thank you for a very well written expose.

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:34am

    Isn't it amazing that once you educate yourself (and empower yourself) on Narcissistic Personality Disorder that then you can easily spot those with it? My ex is by far not the only Narcissist in my life — my own father is. I am so happy that you were able to spot the signs with your boss and hopefully move away from that toxic situation. You are totally right: it's not just men. Thank you for sharing your story!

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 8:39pm

Suzanna, this is so well written and undoubtedly just by writing this you’ve helped so many people. I want to cry when I read this piece because I feel so validated. Still after 6 months of being out I still second guess myself some days. It’s especially hard with a child involved. Thank you for this <3

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:31am

    Chanti I am humbled and grateful that my story resonated with you and brought you validation. I, too, have kids and still have to watch them suffer at the hands of my ex, and I am powerless to do anything about it outside of just loving them and picking up the pieces as they fall. Keep moving forward, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and above all give yourself the space and the time and the love needed to heal. <3

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 8:28pm

This is my story. Thank you for your clear and transparent guide on how it can happen and what to do if it does.

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:28am

    Thank you, Erica. It is so validating and healing for us all to share our stories and see how we are not alone.

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 7:31pm

Every word seeningly plucked from my brain. Thank you for the clarity of being able to read your words knowing they were not my own but I am not alone.

    anonymous Oct 28, 2015 11:27am

    Lexi that is why I wrote this piece: to let you know you are not alone. That was the first step of my own recovery process, the moment I realized that I wasn't the only one in the world with this story. Thank you for your comments!

      anonymous Oct 30, 2015 2:23pm

      Hi! Thank you a thousand times over!!! I too have been in those shoes. My abuser also hurt me physically as well as the emotional and mental trauma. However, I escaped! I am a therapist, and I so love the way you defined each of the terms by applying them to specific situations in your relationship. What a wonderful and clever tool you created. I would love to have permission to use the format as a tool and your personal writing as an example of what it looks like in my sessions with my clients who are dealing with narcissistic abuse or are recovering from narcissistic abuse. Please let me know if that would be ok. Thank you again!!!

        anonymous Nov 2, 2015 9:21am

        Thank you so much, Shelly! I am grateful my story resonated with you. And thrilled that you are a therapist and have the power to help so many others suffering from abuse. Yes I absolutely grant you the permission to use my piece in any way that will provide other victims with the tools to escape, recover, and heal. Thank you for being a voice!!

      anonymous Oct 31, 2015 2:03pm

      You know, honestly, this is the biggest source of support…knowing you're not alone. Because, sometimes your friends will look at you and respond to you like you're crazy because that couldn't possibly be happening based on what it looks like from the outside in. It's the worst feeling in the world to momentarily say to yourself, "Maybe they're right…it's not that bad at all." But it is…it is that bad! And, if you've had any of this experience in your past, particularly childhood trauma, this all seems "normal" for a while. I had been out of my marriage for a year and was telling my friend one day how nice and accommodating he was being. As a social worker, she yelled emphatically, "Cycle of violence!" It literally took THAT tone from her to shake me into reality. He was being nice to cover his behind and prep for the next wave of crap. Sure enough….

        anonymous Nov 2, 2015 9:24am

        Mia I know exactly what you speak of: I didn't share with my own friends how bad it really was because I was afraid they wouldn't believe me (and actually a couple of them didn't). It only adds to the trauma when we believe we are all alone. I'm so grateful my story resonated with you. We are not alone in this!

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 3:29pm

Thank you for this article. This was my life for the past 7 years. I left my ex-husband 8 months ago and have been divorced for 3 months. I cannot express the freedom and happiness I feel for me and my children. I pray all women in abusive marriages find the path to leave. I have read a couple of your articles and they have been spot on. The attempts at abuse don’t end after the divorce. My ex-husband uses my children to continue to get back into my life. It would be great to see some articles on how to handle that problem, I’m still figuring it out.

    anonymous Oct 27, 2015 5:12pm

    Yes I am constantly having to deal with my ex and is continuing pain he causes our children. It's absolutely heartbreaking and I am powerless to stop it, all I can do is love them and pick up the pieces. I am glad you are in a place of freedom too now and have the peace you so deserve!

