Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse that can leave you feeling confused and disempowered. Narcissists are manipulative, controlling people who have a deep-seated insecurity driven by feelings of low self-worth.
Because they have trouble empathizing with others, narcissists use other people as sources of validation and love — and when they feel this sense of worthiness slipping away from them, they turn to even more aggressive tactics to assure themselves that their needs will always be met.
This can include gaslighting (a form of psychological abuse where the abuser makes his or her victim question their own sanity), projection (where he or she blames others for their mistakes), triangulation (manipulating others into playing on each other’s vulnerabilities), blame shifting (when he or she takes responsibility for nothing) and stonewalling (ignoring problems by shutting down communication with the victim).
1. You Feel Like You’re Walking On Eggshells Around The Narcissist.
You are afraid of what they might say or do, and this fear makes it impossible for you to relax or enjoy yourself. You feel like you have to be careful around them.
“Playing the victim role: Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.”
― George K. Simon
You watch what you say because there are many things that could upset them — even if they seem trivial or harmless at first glance. And even when they don’t actually say anything negative about something (or anyone), it’s still possible that their facial expression might give away their disapproval, which would cause problems later on down the road if left unchecked.
2. You’re Constantly Second-guessing Yourself.
You may feel like you’re always wrong, or that you’re not good enough. Your abuser will make you feel like everything is your fault, even if it isn’t.
For example, if the narcissist doesn’t like their day at work, they will take it out on you by saying something like “I had such a horrible day because of my stupid wife.”
“A narcissist, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of an empath. Emotionally, narcissists are like brick walls who see and hear others but fail to understand or relate to them. As a result of their emotional shallowness, narcissists are essentially devoid of all empathy or compassion for other people. Lacking empathy, a narcissist is a very destructive and dangerous person to be around.”
― Mateo Sol
You might think: “Well maybe I could have been more supportive?” But then again… maybe not! It’s pretty hard to know what would have happened if we were all robots programmed by our abusers so everything could go exactly according to their plan — which does happen sometimes!
You might also find yourself constantly second-guessing yourself when it comes to decision-making; especially when the narcissist has made up his mind already and won’t listen to reason (or any other opinion).
When this happens often enough over time it becomes easier just not having any opinions at all because then nobody gets upset with them!
3. You Feel Like You Can’t Do Anything Right.
You’re constantly being put down, criticized, and told that you’re wrong. You never get to be right, even when it’s obvious that your opinion is correct and others’ opinions are wrong.
You’re never allowed to be yourself; instead of allowing your own personality traits to shine through and shine bright, narcissists will try their hardest to change who you are into what they want or expect from others around them — even if those expectations aren’t healthy ones!
4. You’re Always Apologizing.
You feel like you have to apologize for everything, even when it’s not your fault. You feel like you have to make excuses for everything that happens and why it happened.
For example: “I’m sorry I forgot about our date last night.” Or “I shouldn’t have yelled at you because of what happened at work today.”
“The deal with dating conceited men like him was that she’d hoped some of his excess self-esteem would rub off. Women always secretly hoped this: that dating a narcissist would give them confidence by osmosis. It never worked.”
― Chuck Palahniuk
This is a sign that the narcissist has conditioned you into believing that everything is your fault, even when it isn’t — and this can make it seem like they are always right and never wrong!
The narcissist will also make sure they are never in the wrong by blaming others or projecting onto them (for example: accusing their partner of cheating).
5. You Feel Like You’re Not Good Enough.
If you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse, chances are that your self-esteem has taken a pretty big hit. Narcissists tend to target people with low self-esteem because they’re more likely to be vulnerable and fall into their traps.
If you’ve been through this kind of abuse, then it’s likely that you feel like there is something wrong with who you are as a person — and this can lead to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity in all areas of life.
In addition to feeling like nothing is good enough for the narcissist, survivors often develop low self-worth due to their abusers constantly putting them down or making them feel guilty about things (like not being able to meet unrealistic expectations).
6. You’re Constantly Being Criticized.
Criticism is a normal part of life. It’s not a bad thing to be criticized, but you should watch out for the type of criticism that does not offer any constructive feedback or advice.
“Kindness from a narcissist is called an illusion.”
― Alice Little
When you are being criticized by your narcissist, it will almost always feel like an attack on your character. Narcissists aren’t interested in helping their victims improve themselves; they just want to tear them down so they can make themselves feel better about themselves (and continue getting away with doing whatever they want).
7. You’re Never Allowed To Be Right.
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s likely that you’ve been told that your opinions are wrong. You may have even been told that you don’t know what you’re talking about or that the way that you see things is flawed.
