The Narcissist and Emotional Abuse

Narcissists employ a variety of techniques to abuse their victims in order to control them. For that is the purpose of abuse- to control the other person. A narcissist may use emotional abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse, or physical abuse. Verbal and physical abuses are straightforward-they are verbal and physical aggression directed at another person. Mental and emotional abuse is discussed as one and the same (often lumped together as “psychological abuse”) in many articles, but mental abuse is different from emotional abuse.

Mental abuse refers to the abuse of mental processes. Mental abuse is sometimes called “crazy making”. For example, when a narcissist tries to make their partner feel they are ‘crazy’ to cover their own guilt about something they want to hide. If they succeed in making their partner feel irrational and over-emotional, they may also lead other people in the family or community to believe their partner is unbalanced or ‘crazy’ too.  The narcissist may do this to gain sympathy while hiding his or her own bad behavior. Instead of admitting responsibility for his or her failings, the mental abuser will attempt to put the blame on someone else.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is a form of abuse that affects the victim’s emotions; it is characterized by a person subjecting another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, poor self-esteem or post-traumatic stress disorder. Such abuse is often associated with situations of power imbalance such as in abusive relationships, bullying, and abuse in the workplace. Dominating behaviors are emotionally abusive (e.g., preventing someone from having contact with their family or jealous behaviors such as accusing a partner of maintaining other parallel relations).  Another emotionally abusive trait includes causing fear by: intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends, destruction of pets and property, forcing isolation from family, friends, or school or work. Rejecting, terrorizing, isolating, corrupting/exploiting and ignoring/silent treatment are also characteristics of emotional abuse.

A narcissist responds to their partner’s emotions in inappropriate ways.  They may get grouchy when their partner is happy or they may act happy (or ignore them) when their partner feels angry, depressed or upset. They may even become aggressive and nasty when their significant other feels vulnerable, hurt or sad.

Another form of emotional abuse occurs when narcissists use their emotions to try and force their will on another person, e.g., insisting their partner obey them because they are angry, or expecting them to drop everything and ‘cheer them up’ if they are depressed, angry, sad or upset.

Emotionally Abusive Behaviors

The following are all behaviors a partner may experience from an emotionally abusive partner:

Withholding – Withholding love, affection, empathy, and intimacy

Countering – This is when the partner expresses a thought and the abuser immediately counters that view with his/her own without really listening to or considering it.

Discounting – When the abuser discounts the partner’s views or thoughts, tells the partner those ideas are insignificant, incorrect, or stupid. The abuser may even discount the partner’s memory about the abuse itself.

Blocking and diverting – When the partner wants to discuss a concern, the abuser changes the subject and prevents any discussion and resolution.

Accusing and blaming – The abuser will accuse the partner of some offense. The abuser may well know the partner is innocent of the supposed offense, but this tactic serves the purpose of putting the partner on the defensive rather than seeing clearly the behavior of the abuser.

Judging and criticizing – This serves to weaken the partner’s self-esteem and increases their looking to the abuser for validation.

Trivializing – This is when the abuser minimizes something that is important to the partner, such as a concern about something the abuser has done.
Undermining – When the partner wants to do something positive in her/his life, the abuser becomes threatened and tries to stop the partner. It may be an overt command, or it may be trying to subtly convince the partner why it’s a bad idea.

Threatening This can include threats of divorce, of leaving, of abuse, or other threats of actions that would hurt (not necessarily physically) the partner or someone the partner cares about.

Forgetting – This includes the abuser ‘forgetting’ about incidents of abuse, which undermines the partner’s reality. The abuser may also ‘forget’ about things that they know are very important to their partner.

Ordering – Treating the partner as a child or a slave; denying the independence of the partner.

Denial – Similar to discounting, although here the abuser outright denies his/her actions. This discounts the reality of a partner.

Abusive Anger When the abuser becomes enraged to the point of frightening the partner. This rage often is caused by incidents that a non-abuser would consider insignificant.


No matter which of the forms the narcissist uses, they are all abusive. Whether one labels what a narcissist does as verbal abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or economic abuse- some or all of these tactics are used to diminish their partner in order to keep them under his or her control.

