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Abuse-Can Be Subtle and Deadly

People hear the word “abuse” and assume physical violence, but there are many forms of abuse. There are your run of the mill a-holes, wife beaters and cheaters and then in a class all of their own, are narcissists/psychopaths. Even narcissism has varying levels of abuse and degrees of severity, some narcissists, although cheaters and liars never physically abuse their partner and are able to hold down jobs. At the other end of the spectrum are the narcissists who destroy all who come in contact with them. It has taken me a long time to accept I was involved with a narcissist and even longer to realize and accept how truly evil he was and the danger I was in. One of the most powerful weapons the abuser has to keep the victim in the relationship is the victim’s own denial.

In my quest for answers I came across a couple who claimed he was a narcissist and she, through her love for him discovered how to “cure” him. For anyone to claim they can cure a narcissist is a dangerous game to play. As is typical of the victim, my hope was restored and I clung to any remote chance; I could “cure” JC also. I was quick to grasp at anything that indicated if I tried harder, was more understanding and loved unconditionally I could save the relationship and JC. That was almost 10 years ago, I don’t know if they are still around but you would figure if it was possible to cure a narcissist the internet would be full of testimonial about their discovery. Never think you can love the narcissist well, or if you try just a little harder to please him things will be ok. We are strong women, we tend to think we can give a little more, bend a little farther and then we find ourselves in too deep to extricate ourselves.

I read somewhere that a woman will stay in or go back to an abusive relationship as long as she feels there is something she can do to “fix” it; until she feels she has done everything she can do, she won’t leave on her own. With my experience I can only say that the longer I stayed and the more times I went back the more severe and insidious the abuse got.

With physical abuse there are often signs of abuse, bruising etc and people are much more apt to believe the victim, come to their assistance, and support them emotionally or financially.

Emotional abuse is ambiguous and hard to prove, the victim is less likely to get support and people tend to think they are exaggerating, overly sensitive or antagonizing the abuser. Society in general does not view psychological or emotional abuse as “dangerous” and feel that if the person isn’t treating you the way you would like just leave. They don’t understand the damage done to the emotional state of the victim or the potential danger to the victim.

All abuse stems from the abusers need to control the victim, whether it is physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, or financial abuse.

A narcissist at his worst will use a combination of all the above abuse tactics and can leave the victim paralyzed, unable to make decisions, hopeless, depressed and lacking the self-confidence to help themselves. They no longer feel like themselves, having lost their soul to the narcissist, they don’t even know who they are any more and have lost all trust in a fair and just world.

The most dangerous of all abuse is Ambient Abuse, (and the kind of abuse JC is so adept at) Often called “crazy-making”, or “gas lighting”, it is the stealth, and subtle, underground maltreatment that sometimes goes unnoticed even by the victims themselves until it is too late. It is ambiguous and atmospheric and very hard to pinpoint or prove; hence it’s insidious and deadly effects.

Ambient Abuse is the fostering of an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, instability, unpredictability and irritation. There is no tangible evidence of abuse but the victim constantly senses a bad omen or premonition of impending doom. It is perpetrated by dropping subtle hints, by disorienting, by constant and unnecessary lying, by persistent doubting and demeaning and by inspiring an air of unmitigated gloom and doom. Insisting the victim did not see or hear what they did, hiding personal items of the victim but blaming the victim, insisting the victim said or did certain things that the victim did not do but eventually starts to doubt their own perception of reality.

Over the long-term this environment eats away at the victim’s self esteem and their self-confidence is severely damaged. Many times the victim starts to act paranoid and highly emotional, which makes them look like the mentally unstable one and the abuser is the poor suffering soul. Some examples of ambient abuse would be withholding affection or intimacy, rolling their eyes when you express an opinion or criticizing your actions “for your own good”.
(With JC the rolling of the eyes was SO frustrating, and made me feel my opinions or feelings weren’t of importance).
(For most of our relationship he refused to come to bed, at first he always came to bed then he would stay up until 3 or 4 am, then he was coming to bed just in time to have sex before we had to get up for work, and the last few years he rarely came to bed at all. He said he just didn’t need sleep, but he would fall asleep any where and every where, he could sleep standing he’d be so tired)

There are 5 categories of ambient abuse:

Inducing Disorientation

The abuser causes the victim to lose faith in her ability to manage and cope with the world and its demands. She no longer trusts her instincts, her skills, her strengths, friends, family, or the benevolence and predictability of her environment.

The abuser challenges his target’s perception of the world, right and wrong, her judgment and offers plausible but false alternatives. JC would always say he couldn’t handle my warped perception of reality, until I questioned myself for getting upset he was seeing other women and whether I was actually being abused. By continually criticizes her decisions he makes her doubt her ability to make wise choices. With his pathological lying he blurs the lines between reality and nightmare. He constantly violates her boundaries and disrespects her values, feelings and opinions, “deal breakers” such as drug abuse, infidelity, lying and stealing become common place and she is made to feel she is in the wrong for confronting him on his indiscretions or that some how she is to blame for them.

By overreacting to the slightest mistake on her part and setting her up with demands impossible to meet he intimidates her to the point of paralysis.

Incapacitating

The abuser gradually takes control over the victim’s freedom and ability to be self-sufficient (i.e.: their vehicle is never working, they lose their job, loss of friends and support system due to never being able to entertain or attend events because of the N) it is very subtle and done in such a way that the victim doesn’t realize what is happening until it is too late. Then they find themselves isolated from the outer world and a hostage to the goodwill – or ill will of their captor.

