How To Help Someone Involved With A Narcissist

What to do if you suspect someone you know is involved with a narcissist

First of all let’s cover the don’t:

* Do not underestimate how dangerous, manipulative and conniving a narcissist can be.

Too many times people confuse narcissism with ordinary abusive behaviour or someone with an inflated ego. A true narcissist is cruel beyond comprehension and can cause immeasurable emotional and physical damage. They will stop at nothing to control their victim and that could include death.

* Never make the victim feel they are responsible for their own abuse.

By saying things like: I would never have stayed, I would have seen he was an asshole a mile off, he was attracted to your co-dependency, etc
No one knows what it is like to be manipulated by a narcissist unless they have been there.

-Narcissists are attracted to strong, competent, self sufficient women with a strong sense of responsibility and moral fiber. What woman wouldn’t want to be described in those terms? The last thing a narcissist wants is someone needy or someone any one could have, she has to be a “trophy” and confident enough to keep his narcissistic supply coming. Plus the more self sufficient and confident she is the more determined the narcissist will be to “break” her, if he can make her totally dependent on him it is the ultimate in NS.

* Do not withdraw your support in an effort to make them choose between you and the narcissist, or in anger because they won’t leave or went back.

Withdrawing your support is giving the narcissist exactly what they want – total control over their victim and makes the victim dependent on the narcissist and reinforces what the narcissist is telling them; that they (the narcissist) is the only one they can rely on, the only one who truly loves them and that they are flawed in some way, why else would someone they cared about turn their back on them?

* Do not expect the victim to return to their “old self” immediately after leaving the narcissist.

The longer a person is involved with a narcissist the more damage is done to the person’s self confidence, their esteem and even their perception of reality. That does not heal quickly, sometimes never. The victim has been abused at a soul level, comparable to a prisoner of war, a rape victim, a hostage; they can probably not even adequately describe what they have been through. In many cases they have blocked much of the abuse or minimized it; which is typical of a person in highly dangerous situation and was part of their attempts at survival.

– Many people leaving a relationship with a narcissist suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and should get help from a professional for that, someone who is familiar with Narcissism and the effect on the victims.

*Do not believe anything the narcissist tells you, he will try anything to discredit the victim and make them appear to be the crazy one and it is the narcissist who is the victim.

You can almost guarantee that whatever the narcissist is saying is the exact opposite of the truth. If he is saying she was unfaithful; it was him cheating. If he says she spent all the money; it was he who spent money.

Remember the narcissist is an award winning actor, he’s been doing it his whole life, if he does admit to any wrong doing it will be part of his plans to manipulate the situation in his favor.

*Do not show the narcissist any sympathy!

One of the tactics often used by a narcissist (especially when he feels he is losing ground) is to use other people as pawns in his efforts to control his victim.
The victim needs no reasons to feel sorry for the narcissist, if they see you are sympathetic to his cause they will doubt they are doing the right thing by leaving.

*Do not be overly critical of the narcissist to the point of the victim feeling they must defend him; remember the narcissist uses guilt as a means of manipulation. You don’t want the victim to feel she has done anything wrong by confiding in you.

The To-Do List:

*Research Narcissism

There are hundreds of support groups, forums, advice sites and sites giving professional opinions.

No one can understand the power a narcissist has over his victim or how
he gained that control or why a victim finds it so hard to leave. Unless you have been there it is impossible, but by reading other people’s accounts of their experiences you will come to realize it is very common and perhaps develop some compassion for the loved one you are trying to help.

*Reinforce that the victim is NOT responsible for the abuse, it is the narcissist that is sick and they can not save him.

-You will have to do this often, once out of your company and back home with the narcissist the narcissist will work over time to extinguish any confidence the victim might have acquired while with you. It is a constant roller coaster ride in emotional hell and you might be the only person who can counter the insanity of living with a narcissist.

*Document!!

When the victim tells you of abuse, infidelity or any other mistreatment by the narcissist make note of it; if there is any physical abuse try to take pictures even if she refuses to press charges. It is actually best if she doesn’t keep records herself because the narcissist IS going through her stuff whether she realizes it or not and if he finds it he will destroy it and “punish” her in some way. But this information will come in handy in the future as:
Proof there was abuse should she have to go to court or get a restraining order.
A reminder for the victim of what she had to live with when her resolve weakens.
Proof of the truth in defense of the lies the narcissist will inevitably tell anyone who will listen.

*Be There!!!

I know it is frustrating to hear the victim cry about the abuse and then they don’t leave or they leave and go back, but you need to be her voice of reason and sanity. You must understand that narcissists are experts at making someone feel crazy.

A woman in an abusive relationship leaves an average of 7 times before leaving for good. As long as he can make her feel that she has some power to change things she will go back, she needs to be reinforced that she has indeed done all she or any woman could do and no one deserves to be abused.

* Believe them!

Once they opening up and start sharing some of the things the narcissist did, believe them, no matter how bizarre it may sound and reiterate it is the narcissist that is sick, not them!

*Listen!!

