Narcissistic Abuse is Domestic Abuse

Park woman sadness autumn loneliness

October is in full gear, bringing with it pumpkins, Halloween, harvest, Thanksgiving, and warm thoughts of sweaters and mugs of hot cocoa.

It also marks Domestic Violence Awareness month. Sadly, there are families out there who won’t get to enjoy the festivities of the Fall season because they live with an abuser.

When we think of domestic abuse, we typically think of husbands or wives who beat their partners and/or children. But did you know that domestic abuse also includes psychological abuse, including threats of violence and verbal/emotional abuse? Some of the worst abuse occurs without any physical contact.

You do not have to be physically battered to be considered a victim of abuse.  Abuse is any behavior that is used to intimidate or control another person.  In fact, emotional abuse and manipulation tactics are similar to the psychological warfare that’s used in military prison camps. Guards at POW camps know that physical compliance is difficult.  It requires physical exertion and, besides that, it’s messy. Thus, the guards often choose an easier path…emotional manipulation and abuse, which is used to control, degrade, humiliate and punish. The technique involves employing coercive tactics and actions, or simply the threat of such actions, in order to cause the emotional distress that leads to compliance.

This is the same method Narcissists use, getting inside the head of their victims and causing them to question their every thought and move.

What does this process look like to the target of this insidious form of abuse?  Let me give some examples of common tactics used, along with some observations about how they may appear to a real-life victim of them:

Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is used as a form of punishment when the victim has attempted to establish a boundary.

For Narcissists, creating emotional devastation is their way of demonstrating their power.  They know that the wound of abandonment is at the core of human experience.  It’s a primal fear that’s been passed down to us by our ancestors when being ostracized from the tribe meant less access to critical resources such as food, shelter, and companionship.  In most cases, it was a death sentence.

In today’s world, ostracism, endured for a long time, leaves people feeling depressed and worthless, resigned to loneliness or desperate for attention. In extreme cases, victims can feel suicidal or homicidal. In dealing with ostracism, there is a “coping” stage, which is when people try to figure out how to “improve their inclusionary status.” They pay attention to every social cue that might help them escape their desperate situation — they cooperate, conform, and obey. [1]

Most Narcissists, especially of the overt type, take advantage of this phase by insisting that their partner hasn’t tried hard enough, isn’t forgiving or understanding enough, isn’t attractive enough , and so on – all in order to secure a compliant source of narcissistic supply. Their target, wanting desperately to avoid the emotional damage of ostracism – a.k.a silent treatment – complies with the Narcissist’s every demand. 

Isolation from friends and family

This tactic is used to deprive the victim of social support, weaken their defenses, and cause the victim to depend on their abuser.  At first, the use of this tactic may seem innocent enough; it may even make it appear that the Narcissist cares about their victim.  Common comments by the Narcissist include:  “I get lonely when you’re not here”; “I wish you would spend more time with me”.  “I don’t have a good feeling about your friend, _____.”; “You’re friend, ____, doesn’t seem to like me.”

These comments later turn into:  “Your friends are bi**hes and whor*s”; “You’re a prostitute, just like your friend, ____”; ‘Everyone knows that you and your friends are trash”; “Are you having a lesbian relationship with your friend, ____?”

These aggressive statements usually result in your withdrawing from your circle of friends…or worse, you might actually begin to believe there is some truth to them.


Humiliation is when a person uses words, silence, and blaming and shaming actions to threaten or belittle another person. It can happen when you are alone or in the presence of company.  Abusers use humiliation as a way to make their targets feel badly about themselves, lessening the chance that they will stand up for themselves or leave the relationship.

Common humiliating phrases used by the Narcissist include:  “I think we need to go on a diet”; “How come you don’t take care of yourself like you used to?”; “Why don’t you fix your hair like your friend, ____?”; “Have you ever thought about plastic surgery?”

Later, more hurtful comments will be used, such as:  “You’re fat and I can’t stand to look at you”; “I’m not attracted to you anymore”; “You can’t do anything right”; “I knew you weren’t intelligent”; “You’ll always be a loser”; “Even your own family doesn’t want you”; “People tried to warn me about you”

The purpose of these harsh comments is to destroy your confidence and self-esteem.  It’s a form of psychological conditioning which typically results in the victim believing themselves to be worthless and fortunate to still be with their abuser, despite their abuse.

Failure to Meet Lifestyle Needs (especially when the victim is in a dependent position)

Are you a stay-at-home mom?  Does your partner or spouse try to convince you that you don’t need to work and insist on your staying home?  This maneuver is also used to make you fully reliant on your abuser and allows them to control your access to important resources such as a cell phone, gas money and means of transportation, internet/computer access, and other common conveniences.

If your partner withholds your access to a cell phone, please contact Hopeline to see if you qualify for a free cell phone plan.

When to Consider Leaving

Emotional abuse robs a person of their self-esteem, the ability to think logically and objectively, confidence in themselves and their identity.  If your partner’s actions or words have caused any of the following feelings, it is time to consider leaving:

  • Isolation from others, you rarely see friends and family.
  • Excessive dependence on him/her.
  • You constantly think about saying or doing the right thing so that your spouse does not become upset.
  • You simply survive day-to-day, unable to plan any escape from your situation owing to sheer mental exhaustion from an extended period of time having all of your actions criticized unless they display compliance with your partner’s wishes and desires.
  • You’re depressed and anxious most of the time owing to your relationship.
  • You tolerate behaviors you that you never before imagined you would.
  • You hide your partner’s abuse from friends and family.
  • Anything you do or say is met with anger or indifference. Your feelings and desires just don’t seem to matter to your partner.
  • You’ve become suicidal.