The abuser engineers impossible, dangerous, and unpredictable situations where his skills or knowledge is sorely needed. He orchestrates circumstances where his specific skills, connections, or traits are the only ones useful and helpful. In this way he creates his own indispensability; giving him another reason to resent his victim and another excuse to be angry with her for being needy. (JC used to sabotage my vehicle, I would have no choice but to call for his help and he would make me wait hours and make it sound like it was a HUGE inconvenience and effort on his part to help me, but acted like the benevolent rescuer when he got there. He also got me evicted from every place I lived or we lived making us homeless and me dependent on him for everything) Right up to the last day we were together he constantly told me I would never find a man who would rescue me like he always had and I believed him. The truth is, I had many men willing to help me when JC was out of the picture but my vehicle didn’t break down like it did when I was with JC either.

Shared Psychosis

The abuser creates a fantasy world inhabited by the victim and himself besieged by imaginary enemies. The enemies may be people they know, (or totally made up) these people are plotting against them, lying to them or about them, basically “out to get them, and destroy their relationship” and she is expected to stand by him, fight against these enemies, lie, and pretend. She is continually “tested” and must prove her continued affiliation and support of him.

Eventually this constant stress reduces the victim’s resistance and ability to “see straight”. (JC used to watch videos and talk about the “one world power” coming and how we would have to live in the hills, the holocaust that was coming and I became very afraid of the future without him there to protect me. He said “they” had erased files on his computer etc)

Abuse Of Information

From the first moment the abuser meets his victim he is collecting information. He will reveal just enough dirt about his past to put his target at ease so they feel safe opening up about their fears, indiscretions, and weak areas. The more he knows about his potential victim the easier it is for him to coerce, charm, manipulate and extort her. Whereas he was sympathetic when he first meets her once the mask drops he will use any information he has to belittle, criticize, discredit, and embarrass. He has no qualms using information he gleans to achieve his goals or destroy the target.

Control By Proxy

If all else fails the abuser will recruit a third-party to do his bidding. That 3rd party could be family, friends, institutions, teachers, the media, the authorities, and he uses them to cajole, threaten, stalk, harass, communicate, and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware accomplices exactly as he controls his victim and dumps them unceremoniously when the job is done.

Many narcissists do not physically abuse their victims, they are able to control them through psychological and emotional abuse which is much less likely to be detected and it’s much easier to deny and make the victim look crazy. In JC and my relationship he did strangle me once (and denied it, according to him he didn’t strangle me or choke me, he just had his hands around my neck) and he hit me a handful of times in the 10 yrs we were together. There was no need to hit me, like most women after he hit  me the first time all he had to do was come at me with his fist raised and I would back down, but near the end even backing down didn’t stop him. It was as if he knew it was ending and he had nothing to lose by not holding back.  We went several years without him actually hitting me, but like my son said, that doesn’t mean he’s changed it just means you walk on eggshells.

What we all forget as victims is: IT IS NEVER OK FOR A MAN TO HIT A WOMAN (vise versa) there is absolutely no excuse for hitting a woman unless she was coming at him with a knife. There is nothing a woman can do that justifies getting hit, he can walk away, hit a wall if he has to hit something but she can not MAKE him hit her. Another thing we have to remind ourselves of: He knows exactly what he is doing and that it is wrong, he expects you to lie about it to everyone and if someone came to the door he would stop. If he was so justified in what he was doing there would be no need to lie and IF life with you is so unbearable that he feels he has no choice but to hit you then he needs to leave the relationship, BEFORE he finds your replacement!

Narcissists control by keeping their victim off-balance, another tactic for this is to not respond to something that would normally send them into a rage. They appear unaffected by an argument and act as if nothing happened leaving the victim waiting for the shoe to drop. Have no doubt that the narcissist will get revenge; he is the king of passive aggressive behavior that punishes the victim. He will take or destroy something of value to the victim. It could be weeks or months after the incident when the victim realizes a treasured possession in missing or broken, of course the N will deny knowing anything about it. This is most likely to happen when her focus is shifted on something other than the N, perhaps a child or other family member she is concerned about, anything that takes the attention off the N. (In 10 years I had all my clothes stolen, my photos had anti freeze dumped on them, memento’s were lost, my son’s baby teeth disappeared but the container they were in was in JC’s music room, 3 vehicles were stolen, my vehicles were tampered with, the amount of hours I spent broken down on the side of the road would boggle your mind, almost weekly I would need him to rescue me, he made me miss events that were of immense importance to me, I was unable to finish my college education, every single piece of personal property I had was destroyed or stolen. I do not own anything today that I owed 14 years ago, nothing. Oh sorry, a few Christmas decorations, that is it)

The best indicator that you are a victim of ambient abuse is your gut; throughout the 10 years of my relationship with JC I denied what my gut was telling me. And I wish with all my heart that you believe me when I say; it does not get better, his apologies mean nothing, he is only manipulating you further. Get out!! Before it’s too late.