Narcissists will often try to make their partners feel stupid by telling them they don’t understand things when they do understand them, but the narcissist doesn’t want to admit it because they don’t want to look bad in front of others or themselves.
So one day when your partner says something like “I think we should go out on Friday night,” and instead of saying “yes” or “no” like any normal person would do…they say: “No we shouldn’t go out because…”
And then goes on for five minutes explaining why this idea sucks (even though it doesn’t) just so everyone knows how smart he/she is compared to everyone else who disagrees with him/her (even though most people probably wouldn’t disagree).
8. You’re Always Being Compared To Others.
The narcissist is constantly comparing you to other people, even if they don’t know them personally: friends, family members, co-workers, and even people you’ve never met before!
They will compare the way that person dresses or speaks; their career path; their accomplishments or lack thereof; physical appearance etc.
This can be very hurtful because it makes you feel like there is something wrong with YOU when really it’s just an excuse for them not wanting to be in a relationship with YOU anymore (or at all).
9. You’re Made To Feel Like You’re The Problem.
The narcissist will always blame you for the problems in the relationship, even if those issues are not your fault or responsibility.
For example, if they have an addiction to alcohol and drugs, they will make it seem like it’s your fault because you didn’t give them enough attention or love when they wanted it.
In reality, this is just another way of saying that they don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions and decisions — so instead of owning up to their behavior (which would probably require them to give up something), they’ll find someone else to blame instead!
“Speaking to narcissists and imagining having a normal human interaction is called delusion.”
This type of manipulation happens all too often with narcissistic abusers because these individuals lack empathy; therefore seeing someone else as a source of pain rather than themselves makes perfect sense when viewed through this lens.
10. You’re Isolated From Your Friends And Family.
If you’re the victim of narcissistic abuse, it’s likely that your abuser has isolated you from your friends and family.
They may use their position of power to keep them away from you; for example, if they are in a position of authority at work or in another organization where many people know each other (like a church).
If they don’t have this kind of power over others, they will still try to isolate their victim by using guilt trips on them — telling them that no one loves them as much as their abuser does, or that no one understands what kind of person they really are like their abuser does.
11. Your Finances Are Controlled.
If your finances are controlled by the narcissist, it’s not uncommon to feel like you’re drowning in debt. They may withhold funds from you or use money as a way of controlling your behavior.
They might make all of the financial decisions, use credit cards without consulting you, and make purchases that benefit them but not you (or even put your name on bills).
The narcissist also might spend extravagantly on themselves or others while depriving their partner of basic needs such as food or shelter — and then blame their partner when they don’t have enough money left over after buying things they want (or need) themselves.
If someone has been taking advantage of your finances in order to manipulate and control you — whether through withholding funds or spending extravagantly — it could be time for some serious self-reflection about whether this relationship is right for both parties involved!
12. You’re Constantly Being Lied To.
In a narcissistic relationship, you will be lied to about the most random things. You’ll be told that you have a new job when you don’t. Or that your partner has just won the lottery when they haven’t even bought a ticket yet (and probably never will).
The lies can be as big or small as they need to be in order for the narcissist to feel better about themselves by making themselves look more important and successful than they actually are.
They might even lie about things that happened in the past if it makes them look better than they were at that time (or worse). For example: “I was always popular at school”, “I had lots of friends growing up”, and “Everyone loved me”.
This is often referred to as gaslighting — when someone tries hard enough, using lies and manipulation tactics like the ones mentioned above along with other tactics such as mind games or emotional abuse tactics like shaming/blaming/shifting responsibility onto others instead of taking personal responsibility for their actions…you get my point!
13. You’re Being Gaslighted.
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that involves manipulating and distorting someone’s sense of reality. The gaslighter will lie, deny, and blame others in order to make their victim feel crazy or confused.
Gaslighting can happen in any relationship but it’s most common in romantic relationships where one partner wants control over the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions.
It typically starts with compliments: “You look beautiful today!” or “You did a great job.” But then things change — suddenly you’re hearing things like, “I never said that!”; “You’re too sensitive”; “I didn’t mean what I said”; etc., which makes you question yourself more than ever before because there seems no reason why this person would want to hurt you intentionally like this unless there was something wrong with YOU after all (which means YOU are responsible for fixing things).
14. You’re Being Manipulated.
Manipulation is a form of brainwashing and can be used to control your behavior, thoughts, and emotions. The narcissist will use it to keep you under their thumb by making sure that you never question them or challenge them in any way.
They may also use manipulation as an excuse for their behavior: “I was just trying to help you.”
It’s important not only to recognize when you’re being manipulated but also how often this happens so that it doesn’t become normalized in your life with the narcissist (or any other type of abuser).