If you’ve tried therapy and setting boundaries but are still being abused, it’s definitely time to consider leaving the relationship.  Devise an exit plan, hire an attorney, contact a Domestic Abuse shelter, and start making plans for your new life without abuse.

Still not sure if you’re a victim of Domestic Abuse? Read the following downloadable PowerPoint for additional information regarding the dynamics of abuse (click on the link below the image).


Narcissistic Abuse is Domestic Abuse

Resources by State:

Organizations are listed by state. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also included. Click on any state name to jump to the organizations available to help. Click any organization name for the programs offered and for contact information. (**Courtesy of

Alabama |  Alaska |  Arizona |  Arkansas |  California |  Colorado |  Connecticut |  Delaware |  District of Columbia | Florida |  Georgia |  Hawaii |  Idaho |  Illinois |  Indiana |  Iowa |  Kansas |  Kentucky |  Louisiana |  Maine |  Maryland | Massachusetts |  Michigan |  Minnesota |  Mississippi |  Missouri |  Montana |  Nebraska |  Nevada |  New Hampshire | New Jersey |  New Mexico |  New York |  North Carolina |  North Dakota |  Ohio |  Oklahoma |  Oregon |  Pennsylvania | Puerto Rico |  Rhode Island |  South Carolina |  South Dakota |  Tennessee |  Texas |  Utah |  Vermont |  Virgin Islands | Virginia |  Washington |  West Virginia |  Wisconsin |  Wyoming

If you do not find your state in this list, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) for assistance in locating programs in your area. You can reach the NDVH at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or TDD 800-787-3224.

To help support awareness of Domestic Violence and Abuse, as well as resources to help its victims, please share this article with your friends and family.  You may save a life.

Suffering from Narcissistic Abuse?  Join the Let Me Reach Facebook Healing Community by clicking the link.

No Contact Coaching & Mentoring services are available.  Click on the link to learn more.

© Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach, 2015


[1] Ostracism hurts—but how? Shedding light on a silent, invisible abuse.  (2011, April 27).  In Association for Psychological Science.  Retrieved 6/28/2015

This Just In: Men Watch Porn (An Antithetical)

One of my favorite sites, The Good Men Project, featured an article a couple of days ago titled, “This Just In:  Men Watch Porn

My first reaction was, “Well, no duh.  This has been a societal issue for decades now.  You’d have to be a caveman living on Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean to not know that.”

All joking aside, I typically enjoy the articles published on because they encourage men to stand up and be, well…men.  Decent, honest, and compassionate men.

But when I saw the article about which I write today, it gave me pause.

It’s yet another article of thousands bent on normalizing porn viewing.  And while watching porn in itself isn’t really my beef, it generally doesn’t have a place inside of committed relationships unless it’s something that each party has agreed upon beforehand.

Ms.  Arianna Jaret’s article, which is jet-packed with numbers from clinical studies, included the following statements

“The numbers seem large enough to me to normalize porn viewing, as well as to make the notion of porn as a cause of sex addiction a non-starter.”


“In plain English, men don’t watch porn because they are sex addicts. Men watch porn because they are genetically wired to do so.
And guess what? Women kinda like it too.”

While those statements may have poll- and study-based data to substantiate her claims, so do studies highlighting the very real effects of porn-watching inside of committed relationships when one partner discovers the other taking part in it.

Further, she included this statement to strengthen her argument:

The American Psychological Association (APA) made a decision not to recognize sex addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-V. 

Neither is codependency listed in the DSM-V, but it is a very real condition, nonetheless.

Below, I offer my counter (which I posted in the comments section under the article and am waiting for it to be approved):

Religion aside- I am a relationship coach and many of the people I work with have partners who engage in watching porn.

Unless the couple watches it together or have made an agreement between themselves that watching porn alone is okay, then typically, watching porn inside of a relationship only leads to feelings of betrayal, not to mention the frustration of the person whose partner isn’t there for them sexually because they’re getting their own sexual urges satisfied through watching porn and masturbating.

(And let us not ignore the very real issue of human sex trafficking.)

In the same way it was suggested that all the written material saying watching porn is bad is what MAKES it bad, the same goes for saying it’s okay.  I would bet that some of your readers who’ve been caught watching porn are showing this particular article to their hurt partner and exclaiming, “See honey, almost everyone does it” and trying to justify their porn habit.

Additionally, men who watch porn on a regular basis are at risk of developing porn-induced erectile dysfunction, which makes it difficult for them to maintain an erection when they are in the company of a flesh-and-blood woman (or same-sex partner).  Women who masturbate and use sex toys also develop a form of this, but it’s not as difficult for them to engage in the act of sex because they can perform whether aroused or not.

We can find all sorts of evidence claiming that watching porn doesn’t cause problems, isn’t addictive, there’s nothing wrong with it, and what’s the big deal, anyway?  But usually, such evidence is sought out by those who want to continue watching porn after their partner has disclosed that they don’t agree with it and/or is hurt by it – which then typically motivates the betrayed partner to find evidence pointing to why porn IS bad.

We can find evidence to support either argument.

Whether watching porn is okay is specific to each relationship.  If it’s something you have to hide, then you shouldn’t be doing it – sex or otherwise.  Anything else only leads to the breakdown of intimacy, trust, and connection.

This is an area that both parties should get out in the open before getting into a long-term, committed relationship and why it’s important to be honest about it before committing to someone.