Link to a post from 2012 one year after JC and I split, You can’t be first but you can be next http://wp.me/p1wKh3-kb

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164 responses to “Abuse-Can Be Subtle and Deadly

  • Megan

    Carrie, literally, you saved my sanity by sharing your story. Currently, I’m in a healthy relationship with the most compassionate, and understanding doctor. I committed to him after years of ex’s disposal. I really thought I resolved the pain he had caused me. Recently, my ex contacted me (all fear that he would distance himself forever, never happened, by the way), and there I found myself back in full throttle inside his spawned drama. In typical fashion, it begins with a phone call about how horrible he’s doing, drinking and what not, how desperate he is, and how much he would change things if he could because he realizes how much “he loves me.” The story ends the same, subtly he expressed his needs, never directly employing my assistance, with sympathy, I insist on helping him. After he is complete, he will change back into his secretive, mysterious behavior, (he knows “the lie of silence is as evil as the lie of speech”)I will obsess to find what he is hiding, (this time, he was hiding a relationship with a 19 year old girl — he is 45). I blow a head gasket and confront his immoral, irresponsible, and careless choices, he denies it and will insult me down to nothing, hang up on me, and ignore me completely until he needs me again. Humbly, I broke down to my partner, trying to gather the right words to explain myself, my wounds, my reactions, and hoping he understands that I don’t take my ex’s calls because I’m still in love with him or want to reconnect with him. The motive for connecting is indescribable. Desperately, I vowed to my new partner that I would find the right treatment for my wounds, but my greatest obstacle is finding out what the hell is wrong with me and what caused all this pain to go unresolved for so long. With no choice, I began googling my “symptoms”, and my ex’s characteristics, Divinely, your blog appeared and although the road to recovery has finally begun, I have a lot of work to do ahead of me. I’m motivated to rediscover the woman I was before I swallowed all this poison. I felt shameful for 9 years, until this evening. Reading this stories saved me in so many ways. May the Universe bless you and all those who suffer through this. I am so thankful for all those who courageously shared their story. I was hesitant to write on here. Silence is perpetuating this serious problem. Thank you for speaking the words that I couldn’t. I’m deeply gracious.

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  • Carrie Reimer

    Megan, welcome! I am so glad you found some answers here tonight. Yes you are on the road to recovery, it starts once you realize what you were dealing with. It is a lot to absorb and there are some good articles on healing if you just do a search on “healing” in the search box up at the top of the blog.
    There are a few things right off the top that you have to do; one is forgive yourself and never be ashamed for being the loving, caring, forgiving, beautiful woman you are. The reason he was attracted to you to begin with was because you were everything he will never be and he sucks people like you, me and the other women who have been abused by these soul suckers; dry and then destroys them. You had no way of knowing what you were getting into and once a person is in it, it is so hard to extricate yourself. We are compassionate people, we want to believe in the best in people, we thought we had found the love of our life and we don’t give up on the people we love. There is no shame in that!
    If it were possible, he is the only one who should be ashamed but he is incapable of guilt, remorse or shame.
    You are obviously a very strong woman to have gotten this far after breaking up with him, you are almost at the finish line and it sounds like you have a support boyfriend which will help. (even though I don’t recommend anyone dating until they have healed because they are usually so fragile but it appears you got lucky) Either way you have some emotions that are going to come up now that you have found out what he is. You will find that you relive the whole relationship in light of the new knowledge you have. Your brain has to process the whole thing over now and you will more than likely have some revelations, some puzzle pieces will fall into place. Most victims of Ns have buried much of the pain and as they heal more of the pain is brought to the surface, it is perfectly normal and does not mean you still love him or want him back OR that you are having a nervous breakdown. It means you are truly starting to heal.
    it is very hard to grasp the idea that the man we loved with all our heart was born disabled, These “people” ‘s brains are not wired right, Dr Robert Hare has studied psychopaths for 30 years and has taken scans of their brains compared to a normal brain; they don’t even look the same.
    They are incapable of love, empathy, or compassion, they do not love, they only imitate the emotions of people around them.
    The second thing you have to do is to go NO CONTACT. If you have to change your phone number, whatever it takes, the only way to heal is to not talk to him any more. As long as you leave him any kind of opening he will do everything he can to destroy you and your new relationship. So far he hasn’t gotten really nasty but if he thinks you are happy with a decent guy he will do everything he can to ruin it for you. Trust me on this!!
    The time to stop feeling sorry for him and taking responsibility for his F-ups is now. Block him on email, Facebook any social media and tell friends you don’t want to hear what he is doing or what he is saying. They will get friends to feed you information or to get info on you.
    You are not alone, you are not crazy and you can not fix him. He will leave a trail of destruction behind him the rest of his life and you really don’t want this soul vampire sucking up the rest of your life do you? There is no point in warning the other woman, you are right she won’t believe you, he has already told her you are a psycho bitch. We all want to warn the one that comes behind us but there are going to be so many more. I had one of JC;’s ex’s call me, he said she called every single one of his g/f’s warning them. But you know, how did she get the women’s phone numbers? he called from their phone; he liked the dramas, the tears, pitting one woman against the other. After she died he laughed and said, “She sure hated you.” when I asked why, she didn’t even know me. He said, “Because we were so happy for 10 years.” I said, “We were? you could have fooled me.”
    He had led her to believe he had found the love of his life knowing it would drive her crazy, they are cruel like that.
    Anyway, come back as often as you need and someone will be more than happy to listen, give advice or just hand you a tissue.
    Hugs
    Carrie