As mentioned earlier, the more often these tactics are used on us by others — especially those who claim to love us — the more likely we are to go through abuse from someone close by who has no regard for our feelings or needs as human beings
15. You’re Being Emotionally Abused.
If you’re being emotionally abused, you’ll notice that the narcissist is always right and will never admit to their mistakes. They also blame others for their problems, constantly making excuses for their behavior or saying things like “It’s not my fault!”
The narcissist will play the victim in order to get sympathy from others — even though they’ve done nothing wrong. When confronted about any kind of wrongdoing, they’ll lash out with rage at being criticized or challenged by anyone (including loved ones). They may even threaten suicide if you don’t do as they say!
The narcissist is always in control because he/she wants all eyes on him/her at all times; this means if someone else has something going on in their life that doesn’t involve him/her directly then he/she feels threatened by it!
He’ll try his hardest not only to control what happens inside his own home but outside too through manipulation tactics such as gaslighting tactics where he tries convincing everyone else around him that there really isn’t any problem between himself/herself and another person involved.”
16. You’re Being Physically Abused.
You should also be wary of physical abuse. Narcissists are often physically abusive, either through direct threats or actual violence.
They may threaten to hurt you or do so without warning, such as by throwing objects at your head, punching holes in walls and doors, kicking furniture that is near them when they’re angry (or just because), grabbing at their own hair until it bleeds from their scalp — the list goes on.
If the narcissist does not physically assault you directly but only indirectly through intimidation tactics like intimidation involving weapons (guns) or animals (dogs), then this could still qualify as emotional abuse rather than physical abuse because there is no direct contact between yourself and another person involved in these types of situations; however, it’s important not overlook any possible signs that something more serious is going on behind closed doors!
17. You’re Being Sexually Abused.
Sexual abuse is a form of physical, emotional, and mental abuse. It can be any unwanted sexual activity that you didn’t consent to or were forced into by someone else.
Sexual abuse is not about sex; it’s about power and control. Sexual abusers use their position of power as a way to gain the trust of their victims, who are then often too afraid or ashamed to admit what happened when they try telling someone else about it later on in life.
This can lead victims down an incredibly dark path of self-loathing and self-destructive behaviors such as overeating, drug use or promiscuity (aka “acting out”).
Sexual assault includes forced penetration with objects; forced vaginal or anal intercourse; unwanted touching; kissing/groping without consent; other forms of nonconsensual contact like rape fantasies being enacted against your will (aka “rapeplay”), etc..
18. You’re Being Stalked.
Stalking is a form of psychological abuse. It can be perpetrated by family members, friends, or acquaintances against the victim.
The stalker becomes obsessed with the person they are stalking and may engage in any number of behaviors to get their attention: calling them constantly, hanging around where they live or work, sending unwanted gifts and emails/texts/letters etc., breaking into their home while they’re sleeping and rearranging furniture (this actually happened to me!), showing up at events uninvited — the list goes on and on.
If you feel like someone is stalking you: talk to someone about it! If possible, report this person’s behavior so that others can be aware of what might happen if they come into contact with them too!
19. You’re Being Threatened.
Narcissists are not just abusive, they’re manipulative. This can be seen in the way they use threats to control their partners’ behavior and keep them silent about their abuse.
There are many forms of threats that you may have experienced: physical, emotional, or financial. Threats can include anything from belittling your partner’s accomplishments to threatening suicide if they leave the relationship (which would obviously be devastating).
Threats can also be used as leverage to make sure you stay in an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist — they’ll threaten to hurt themselves or others if you leave them alone out of fear for your own safety or theirs.
20. You’re Being Blackmailed.
Blackmail is a form of psychological abuse and extortion. Narcissists will use blackmail to manipulate their victims into doing what they want, even if it’s against their own best interests.
Blackmail is also a form of coercion, meaning that the narcissist uses threats to force you into complying with his or her demands. The threat could be anything from revealing something about you that you don’t want to be revealed (like an embarrassing secret), threatening to harm your family members or pets, or even threatening suicide if you don’t comply with him/her!
21. You’re Being Tortured.
Torture is a form of psychological abuse that can be physical or mental. It’s often used to control and intimidate victims, who are then forced into submission by their abusers.
The torture can take the form of threats, intimidation tactics, isolation from family and friends — anything that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable in your own home.
If you’re experiencing these things at home:
- You should seek help immediately! Don’t let this go on any longer than it needs to; there’s no reason why anyone should have to live like this unless they want too (and usually they don’t).
If you’re experiencing any of the above signs, it’s important to remember that they don’t mean you are weak or crazy. Instead, they show how narcissistic abuse can affect anyone who comes into contact with it — and that person may not even realize they’re being abused until much later on in life.