If someone is watching porn to satisfy their sexual urges at the cost of their relationship, then they should consider whether or not they really need to be in a relationship.  On the flip side, if one discovers their partner has a porn habit and shows no signs of stopping, then they might want to consider whether or not staying in the relationship is worth it.

Humans are genetically wired to do many things, but that doesn’t mean we should always give in to our primal urges.  That’s why we, as a race, have evolved to develop foresight, empathy, and self-control.

Does that mean masturbation is wrong?  That’s up to us as individuals to decide.  Does it mean porn is wrong? That depends upon the context and whether watching it is hurting someone else.

And for those who still support the clandestine viewing of porn and masturbation inside of a committed relationship, what should your betrayed and frustrated partner be allowed to do to have their own needs satisfied ?  What if they don’t want to watch porn and, instead, prefer sex with a real human?  Should they be allowed to take a partner for such matters – and what’s the difference in the big scheme of things?

It IS something we’re genetically wired for, after all.

Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

Healing from narcissistic abuse?  Join the Let Me Reach Facebook Community!

Let Me Reach Coaching and Mentoring Services:

I provide confidential coaching to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone, Skype chat, and Facetime Audio. Please visit my Coaching page for more details.

Shady Shizzle from the Mouths of Narcissists (and Other Cheaters and Users)

People who have found themselves in confusing relationships with Narcissists and other users are often baffled by what their enigmatic partner really means…wishing they could know what’s going on in said partner’s confounded mind once and for all.

Common queries include:  How can they say something when it’s become painfully obvious they don’t really mean it?  Why are they so dishonest?  How can they say one thing and do another?  How come his or her actions don’t match what comes out of their mouth?  Why can’t they just be real with me?  How come it seems that no matter what I do, it’s never enough to please them?

Narcissists, as moronic as they may be, are quite clever at one thing – keeping their targets in a perpetual “possibility of salvation” phase, which is really nothing more than a double-edged tool designed to destroy their target’s self-esteem (thus ensuring they’ll stay with the narcissist) and keep them working towards that pie in the sky relationship everyone dreams of (unless, of course, they’re a narcissist).

Narcissists actually give telling hints as to what their true motives are…but for those of you who may not have yet figured out these cryptic clues, I offer a generous sampling of translations so you can make an educated decision regarding the future of your relationship.

Shady shizzle translated

(to wit – when you hear these comments, interpret them to mean that the person in question is going to cheat and/or mistreat or continue any and all variations of such)

  • I’ve never really been good boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse material (I won’t be faithful or check in with you regularly)
  • I don’t think I can be the person you want me to be (ergo, don’t complain about my behaviors if you choose to stay involved with me)
  • I haven’t made a clean break from my Ex (i.e., we’re still having sex)
  • I have a very busy career (i.e., expect late nights and disappearing for hours that has nothing to do with my job)
  • I can’t tell anyone about us because I have a high profile position (I am cheating on my partner with you – or – I just want you around for intermittent bonking)
  • I just need more time – to quit cheating, drinking, being unemployed, doing drugs, spending your money, ________fill in the blank (I want you to think I have plans to change, but this miraculous change will always be pushed off to some point in the remote future)
  • Can we just keep things casual? (I don’t want to commit and I don’t want you to expect me to)
  • I’m confused about my feelings for you (I want to give the appearance of “being confused” to compensate for not calling, seeing other people, and ignoring you while I continue to come over for occasional sex)
  • I’m sorry things didn’t work out between us but I still care about you and don’t want to lose you completely (i.e., I don’t want to put forth any effort for a relationship or your feelings, but I’d love for us to be “friends with benefits”)
  • I’m not really capable of loving anyone (so if you want to be in a relationship with me, it’s going to be on MY terms, which will include cheating, ignoring, and disappearing for hours, days or weeks)
  • Serious relationships have always freaked me out and I always do something to ruin them (I want you to think I have Family of Origin issues so you will forgive me for being a cad)
  • You have such high standards/values/morals. I can’t believe you’d give someone like me the time of day.  (I want you to think your love will conquer all so you will patiently lead by example and wait for my miraculous transformation that will always be just out of reach).
  • I’m sorry about my sex/porn addiction, but it isn’t a reflection of my feelings for you, baby. Are you going to give up on me after all we’ve been through?  (This so-called “addiction” will never cease to exist because I really enjoy supplementing our sex life with other partners and porn, but I want you to think I care about the fact that it hurts you so you will remain in my life as a matter of convenience).
  • You’re too good for me (I say this so you will think I see you for the caring, compassionate, unique individual you are while I continue doing unacceptable things, all because I’m not as good as you are)
  • I’m sorry I keep hurting you/ I don’t want to hurt you (My hope is that you’ll truly think I’m a caring person at heart, but that my behaviors are out of my control because of my “painful past”. In reality, I don’t really care whether my actions hurt you and I have every intention of continuing them)
  • You stopped caring about yourself (I’m bored and need extracurricular excitement and stimulation)
  • I don’t want to lose what we have (I don’t want to lose what I have, which is being able to do whatever the heck I please, yet still have you to come back to when I need to eat or sleep)
  • I’m not really ready for a relationship (but, I know if I keep hinting around otherwise, you will keep trying to prove what good relationship material you are)
  • I don’t want to lose you as a friend (friend with benefits, that is)
  • Oh, her? She’s a coworker and I’ve been helping her with her marital problems (by showing her the attention *wink* that she believes she’s not getting from her husband)
  • What happened to the fun, sweet person I used to know? (You know, the one who wasn’t yet aware of my cheating, lies, porn habit, and shady business dealings)
  • Sure, we can break up, but you’ll never find someone like me who will put up with your craziness, instability, drama, crying spells, ______ fill in the blank. (I stay with you because I know I’m the reason you act that way, and when you do it proves to me that my conditioning and mental abuse are working, which is great news for me because it means you’ll stay with me to get that ever-elusive validation)

It’s important to realize that no amount of praying, begging, crawling or Law of Attraction strategies will improve your doomed relationship.  If you’ve heard these obscure messages from your toxic partner, take it as an unmistakable sign that you are with a person who will never give you the love, respect, or care that you desire from them – and the longer you stay with them, the longer it will take for you to get out, heal, and find the person who will (sincerely) love you for you.

Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed & Let Me Reach.  All Rights Reserved

Let Me Reach Coaching and Mentoring Services:

I provide confidential coaching to help both men and women work through their toxic relationship issues via telephone, Skype chat, and Facetime Audio. Please visit my Coaching page for more details.


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How to NOT be a sitting duck for Narcissists and other Manipulators

Dating is a phase of discovery – whether or not you are recovering from a toxic relationship.  But for those who are trying to break patterns of choosing the wrong partners, shedding “people pleasing” tendencies and putting oneself into HIGH VALUE status, should be the number one priority, even if doing so results in being single for a while.

In the days of early dating, you may feel inclined to show a new date that you are good relationship material by proving how understanding and forgiving you can be.  As a result, you overlook “mistakes” and faux pas in order to make sure the person likes and approves of you.

He was only a few minutes late.  Happens to everyone, right?

Even though you didn’t hear from him for almost a week, he had reasonable excuses as to why he didn’t call.  After all, you don’t want to come off as a nag or intolerant.  Men hate that stuff, correct?

Or, if you’re a male, you might look the other way while your date answers multiple text messages during your candlelit dinner. Perhaps she goes to the ladies room and stays gone a little longer than what you consider reasonable.  After all, if you want to hang onto that attractive new catch, might as well accept that she’s a little high-maintenance, right?

The problem with the above mentalities is that you are making this person, whom you barely know, more important that you’re making yourself – i.e., putting yourself into LOW VALUE category while making them HIGH VALUE.

His schedule, work and family obligations, dinner time, etc. begin to be more important than yours.

You cancel on friends and family when she texts you out of the blue to go to dinner – with no prior mention of going out.

In other words, you are more concerned with whether this person will like you than whether their behaviors are acceptable or if the two of you are even compatible – which makes you a sitting duck for narcissists and other manipulators!

How to be High Value and screen out the users and abusers

So how do you avoid people-pleasing behaviors without appearing like a selfish, non-compromising snob?

First, keep in mind that any self-respecting individual is going to want to impress you, too.  They won’t show up late, text other people during dates (unless it’s the babysitter), excuse themselves multiple times to go to the bathroom, or flirt with the waitress or bartender.

High caliber individuals just don’t do those things.

Below are examples of behaviors to walk away from so you can keep yourself in HIGH VALUE status and avoid being a sitting duck:

  1. He’s thirty minutes late to a date – in which case he should be willing to produce a speeding ticket or some other tangible evidence as to why he was late.
  2. She constantly texts on her phone during dinner – which should be attributed to something serious such as one of her family members being in the hospital or her child running a low-grade fever before you picked her up.
  3. They repeatedly reschedule dates, cancel, bail at the last minute, or don’t show up at all.
  4. They talk about sex and/or hint around at casual encounters on the first date. (Unless you’re into that kind of thing, which you probably aren’t – and likely explains why you’re here, reading this article).
  5. Instead of wanting to learn about you, they are intent on recounting elaborate stories of how they dated a Victoria’s Secret model or how their last boyfriend was a semi-millionaire.
  6. Not responding to your calls for hours or days. (Hint:  if you just started dating someone, you really shouldn’t be calling them repeatedly.  Reach out once if you can’t stop yourself, but after that, the ball is in their field).
  7. They make it clear they want to keep things “casual”. This is what emotionally unavailable people want in their relationships so they can come and go as they please and keep you hanging on a string, while you feel progressively awful about yourself wondering why they won’t commit (which perpetuates and enhances any people-pleasing inclinations you might have).
  8. They put pressure on you to move quickly, meet their parents and/or children, get engaged, get married, and/or move in together – after only a few dates. It’s enticing to believe someone can love you after only a few dates, but the more important thing is to determine if they’re a good match for you instead of jumping into a relationship to fill a void.
  9. They make it clear they’re dating other people and don’t want anything serious. Alternately, they may say they’re not dating other people, but you discover they told a lie.  Both of which point to an inability to commit.
  10. They’re still enmeshed with an Ex with whom they share custody of their child– perhaps still living in the same house or apartment building. This is almost always the result of a “friends with benefits” situation that was forced upon a passive partner by their manipulative Ex, the latter of whom you are now dating.

Giving yourself HIGH VALUE status isn’t being mean or pretentious

Jim Rohn made an insightful remark when he stated, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much”.

If someone is acting in disrespectful ways towards you and your relationship, it’s not up to you to make excuses for them, allow them to continue trampling your boundaries, or repeatedly give them the benefit of the doubt.  Doing those things encourages the other person to get comfortable with mistreating you, and teaches them to continue those behaviors.

It also sets you up for huge disappointment.