If they are still with the narcissist all you can do is be there to listen and reinforce that: They are NOT crazy
They are strong
They are not alone
They CAN leave and when they do you will be there to help

* If they have left they will need to rehash the relationship trying to make sense of it, trying to find answers to why something so wonderful turned so ugly.

Quite often while in “survival mode” the victim will block or minimize a lot of the abuse because they are overwhelmed or simply can not accept how horrible the situation is. Once they are away from the narcissist and the danger emotions and memories will come flooding back and the brain needs to acknowledge and accept what happened in order to start the healing process. It might be necessary for the victim to relive some events over and over again.

*Allow the victim time to grieve the loss.

Too many times the people close to the victim get frustrated that they are so sad and “taking too long” grieving and should “just get over it”. That they should be happy they are away from the abuse.

Remember this is probably what they thought was the love of their life and not only is the relationship over but they have to accept it was all one sided; the narcissist is incapable of love; they were in love with a sham. The narcissist will never admit to any fault, and over time more and more of the lies he told will surface reopening the wounds.

Nine times out of ten the narcissist will be involved in another relationship very quickly and will be on his best behaviour and doing everything he can to rub his ex victim’s nose in it.

Either that or he will stock his victim, call incessantly, write letters, anything he can think of to get to her and weaken her resolve.

You can’t stop the victim from going back, but it is less likely to happen if they don’t feel alone. The narcissist can be very convincing especially if the victim is alone, depressed and filled with self doubt.

Good Luck!!!

188 thoughts on “How To Help Someone Involved With A Narcissist

  1. Thank you for this blog. I was a ‘victim’ and being constantly put down by my ex I turned to my friends and family who also put me down. I wasn’t surrounded by supportive people who understood and although drastic, it was the best thing for me in order to finally get out. I cut everyone out. All family, friends, left my job, country. By putting everything out of the way and finally being able to control MY life and make my own decisions, I feel
    Stronger. Again, to those with strong people around them do not resort to my drastic actions. With these blogs, for those who are looking for support, do be careful, there are some nasty people who will comment and make you feel worse. Be mindful of that. Whoever you are, you are a wonderful person who cared too much and believed in a heartless soul. If you can, find a therapist who can guide you out of this black hole.
    I am not perfect, it’s taken me 4 years and although I am out, it won’t be forever, he will try again to break me. But reading these blogs (over and over) and trying to love myself, I pray I’ll be strong enough to not ‘engage’.
    Look after yourselves. Please. The narcissist will never change. Only you can grow and move far, far away!
    I believe in you!!

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  2. I was married to a one for nearly 40 yrs, I am so damaged don’t know what to do. Im too old, 70, to start life again, he controls the money,Im so lost. going though a separation now. He is living in a hotel. Getting counceling, not helping much

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    1. Christine, don’t give up hope. If things are not helping with your councillor then ask your doctor to recommend another one. They vary in the techniques they use and also how well you can open up to them. It does take a few sessions for a trust to develop. Remember, from the point you are at now, which sounds very down and depleted of energy, things can and WILL get better. Think about the younger you, when you had hopes and dreams. Age is no barrier to having a new set of hopes and dreams, they are what keeps us going. I am in my mid 60’s and have many friends in their 80’s. Life still has a lot to offer and new friends to be made. At the moment you just need to talk, talk and talk and from that develop your self esteem and confidence. After that, like a toddler learning to walk, there will be new paths to take.
      Please do not give up hope. We are all behind you.
      Much love to you in beginning this new year – and a new life.
      Barbara

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    2. Christine, you are never too old to find happiness. Don’t give up, if this therapist is not working try another. sometimes two people just do not click or maybe they are not familiar with narcissists. Keep looking or maybe a woman’s shelter can recommend someone or has a support group you can attend.
      I have had women older than you come in after leaving a narcissist, you are not too old to start over. I commend you for leaving!!
      Please listen to Barbara and read more here, it will help you see you are not alone. comment often and we are here to listen and offer our support. You are not alone.
      Hugs to you
      Let us know how you are we care
      Carrie

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    3. Dear Christine,
      Thank you for sharing. I am 73 and when I read your tale I felt a connection. I am so much older than most of the stories and I also felt “whats the use I don’t have time to start over”. I was with my idiot for 27 years. I know, I knew I should leave, but when he would come back after months I always thought things would get better. I had HOPE. He would say ,”I love you” and I believed him even though he didn’t treat me like he did. I guess I am a hopeless idiot, too. But I only wanted to be loved.
      Well anyways I have been NC for 7 months. It is really hard. He texted me 2 x during the 7 months.
      He wants to be friends. In the first messages, ” I’m not asking to be in your life ” but I would like to be friends. In the second, I ,want to be friends, but not as a couple. Jabs, of hurt. Is he kidding? Why would anybody be friends with the composer of those words. I was tempted to answer back and tell him all my thoughts on his awful behavior, but I had told those things a million times and never got anywhere. So, I’m trying to make friends by going to the local senior center. It’s not really my cup of tea , but one has to start somewhere. The healing is getting better, but I want it to move fast. It’s hell to be dumped and know he is with another woman. He is 76, but he still can charm and get women. Again, Christine hang in there and know there is a friend in Michigan who is sending you good thoughts.