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  • Nicole

    I am not sure that my husband is that bad. But he certainly is manipulating me. He has just been diagnosed with ADHD, but I always thought it was Bipolar. Maybe its narcissist. I can relate about him going to bed late and then he would jumps on the bed Yellings bunny rabbit. Of course, it would wake me up, make me feel sick. I was so fed up and then if I got angry, he would yell at me. And all the things my mom gave me… pretty much they all got broken. I never thought of it that way cause he never did it in purpose right?! How he always managed to turn things around in an argument and I could never know what to respond to him. Feeling like a fool and apologizing. He never, ever apologised. I want to leave him, but he made such a drama in front of our son. Our son was 14 years old, and I had told my husband that I wanted to separate, I did not love him anymore. That is after a lot of therapy. Well he got home and started to cry, harder and harder and my son asked what was wrong? My husband yells she dont love me anymore! So my son started to cry… It was a mess. My heart broked for my son, but I hated my husband more. YEs king of drama is my husband. I want to leave but I am scared of him and of his manip[ulation especially on my son. What to do?

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  • Crazy Making | On The Edge

    […] In time the environment eats away at the victims self-esteem, their self-confidence decimated. The victim can start to act paranoid and highly emotional which makes them look like the mentally unstable one and the abuser the poor suffering soul. His pathological lying blurs the lines of reality. He constantly violates the victim’s boundaries, disrespect her values.  Lying, stealing become common and she is made feel paranoid and terrified for confronting him. The abuser gradually takes control over the victim’s freedom both mentally and physically, it’s done so subtly that the victim does not realize it until it’s to late. Then they find themselves isolated from the outer world, hostages to the abuser.  Source; http://ladywithatruck.com/abuse-can-be-subtle-and-deadly/ […]

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  • After – Post ‘Crazy Making’ | On The Edge

    […] In time the environment eats away at the victims self-esteem, their self-confidence decimated. The victim can start to act paranoid and highly emotional which makes them look like the mentally unstable one and the abuser the poor suffering soul. His pathological lying blurs the lines of reality. He constantly violates the victim’s boundaries, disrespect her values.  Lying, stealing become common and she is made feel paranoid and terrified for confronting him. The abuser gradually takes control over the victim’s freedom both mentally and physically, it’s done so subtly that the victim does not realize it until it’s to late. Then they find themselves isolated from the outer world, hostages to the abuser.  Source; http://ladywithatruck.com/abuse-can-be-subtle-and-deadly/ […]

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  • Alanah

    Everything i have read on this sight has struck close to home. The whole cycle of being a soul mate, love of your life, to the manipulation, mental & emotional abuse and being discarded. I have been thrown out of his life so many times like a piece of trash, and then reeled right back in. My relationship ended for the i don’t know, maybe the dozenth time about a month ago. He did leave evidence enough for me to find out about his infidelities, but of course made me feel like i was the crazy one, insecure, they were old photo’s etc etc. And i went against my gut feeling and decided to forgive/forget so to speak. Though i never really forgot because his behaviour was always so suspicious. And i would catch him out at lies all the time. Got accused of things i wasn’t thinking or even doing. It ended a month ago as i was going over to stay the night (mind you i had only been told to pack my shit up and get the f*&k out of there a few weeks before that) and found a letter from another woman who was feeling hurt and didn’t know what she had done wrong because he was giving her the silent treatment. Of course i got a stupid text with a lame arse excuse that ended in ‘as i have told you numerous times, if i was getting it from somewhere else i wouldn’t have you in my life, and who is in my life’. The relationship towards the end got physical. The first time he pushed me to the ground, screaming at me (the usual insults, i don’t love you, they were just comfort words, sick of your f*&ken negativity, get the f*&k out of my life, the list could go on and on) and then he held me pinned to the wall. It ended with him doing an about face and getting all emotional telling me how much he loved me, why don’t i see that etc etc. The last physical assault I had just come home and could immediately feel the tension and that something was wrong. It started off with the usual verbal abuse, and of course me responding with don’t say such horrible things, you don’t mean them etc, you know you love me. Then i found myself in a headlock being choked. I was trying to leave at this stage and as i was walking down the hall i was being put in continual headlocks and rammed against the wall. Towards the front door somehow my bag broke and all my belongings ended up on the floor. As i was trying to pick them up i found myself flat on my back with him sitting on top of me and holding my arms down. Threatening to kill me, saying he wanted to kill himself, he had made peace with his own death. And i feel ridiculous because I’m crying back at him, please don’t say that, i love you, i don’t want you to kill yourself. During this process i had tried to get my phone to call the police, but i couldn’t. The attacks came so fast, so furious, i never had an opportunity to get my phone. I ended up staying the night, with of course him apologising, wanting to make love in the morning, it being beautiful etc… I haven’t really heard from him since i found the letter, other than to say he has moved on and is at peace and happy within himself and where we are at. He wishes me the best in life, blah blah. I wonder how long that will last… I feel so angry, hurt, betrayed. I allowed this man to manipulate me, abuse me emotionally, mentally, physically. And it is so true, you can’t push them, because then you get attacked. And he blamed all his exes. They were the psycho ones, or f&*ked in the head as he would say it… Im sitting here this weekend feeling anxious. Unbeknown to him, i started to become the detective in our relationship and discovered he has video taped the neighbours in a comprising position within their own home. I also discovered that he forwarded a picture of me (yes i know, stupid, just another thing i let him talk me into doing, pictures and videos) to a email address. I took the footage to the neighbours, they went to the police, i gave a statement on their behalf. I also did a statement on my behalf. The police got a search warrant yesterday to seize all his computers, hard drives etc etc. They said they will call first before they head over. I wish they would hurry up, the nerves and anticipation are getting to me. I am also contemplating getting a protection order as he is going to know i am involved and i am a little fearful of retaliation. I have heard protection orders don’t do much really, but i guess if he breaches it i can have him on further charges. I know this is going to enrage him… Anyway, a month out of this relationship again. And again i am feeling crazy, alone, depressed, angry, i guess sometimes suicidal (though i am going to therapy, no need to worry, just passing feeling where life doesn’t seem worthwhile, wondering what the hell happened and where did it all go wrong) how did it all get to this, low self esteem/confidence. The hurt when they discard you so quickly, because you meant nothing to them, as if you are a piece of trash. The usual feelings that these narcissists make you feel… And you hear about women who find themselves in abusive relationships on the news etc. And i’ve probably been one of those women who have said, why don’t they just get out. I never thought i would be one of those women. For the first time i understand their position and how hard it is to get out.
    Thank you for your site, i was having a down morning gathering up evidence and reliving situations for the police so googled narcissist to remind myself of what a evil person he is.