If someone you’ve just started dating – or have been dating a while – engages in these disrespectful deeds, you can sever the relationship in a way that maintains your dignity.  There’s no need to insist upon letting them know how hurtful or ill-mannered they’ve been towards you (besides, they’ve heard these and similar things from past partners).  Simply thank them for the “good times”, let them know you’re not compatible as a couple, and wish them well.

That’s it.  You don’t need to explain or justify your decision…just thank them and walk away.

Don’t rely on manipulators to step up to the plate for you.  Step up for yourself because you’re worth the effort and putting yourself in HIGH VALUE status paves the way for finding the high caliber partner you dream of.

Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

Healing from narcissistic abuse?  Join the Let Me Reach Facebook Community!

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Exit Wounds

By Stephanie March

If you’re reading this article – or any others on this site – it’s probably safe to assume that you have found yourself involved with a narcissist or other toxic personality type. Perhaps you’ve come here after leaving the toxic relationship and are looking for some answers. If that’s the case, congratulations on your escape!

My purpose, though, in writing this article is to appeal to those who are stuck drowning in despair. It’s not easy to live with a toxic person and it’s equally scary to imagine leaving them. Maybe you’re afraid of the repercussions that stem from being alone, have financial concerns, and/or fear the emotional exit wounds. I get it. Starting over is scary, but it can be done. You can return to school, move to a new city, or anything else your abuser said you couldn’t do.

In regards to leaving, seemingly inflicting pain on ourselves never seems like a good plan, but using this mindset in a situation like the one you’re currently in is faulty. You are already in pain or you wouldn’t be here. In fact, you are causing yourself more harm with each day that you decide to stay. While you should give yourself credit for being strong enough to survive with this person as long as you have, it’s crucial to understand the need to leave because each day that you stay – and each resulting wound – is incredibly costly.

The first step towards change is to acknowledge the situation. Admit that the person you’re with is very likely a narcissist or sociopath – or whatever label is necessary to grab your attention. Own up to how bad it truly is and that however unhealthy it is now is only a tiny foreshadowing of things to come. Speak with friends, family, therapists, and social workers that can help give an outside perspective. Allow them to acknowledge how bad things are for you inside of your relationship.

Next, create a crisis plan. A crisis plan is an escape plan that will get you out of danger and away from your abuser. Any trained therapist or social worker can assist you with this. Contact your local domestic violence agency for assistance. They have amazing resources available. Keep in mind that even if he has not harmed you physically, there are many types of domestic violence. You deserve help and you deserve it now.

Once you have a crisis plan in place it is time to take action. Waiting around until things get worse is not the route to take. You’ve already endured it and it has led you right to your current situation. Additional waiting could lead to complete devastation and/or the loss of your life. There are danger assessments you can do with advocates, social workers, and therapists. You can even do one yourself online.

Again, do whatever it takes to build a mental fortress around the fact that you need to leave.

When you do leave, it’s going to be difficult and painful. There will be exit wounds. I have accumulated a few myself.  But I can tell you one thing for certain; I don’t regret for one second making the choice to leave or acquiring those emotional scars.

What I do regret is not leaving as soon as I knew it was bad.

One toxic relationship lasted over a decade. The other left me homeless in a safe house for survivors of domestic violence. Neither was easy and both were painful. So please don’t think for a second this advice is something I give lightly. I know how hard it is to leave. I also know how hard it is to stay.

What I can tell you, from the other side of all of that, is that the exit wounds begin to fade. It seems impossible at first, but they do. You find gratitude and hope in your freedom. You find empowerment and strength in your leaving.

So please, stop waiting. The rest of your (free) life and everything you’ve always wanted to be is waiting for you.

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Stephanie March is a writer, survivor, and advocate. You can find her on Twitter or visit her blog.




3 Best-Kept Narcissistic Secrets that Will Make Everything Clear

You realize you’re in a war, right?

Ok, so maybe no actual firearms or tanks are involved, but you are definitely in a bloody battle for your sanity.

I hate to dredge up the painful reality of it all, but your toxic, self-absorbed partner is using the three best-kept secrets used by narcissists world-wide – against you!  Secrets that, when used proficiently, can bring other human beings to their knees – regardless of status, intellect, education, or material wealth.

…dirty secrets that can (and often do) result in their unsuspecting partners becoming so broken and dysfunctional that they lose everything – careers, children, homes, licenses (such as those required to perform as doctors, attorneys, and therapists), bank accounts, and worst of all, their sense of self.

Below, I offer an insider expose that will have you screaming, “Victory!!”  – or, at the very least, make everything clear so that you’ll feel empowered to detach from the madness, reclaim your good judgement and reason, and move towards your new life.

  1. Narcissists will not appreciate anything you do to accommodate and placate them.

I know you work hard to please your partner.  I sure did, back in the day when I was “green” narcissistic supply.   I could go into the hellish details of all I did for him and his family, but I’ll spare you.

Narcissists want you to believe that even your best efforts are not good enough.  The reason they do this is so they can keep you scurrying about for their approval, but never quite receiving it.  Before long, you’re doing the work of three people, yet not being acknowledged for it.

Maybe they really liked the chocolate cake you made them last year for their birthday, but after that, each time you made it for them, there was something wrong with it.

Or, perhaps, once upon a time, they said you looked pretty when they picked you up for a date, but ever since then, you can’t seem to dress right, the colors you wear are all wrong, you’ve gained weight, etc.  Why can’t you just dress like the new secretary at their job or the new CEO who always looks so sharp? 

Do you work two jobs, keep the house clean, pay most or all of all the bills, take care of their errands, and/or cook dinner most nights, but never receive even a simple nod of approval?