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  3. Dear Christine, you don’ t know yet but you have aready gone through the toughest part. Theres work to be done stay on this site and keep talking it wil be the gift you give yourself xoxoxox

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  4. I finally ended a one-year relationship with a narsisstic woman. I lost 10 pounds, much of my humor and desire to sing. I was anxious most of the time. Her lack of empathy was remarkable. I must admit that I didn’t think her elevator went to the top from the beginning, but her methods of seduction were initially impossible to fight off, and the sex was fantastic but pretty much one- sided. As time went on, I saw and heard more and more and more. Finally, I told her to leave my house. I wanted my head and life back. Now, I’m gaining weight, laughing again and my love of music and singing have returned. What an experience! I truly feel sorry for anyone who is hooked up with a narsissist.

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    1. Johnny, it is good to hear that someone has successfully assessed their situation and moved on from a narcissist and are enjoying life again. A positive outcome for those stuck in quicksand to give them hope.
      Well done.

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  5. Okay, this is good advice, however it doesn’t help me. My mom is in the total control of an N boyfriend. Especially now after she’s had a stroke. She has been told that I have abandoned her, I forced her to choose between he and I, on and on and on. I’m an only child. Mom and I were very close. I have been in contact with her finally after the silent treatment of 6 months. Our first conversation all I heard was of the injustices done to HIM. I told her we need to sit down and talk, alone [he was at her side constantly in rehab. I was able to speak to her 4 times alone in two months], she insists the three of us do, and I need to hear, again, all the injustices done to him. I’ve been disinherited, my reputation is smeared, it’s all classic. What does a person in my situation do? I’ve told her repeatedly if she ever needs me, all she has to do is call and I’ll be there, but since *I* abandoned HER supposedly… it’s a horrible, hopeless situation.

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    1. AbandonedOnly, I am so sorry you are having to deal with this and it is so typical of a narcissist to drive a wedge between the victim and their loving family. But you are losing your mom and that is so painful. It is so hard to fight against what the N is telling her because he isolates her so she doesn’t hear the truth, only his version of things.
      It will bring you down with her and you can’t let that happen. I know you can’t stop worrying about her, but it sounds like at this point she can not be helped and any pressure you put on her will only drive you further apart.
      Does she have a private email account that he doesn’t read before she does so you can message her? I would find someway of getting a message to her every once in a while and not focus on him in your emails or any conversations you have with her. Take him out of the equation as much as you can and focus on your mother and daughter relationship without discussing him.
      Try to bring the relationship back to what it was like before she met this guy. I know you hate to see her mistreated but to bring it up will not help and it puts her on the defensive and reinforces what he is saying to her; that you are trying to drive them apart.
      Can you be pleasant to him? Tell her that she is more important than you being right, that you want her in your life no matter who she is with. I would say to her that you do not like him, you feel he does not treat her well but if she is happy that is all you want for her and you want her in your life. You don’t have to like him, you don’t have to agree with what goes on in their relationship, by loving her and being there for her you are not accepting him.
      If you can do that, just have a relationship with her without trying to make her admit he is abusive and she has to leave him, without it being about the inheritance (he is not doubt saying you are just after her money), without it being about you being right she will stop defending him and be able to admit the truth. Right now she is fighting to prove she didn’t make a huge mistake, she is in denial and vulnerable because of her stroke. She needs your love and understanding not judgements.

      I had been a single mom for most of my son’s life and he hates my ex, my ex purposely picked fights with my son to cause trouble and then my son would hate him and then he could say that was why we didn’t get along, because my son always hated him. I could not stay away from the N, I would break up with him and he would beg me back. I stopped talking to my son about it and my son living a distance away so was not around a lot. But one thing my son did that I will forever be grateful for is he never stopped loving me. I was not the best mom and I have apologized to him since breaking up with the N, I packed a lot of guilt for it for years and realized I had to let go of the guilt because it was preventing us from moving forward. When my son and I got together we never discussed my ex, there were a lot of other things to talk about and I just didn’t mention my ex’s name because it made my son so angry and I didn’t want him to know my ex was abusing me because I was afraid of what he would do and the last thing I wanted was for my son to get in trouble because he was defending me.

      My son and I are closer than ever now and he has told me how good it feels to have his “real mom” back. We still don’t discuss my ex because my son gets so angry to even hear his name but he has never acted any differently to me. He always loved me and never criticized me whether I was with the N or not.

