Narcissists are experts at deceit and deception. You have likely experienced or seen some toxic behaviour of a narcissist if you are dating one or have come across one in your life. Narcissistic abuse can be subtle, and it frequently worsens over time. The abuse could be sexual, physical, financial, emotional, or psychological.
What is Narcissistic Abuse?
Typically, emotional abuse committed by a narcissist involves insults, charges, criticism, or threats. For example, you might be gaslighted or contradicted in front of others by a narcissist. Other narcissistic, manipulative strategies in their toolkit include:
- Withholding payment.
- Giving you the silent treatment.
- Isolating you.
- Lying about yourself to others.
A narcissist’s ultimate objective is to manipulate their victim’s actions to keep them as a supply source.
7 ways to respond to narcissistic abuse
PTSD-like symptoms, sometimes known as narcissistic abuse syndrome, have reportedly been recorded in narcissistic abuse victims. Among the symptoms are intrusive, aggressive, or unwanted thoughts, nightmares, avoidance, loneliness and isolation, and feeling incredibly alert. In addition, the victim could have physical or mental triggers if put in a similar setting.
- Decrease the tension
Instead of trying to argue with a narcissist, try to lessen conflict. Disagreement might be interpreted as violence by narcissists. Deescalate the issue by stating something like, “I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think of myself the same way you appear to,” rather than trying to argue with them and starting a broader argument.
- Focus on the current problem
It’s possible to maintain civility by concentrating on their current actions. As narcissism stems from a place of profound wounding and because narcissists are highly sensitive, it can make them lash out if you describe them in a way that threatens their perception of themselves. Use “I-statements” to express how their current conduct is what you find objectionable, such as: “I feel like you aren’t now taking my sentiments into account,” as opposed to “You’re a narcissist”.
- If they talk over you, be calm and assertive
It’s difficult, yet vital, to maintain composure when being abused. A narcissist is attempting to elicit a response from you so they may use it to justify harassing you. Standing your ground will help you reclaim power in the relationship because narcissists frequently deny you the chance to speak. Say something like, “I’ve heard what you had to say,” for instance, if a narcissist won’t let you say anything. Would it be okay if I spoke out right now?
Say, “I get where you’re coming from,” if a narcissist won’t quit criticising you. Now, I want to express a few things.
- If they bring up the past, keep your attention on the here and now
It’s possible to keep your talk on the topic by avoiding the past. A narcissist will argue with you about every prior occurrence and make an effort to cast doubt on your comprehension of all of their past deeds. Narcissists are capable of harbouring resentments and fury for a long time, and they regularly bring up previous instances where they feel wronged. To keep your talk as focused as possible, keep it on the current abuse. Say things like: “I don’t think it’s appropriate to bring up the past right now. I want to concentrate on your rage at the current circumstance.
- If they get angry at you, take a break
Feelings can be calmed by allowing them to cool. You have the right to end a conversation at any time; if you want to keep the connection going, let the narcissist know that you’re willing to bring up the subject again later. You can leave the conversation by letting the other person know you have heard what they have to say and would like some time to consider it. Say something like: “I have a few other things to take care of right now, but I’ll give what you said some thought. You can call me tomorrow night if you want to discuss this more.
- Set Boundaries
To stop other abuse, it is essential to have clear limits. Setting boundaries with a narcissist via empathic confrontation is an effective strategy. This entails first demonstrating your understanding of their perspective to the narcissist before establishing and upholding a firm boundary. For instance: “I appreciate you worrying about my safety when I don’t reply to your messages immediately. However, you must respect my right to privacy despite this without yelling at me.
- Describe how their actions have an impact
Narcissists require support because they lack empathy. A narcissist cannot think about how their actions would affect her because it is not in their nature to do so. Therefore, they can assume that this is “your problem” when you say you are harmed.
However, you might not be able to alter them, but you can make an effort by carefully outlining how their abuse affects you. For instance: “When you disparagingly refer to me, I feel like I have no value.”