This cruel tactic works in two ways – 1) it ensures you will be willing to do whatever they ask at a moment’s notice (hoping they’ll show some sign of appreciation), and 2) destroy your confidence and self-esteem as you develop the belief that nothing you do is ever good enough.

Even if you are highly successful in your professional life and have friends and family who’ve always appreciated what you did for them, the narcissist doesn’t want you to feel any pride or sense of accomplishment – because if you did, you might realize they are using you and consequently decide to do something about it.

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind Thou art not so unkind, as man’s ingratitude.” ~ William Shakespeare

Want to know if your partner’s a narcissist?  Stop catering to their excessive demands and see how they react.

  1. Narcissists DO know exactly how to reel you in

Narcissistic-type individuals truly do have a sixth sense when it comes to snagging people into relationships with them, and it doesn’t have anything to do with their target’s status, wealth, or intelligence.  These toxic individuals are able to detect vulnerability and loneliness in others.  Generally, these states of being originated in childhood and/or early puberty and were intensified through unsuccessful relationships and life events.

Narcissists and other predatory types can detect vulnerability in people through visual and auditory cues such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.  People who feel vulnerable often avoid direct eye contact with others, tend to look downward a lot, speak in softer voices, and/or are overly nice and accommodating upon first meeting them.

Even if a potential target doesn’t display the above behaviors, narcissists can alternately determine if a person is a good target through other behaviors and traits such as:  high levels of trust, compassion, cooperativeness, and tolerance (traits which they gleefully concede they can take advantage of).

They then use their target’s vulnerability to reel them in, and also to keep them enmeshed in a toxic relationship through psychological manipulation which targets their victim’s emotional wounds and destroys his or her self-esteem.

“What we don’t resolve, we often repeat” ~ Sigmund Freud

If you’ve been hurt in the past and/or have a history of choosing partners who end up being detrimental to your well-being, know that this cycle can be broken through committing to yourself and your recovery.

  1. Silent treatments work best after you’ve isolated yourself from your friends and family

Once the honeymoon/love-bombing phase begins its dismal decline, the narcissist then starts blaming your relationship problems on your outside influences, which may include:  parents, grandparents, siblings, other extended family, exes, best friends, and even children.

After the isolation stage has been successfully implemented, silent treatments can be employed with maximum benefit to the narcissist.  After ensuring you have no emotional support, the narcissist can then criticize you without bias.

This is the same technique that was used in North Korean POW camps[1].  It was not uncommon for a soldier to wander into his hut, go in a corner, sit down, pull a blanket over his head, and die within two days.

Despite minimal physical torture, the death rate in the North Korean POW camp rose 38%, with half of the soldiers dying simply because they had given up.

How did this happen?  The “ultimate weapon of war”.  One that your Narcissist uses against you quite regularly.

The North Koreans’ objective was to “deny men the emotional support that comes from interpersonal relationships.”  To do this, the captors used these primary tactics:

  • Withholding all positive emotional support
  • Criticism

They used negativity in its purest and most malicious form.  The soldiers had nothing to live for and lost basic belief in themselves and their loved ones, not to mention God and country.  The North Koreans had put the American soldiers into a kind of emotional and psychological isolation, the likes of which had never been seen.

Aside from the silent treatment, does the simple act of walking through your house to go to work seem to induce a psychotic rage in your partner?  They want you to feel sorry for being alive.  To be so overly anxious that you feel you’re always one minute away from tragedy.

“The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as Godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.” ~ Sam Vaknin

If your partner punishes you by regularly utilizing the silent treatment while being overly critical on the days they are in your company, you can be certain he or she is a sadistic, malicious creature who doesn’t deserve your devotion, empathy, or compassion.

How to turn it all around

While there’s no way to turn it around with your narcissistic partner, there is good news, though it will require making some hard choices.

Perhaps, as a result of this part of your life, you will completely turn your life around for the better.

Maybe you will become more successful and find the perfect, non-disordered partner for you.

Perhaps this experience will allow you to tap into other areas of your life – allowing you to become more creative and fulfilled.

Maybe this happened so you could free yourself from your past and your wounds, and vow to never let another person to mistreat you…

But, it all requires detaching from the narcissist in your life.  Once you’ve done that and created some distance from the relationship, you can move forward towards healing and see that black clouds often do have silver linings.


Rath, T., & Clifton, D. (2004). How full is your bucket?: Positive strategies for work and life. New York: Gallup Press.


Not All That is Buried is Dead

Time is not a healer.

It’s a system for keeping track of seconds, minutes, hours, and days.

Time may take the edge off of intense pain, but it doesn’t heal.   It’s what we do with the passage of time that determines whether or not we heal from our wounds.

Often, we make the mistake of believing that if we keep the pain buried under the guise of a busy schedule, commitments, and trips to Starbucks that our pain will eventually go away on its own.

Because we bury our pain doesn’t mean it’s dead.

It’s very much alive, resurrected by an off-color remark; betrayals big and small.

It wants – no, needs – to be exhumed over and over until we finally acknowledge it.  Look at it.  Figure out why it’s there and do something about it.

Burying it again won’t bring lasting change, nor will reaching out to the very person who keeps our pain alive.

The first requirement in healing our pain is to banish the source of what’s bringing it to the surface.

Then, while our pain is still open and raw, we must examine it.

We must face it and embrace it.  Treat it with loving care.  Let it know it’s understood.

And if we don’t understand it, we must make a point to learn.