      I think that is the best thing you can do for your mom and yourself; just love her and let her live her life. IF she complains to you about him abusing her, don’t say “I told you so”, if you can, just tell her that you love her and if and when she needs help you are there but you can not listen to her tell you about him abusing her without wanting to defend her and then later you are the bad guy because you got upset.
      I don’t know if she is doing this but; some victims like the attention being a victim gets them but they don’t want to change their situation. The people who care about them drift away because they can’t stand the constant on again off again relationship with the N. You do not have to get sucked into their sick game of push and pull.
      I hope this helped.
      I care, let me know how it is going
      Hugs
      Carrie

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      1. No email account because the stroke has affected her eyesight. Can’t send a letter because he would read it and dispose of it instead of giving it to her. She is completely under his control. Can I be nice to him? I always have been. But that still doesn’t stop her from demanding my respect and speaking to him kindly. He demands it as well. If I tell her I don’t like him, that just confirms what she’s been told, therefore I don’t say anything at all and try to keep the peace. I’ve been in contact with her this week. I’ve been getting the silent treatment pretty much the entire time since July 10th [stroke date] and I haven’t spoken to her since Nov 6th. First contact I got to hear about all the injustices done to HIM. I “forced” her to choose between them [when in actuality she was the one who covered her face with her hands and sobbed “Don’t make me choose, don’t make me choose”]. Her meds and bills were hidden on me, Medical POA was taken from me, now so has everything else, I’ve been disinherited, you name it. The last two nights conversations have been very superficial. I requested a meeting alone between the two of us, only to be told no — he has to be included. I have told her if she ever needs me, all she has to do is let me know. I’d absolutely be there. All I want is for her to be happy and I’ve told her that. I always supported their relationship from the get-go. I told her the night my step-dad of 40 years died [in March of last year] this guy would be after her. We had to wait a month to bury my step-dad due to family in the military. Two weeks after we buried dad this guy made his move. He’s loving the martyr role — it gets him attention that he’s sacrificing his fast-lane lifestyle to take care of my mom since her daughter “abandoned” her. It’s giving him all the supply he needs at the moment. And yes, mom enjoys her role of stroke victim since she took care of my step-dad for 18 years after his brain tumor and stroke. Now she’s getting the attention Dad always did.

        Thank you for your responds and ideas — most of them would be exactly what I would do [except I would NEVER tell her “I told you so”]. I’m scared to death for her health and safety, but there’s not a darn thing I can do now about either. Thank you.

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        1. It’s strange, looking on from the outside, just how those involved with narcissists seem to cling on for dear life. It is as if they think they have made their bed and so must lie in it, or they have invested so much in the relationship that they cannot even consider stepping away from the narcissist. Some little part of them must realize that things are never going to get better, but like limpets they cling on. I suppose their confidence and self respect has been eroded away and they no longer trust themselves to make any decisions.

          I have a narcissist son, a dangerous one, who is dragging everyone down. A very wise friend said to me recently, ‘Barbara, stop being a victim. He has got you all walking on egg shells and living in hell and if you let him do it, you also become a victim and then he has won.’ She was right, emotionally I have to step aside. Now I visualise it like a see-saw with him at the bottom and the rest of the world held hostage up in the air.

          AbandondOnly I think you need to think of yourself a little at the moment. I’m worried that if your mom has another big stroke or something you may blame yourself for not doing enough. That would be a terrible mistake and wrongly laden you with tremendous guilt. It is impossible for you to fix her life. You can be supportive, but ultimately only your mom can fix it. Preserve your energy. Your mom knows that if she needs you then you will be there for her. No matter how much you love her you must not let the situation eat you up so. You only get one life and ultimately, when people are adults the bulk of the responsibility is on their own shoulders. Tell your mom, regardless of whether he is there listening or not, that you love her very much, will always be there for her, but that you need to take a step back for your own sanity. Tell her you will contact her – once, twice a month, whatever you think best. Keep calm as you say it but do it with conviction. Then, AbandondOnly, turn around, take a step out into the fresh air, breathe deeply and walk into world determined to make changes to your own life and make it more enjoyable. Join some new groups or classes, make new friends, have some fun. Obvioulsy you will still have times during the day and night you are thinking about your mom, but you will also be starting a life of your own and it will give you more strength.

          I hope things eventually work out for you and your mom. Good luck and best wishes.

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          1. If my mom has another stroke [and supposedly she has 100’s of black spots on her brain, all strokes waiting to happen], I probably should feel guilty but don’t know if I will. This wasn’t MY doing. I didn’t do anything wrong. I took care of her the best I knew how and I had NO idea I was in a game I couldn’t win. All I knew was that no matter what I did or said, I was damned. I didn’t know anything about psychopaths or narcissism and wondered, literally, if I was going crazy until I discovered those two words.

            I can tell her I love her and I’ll be there until I’m blue in the face. I asked if she knew I loved her one day walking down the hall at her rehab. I got this cold smirk with an even colder “I know you love me” with a hint of a laugh behind it. It made me feel like I was begging and I will NOT beg for my mother’s affection. When it comes down to it, she’s been told I’ve abandoned her and THAT is what she believes. So, if she ever does get some independence back, if she ever does break away from him [and I think it’s highly unlikely], my question is: Would she believe/remember I’d be there for her? That’s what scares me most. My reputation as a person and daughter has been completely destroyed by that slimeball. If she doesn’t come to me for help/support or if I don’t know she broke free of him [I’m supposed to move out of state within the next 5 months], then in her eyes, what slimeball told her WAS the truth. I guess, maybe, that I need to take the responsibility of this mess off my own shoulders and put it on hers where it belongs?

