Mental Abuse in a Marriage or Relationship

You meet that special someone and they are all you have ever dreamed of. The words are perfect, those special looks meant only for you melt you to your core, and the mere touch of their hand spins your world from it’s axis. Slowly things change, almost noticeably. Questions of where you have been seem like genuine concern, maybe you didn’t put enough thought into that last gift, or m,maybe the clothes you wear that attracted them in the first place have changed a bit and that is why they are now in question. Maybe you were thoughtless or cruel in your choice of words, maybe you did forget to mention you were stopping by the store, maybe you didn’t take into consideration what they needed or wanted to do.

You start to notice you are making excuses to friends of why you can’t go out for the evening, or make and excuse here and there for their behavior when you do go out. Then you realize that you have had to return every Christmas gift you have bought for them over the past five years because it was not what they liked or wanted. That tenth job they just lost may not have been because the company did not keep their original agreement in relation to pay or that the boss may not have been out the get them.

You look in the mirror and realize dressing up and getting ready for the day drains you and it must come with age. You use to dress up, but those clothes were a little too sexy, and you have outgrown all of that. Getting your hair done cost money and what if they didn’t like it again? They didn’t like the last few outfits either and you forgot to tell them before you got that last haircut to get their opinion beforehand. No money for all of that anyway. Well, maybe no, but your not sure how much money there really is because the love of your life doesn’t really share with you how much they make or even if they have to go to work that day. You have up asking. Then they said “You don’t think about me, you show no interest in me.” so you start finding a way to carefully ask them how their day was so that you are not accused of prying into their personal business. It still is case for them to say “None of your business.” and a one sided argument ensues. You apologize because the day will be hell if you don’t.

Your friends have stopped calling, maybe even your family. Acquaintances tell you how amazing your partner is and how nice they are. You smile and secretly wonder what is wrong with you for not feeling the same way. You may not realize at first that they have cut you off from all your support of friends and family in a way that outsiders could not blame them. It may take a while to realize you feel worthless and are even afraid to load the dishwasher because you may do it wrong.

Every relationship has give and take. When you have given so much that the light no longer shines in your eyes and the love of your life has taken more of you than there is to truly give, there is a problem.

If you are not sure your partner is a narcissist it is best to talk to someone. Call your local woman’s shelter and talk to a counselor. Do not confront your partner with this. If a true narcissist is questioned they will retaliate for the attack on their character, or what they consider to be character. Do not think for one moment that just because they have not hit you that you have not been abused. Mental abuse can be just as damaging if not more than physical abuse. This is not to downplay the severity of physical abuse. If someone has physically harmed you, get help immediately

First let me say, having been in a relationship on and off for over 20 years with a narcissist and then marrying him; it can be dangerous to leave. A narcissist can be a man or a woman, both are equally dangerous. Therefore you must plan ahead.

Make a plan

Find a way to put cash in a hidden spot

Be careful who you tell (your friends may not be as close as you think)

Contact the abused womens shelter in you area. They can provide counseling, legal help/representation, safety planning, and shelters for you and your children in secret locations to keep you safe

Keep your safety plan and contacts in a place it cannot be found by the other party

Keep a diary of dates, times, incidents, threats, controlling behavior, abuse

Get together as much as you can of household records. Bank records, copy of mortgage, copy of bills paid, pay stubs, retirement accounts, any individual account or joint accounts, vehicle titles, and you will need monthly statements for every month and year that you were married.

Find anything in the house that they can or might be able to use against you (photos, medications, doctors records)

Keep anything that may help your case against them (if they drink take a photo of the bottle and mark the bottle to show time it takes to consume, photos, dates they would not watch the children, list of jobs they worked and why they left the job)

Couples counseling does not work with a narcissist You cannot be open and honest in the counseling sessions. People often find that they are met with retaliation in the form of mental and physical abuse after they leave the safety of the therapy session. Narcissists are masters at manipulation. They can convince a therapist that you are overreacting and have the ability to twist reason and truth. They are often very charismatic It is best to see a counselor on your own, let them see the diary and tell the truth. Don’t downplay or embellish.

Once you leave:
1. Remember a house is just a building. Take special items with you, but your safety is more important
2. Do not go out alone.
3. Check your vehicle (tires for slashes or small rocks under the valve stem cap that cause them
to slowly deflate, whole vehicle for tracking devices or anything that can aid them in tracking your
4. Be prepared: A narcissist will try and gain custody of the children, not necessarily because they
want to raise them, but because they want to hurt you.
5. Inform your child’s school after speaking to a lawyer of the situation and what your lawyer has
advised is the best course of action for the school and child.
6. Join a self defense class. I will make you feel less like a victim.

Do not talk to your partner. Only talk through the lawyer. Even email can be used by them to manipulate your feelings. Don’t open text messages or emails from them but keep them for a record. Have someone you trust read them. If they have the children scan the message for an emergency and ignore the rest. Do not answer their guilt or love letters. They will blame you, blame themselves, threaten to hurt themselves, hurt you. If it is a threat to you or themselves call the police and keep the message.

They still have control of you mentally. They will use your children to make you feel guilty. They will try and turn your friends, family, and even your children against you. In some cases they have even made children lie in order to help their case. With children their actions will actually do the opposite.

Get a restraining order. The womens shelter can help with this or you can contact the court house for your county and ask them to help you with the process. Another resource is calling the local police department. If you are not in the middle of a physical altercation and are in a safe place at the moment of the call, please use the non-emergency number for the police. Make sure to bring the diary with you so that you can show a history of threats and abuse with specific dates in order to obtain an order. The threatening emails and text messages will also be of assistance in this case.

You may think that being nice will make things easier on you, them, or the children. This is not a normal person you are dealing with. You are only giving them time to plan their next move to manipulate you. Many threaten suicide. Do not go to where they are and check on them. Call the police and have the police do a “Well Check”. If you go back for any reason they will manipulate you. If you move back in it will be worse than before. You are a person – an individual WITH RIGHTS and still in there somewhere. You will be stronger, the emotional pain will fade with help and time. Get mad, stay mad at that person for even thinking they have a right to treat you this way. Most of all, stay away. They can’t control you if they can’t talk to you.

Don’t think that just because you don’t have money, or have very little that you cannot get legal help. As I said many women’s shelters have programs to help with lawyers, safe places to live and free counseling to help you stand on your own. In the case of a man being manipulated and abused by a woman the womens shelter hotline can give you contacts to help you as well. Some have workshops to help you learn skills for the working world if you have been away from a job outside of the home for any period of time. Many can aid you in a search for employment as well. Stay in counseling, get into a support group, research narcissism and the after effects on the victims (remember to delete your browsing history). You have to know you are not alone in this. Other people have left these situations and are stronger for it.

Don’t speak badly of your ex-partner (and yes think of them as an “ex”) to the children. Let them know they are loved, it is in no way their fault, get them a safety plan, and give them options of people they can talk too if they need too. Children learn quickly and if given a good base of love and support they will heal quickly as well. If they say your ex-partner said it’s your fault “we are not a family” or any other ridiculous statement just keep telling the children that it is no ones fault. Be honest without too much detail or disparagement toward the other party and let the children decide for themselves.

I realized one day that my daughters were growing up watching this behavior. Fear set in, were they going to think that this was a normal life? Would they end up like me? I don’t honestly know if I could have done this had it been just me. I hope that I could have, but I know that my children were the driving force behind me finally standing up and fighting back. I wanted them to grow up and have a relationship with someone they love and have them be loved for who they are. Someone should love you for your heart, your kindness, your talents and gifts, and your faults; not in spite of them.

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