Your pain wants to know why you stay with a person who is unfaithful to you.

Why you eat meals with someone who claims to care about you, yet speaks to you in a manner that desecrates your uniqueness.

Why you share your gifts with someone who diminishes your light.

Why you invest in someone who wants you to be dead inside to make them alive.

Healing lies in learning the why.

No, time is not a healer.  That’s a job we must do ourselves.

Healing takes courage

I’m digging in the dirt

Stay with me I need support

I’m digging in the dirt

To find the places I got hurt

~ Peter Gabriel

A Letter from My Future Self as a Survivor of Narcissistic Abuse

~ by Amy L.

To My Present Self –

I know right now you feel scared and lost. I know that the amount of pain you are in feels unbearable and you are scared to experience your feelings.

I know that right now you are afraid of the deep depression that you think you may go into if you stop and allow yourself to grieve it all. I promise you one day this will all make sense. I promise that you aren’t going through this in vain. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I promise that you will get there.

You have all the tools, remember to use them.  Don’t use alcohol, work, or other men as a way to escape. Please have patience with yourself; your soul is going through a transition. Reach out and connect with people when you need help. You are worth it.

I promise you the pain will lessen each day and that the worst of it is over. If you need to cry, let yourself cry…no matter where you are.  Don’t hold back tears for other people’s comfort.  Be open, don’t allow yourself to stay secluded in your pain.

Take the time to learn to trust your instincts again, they are beautiful. One day you will use this pain and turn it around. Remember how resilient you are.

Use where you are right now as a tool to further your empathy and compassion for others. Fall in love with yourself.

Remember who you are. Allow God to heal you. Don’t hide. Don’t say that you are okay when you are not. It is brave to share. Stay in the arena. I know how bad this hurts right now. I know you thought you were his soulmate, special and different. I know believing that seemed to soothe the childhood wounds you had that made you feel you were not lovable or important…and I know when he took your dreams away by revealing his mask that those wounds became deeper.

This is your chance to heal the mistaken beliefs you hold about yourself. I am sorry you had to be hurt so to remember that healing these wounds is a part of your journey. Please know that karma is inevitable… and you need do nothing to have justice.

Please stop thinking that connecting to him will bring you closure. It won’t.  He banks on keeping you uncertain and imbalanced so he can continue to take from you.  Even if he has New Supply at the moment, his keeping you in a state of imbalance ensures that you’ll be around for back-up supply. Remember that. I know it hurts, but you have to be the one to never allow yourself to be manipulated again….

You are getting there, I promise. One day this will all make sense. Pray to God when you need Him…He is there, always.


Your Healed and Hopeful Future Self

Cognitive Dissonance Removal Strategies: Harmful vs. Healthy Ways

Abusive relationships often reshape your entire belief system. If you are like most victims of narcissistic abuse, you experienced a distorted sense of reality throughout the majority of the relationship with your partner. When your partner’s alternating sweetness and rage suddenly defied everything you believed about him or her, you experienced an internal conflict known as cognitive dissonance. This created great self-doubt about your ability to predict a partner’s abusive potential in the future. As human nature asserts, you began to seek ways to remove the cognitive dissonance, most likely by denial.

How Emotional Abuse Creates Cognitive Dissonance

Prior to the abusive relationship, you always thought you were not the type to fall under somebody’s psychological manipulation, but you did. When your awareness of the relationship first changed from feeling loved to feeling mistreated, you may have told yourself that he or she was just in a bad mood. As your partner began to exhibit more frequent bouts of gaslighting behavior, where he or she would deliberately confuse you and accuse you of acts against them, you felt very conflicted about your partner’s feelings for you. Early attempts to leave your abuser may have resulted in blaming and threats against you for daring to leave the “best” partner you ever had. This created a lot of cognitive dissonance.

Harmful Ways to Remove Cognitive Dissonance

When you act in ways that contradict your beliefs, it is another form of cognitive dissonance. Subconsciously, you will remove the dissonance with the same thought patterns that caused your dissonance to begin with.

Evasion of what you don’t want to acknowledge creates a sense of denial, and the dissonance it creates is known to destroy lives.

Twisting the truth eliminates the facts that you don’t want to accept, so it reduces the dissonant feeling.

Seeking validation from others can be good if they have your best interest at heart. If they are a negative influence in your life – such as your toxic partner – the removal of cognitive dissonance through these harmful methods will only reinforce your denial.

Refusing change of your current thoughts and beliefs allows you to adhere to them, removing the dissonance.

Healthy Ways to Reduce Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance has come to be known primarily as a negative emotional conflict, but there are ways to use it constructively as a healing tool.

Speak to a trusted friend. If you keep your troubles to yourself and continue contradicting your own thoughts and feelings, it only serves to perpetuate your confusion and self-doubt. Like it or not, you have learned through psychological manipulation how to abuse yourself in a similar way that your narcissistic partner inflicted upon you. The important aspect of this is to have at least one friend or relative whom you can count on for positive and unbiased support. Don’t seek support from friends and family who may be well-meaning, but only offer placebo advice such as, “Why don’t you just break up?” and “I don’t know why you stay with him or her, anyway!”

Keep a written journal. Express the confusion and conflict going on in your head and in your heart by just pouring those thoughts on paper. In doing this, you liberate the trauma and become more self-aware of your inner thoughts, allowing you to consciously shift your thinking. Go back to read your entries about once a week to observe the patterns of your thoughts. Observe whether they are becoming more positive, or if they are slipping back into denial.