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            1. For your mother to smirk when she said she knows you love her makes me think on some level she is enjoying all this attention. He will have her on a roller coaster, which she is probably mistaking for real love and passion. You are obviously worried sick for her and she will get a buzz from that too. Despite that she may get upset and worn out with it all at times, at others all this attention must be a real high.

              You don’t give any indication of how old your mother is. If she is quite old and he is not beating her or shouting abuse at her, perhaps you just need to let go and let her live out her final days in delusion. It is awful if you are cut off from any inheritance that should by rights come your way, but at the end of the day there are more important aspects to life. Healthy body and mind, good friends and a job you enjoy for but a few.

              Do you have any significant person in your own life? If so, how are they coping with your being so wrapped up in your mothers life? Please don’t put anything you have that is good and solid at risk because you are emotionally removed. Your mother has pretty much lived her life and had her chances. Yours on the other hand, is in full flow and is therefore more important. Might sound harsh but that is the way things go.

              When you move out of state, do it with a positive attitude. It’s a new start. If neighbours of your mums and social services have your address to contact you if they think you are needed, then that is pretty much all you can do.

              Please start thinking about yourself in all this, I don’t like to think of you being dragged down.

              Love Barbara

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  6. Barbara I learned something from you. I have been trying to support my daughter who has been abused in every way. Most recently raped by her estranged husband. I travel back and forth the past 7 months trying to help with the kids and household. Nothing really helped she is out of control now just how he is. She has been lying to me or hiding the truth. I am just sick about this I think she is going back to him. I have to find a way to let this go it is killing me. Please help thank you

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    1. Karen,
      I’m so sorry you are in so much turmoil. I imagine your stomach is knotted, you have palpatations and your head feels like it has a tight band around it. Somehow, with the help of this fantastic site of Carrie’s where you can talk out your problems, plus any help you may be able to find in your neighbourhood, we can all perhaps lessen the effect it is having on your own health. If this destroys you too he has won. Remember the see-saw effect with him sitting at the bottom gloating and you and the rest of your family up in the air as hostages. The fewer of you up there the better. Don’t let the bastard win!

      How far do you have to travel to your daughters and how many children and what ages? This must be having a terrible affect on the children too. Also, what do you mean by her lying and hiding the truth. Do you mean she is trying to make you think things are not so bad and withholding the truth from you to protect you or is it something else? Is she so frightened of him she does not want you causing waves for fear of what he may do to her or the children?

      From your daughters point of view, what I can say is that I was sexually and mentally abused by my father from childhood. I now know he was a narcissist and phsychopath, but at that time he was just a powerful, scary man who veered from telling me that nobody would love me like he did, to telling me that when I was twenty one he would throw me out into the gutter because I was trash, where, if I was lucky a dustman might pick me up and marry me. I spent a lot of time as a young child wondering what the gutter was. I constantly lived under the threat of death. He would show me pictures from books of Holocaust victims and ask me which way I would prefer to die. He was a man in a highish position workwise, British security services in fact, and a powerfully built man who had boxed in his youth. We lived abroad. As a junior I remember a new teacher coming to the school. She was so lovely I thought she would help me but I had no words to know what to say to her, so I thought she would understand me telepathically. I know it sounds nuts but I was only about eight. She got so annoyed at me staring at her that she slapped me across the face. (This was the mid 50’s and things were different then). On other occasions I thought somebody may help I did not dare say a word because by that time I thought nobody was strong enough to go against my father and if they did not manage to get me out immediately never to see him again, then things would be all the worse once he found out I had talked to anyone. Subsequently it took me till my mid thirties to have another go. My doctor got me a phsychologist to talk to but frankly she was dreadful. She wanted me to re-enact stuff, beat cushions and scream and shout. None of those things were me. After realizing she was writing her shopping list during our session I stopped going and then did not try again until my fifties.

      After that I had a brilliant therapist. A man! I was quite worried at first how to open up about such things to a man but he told me I was his first victim. He had worked previously in the prison system. This turned out to be an advantage because he could explain to me how the minds of phsychopaths worked. Luckily in England you can have six sessions free and this was then lengthened to twelve free sessions for me. This therapist turned my life around and I no longer have flashbacks, I feel strong and have felt that way for the last ten years. It has given me the strength to fight back and it is why, despite the incredible love I once felt for my son, I am determined that he is not going to ruin the life of his six month old baby girl or that of his girlfriend. Whether I get him into jail (he has committed a serious crime in the past) or into psychiatric care, I am determined to get it done. I don’t think I feel any love for him now. I occasionally feel pity because, in the odd moments he is not being grandiose and evil, he simply does not understand why things don’t work out for him. The world seems a puzzle to him. I know he is wired wrong and I think that it is made all the worse because he went through years of smoking cannibis – something I know he will one day go back to and then all hell will break loose because he becomes a monster. I sincerely hope that with gene technology they will one day be able to fix these people but in the meantime, the general public and people like your daughter and grandchildren need to be made safe and protected.

      Sorry to go on about me, I just wanted you to see that I know what it is like to be trapped too.