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    • Carrie Reimer

      Alanah, you are welcome, I hope it helped, even a bit to know you are not alone. I too was one of the those women who had to eat her words, “Why don’t they just leave?” No one can know what it is like unless they have been there. Good for exposing your ex, I don’t blame you for being anxious about it and I think a protection order would be a good idea and if he breaks it do not hesitate to call the police immediately! I recommend you go no contact and block him on all social media, change your phone number and email address. There is no predicting what he will do but you can be sure that it will not be good for you. To talk to him will only confuse you and anger him. Plus they are dangerous. He could lay a guilt trip on you, beg to see you just for a few minutes to apologize or some other sob story just to get you alone and then pull a murder suicide move or something. I am actually surprised the cops didn’t suggest it, did you tell them about the abuse? Even if you don’t charge him with abuse the police should know about it so that if you ever call for help they know there is a history of abuse and he has already threatened to kill you. I don’t want to scare you any more than you already are but you need to be very diligent about your safety, too many women have died at the hands of their significant other. There is this block we all have where we can’t believe they would actually harm us, even though we read about it in the news all the time.
      You must remember they do not have a conscience, that is not just a a way of describing them, it is the truth, a medical fact, they are born disabled, without the ability to feel guilt or remorse. They can not feel any empathy, it isn’t even that they don’t want to it is impossible. It is hard for the rest of us to imagine not having a conscience but when you think about it; what keeps us all on the straight and narrow if it isn’t our conscience? without one a person is free to do whatever he wants without a second thought. Any remorse you think you saw was an act to get you back.
      Does he have a key for your place? I would change the locks immediately tomorrow. There are a few things you can do to be safe. I have been planning a post on just that and will be posting it tonight or early tomorrow, keep an eye out for it because there are some good practical suggestions in it. It is too long to put here in a comment.
      I know you are going through hell right now, you can’t believe you loved/love a the man you just discovered he is. How could you have been so blind, sucked in? You were such a strong woman, how did he manage to make you doubt your own eyes and make you feel so low and needy? It happens to the strongest women, that is a HUGE ego boost for them, to break a strong independent woman. You are in very good company.
      The longer you are away from him the clearer everything will become, it is a long journey to complete healing but you will get there. Keep reading and researching, it will help you stay no contact and remind you of the hell he put you through. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to grieve the loss of what you thought was the love of your life. There are many good article here pertaining to healing and the steps you will go through and feel free to ask any questions or rant and cry, we are here and all been there so we understand. I am glad you found this site, I will help any way I can.
      Be very careful. Big hugs
      Carrie

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  • Newlifeingod

    After reading the above story and comment I feel as though my situation is not as bad as I had thought. Not to compare, just to be grateful that my husband never actually threatened to or tried to kill me. Mine has been a silent hell, a constant and almost untraceable ambient degrading over years of time. A controlling and confusing world of walking on egg shells constantly, never knowing when the next crisis was going to happen and holding my breath that it would not be as bad as the last one. Recently online I found an author of the book “malignant self love narcissism revisited.” It’s almost like the author has lived in my house as if he watched and heard every word that my husband said, every action, every argument, every crazy making comment. This type of ambient abuse is so dangerous and yet the victim remains unaware until it is too late. Now I am facing a divorce and I am completely at peace with that- the only challenge now is to get full custody of my two beautiful children. I already know he will make this fight the hardest one of my life. What he doesn’t know is how strong I am and how hard I will fight. To all of you who are facing confusion, uncertainty and low self-esteem, be strong and remember they are weak, they need you, you don’t need them- they don’t understand the world without you in it, that is your power use it wisely.