      anonymous Oct 28, 2015 3:01pm

      Please please make that your next topic. I struggle so much with this. It’s one thing to rid them from your life but when you have children with them it is so hard to manage. Even if you offer no solutions the sharing of the struggle is equally helpful and insightful

        anonymous Oct 29, 2015 3:00pm

        Thank you, Kate, I will share my story about this as I have been approached by women all over the world asking the same thing! It's so heartbreaking to watch your children be the victims of an abusive father and be powerless to stop it. All I can do is love them and pick up the pieces. We definitely need more conversation about this! Thank you again <3

    anonymous Dec 3, 2015 7:13pm

    I can relate totally to the abuse you suffer through having children with an abuser. I keep saying to people that I was able to get myself out of the abusive relationship, but was powerless to get my children out. I did the best I could, visitation was court ordered. I gave my kids all the love I had and tried to protect them. My youngest was affected the most by his emotional abuse. When she was nearly 13, she tried to commit suicide. (Fortunately, it wasn't successful!) She had become deeply depressed from all the mind-wracking games he played with her. She was the scapegoat. I wish there was more information out there to tell your children how to handle an abusive parent. My wish is that the court systems will wake up and stop abusing the victims and their kids further when they want to leave.

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 3:00pm

Thank you for sharing this. This is the most accurate description I have read so far of what it is like to live with someone with NPD. I am three years out of a very toxic relationship and it has taken this long to get out of the fog. Reading things like this makes you feel less alone, more normal somehow knowing that others have gone through the same thing and survived. Not only survived but made new and beautiful lives for themselves. I am still struggling with bringing this baggage into new relationships, but one day at a time. I shared this article on facebook and I have had numerous friends and family thank me too. SO thank you… 🙂

    anonymous Oct 27, 2015 5:11pm

    Thank you Marie! That was the pivotal point for me is when I realized I am not alone in this and that so many others share my story. Emotional abuse is so damaging and traumatic that it takes years for victims to recover and heal. I am still on that journey but am empowered by the support and love from everyone who read my story.

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 1:54pm

Thank you so much for this article. It has educated me more about their tactics these personality types use along the spectrim of narcisism covering also sociopathic behaviour which has many similarities to assert unhealthy excessive control. It's given me more awareness on my areas of weakness where I was able to be unduly influenced or 'duped' in order for me to be so deeply effected by the emotional abuse. I am very grateful for your article and support as it so accurately describes their insidious behaviours.

I have lead a spiritual path for many years but have never experienced such a profound attack on the fabric of my self esteem. However it has reminded me that the healthy self love beyond my ego is actually stronger. This has been one of the positive learnings from this experiences.

    anonymous Oct 27, 2015 5:09pm

    This is a common theme for victims of abuse, Karuna: believing we are weak and having no self respect. I am still on a journey of healing and recovery because I believe my actual mental state was altered having lived in that darkness for nearly 16 years. I am happy to hear that you are moving forward and healing as well. Thank you for your comments!

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 12:53pm

Sadly…i still believed it was all my fault….i lived it until te day my husband passed away…about a year after he died i walked pst a mirror and realized that i did not even know who i was anymore…i had no friends to turn to because i had lost them one by one because i never had time for them…my family was even distant…until i called to tell them that he had died..i had not spoken to my sister for a year. he has been gone for 5 years now and i am happy to say that i have fond myself and i have built the life i was meant to have….

    anonymous Oct 27, 2015 5:07pm

    It is common for victims of all types of abuse to blame themselves. I am happy to hear you have finally built the life you deserve. Thank you so much for your comment.