      Regarding you and your daughter, try to move mentally from the caring mother position and think of yourself as an outsider. What advice would you give to a total stranger. That advice would probably be sound and sensible and taken from an objective point of view. It is hard as a worried mother to be objective because you are beset by panic and fear.

      It is probably years since you had normal conversations with your daughter. Try starting to drop in small things that remind her of a different her. Such as perhaps, you see an old school friend of hers who was asking after her and you say, ‘Do you remember when you both went …’ or ‘Do you remember the family holiday we had at…’ All of these things will probably irritate her and seem irrelevant but hopefully they will lodge in her brain somewhere and she may remember that she wasn’t always the frightened creature she has become because of a monster. Little nudges like this to steer her mentally back on track cannot harm. Don’t overdo it, just drip them in.

      Tell her that there is always a bed ready for her and the children at any time, day or night. If she needs to she can just come or you will come and get her.

      After that there is little more you can do for her.

      Concentrate on you. After all, if you are not fit mentally or physically you are not going to be of much use to your daughter or grandchildren. I imagine that in America it costs a fortune to pay for a therapist. Have you looked in your local library, doctors surgery to see if there are any self help groups you can join. Don’t discount abuse groups for spouses or survivors as not relevant to you, because it is. I’m sure if you explained your situation of wanting to be there for your daughter they would welcome you with open arms and you could learn a lot of coping strategies from them. There must be so many people in your area going through similar things. Perhaps, when you are strong enough you can start one.

      Sorry this has been so long. Once I get started I never know when to stop. Let me know the answers to the questions I have asked and keep talking, it will help.

      Lots of love and keep strong.

      Barbara

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      1. Barbara, thank you for sharing your story, what a painful past it was. I am so happy to hear you finally found a good therapist and or free finally from the damage done by you father. I was not sexually abused by my father but he ruled the house like a prison (he was a prison guard) and he was very inappropriate in many ways. Without going into lengthy details I went years with emotions scars because of it. Every couple of years I would have a meltdown and seek counseling but evey time they wanted to talk about my dad I would quit going until I had seen every counselor in our town and had to start from the beginning again. I knew I needed help and booked to see the very first counselor I had ever been too. When I walked through the door he said, “I was wondering how long it would take for you to come back, are you ready to discuss your father now?” and I made wonderful progress from that day forward. That was in my early 30’s, I stopped talking to him and I thought I had overcome my issues, it was amazing when I got with the N 12 years later there were times I was 6 years old again and it was my dad yelling at me. It was not until after I left the N that I truly dealt with all the issues I had, but then I had other issues from my mom too.
        Most people do the best they can for their kids, I know I did for my son and I know I screwed up sometimes but I will always admit it and say I am sorry. My dad never said he was sorry and never admitted to anything. It is good you were able to find peace.
        You have been so compassionate and given wonderful advice to Karen thank you! people like you are what make this blog so wonderful!
        Hugs

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  7. Thank you for the response and yes I am sick with worry but I now know after 7 months back and forth from Chicago to Nj I have to find a way to let go. Today was domestic violence court he didn’t show because he went on yesterday for psch evaluation still the dog and pony show and she doesn’t see it. An effort on his part to avoid jail it sicken me he is allowed to manipulate the law and gets away with it she I think continues to protect him. Three children 13 10 and 3 they are all controlled by him now ignoring me today doesn’t want to let me know the outcome that’s how I know I have to leave and let go she wants to figure this out herself. So sad

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    1. No doubt he thinks he can out smart the psychiatrist . Hopefully they will see through him, but these narcs can be so very convincing. They’ll get him one day though and when the children grow up I HOPE they see things more clearly and do not repeat the cycle.

      You’ve done so much in trying help your daughter, all you can do now is look after yourself Karen, arm yourself with knowledge and keep talking things out so it doesn’t overwhelm you.

      Much love.
      Barbara

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  8. To Abandoned and to Karen, I am going to reply to both of you in one comment because I have been on both sides of the fence. My mother disowned me because I went back to my ex and the mother of my grand daughter is an N (my own diagnosis but I would bet my life in it)

    What happens in these type of situations is the one supporting the victim begins to resent that they keep trying to talk sense into the victim and the victim doesn’t seem to care. In my mother’s case, she thought she had to disconnect totally and withdraw all support in order for me to see the light. She sold my house that she and my stepdad held the mortgage on (even though I was not seeing my ex at the time she just thought I was). By pulling all her support she might as well have handed me to him on a silver platter. There was no way on God’s green earth I was ever going to call her for help and he knew it. She gave him exactly what he wanted, total control over me and he loved it. “Who are you going to call, your mother?”

    I understand that you can not be controlled by the N or let him ruin your life but you can’t let your loved one feel deserted either.

    My mother did not understand. Someone had told her that the relationship is like an addiction for the victim and with drug addicts you don’t enable the addict, she thought she was enabling me to stay with him by being supportive and I had to hit rock bottom. Good in theory but totally throwing the victim to the wolf. You are playing russian roulette and hoping that rock bottom is not death.