Experiment with reading and writing poetry. Poetry can help you to remove your cognitive dissonance much like the journal, letting go of the trauma. It helps you connect to and express your deepest feelings and inner conflicts, fostering a sense of inner peace and tranquility.

Try to become more extroverted. Introverts are more apt to emphasize negative outcomes of trauma, whereas extroverts are more apt to seek positive outcomes. In addition, extroverts tend to seek input from others, broadening their perspective on life and situations, while introverts go out of their way to avoid the input. If you are introverted, it would be very beneficial to join some positive social groups in your community. Socializing with positive people who share your interests both personally and professionally can reduce cognitive dissonance.  (Remember to choose company that will emphasize new beginnings and positive outlooks).

Once you begin to unload your cognitive dissonance in healthier ways than you did during the narcissistic abuse, you begin to free the tension from your spirit. You gain a much deeper self-awareness and start to make peace with your new sense of reality. You acknowledge to yourself that you have the power to act according to, or against, your beliefs. You begin to open your mind to new ways of thinking, instead of being locked up inside your head all the time.

Definitely continue to reflect inwards, but remember to balance that with a healthy dose of input from the outside world. Most of all, you should be proud of how far you have come in your healing journey. It takes a lot of work to overcome cognitive dissonance from emotional abuse.

Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

Healing from narcissistic abuse?  Join the Let Me Reach Facebook Community!

7 Ways To Reduce Self-Doubt After Narcissistic Abuse

Perhaps you have fallen victim to the control and manipulation of a narcissist. You may have become aware of the toxicity in the relationship long ago, but have been too emotionally attached to your abuser to leave the relationship. You could even be free from your narcissist now and are wrangling your way through the healing process.

The narcissist may be anyone who has a tremendous impact on whether you believe in yourself and your abilities. This is most often a parent, intimate partner, sibling, or boss. You have gradually lost yourself as you have succumbed to his or her psychological conditioning. After a while, his gaslighting instilled confusion and anxiety in you to the point where you detached your sense of reality. You have become consumed with self-doubt and are easily controlled.

Learn the Warning Signs of a Narcissist Before Another Strikes 

A true narcissist has these traits embedded in their personality and in many cases may be clinically diagnosed with “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” In order to avoid slipping into a long-term pattern of the “Narcissistic Victim Syndrome,” it is important to understand how the mind of such a person works.

  1. The most notable trait of the narcissist is his pompous sense of self-importance. He clearly doesn’t care about the wants or needs of anyone but himself. He blatantly exaggerates or brags about his achievements and talents, looking for recognition as being superior to other people. His exaggeration is a way to mask his low self-esteem and emotional insecurity.
  2. He often talks about his terrible childhood and seems consumed with it. He projects his cognitive dissonance onto you or others about that time in his life by seeming agitated and quick to anger. This is his coping mechanism for feeling so conflicted.
  3. He denies responsibility for having many failed relationships in his life. Nothing is ever his fault.

Likewise, as his victim, you tend to have the opposite personality traits. You are highly empathic and forgive your narcissist repeatedly. You are more thoughtful and caring of others than you are about yourself. It is generally in your nature to be overly cooperative, so people easily take advantage of you. When it comes to your abusive partner, you ignore the proverbial red flags of his unacceptable behaviors. Worse, you overcompensate for his most deviant behaviors, and you must take care not to let it lead you down a path of self-destructive behavior, such as substance abuse or self-mutilation.

Why You Are Filled With Self-Doubt After Narcissistic Abuse

The longer a target suffers through narcissistic abuse, the more they are programmed through psychological conditioning. Once you finally leave your narcissist, you still feel chronically detached from yourself and your life for a time. You can even find yourself missing your abuser, and feeling a lot of self-doubt because of that.

Self-doubt is very common among adults who were raised by narcissistic parents. If this happened to you, then you grew up hearing your parents tell you how pride is a bad thing and how you were never going to amount to anything good. You may now feel incapable of giving yourself credit for your good traits and accomplishments.

Regain Self-Trust And Diminish Self-Doubt After Narcissistic Abuse

  1. Get into a counseling or recovery program. Many communities offer free counseling in a group setting and sometimes they even offer free one-to-one counseling for victims of domestic abuse.
  2. Tell yourself positive affirmations daily. Telling yourself what a smart, loving, beautiful, and capable person that you are while looking in the mirror should eventually reprogram your thinking and help you feel good about yourself again.
  3. Read self-help books about abuse recovery and finding the heart to trust your judgment.
  4. Go with the flow of the healing process. Don’t rush yourself or be hard on yourself when you feel doubt creeping in.
  5. Reevaluate your needs in a partner. Make a list of the absolute must-haves and no-ways and don’t settle for anything less. Ask yourself if he/she exhibits those traits.
  6. Focus on listening to your inner voice and keep it positive. This is a great time to incorporate positive affirmations.

Learning the warning signs of a narcissist is very important. Knowledge is power, so empowering yourself to see the warning signs listed above can encourage you to overcome your fear of falling victim again.

Regain your self-trust after narcissistic abuse.
Regain your self-trust after narcissistic abuse.

Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

Healing from narcissistic abuse?  Join the Let Me Reach Facebook Community!

Let Me Reach Coaching Services:

I provide confidential, fee-for-service coaching to help both men and women work through their toxic relationship issues via telephone, Skype chat, and Facetime Audio. Please visit the Coaching page for more details.


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Surviving Narcissistic Abuse | No Contact | Narcissists and Lying | Narcissistic Husband | Love Bombing | Cognitive Dissonance


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