Indeed, sometimes it is difficult to delineate what specific behaviors should be labeled what. How do you differentiate verbal abuse from emotional abuse when the abusive partner uses words to create the emotional pain?  Labels don’t matter –not when you get right down to it. When you’re dealing with a narcissist, and you know his or her behavior has resulted in an abusive relationship, labeling each behavior he or she engages in isn’t important. What is important is that the narcissist is an abusive man or woman and that abuse is harming their partner.

*Emotional abuse can be just as (if not more) damaging as physical abuse.*






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About Alexander Burgemeester

18 Responses to “The Narcissist and Emotional Abuse”

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  1. sara says:

    So accurate it is scary. I left an abusive marriage and the emotional and mental abuse did not end. The domestic violence just changed form and now our two children have been abused and he is twisting things around trying to blame me. I have been seeing a counselor for my PTSD as a result of long term domestic violence yet my abuser has fooled so many people and he is so powerful and charming, persuasive, he is a doctor and people do not want to believe how cruel he can be. I am still afraid of him and we have been divorced for years.

    • amanda says:

      has it stopped?? I left my abuser 2 years ago. he got a lawyer and took my 3 little girls from me. I couldn’t afford a lawyer. he made me look crazy and like I was neglecting them. my own daughter got bit by a brown recluse and had hemolytic anemia from it, he made the courts think I wasn’t feeding her. he’s charming too. charm the pants right off of you. its crazy. they say these type of people move on to other victims but he has yet to move on from me. just curious if yours ever decided to leave you alone.

  2. Melissa says:

    I met a man 3 years ago nearly to the day and I wish more than anything I could go back and not let him come in and destroy my life as he has being my first boyfriend at 24 I realise now that was the whole reason he wanted to take my innocents zest that I had for life at the start he was so loving caring never met anyone like me I’m perfect he was overbearing sometimes always wanting to know what I’m doing validation that I loved and cared about him but it was all an act it started with little things checking up on me ‘spying’ then telling me I look at other men then saying if I continue with my studies I won’t have time for him and break up then it was to get me pregnant to leave me to do everything on my own come back after months saying he’s sorry he loves me our baby he will be different of course all lies he then started to go on about what’s his money ect at the same time pretending to be broke to note support his child at all living 80miles away rarely bothering with his child causing arguments to go go off for days weeks months to do as he pleased then blame me for it I’ve learnt that’s how narcs are loving caring one minute cruel cold callus the next the caring but doesn’t last long as it’s an act and no one can act 24/7 soon it’s all about luring you in to a false sense of security that their changing and want to mean while planning how they can hurt you the most discard you and their child and live happily ever after saying to anyone it’s your fault even though they treated you badly they love sympathy from others now I look back that’s what he did to me told me the girl he was with treated him bad he did nice things took care of her and she cheated now I realise it was probably the other way around,everything I fell for was not real what I don’t understand why go to all the trouble to hurt someone that’s never done anything to you love you and do everything to make you happy but that’s the problem I think they need people that are like them cold loveless uncaring kind hearted good people will only ever get hurt by them,My ex goes around saying I’m crazy I won’t let him take care if his child probably that I cheat even though I only had him as a partner stupid me thought he was my life partner all nasty vindictive lies the last conversation we had he told me it all happened quickly even though that was how he planned it and wanted it like it was my fault that so what I was a virgin and he told me all lies happy family all the works at the end of the day p**** is p**** and that’s that I was nothing special having his child was nothing major him coming to see me and his child on the rear occasion broke looking less than he used to designer this and that pretending all so he doesn’t have to provide for his child, it’s one thing loving giving yourself to someone like this but when you realise that they are so disgusting they would trample over their own child and not have one ounce if love or care for them it’s just heartbreaking,what do you say as your child grows up? All the red flags being too attentive at the start lying about family they don’t care for them ect wanting to rush things saying they love you after a month all signs to run for the hills,unfortunately my ex is not only a narcissist he’s a pretend Muslim to boot so righteous while being a despicable human being if you can call him that.