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    • Carrie Reimer

      NewlifeinGod, Thank you for your comments. I wish you the best of luck fighting for your custody of your children. That is the one area they know they can hurt us the most, take our kids away. You are strong, so many times women forget how strong they are. You just need to remain focused, calm and know that the truth will prevail.
      They are weak and that is why they must try to destroy the victim. You are very right!
      God bless you and help you win your battle against pure evil.
      Big hugs
      Carrie

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  • deliadamaris

    I want to thank you for sharing your story!! You gave a very good description of what it is like to live with a narssisist. I am married to one and I intend on leaving in the next couple of weeks. It seems as though your case is very extreme, I want other women to know that it doesn’t have to be this extreme in order for him to be a narcissist. And yes, NOTHING YOU DO WILL EVER, EVER CHANGE HIM! Thank you for confirming that!! I too have been in denial, but thankfully it’s only been 2 years, but 2 years of hell none the less. I want to encourage you to continue to share your story and your experience. You are beacon of light and hope because, yes, the N will make you feel like you are the crazy one and you are the one who needs help and medication. You truly are not exaggerating when you say they are EVIL! God bless you, I hope you have found peace and most importantly, have found yourself again!

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    • Carrie Reimer

      You are very welcome. and thank you for the kind words and comments. Yes I believe my case is extreme as are some other women in here but i also believe my ex is a psychopath. Not all narcissists go to the extremes mine did/does but all psychopaths are narcissists (not all narcissists are psychopaths) and the signs are so much the same that if a person sees the signs of a narcissist they should run to the highest hill and not look back. By the time you figure out the N is actually a psychopath it could very well be too late. A narcissist will not show his full evilness unless he feels cornered.
      Be very careful when you leave, if you can do it without him knowing all the better. It is when the relationship is ending that they will get the worst. Most domestic homicides happen at the time of break up either just before or after. I did up a safety plan for leaving, I will email it to you.
      I have found myself, and peace, more than ever before in my life. Now I just have to find a way to make a living and I will be a happy little clam. :)
      I am very much at peace though, thank you. I found out so much about myself through this whole thing and the end result was so well worth the journey I would not change the past if given the choice.
      It was a long haul and painful journey but well worth it.
      Big hugs and good luck to you
      Carrie

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  • Unihorse

    You cannot believe how GRATEFUL I am to have found your website! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I told my husband to get out of the house on June 21st. Everything you said is 100% the way our relationship/marriage went. We were together for 10 1/2 years, would be married for 8 years in September. I had been married before to an abusive man … as a matter of fact my husband showed up at my door on the day I was going to have back surgery due to my previous husband herniating a disc in my back which had progressed and required surgery. I had been alone as a single mom for eight years after that marriage ended and it took 10 years of counselling to feel “normal” again (he was a narcissist as well …. as you said, we fall for that type because we are so giving, caring, wanting to “help” them).

    I was sure I knew how to look out for abusive men, having survived it in my previous marriage, plus with all my counselling I never figured I would end up like this again! My husband had just been separated for 7 months when he knocked on my door … little did I know he needed someone to “rescue” him. I helped him through his entire separation, his divorce, he moved in with his parents while he came over to my house while I fed him, bought him clothes, because he had to pay her support! When we travelled we would use my van because it was cheaper on gas and then I would have to fill the tank. When he knocked on my door, it was my home I owned, I was a single mom, food in the fridge, roof over my head, good paying job (plus I waitressed p/t for extra income) – perfect for a narcissist. Little did I know. Of course none of this came to light until I started seeing reality after I threw the jerk out and things started to become clear once again!

    I was the type of person who never sat still, always on the go, always happy, smiling, sure life was hard as a single mom but we always found joy, dancing around the living room, singing songs, watching Disney movies and I always said I would NEVER marry again unless the man was next to God. I told this to JW and guess what? He was certainly playing the saintly role! He went to church with me (I bought him the clothes he needed), I love dogs/he loves dogs, whatever I wanted, do what I want, when I want, nothing is too much – until they trap you that is!

    If there is any advice I can give, it is GET OUT before it is too late. Do not wait too long like I did …. One year after we married I started developing chronic pain all over my body; I now have fibromyalgia/PTSD and looking back it is because of him ! All the stress I was under and I never told ANYONE because I feel embarrassed that I had made another mistake, that I had another narcissistic, abusive husband. I had to retire from my well-paying government job and am also on disability. I used to do marathons, be active, on the go from morning until night, and now I have pain 24 hours a day – and he had the nerve to abuse me and throw me around ! He had the audacity to tell me “I didn’t think things would turn out this way with you not being able to do anything” – in other worse with ME not being able to look after HIS every want, need, desire, mood change, etc.

    The physical abuse started when he couldn’t control me any longer through other means – I got the silent treatment, the lying, the gas lighting, telling me I was crazy, I didn’t see what I saw, I didn’t hear what I heard, or I was hearing things, denying things, finding things broken then saying it wasn’t him (who else would it be – my youngest left the house just as we started dating), not shutting the lights off then saying it wasn’t him. It was always “I don’t know”, “I forgot”, “Oh did you say that – I don’t remember”. It got progressively worse after I “made” him take our sick, 12-year-old dog (which I had when we met) to be put to sleep in August 2011 … I just could not do it myself because of my PTSD, which he said he understood and did not in any way whatsoever indicate he had a problem with it. I had anxiety attacks just thinking about it; it was a decision I certainly did not take lightly and the loss of her affected me deeply. Then he would bring it up to hurt me, saying I didn’t care about her, how I “killed” her, I didn’t care about her like I don’t care about him, just horrible stuff. Prior to this there was the odd shove, pushing me out of the way, shoulder checks “in fun”, rough treatment that when I pointed it out he would say “I was just joking around” but after this he really started to “punish” me.

