Coping with Your Abuser
By: Dr. Sam Vaknin
Emotional, Verbal, and Psychological Abuse, Domestic and Family Violence and Spousal Abuse
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How to cope with your abuser?
Sometimes it looks hopeless. Abusers are ruthless, immoral, sadistic, calculated, cunning, persuasive, deceitful - in short, they appear to be invincible. They easily sway the system in their favor.
Here is a list of escalating countermeasures. They represent the distilled experience of thousands of victims of abuse. They may help you cope with abuse and overcome it.
Not included are legal or medical steps. Consult an attorney, an accountant, a therapist, or a psychiatrist, where appropriate.
First, you must decide:
Do you want to stay with him - or terminate the relationship?
If you want to leave him and your children are above the age of 18 – Click HERE
If you have Children with Him (under the age of 18) – Click HERE
1. I want to Stay with Him
FIVE DON'T DO'S – How to Avoid the Wrath of the Narcissist
The TEN DO'S – How to Make your Narcissist Dependent on You If you INSIST on Staying with Him
(1a) Insist on Your Boundaries – Resist Abuse
Click HERE to Watch the Video
Personal boundaries are rules of conduct, red lines in the sand any infringement and breach of which you deem unacceptable behavior. You need to set your boundaries clearly, unequivocally, and unambiguously firstly to yourself: how to protect your dignity, privacy, freedom, and priorities. You then need to communicate your boundaries to your partner replete with a “price list”: the costs associated with ignoring or violating them. Finally, you need to be firm and enforce your boundaries: your credibility depends on a consistent and fair application of these rules of engagement.
· Refuse to accept abusive behavior. Demand reasonably predictable and rational actions and reactions. Insist on respect for your boundaries, predilections, preferences, and priorities.
· Demand a just and proportional treatment. Reject or ignore unjust and capricious behavior.
· If you are up to the inevitable confrontation, react in kind. Let him taste some of his own medicine.
· Never show your abuser that you are afraid of him. Do not negotiate with bullies. They are insatiable. Do not succumb to blackmail.
· If things get rough- disengage, involve law enforcement officers, friends and colleagues, or threaten him (legally).
· Do not keep your abuse a secret. Secrecy is the abuser's weapon.
· Never give him a second chance. React with your full arsenal to the first transgression.
· Be guarded. Don't be too forthcoming in a first or casual meeting. Gather intelligence.
· Be yourself. Don't misrepresent your wishes, boundaries, preferences, priorities, and red lines.
· Do not behave inconsistently. Do not go back on your word. Be firm and resolute.
· Stay away from such quagmires. Scrutinize every offer and suggestion, no matter how innocuous.
· Prepare backup plans. Keep others informed of your whereabouts and appraised of your situation.
· Be vigilant and doubting. Do not be gullible and suggestible. Better safe than sorry.
· Often the abuser's proxies are unaware of their role. Expose him. Inform them. Demonstrate to them how they are being abused, misused, and plain used by the abuser.
· Trap your abuser. Treat him as he treats you. Involve others. Bring it into the open. Nothing like sunshine to disinfest abuse.
(1b) Mirror His Behavior
Mirror the narcissist’s actions and repeat his words.
This article appears in my book, "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"
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If, for instance, he is having a rage attack – rage back. If he threatens – threaten back and credibly try to use the same language and content. If he leaves the house – leave it as well, disappear on him. If he is suspicious – act suspicious. Be critical, denigrating, humiliating, go down to his level.
(1c) Frighten Him
Identify the vulnerabilities and susceptibilities of the narcissist and strike repeated, escalating blows at them.
If a narcissist has a secret or something he wishes to conceal – use your knowledge of it to threaten him. Drop cryptic hints that there are mysterious witnesses to the events and recently revealed evidence. Do it cleverly, noncommittally, gradually, in an escalating manner.