  3. Louise Squires says:

    This site is so informative. I was married to a man with full blown NPD for 5 years (in the relationship for 13 years in total) Alarm bells should have rung that he’d been married before and, of course the break up of his first marriage was all his ex wife’s fault.
    When he met me, he treated me like a princess and said I was his soul mate and us meeting was fate. I was only 22 at the time and he was 38. Within 12 months I started to see glimpses of his personality disorder. Over the years they became more and more apparent, finally the complete Narcissist was uncovered just after our son was born 4 years ago. Everything was ‘my fault’ his rages were down to ‘my hormomes’. To cut a long story short, I found out he’d been cheating on me with a woman at his workplace and various others on dating and swinging websites he’d also been advertising himself on gay dating websites. I left his sorry a*s and it’s the best thing I ever did.
    I realised how much he’d eroded my confidence over the years, made me feel ugly and worthless. The sad thing is, he’s moved onto his next victim who is a girl half his age. I think he prays on younger women because they’re less wordy wise than older women. He’s practically moved her into his home within 2 weeks and he’s still calling and texting me saying he wants me back!!! Part of me feels I should warn his new girlfriend about him, but i also think it will fall on deaf ears as ‘sour grapes’. I’m sure she’ll see the evil NPD before long and if she has any sense she’ll get out ASAP

  4. Tammy says:

    I am living in a horrible marriage, didn’t know what NPD was, I have been treated like a slave or Stupid child as he calls me, for 7 years. It started out wonderful he showered me with affection and romance and we only dated a year then married. Extremely attractive man very intelligent & educated, the day we married it turned off like a switch. No more sex or intimacy,,,,as I asked about it he would turn into fits of hatred or rage. I also noticed (should have been red flag) when we were dating he had p**n all over his home then he said he didn’t need it anymore because he had me, but after he got rid of it i caught him m**********g to p**n almost daily basis and he wouldn’t touch me. I wrote him letters and tried to talk to him about the hurt and harm and belittlement he was causing me and instead of trying to work it out he became enraged and finally I just gave up on sex or lovemaking with him ever again. It went on and on. Then he spent all of our savings on all these hair brained get rich quick schemes which I desperately tried to talk him out of each year. And of course its all my fault, he blames everything on me. Always me. Belittles me in public talks to me like a dog in public, threatens my life, threatens me with divorce. I have been trying to stay to avoid divorce but this is crazy! I am so heart broken. Don’t know what I did to deserve this. Have put all my money into his life, cook everyday for him, have helped him promote his businesses. All he wants is to treat me like a slave, withhold intimacy and go into fits of rage daily now. I have to leave home everynight and either drive around for hours or hide in my car to avoid calling police again as I have already had to put him in jail once before. The other night I had to sleep in one of our cars in freezing cold because I was terrified to return home. I suffer mental as well as physical abuse from him now as it has escalated. He blames everything bad on me financially or otherwise. He’s list all his friends due mistreatment and all of them have had enough as well. I know I must leave. I stupidly still believe he’s going to change back into “Prince Charming” again the way he was 7 years ago. Wishful thinking. Trying to find the courage as I am now over 50 years old but still have my looks even though he tells me otherwise and is cruel and had hatred in his heart I feel he has taken my “soul” and stomped it!! God help me and all women who have lived with a narcissist. They have no love to give Or a soul.

  5. laili says:

    My sister is about to go through a very messy divorce. Her husband is using Facebook to accuse her of all sorts of things. He is the abuser but he just posted this article to imply that my sister is the abuser. He has a great public persona. If only most people could see what he is doing for what it really is.

    • amanda says:

      same thing here. he has stalked my facebook. my ex was a drug dealer but all these people think hes so great, well except for the people who know what he really is. but yes he does the exact same thing to me. such a shame.

  6. Carol says:

    A Narcissist is a vampire that feeds on souls.

  7. Anita says:

    I lived with a narcissist for 7 years. First he was everything I wanted. Slowly turned into a monster. Stole my e msils and personal information, threw away my airline tickets and passport, beat me up, told me I was sexually abiding him when I wanted a cuddle, called me every name on earth, took everything I had and started cheating with another woman online he says he wants to merry. Was arrested twice for assault.