    I understand how it feels from the other side also because my son is involved with a woman who fits the description of an N to a tee. I haven’t written about it on the blog because I am trying to respect my son’s privacy but I want to give my perspective from a parents point of view. I know without a doubt how this woman can make my son’s life hell and the first time I realized what she was I panicked. I wanted to protect my son and I quite literally had an anxiety attack. I wrote him an email listing all the warning signs and cautioning him and his response was very angry and he let her read the email. She called me and told me to never contact her again. My immediate reaction was to prove my points, convince him I was right. After all I am a bit of an expert on the subject and I felt like she was succeeding at driving a wedge between him and I. I had been a single mom, my son is my life, the thought of him angry at me, of losing him tore my heart out. I was in such a state it reminded me of when the N and I first split, I wanted to call him, beg him, force him to see what she was doing. But I didn’t. I actually purposely did not contact him at all for almost 2 weeks. That was just before Christmas and he called to say they were coming at Christmas. I made up my mind that I was not saying another word about her to him and I was going to welcome her with open arms. I was honest about my needs, I had not spent Christmas with my son since 2008 and I wanted my time, if it meant she had to be along so be it.

    She called me just before Christmas to tell me a bunch of shit about my son and in tears tell me she could not come at Christmas. (after telling me to never call her again) I told her that I understood totally but could not believe my son had done what she said he had done. I told her that no son of mine would do something like that and I was going to get to the bottom of it. I was sympathetic with her and only said that I thought my granddaughter deserved to have Christmas.

    I called my son and got the truth but I never called her a liar, I told her I understood why she didn’t want to come but to please consider their daughter and how she is an innocent bystander in all this. She decided to make the sacrifice and come. I greeted her with a hug, told her I was happy she came, I had lovely gifts for her and included her like she was one of the family.

    She was surprised. I know she was expecting me to be a bitch to her or at the very least distant but I was as sweet as pie. No one was going to call me a bitch. My son has always seen me be a very kind and loving person and I was not going to be the bitch in this situation. I never pulled him aside to bitch in his ear, I never mentioned anything. The whole day she bitched in his ear though, putting on a nice front to the family but making his day hell. Apparently the whole weekend she did everything she could to ruin his Christmas and I was agreeable, accommodating and to be honest, once I let it go and concentrated on what was important to me (and that was spending Christmas with my son and granddaughter) I thoroughly enjoyed my Christmas, it was the best I have had in decades.

    My son and I spend Boxing Day alone while I helped him pack because he was moving to be closer to his daughter and her mother. I did not want him to move, I thought it was a huge mistake, I found myself angry about it at first but once again I thought about what do I want more than anything (my son to be happy, my son in my life, and to be able to see my granddaughter) and I know my son, you don’t ever tell my son what to do, I also know he is a smart man and I raised him well, I also know that when I was with my ex he was the only one of my family who didn’t turn his back on me. He made it very clear that he hated my ex but he never made me choose and he never made me feel he didn’t love but I also knew that he would kill my ex if he knew what was going on so I lied about a lot of things to do with my ex and I pretended I was not seeing him or down played the relationship.

    Anyway, when he and I were alone I told him that it really bothered me that he and I had harsh words and I was sorry I had put more pressure on him about him moving and stuff at a time he was already so stressed. I told him that I believed in him and trusted he knew what he was doing, that I love him more than life itself and I am so proud of him and will always stand by him. Whenever he needs me I will be there. I told him I know I haven’t always been the best mom but I did my best and was amazed I managed to raise such a great man, that sometimes I forget he is a man and not my little boy anymore.

    He gave me a big hug and then started to open up and we had a long long conversation about all the shit she had been pulling, we packed and talked all day. I told him to please just take a look at my blog, that she fit the description of an N. We had to move locations and were in separate vehicles, when we got to his boat he didn’t get out of his truck for the longest time, when he did he said that he had been on my site reading. We talked some more, mostly him spilling his guts and me listening and affirming he was in the right and not crazy. I bit my tongue a lot, I had this urge to seize the moment and dump on him all my fears about her but I didn’t, I let him talk. I told him to follow his gut, that I was so relieved that he saw her for what she was, that I trusted him to make the right decisions and I would always have his back.

    Then we were done and I asked if he wanted to go for supper and he said no he wanted a few minutes alone. I gave him a big hug, said I love you and left but when I got in my car I couldn’t drive away, I didn’t want him to go, I wanted to grab his ankles and beg him not to move. I took Stella for a walk and got back in my car. I wrote him a letter I was going to leave on his windshield, but decided not to once it was done. I typed a text message and didn’t send it. Finally I drove up to the corner store and parked so I could see the road and watch him leave. Kinda creepy? I just couldn’t leave him. I sat at the corner for about 15 minutes and then I saw him walking towards my car. He came to the car and said He loved me and we hugged again and I watched him drive away.

    I knew he understood why I was sitting at the corner, I am not ashamed of loving my son so much I want to protect him from all the ills of the world. He has said to me many times that I am “mothering” him and my reply is always the same. “It is my right as a mother to mother you, you never outgrow that, sorry, so live with it. It is my job.”