    I now have another dog, a companion dog for my anxiety/PTSD that is with me at all time and he knew he was not to take him for more than two hours without either coming home or contacting me, as my anxiety kicks into gear. In May after giving me the silent treatment for two days, and because I didn’t go downstairs to apologize for what HE did (as was the case because he wouldn’t ever come to me) he “punished” me by taking him for 6.5 hours! He told me he was going to his parents, then to wash his truck (that’s it after the silence) and he would take him “for a while”. I was frantic – I was texting my daughter, I drove everywhere I could think of, went past his parents (not there of course), and then I was home, pacing and getting more and more anxious. Of course he kept me away from his family so he figured I wouldn’t call his parent’s house, but I called there and she said he left hours ago! When he finally got home and I asked him where he was, he said “I told you, I was at my Mom and Dad’s”. I said “No you weren’t”. So thinking I wouldn’t call there, he said “If you don’t believe me, call there then”. I said “I already did – your Mom said you left HOURS ago”. Now he was caught, but did he admit it? No, his reply was “You’re f***ing crazy”. Right, I am the crazy one? That is when I knew. I told him he would NEVER, EVER, EVER take the dog without me again. Of course this really upset the apple cart, so things got worse again.

    This is a 58-year-old man acting this way. I told him that I believe that because I told him everything my ex had done to me, how he had physically abused me, that he thinks he can do the same thing. You know what his answer was? “I think you’re right!” Do NOT tell them anything personal – they will take it and rip you to shreds with it.

    I told him to get out or I would call the police. He packed his stuff and left – of course he called and left a message asking when we could get together to talk about dividing things up (and as an afterthought ….oh, and to see how you’re doing); seeing as I didn’t react to that a couple days later he left a second message saying if I need help around the house, or with anything at all, to give him a call. He is the last person on the face of this earth I would call. I realize we have things to settle in the future, however right now I am using all the time I need to get back my soul, to rediscover myself, who I am, gather my strengths again, and travel the road to recovery once more.

    I have gathered a lot of strength from your website, your reader’s comments, and we are all strong women, that is why we end up with these abusers. I have been reading your columns for days and finally had to add my story; I hope it helps others to see what the narcissist truly is – someone who will completely take you in, chew you up, spit you out, and not even look back with any remorse!

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    • Carrie Reimer

      Unihorse, I am so sorry you have gone through this for so long, but I am pleased that sharing my experiences has helped you in some small way. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your story to help others. To know that we are not crazy and alone is SO important!
      If you have been reading here you know how important no contact is in order to heal. Like you said you know down the road you will have to deal with some issues but the longer you can go totally no contact the better off you will be. He will ramp up his efforts the longer you are no contact, so please don’t listen or read any of his messages, or get someone else to read them for you. He will promise any thing to get you back so he can abuse you worse and more.
      Stay strong and please feel free to reach out any time for support or to rant or cry whatever you need, we will never judge and we all can relate.
      Big Hugs and congratulations on deciding to end the abuse and take care of yourself for a change. It is not easy but it does get better and it is so worth it in the end!
      Carrie

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  • Unihorse

    I also forgot to add that we had separated too many times to remember; he would pack his stuff and leave for 2-3 days, with me asking him to come back every time and apologize for what I did. As he knew how much this bothered me, he would constantly threaten me “do you want me to pack my stuff up and leave …. well do you?” This would happen whenever I would try to bring something up that he didn’t want to talk about, mainly problems in our relationship, and he would cut me off mid-sentence with “here we go again”, “now you’re starting with that again”, and if I continued he would threaten me with leaving. Or he would pack his suitcases and leave them packed in the bedroom for two days while he went downstairs and sulked; then I would have to rearrange all the items in his closet after I apologized for upsetting him! He would do the leaving because it was “my” house, which he didn’t let me forget either, even though I asked him if I should put it in both our names and he said no, it didn’t bother him at all (in retrospect, thank goodness I didn’t!) If something happened and I wanted to talk about it, he’d say “that’s in the past, I don’t want to talk about it”, even if it just happened that day!

    2 1/2 months after I “made” him put our dog to sleep, he asked me to come out to an isolated cabin with him and it would be romantic, and we would have a nice time while he went hunting (family cabin). While he was gone I cleaned up the cabin, cleaned the floors, made it look nice and romantic, and when he got back his boots were dirty from walking in the bush so I asked him to take them off in the porch area because I had just cleaned everything and made it look nice for us. He flew into a tirade, hurled insults at me, took the broom and threw it at me, told me there’s no way any one is going to tell him to take his boots off in the cabin, forced me into the corner while yelling and frothing at the mouth. This is the first time the physical abuse started, and continued to get worse from there. I should have left then, but as you said, I could not leave until after I had tried everything I thought I could and could give no more.

    We separated for two months last June, when he left me standing at the side of a bridge because I had the nerve to ask him why he bought a $42,000 truck without my knowledge! He said he can do what he wants, he never gets anything he wants (even though I always asked him and it was always “as long as you’re happy, I’m happy; I don’t need anything”) and told me by the time I walked home he would be packing his stuff and getting out. Sure enough, that’s what he did. And I asked him to come back, because I still felt I didn’t understand what I did, what could I have done different, maybe it was my fault for bringing it up (I know, see how confused I was?). I was not ready to give up until I knew in my heart I had tried everything I could to “fix” our relationship; it wasn’t until he took my companion dog for 6.5 hours that I realized it’s all about power and control with him and for my sanity, I started to detach.