Let his imagination do the rest. You don't have to do much except utter a vague reference, make an ominous allusion, delineate a possible turn of events.
Needless to add that all these activities have to be pursued legally, preferably through the good services of law offices and in broad daylight. If done in the wrong way – they might constitute extortion or blackmail, harassment and a host of other criminal offences.
(1d) Lure Him
Offer him continued Narcissistic Supply. You can make a narcissist do anything by offering, withholding, or threatening to withhold Narcissistic Supply (adulation, admiration, attention, sex, awe, subservience, etc.).
(1e) Play on His Fear of Abandonment
If nothing else works, explicitly threaten to abandon him.
You can condition the threat ("If you don't do something or if you do it – I will desert you").
The narcissists perceives the following as threats of abandonment, even if they are not meant as such:
(2a) Fight Him in Court
Here are a few of the things the narcissist finds devastating, especially in a court of law, for instance during a deposition:
· Be equipped with absolutely unequivocal, first rate, thoroughly authenticated and vouched for information.
I described in "The Guilt of the Abused - Pathologizing the Victim" how the system is biased and titled against the victim.
Regrettably, mental health professionals and practitioners – marital and couple therapists, counselors – are conditioned, by years of indoctrinating and dogmatic education, to respond favorably to specific verbal cues.
The paradigm is that abuse is rarely one sided – in other words, that it is invariably "triggered" either by the victim or by the mental health problems of the abuser. Another common lie is that all mental health problems can be successfully treated one way (talk therapy) or another (medication).
This shifts the responsibility from the offender to his prey. The abused must have done something to bring about their own maltreatment – or simply were emotionally "unavailable" to help the abuser with his problems. Healing is guaranteed if only the victim were willing to participate in a treatment plan and communicate with the abuser. So goes the orthodoxy.
Refusal to do so – in other words, refusal to risk further abuse – is harshly judged by the therapist. The victim is labeled uncooperative, resistant, or even abusive!
The key is, therefore, feigned acquiescence and collaboration with the therapist's scheme, acceptance of his/her interpretation of the events, and the use of key phrases such as: "I wish to communicate/work with (the abuser)", "trauma", "relationship", "healing process", "inner child", "the good of the children", "the importance of fathering", "significant other" and other psycho-babble. Learn the jargon, use it intelligently and you are bound to win the therapist's sympathy.
Above all – do not be assertive, or aggressive and do not overtly criticize the therapist or disagree with him/her.
I make the therapist sound like yet another potential abuser – because in many cases, he/she becomes one as they inadvertently collude with the abuser, invalidate the abuse experiences, and pathologize the victim.
(2c) Refuse All Contact (Click HERE to Watch the Video)
Abusers Abuse despite Abandonment Anxiety
Click HERE to Watch the Video
The abuser abuses his
intimate partners, significant others, and nearest and dearest because it helps
him to regulate his excruciating abandonment anxiety in 4 ways:
(1) By devaluing others, he restores his sense of superiority and grandiosity;
(2) He preempts his own abandonment by precipitating it and, thus, he feels that he is in control of the situation;
(3) His abusive conduct helps him to learn more about his "loved" ones by observing their reactions. He deploys abuse as a probe, a controlled experiment in a lab and the information he thus gleans alleviates his anxiety;
(4) Abuse works: it leads to the modification of the victims' behavior and to submissiveness.
The victim has 5 effective coping styles:
(2) Counterdependent/conflictive stance;
(4) Collusion (agreeing with the narcissist’s denigration, chastising, and deprecation);
(5) Displacement (redirecting the abuse at third parties) which is a form of cultish shared psychosis.
How to avoid contact is the subject of the next article.
"Trauma Bonding" and the Psychology of Torture
Case Studies on the Psychopath and Narcissist Survivors Support Group
Ask Sam on the Psychopath and Narcissist Survivors Support Group
Ask Sam on the Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Forum
Domestic Violence and Abuse statistics - Click here
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