Abusive narcissists may look stronger and powerful on the surface but inside they are usually weaker than the victim. An abusive narcissist is usually someone whom life has treated badly but instead of directing the life disappointments, anger and all the bad emotions associated with life problems towards seeking solutions they decide to direct this negative energy to the person closer to them.
An abusive narcissist who has lost control over his own life usually tries to control someone else in order to feel in control once again. An abusive narcissist who has low self-esteem may decide to destroy his partner’s self-esteem so that she will never leave him. By convincing his partner that she is worthless and unlovable he makes sure that she will never leave him for someone else.
Should you Deal with an Emotionally Abusive Narcissist
An abusive relationship can not only make your life miserable but it can also lower your overall self-confidence as well. That’s why the best thing you should do is to leave the emotionally abusive relationship as soon as you can if possible.
Unfortunately, like most people you may find it difficult to leave the abusive partner maybe because you are co-parenting, you have no financial resources to leave yet or something else you can’t control. In this case it’s important to know how to deal with the abusive narcissist but leaving him should be the priority even if it may take years to prepare yourself.
How to Deal with an Abusive Narcissist
1. Identify and break emotional dependency
Abusive narcissists usually depend on the victim to satisfy their own emotional needs in an unhealthy way. For example, as I said in the second paragraph of this article, a narcissist who has lost control over his own life usually tries to control the victim in order to feel in control once again. The one who is feeling weak may try to dominate the victim in order to feel powerful. I can give many examples but the concept is the same. In my book “growing beyond the narcissist” I explained how narcissist and other mentally ill people like psychopaths depend on their victim to elevate their self-worth.
After identifying the psychological needs the abusive narcissist is trying to satisfy through you, you should starve them by withholding the emotional reaction they need from you. In my article about dealing with a non-abusive narcissist I said that you should satisfy their emotional narcissistic needs in order to keep them interested in you but when dealing with an abusive one you should do the exact opposite. For example if the narcissists said or did something horrible, he would most probably expect you to react in certain way depending on how you usually react on such incidents.
Instead of giving the default emotional reaction you should behave neutrally as if you are not emotionally affected at all. This way, if he wanted to make you lose control but you didn’t, you won’t be satisfying his psychological need. Doing this step correctly can either make them lose interest in trying to satisfy those psychological needs through you or try to satisfy them in a healthy way. Note that in a healthy relationship partners depend on each other to satisfy their psychological needs as well but they do it in a healthy way.
2. Learn to be Assertive without Being Aggressive
Being too submissive or passive aggressive sends a signal that you are not in control and this makes you an easy target. On the other hand being assertive and aggressive like the narcissist can make them see it as a challenge and this may turn into a game of proving who is the most aggressive and you will probably lose.
You should assert your rights, boundaries, how you want to be treated… with a calm but confident tone without necessarily being aggressive. This sends the signal that you are confident, self-assured and in control. Here the goal is to convince the abuser that you are no longer an easy target. This should be your default behaviour till they get used to it. (See also: how to stop a narcissist from ruining your self-esteem)