    I have told people I know about him; none of them can believe he is like that. There’s no way, he is such a “nice” guy. That’s the persona they create and you look like the crazy one. My advice would be share your stories with others, let them know what they are doing to you, so in the end they will understand, not look at you like you’re crazy or something. The narcissist thrives on you not telling anyone because they can make you look crazy that way, the one with all the problems. I isolated myself, took it inside, and it made me physically ill. Don’t let that happen to you!

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  • Wes Austin

    To all the people who’ve responded saying they’ve lived with this kind of person: I’m so very sorry you’ve had to experience that hell. It’s awful and *NO ONE* should ever do that to another human being,period!

    I’d like to just comment, if I may, and say that the overwhelming categorization of abusers as male and victims as female ignores the fact that, at times, those roles are reversed. Carrie, I see that your abuser was male and that you identify as female and your descriptions of what happened to you are not what I’m commenting on.

    What I’m commenting on is the ‘stages of ambient abuse’. I think that by using exclusively male pronouns to describe the abuser, it’s overlooked that *anyone* regardless of gender, can be that type of person.

    Just my $0.05 [inflation, you understand lol]

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    • Carrie Reimer

      Wes, you are totally right. I am going to put a disclaimer in the sidebar to that effect. It is very hard for me to write without using male pronouns. The “he/she” gets repetitious and tedious or typing the Narcissist/psychopath so I usually just say narcissist when in fact I think many are psychopaths. I assume (obviously in error) that people know I mean I mean both.
      I certainly don’t want to give the impression only females are victims of narcissists. Female narcissists cause just as much devastation as male narcissist and I think often times the male victim has it even tougher than the female because society doesn’t accept that a man can be a victim or thinks the man is less of a man if he is a victim.
      It works in the female N’s favor because she will be believed sooner than the man that he is the abuser. She often wins custody of the children and they can cry and act the victim better than the victim. which is a trait of a narcissist. The traits are all interchangeable between the two genders and in same sex relationships also.
      There are more male N’s than females and there are way more domestic homicides with a female victim but that does not exclude female N’s.
      Thanks for your comment. We don’t even have pennies in Canada any more! Gone are the days when kids could get dad’s penny to go to the corner store. Now they get loonies.

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  • Lauren Bragg

    Thank you so much for this site and your story. I’m planning to read it all in greater detail! I was in a 17 year relationship with a man I thought may have a drinking problem, which he always denied. It was only after I left (he refused to leave, so I was forced to leave my 3 kids with him, incredibly hard but the only choice I had (I couldn’t literally throw him out, he’s big). Especially after he had my middle son crying that I was being unfair to poor him, he had no place to go, and no job (I was working a full time plus a part time job and he stayed at home with the kids because he never made enough money for us to live on). At this point, I thought he must be alcoholic, which he may be as well, but when I discovered information on narcissists, the puzzle pieces fell into place. I became severely depressed and anxious, starting before we even got married, but I never understood what was happening, just that everything was my responsibility and my fault. I worked harder and harder to make him happy, had the kids tiptoe around him so he wouldn’t get angry and yell at them. We separated once and I gave in because I didn’t think I could cope with 3 young kids on my own as he threatened to move away. This time, unfortunately he has stayed in the picture, and we shared custody until last year when he moved away and convinced the 2 boys (teenagers) to go with him. I was devastated, but they were old enough to make the decision, and they don’t understand that his behaviour is wrong, They’re used to it. My 11 year old daughter is with me and she has had anxiety for 3 years now. which he has consistently denied, and I chose to quit my job last June because she was such a mess she had missed 33 days of school in 4 months and I was constantly on the phone to her, taking her to counselling or rushing home to help her. Now, he is insisting that I should be continuing to pay him child support for the boys because I “chose” to leave my job. No caring at all that his daughter needs help. I am taking courses to do online counselling so I can work and be at home, flexible hours etc, and have almost run out of money. I have no credit or access to it because I am in a consumer proposal (close to bankcruptcy) because of debt related to the marriage and selling our home (which he ruined by not cleaning up a flood). Never an apology, never a reason why he did things, no acknowledgement he did anything wrong (ever). I supported him throughj 6 years of school and even then he barely made over minimum wage, got “laid off” (fired) for laziness in the best job he had, but now got a great job and his income last year was $111,000, after being back in the work force for 3 years! I always thought he had low self esteem and that was holding him back (poor him) but now I know he had me to support him, so why bother? He also spent so much money all the time, and everytime I told him we were more in debt, he would blame me for not telling him there was a problem, stop spending for a week then start over! Wow, long rant.
    Ultimately, my issue is this: I am now remarried to an amazing man (for sure!), my soul mate, but every time I have to interact with my ex, there is some twist to it (either I can’t make plans because he won’t get back to me) or he changes plans without telling me and acts like I should know etc. more of the crazymaking stuff, and I ALWAYS OVERREACT! It’s like he hits a panic button, feels like PTSD to me. I was going to go to court re the child support issue but he has asked for mediation, and I stupidly agreed. Now I am frantic that he is going to manipulate me again. Any thoughts how I can deal with this? With the kids in the picture, unfortunately, I will ALWAYS have to deal with him and the thought of that is like being in prision for life :(
    Thanks for any advise,
    Lauren

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