I often visit other sites on narcissism, sociopathy, psychopathy, (whatever a person chooses to call their abuser) looking for information and new insight. There is one thing that is said often that I don’t quite agree with and that is: that the victim’s are co-dependent. I understand that we can only speak with any authority from our own frame of reference. But I feel once again it is kinda putting the onus on the victim; if they hadn’t been so co-dependent they would have avoided the demoralizing experience and gives others a false sense of security and a feeling of superiority over the victim. “They are flawed and so it is their own fault they got hurt, I would have never been sucked in like that.” Narcissists love those people, they present a real challenge.
I definitely think that there are co-dependent women or men who have been abused by a narcissist, or people who had abusive upbringings that fall victim; those are the stereotypical victims, but I know that people who aren’t co-dependent have been caught up in the web of deceit and abuse of a narcissist.
I don’t think there is a victim “profile” I do believe we all have to take responsibility for our own actions and if we don’t acknowledge that we had some control over what happened to us then we are doomed to have it happen again. In order to feel safe we have to see where we were vulnerable. We have to be able to identify what it was that gave the narcissist that opening to control us like he did. If we take the “victim” mentality and refuse to see that we had anything to do with what happened to us; we will remain victims and will likely make the same mistake again and again. If we refuse to take responsibility for what happened to us we are refusing to take the necessary steps to heal from the abuse and will go looking for someone else to “fix” us and take our pain away. Whereas if we do the painful work of looking within to find what we need to change in order to stay safe we won’t rely on someone else’s opinion of us to make us feel lovable and worthy of love, in fact we won’t accept anything but treatment we are worthy of.
To say that all victims are co-dependent or abused as children gives a false sense of security to those people who aren’t or didn’t. A woman who had a loving childhood with two loving parents who instilled self-confidence and self-worth in their child is just as susceptible as the woman who had the bad upbringing. By the time a person reaches the ripe old age of 30-35 they usually have some ghosts in their closet, some tender spots, only you know your weak areas. And when I say weak I do not mean that in a derogatory way. We are all unique, we were born different with different personalities and our upbringing and life experiences good and bad have formed us into the people we are today.
The narcissist does not prey on co-dependent people, or weak people; he/she is an equal opportunity abuser, every person he meets is assessed to be either worthy of his abuse or not worthy. Meaning the person has something he wants or he has something to gain by being close to that person. Once he deems a person worthy of his abuse he will set about hooking them and figuring out where they are most vulnerable. Every single person on this earth has a vulnerable spot, I truly feel there are very few people immune to a narcissist who has their sights set on them. And I don’t mean strictly romantic relationships, many people are abused and taken advantage of by a narcissist as a neighbor, co-worker, or friend. Dr Robert Hare, a professor at University of BC, is the leading expert on psychopaths and after studying psychopaths for 30 years he has even admitted to being fooled by the occasional narcissist/psychopath, if he can be sucked in, anyone can.
I am not saying that we all have to go around suspicious of everyone we meet or build a brick wall around ourselves; what I am saying is that if you are confident in who you are, deep inside and you stay true to that; it is very unlikely a narcissist will be able to get a strong enough grip on you to destroy you. If he keeps hitting dead ends every time he tries to manipulate you he will lose interest and when he does, you have to be confident enough in yourself to let him go and not feel there is something wrong with you that made him leave. Yes something about you made him leave, that is not a bad thing, if you stay true to your moral core and protect your boundaries a narcissist will not be able to hurt you, it is only when you are not true to yourself that you allow the narcissist to abuse you.
Personally I was born sensitive, but I was also born an Aries which means I am extremely independent and more than a little bit head strong. They say that an Aries female can get by without a man better than any other woman in the zodiac. But we are also extremely trust worthy and loyal and that is where JC got me. Once I commit to some one or some thing I do it 110%, even when things look hopeless I will find a way to rally and give it another try. You would be hard pressed to find an Aries that doesn’t defend her loved ones like a lioness defending her cubs. I was fearless in defending JC, I went toe to toe with some powerful men that made other men shake in their boots, I don’t give up on the people I love and I don’t desert them. I also have always had this belief that I was capable of overcoming any obstacles and there was always time for me to save myself; after I made sure everyone else was ok then I would figure out how to save myself. It worked against me with JC because he took full advantage of it. I have given my last dollar to my son knowing that somehow I would find a way to make more money. I have given my last dime to a homeless person because I figured he needed it more than I did and I knew I was capable of making it by. JC exploited that part of me to his benefit.
It is something I have recognized in myself and I don’t consider it a flaw, even though I have been told it is. Under the right circumstances it is an admirable quality but I have to be very aware of my tendency to want to save every stray dog and homeless person and know that I can put my security in jeopardy when I am too giving and there are people out there who will take advantage of me. I am also very intuitive but I have not always trusted my intuition, I am trying very hard to not question my inner voice any longer.
Narcissists/psychopaths are motivated to pick their target by what the target has to offer them AND finds the thrill of winning over the victim’s trust extremely exhilarating. That initial enamoration (is that a word? it is now) that the narcissist exhibits is real in the sense that he is getting huge shots of supply as he sees the victim falling in love with him; it signals to him how powerful he is and he is patting himself on the back for being so cunning. The more independent, and self-assured the victim is the harder the narcissist will work at breaking her down and the longer he will be enamored with her. He does want to know everything about her, he does want to spend every minute with her because he MUST have her.
Many people suggest it is wise to not be an open book when you first meet someone, don’t give away too much information on yourself but I am not sure of that now. A narcissist can be extremely patient and if he has his sights set on a woman he can put an extraordinary amount of time into winning her over. I suggest that if you have done the work necessary to know yourself well, you are best to be open with new men you meet and then sit back and watch what he does with that information. This will only work if you have taken the time to become your own best friend and know your own weaknesses, but the fastest way to find out if someone is a narcissist is to throw out some bait and see if he runs with it. If you are open about your interests, your passions, does he suddenly have that interest also, if you share that you love animals does he have some sob story to tell about his first dog? If you were bullied in school was he also? If you are an extremely independent woman does he admire that about you to the point of being extreme and make a point of telling you how much he loves your independence? Trust your gut reaction when he responds to the information you give him.
Only you know what pushes your buttons and only you know what your gut is telling you; not getting involved with another narcissist has everything to do with you knowing yourself better than anyone. Whereas the end of the relationship had absolutely nothing to do with you or the next woman and it was all about him; the beginning of the relationship is all about you and less about him. In the beginning he is imitating you, zeroing in on you, totally focused on you and your likes and dislikes, what empowers you and what will cut you to the core; his is building his weaponry to use on you later; you need to realize that and before you are in too deep run at the first sign that he is using that information to manipulate you.
But, but but……what if you fall in love and are blinded again? You won’t be if you know yourself and learn to listen to and heed your inner voice.
The fact that you survived a relationship with a narcissist is testament to your strength and survival skills; take the experience a step further than being another victim and turn it into an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. You will never be the person you were prior to meeting the narcissist you might as well be better.
Love and Hugs