    He and I talk often on the phone and he has called and complained bitterly about his ex and then sometimes he will say they did something together. I asked once if they were back together and he got defensive so I changed the subject. We talk about other things, his work, my granddaughter, my life and I never mention “her” unless he mentions her first and then I reinforce him as much as I can.

    I will not let her win, she will not turn me against my son by calling in tears and lying about him, and I have told her to her face that I will not listen to her cut my son down. I said it calmly and I said it in front of my son and then I dropped it and gave her a hug. I will not be a bitch to her, I will not give her reason to say “Your mom hates me, I can’t do anything right in her eyes. The reason we fight is because your mom sticks her nose in our business.” I refuse to give her ammo to use against me. I have given my son the knowledge I have gained through experience, I have told him I support him 100% and I have let it go. I don’t worry about it. I have to trust that he knows what he is doing and if it all blows up then we will deal with it then and I will have his back aways.

    Every situation is different. It is one thing to tell someone how to handle a narcissist when they are the one involved with the N it is a totally different story when it is someone’s loved one, it adds one more person to the mix and a lot of it depends on the relationship you have with the loved one. My son and I have always had very open communication and I have always been a worrier and told my son what I think. He and I have a different relationship than a lot of parents I think and he and I have been through a lot together and we really only have each other.

    When we were talking on Boxing Day I said to him, “What do you need me to do? How can I help you?”
    He said, “Just be the mom you have always been. You have always been there no matter what shit I got myself into. Love you Mom.”

    I know it is such a huge worry when someone you love is involved with a narcissist and it is hard to not get angry with the victim because you are hurting also because you are so afraid for them and you want to protect them but I think sometimes we take it too personally. They are under the influence of an evil person and the best way to combat that is not to put more pressure on them. It will only drive them away. The narcissist thrives on discord and driving a wedge between the victim and their family, my mom fed right into his evil plot. I refuse to be manipulated by the N, I will not give her what she wants, if anyone is going to be called evil it is going to be her because she is going to prove it all on her own. If I insist on being right and that my son do what I tell him to do, I will drive him away and she will win.

    I think sometimes the family thinks by accepting the N they are giving him what he wants and he is winning, when the truth is that is the last thing he wants.

    If you can take an honest look at where you are coming from, what is most important, being right? winning the fight? making the victim admit they made a mistake? thwarting the N? or letting your loved one know you love them, respect them, and are there for them?

    Good luck to both of you and God bless you and keep your loved one safe also

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  9. I recently moved out after being married to a narcissist for 16months – known him for 5 years. we have a 16month old daughter and i am currently expecting our second child. I do want him to get help and have gathered family and friends to help but dont know how to talk to him and let him know he needs help. Any advice would help, i am not returning and have filed for divorce but he is great with our daughter and wants to be a very active part of her life so i need to at least try to get him to seek counseling.

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    1. Worriedmom, there is no way I can know for sure if your partner is a narcissist or not but if he is there is no saving him from, no amount of counselling will help him, they can not be fixed, period. Their brains are not wired like a normal person’s brain, it has been proven with brain scans. If anything when they go to a therapist they learn new ways to manipulate people and quite often will manipulate the therapist if they are not top knot counselors who are on top of their game and dealt with narcissists before.
      I will never advocate trying to fix a narcissist and you will be hard pressed to find a site that will.
      He does not see himself as flawed, he feels superior to the rest of the world because he is not influenced by a conscience, guilt or empathy like the rest of us. He uses our emotions against us to get what he wants, why would he want something that he views as a weakness? Besides like I said, his brain cannot feel empathy o guilt, it is physically impossible.
      He is a great actor and can fake emotions by imitating other people and he has been doing it since childhood. They can pass lie detector tests they are such good actors.
      don’t make him your lifelong project, if you are leaving him you need to focus on you, your life, your children and figure out why you feel you have to save him from himself. No one has the power to make someone an asshole and no one has the power to change another person. you only can change yourself.
      If you have a burning urge to do good work and help someone volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter where your efforts will be appreciated. If he is a true narcissist you will see that he is not the wonderful daddy you think he is. I think your time would be much better spent on counselling for yourself to figure out why you feel it is your responsibility to rescue him. I don’t mean to be offensive and I am sure you will not agree with what I have said but please for your own good do some research on narcissists and psychopaths. Maybe he isn’t a narcissist and then a counselor may be able to help him, but even then, it is not your responsibility to make him well or to make him see he needs help. It never works, ever, you can not make anyone change. If he isn’t a narcissist then if I was him I would be totally offended that you think I need saving and fight you all the way.
      You need to focus on what you can control and let him worry about his own life. People have to reach their own rock bottom before they change. You can not make an addict quit drugs unless they choose to, any counselor will tell you that.
      There is something in your past that makes you feel it is your responsibility though and I an worried about that. You are leaving him but still trying to save him, control him, the chances are you will be attracted to another man who needs saving, and another and another and you will continue to repeat history until you learn the lesson you are meant to learn.
      You can only be the best you that you can be and the best mom you can be. That is all you are responsible for and that is enough on your plate.
      Good luck and let me know how you are doing. I care.

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