Interacting with Your Abuser

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin

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Having chosen your team of consultants and experts – and having hired their services – relegate any inevitable contact with your abusive ex – when and where possible – to professionals: your lawyer, or your accountant. Work with these qualified third parties to extricate yourself and your loved ones from the quagmire of an abusive relationship.

Be sure to maintain as much contact with your abuser as the courts, counselors, mediators, guardians, or law enforcement officials mandate. Do NOT contravene the decisions of the system. Work from the inside to change judgments, evaluations, or rulings – but NEVER rebel against them or ignore them. You will only turn the system against you and your interests. But with the exception of the minimum mandated by the courts – decline any and all GRATUITOUS contact with the narcissist.

Remember that many interactions are initiated by your abusive ex in order to trap or intimidate you. Keep referring him to your lawyer regarding legal issues, to your accountant or financial advisor concerning money matters, and to therapists, psychologists, and counselors with regards to everything else (yourself and your common children).

Abusers react badly to such treatment. Yours will try to manipulate you into unintended contact. Do not respond to his pleading, romantic, nostalgic, flattering, or threatening e-mail and snail mail messages. Keep records of such correspondence and make it immediately available to the courts, law enforcement agencies, court-mandated evaluators, guardians ad litem, therapists, marital counselors, child psychologist – and to your good friends. Keep him away by obtaining restraining orders and injunctions aplenty.

Abusers crave secrecy. Expose their misdeeds. Deter abuse by being open about your predicament. Share with like-minded others. It will ease your burden and keep him at bay, at least for awhile.

Your abusive ex-partner will try to dazzle you with attention. Return all gifts he sends you – unopened and unacknowledged. Keep your communications with him to the bare, cold, minimum. Do not be impolite or abusive – it is precisely how he wants you to behave. It may be used against you in a court of law. Keep your cool but be firm.

Do not let him re-enter your life surreptitiously. Stealth and ambient abuse are powerful tools. Refuse him entry to your premises. Do not even respond to the intercom. Do not talk to him on the phone. Hang up the minute you hear his voice while making clear to him, in a single, polite but unambiguous, sentence, that you are determined not to talk to him, that it's over for good.

Do not succumb to your weakness. It is tough living alone. You are bound to miss him horribly at times, selectively recalling only the good moments and the affection in your doomed relationship. Do not "dip" into the poisonous offerings of your abuser. Do not relapse. Be strong. Fill your life with new hobbies, new interests, new friends, new loves, and a new purpose.

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This article appears in my book, "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"

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Do not visit your abuser on "special occasions", or in emergencies. Do not let him convince you to celebrate an anniversary, a birthday, a successful business transaction, a personal achievement or triumph. Do not let him turn your own memories against you. Do not visit him in the hospital, in jail, a rehab center, or join him in a memorial service.

Do not ask him for anything, even if you are in dire need. When you are forced to meet him, do not discuss your personal affairs – or his. Your abuser's friendship is fake, his life with you a confabulation, his intentions dishonest and dishonorable. He is the enemy.

Abuse by proxy continues long after the relationship is officially over (at least as far as you are concerned). Do not respond to questions, requests, or pleas forwarded to you through third parties. Disconnect from third parties whom you know are spying on you at his behest. Do not discuss him with your children. Do not gossip about him.

The majority of abusers get the message, however belatedly and reluctantly. Others – more vindictive and obsessed – continue to haunt their quarry for years to come. These are the stalkers.

This is the topic of our next article.

Continue ...


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 How to Manipulate Your Abuser

The Toxic Relationships Study List

"Trauma Bonding" and the Psychology of Torture

Coping with Your Abuser

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