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 11:54am

I recognize all of these things in my marriage. I also know I’m not the one with the problem but I can’t figure out where the strength comes from to leave. I know I’m not crazy but at certain moments I find myself doubting and thinking maybe he’s right. Where does the strength come from and how do you not get sucked back in.

    anonymous Oct 27, 2015 2:07pm

    Angel I didn't have any strength when I left, it was more like I was running for my life. And I went back to him once before leaving for good. It was the scariest thing I've ever done but I got to the point where I knew I had to escape to save my own life, my own sanity. But then I got to a point where every day, sometimes every hour I would shout aloud "I'm so happy to never be with him again!" And life continued to get better each day that I wasn't with him. Reach out for support, educate and empower yourself, and above all be kind to yourself and grant yourself the patience and love to figure this out. And know that you are not alone!

    anonymous Nov 2, 2015 5:58pm

    Angel, I didn't find "Strength" as such. I found anger. Anger that he was so emotionally abusive my 2 yr old recognized it. My son wanted to kill him when I didn't even have the gumption to stand up to him.
    Stay strong. Keep repeating the mantra- "It's Not ME!". You can do it!

    anonymous Dec 3, 2015 7:07pm

    I didn't have any strength to leave either to be honest. My ex became physically abusive in the last 6 months and nearly killed me. Sadly, that's what it took to kick my self into gear. I had no names for the abuse, didn't know what to research to learn more, etc. When you are mentally ready, I believe you will know it. Once you make that final decision to leave you will never turn back. It won't be easy, but the rewards are worth every bit of fight you have in you.

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 10:03am

Thank you for this. I’m three years out of a ten year relationship with someone who has NPD. I felt guilty for a long time as if I “gave up” on the relationship but I now am far over that hill and understand the breadth of my abuse. Thank you for explaining these things so that other victims may recognize the abuse before it lingers on too long.

    anonymous Oct 27, 2015 10:41am

    Jessie thank you for commenting. I, too, felt so much guilt after leaving since I was still in that place of feeling crazy and shameful. After educating myself I have learned that this is an all too common feeling with victims. That is why I wrote this article so I might help someone else recognize and put a name to their suffering so they could better then escape it. I am humbled that my piece resonated with you and helped in some way. Be kind to yourself and continue to give yourself the space to heal. It takes a long time. Suzanna

Ann-Marie Andersen Feb 20, 2017 8:49am

The best piece I have ever read on what it is like experiencing a relationship with someone who has NPD. I still try to make excuses for his behaviour, I have moved on and so has he (they always move on) he is now treating someone else in the same way but as much as friends tried to warn me I didn't want to hear what they were saying and neither does she. He used to tell me I was strong and could cope with what he was going through, well I AM strong and thank God I left him, as hard as it was at the time. The guilt I felt was horrendous ! 2 years down the line I have got my life back on track. That is real strength ! Time to think about dating again :-) Thank you Suzanna and may you reach many more souls out there. still embroilled in these toxic relationships and help them to peace and freedom. AM

Mandy Lynn Isherwood Feb 19, 2017 6:00am

Thank you for this article very insightful � pray for me everyone I for sure need the strength to let go

Jeni Jay Feb 18, 2017 10:26pm

This is exactly what the last 10 years of my life was like. My Ex was in jail for 7 months. He put tracking devices on my car and I had to get aprotective order against him because he wouldnt leave me alone. I had one investigator question him in jail. After, he told me he hasnt seen a narcissistic sociopath that bad in a long time. He told me I needed to protect myself and be aware of my surroundings at all times. He is now out of Jail with an ankle monitor on. He will have it removed in March. He is still stalking me on social media. He has found another victim, I pray for her everyday. I hope she will be Wiser than I was. I am so Glad these articles are out there for others to read. I pray she will find one before it is too late.

Marcia Defaria Mcgee Feb 18, 2017 5:37pm

GREAT read GREAT writing........

Mia Visser Feb 18, 2017 5:03am

One of the best articles I have ever read. Out of a relationship with a narcissist, I still question how I didn't see the red flags but the red flags are so subtle it took so many years to put it together and now in hindsight is so very clear. Still struggling to see the signs with this behaviour and whether a new(ish) relationship is starting to go this way,or is it authentic and honest. Years of building myself up and meditation, I am still at a loss. The learning will be forever.

Ashenka Padayachee Feb 16, 2017 12:14pm

Hi Suzanna, this article is so accurate of what I went through in my marriage. Your article describes my ex husband 110%. I honestly thought at a few stages in my relationship that I was the one that was wrong and that I was going absolutely insane. We do have a child together and I still have to deal with him however i do not keep quiet. Really happy that I finally let go. Thank you for this article... I haven't come across anything that has captured this abuse so accurately.