  8. Becca says:

    My husband of almost a year, whom I dated for just four months before he asked me to marry him and only five months later we married, is an extreme emotional abuser. A couple times when we were dating his anger flared a bit, but nothing crazy. I figured he’d eliminate that once it was just me and him married, nothing to serious. Immediatly after marriage though, truths came out. Firstly, that I should have listened to all the people who love me in my life who said to stay far from him. Also, right after marriage I found out immediately that he is a huuge drunkard. It always bothered me that I knew he worked with all women. But him coming home at 2am several nights, slammed as hell….. Scared me straight to death and saddened me like no other. Not only was he always forcing me to drink, but then yelling at me for drinking!!! And he has sworn at me and threatened me so many times. Calling me horrible horrible things. Saying nasty things to my face. Like why would you say that???? Just cause you know I’m an honest woman and won’t ever leave cause I’m loyal??? Also, sex didn’t even last a month. Now we have sex like 3 times a month, and that’s after me ripping my eyes outta my head begging. I quit trying now. And he never lasts when we do do it finally. I wish I never even met him. Why do men want to ruin poor innocent girls lives?! In just the first 2 weeks we were married he spent my whole life savings!…on himself!! I think because he’s older and been through more, he treats me like his stupid little sister. And I work my a*s off for him!!! Working all ways, making dinner, lunch, breakfast, laundry always, cleaning car, picking up his drunk a*s from who knows where at crazy hours of the night. I don’t know why I fell for him. I guess it was purely physical. I wish we’d never even more than kissed before marriage. And I wished I dumped his fat lazy ugly a*s looongg ago. Anyways, good article. And stay away from all those jerks ladies!

  9. jeff johnson says:

    My Father was diagnosed when he went to counseling. My Father did all of these things to my Step mother. My family calls my Step mom the “wildcard” because of her ability to know exactly what he is and does. Shes’s the wildcard because even though my Father has abused her mentally and emotionally she still continues to want to help him for my brothers and my sake. She is divorcing him but we all love her. She has been our friend and Mother without a selfish ounce in her. My Father cheated on her with her sons girlfriend. My Dad is 52 and the girl has just turned 21. My Dad is in the first stage of filling his Narc supply. He has turned on all of us kids and my stepmom because of his own needs. My Dad has done some very bad things to my step mom just to make her look crazy. He has a very successful business and I wanted to work with him after college. My Dad almost went into the ministry. He was my hero. My step mom supported him to build that business. She supported him in everything. She worked fulltime took care of 4 boys. She cooked and cleaned. She came to everything we did. She even cam and cleaned our apartment at college. She made home a home for the first time in any of our lives. Shes gives love to all of us with unconditional love. My Dad has devalued her. He had a friend stalk her everyday trying to hurt her. He is now disguarding her. None of us want to be near him. We are all hurt and cut to the bone. He has destroyed our family. He has done of these things with all of his relationships. The girlfriend that was my stepbrothers girlfriend has done cruel things to my stepmom. She has tried to be with almost all of us. My Dad chose this girl over his whole family. He is trying to make us hate our stepmom but we wont. My stepmom is really his love. Hes so sick that he is making it worse. How can we help him? my stepmom could have him thrown in jail for some of the things he has done but she keeps having this faith that somehow a miracle will happen. My Dad will regret what he has done to her I know he will. He can’t even look at her right now. She knows my Dad so much that he can’t stand it because it infers with his new supply. Hes ruined his reputation but thinks he can say it was all my stepmoms fault. The only thing crazy about her is that she cares to much to want to help him. Vampire that feeds on souls is the truth. We all love my Dad but the Doc says cut ties with him. He doesn’t want help. We all had Thanksgiving with my stepmom and he was with the girl. We had a good time and it was our home. the only thing missing was Dad. Every year we put up the lights together and now its gone. Can my stepmoms faith help him? Im not into organized religion but I do believe in God. I don’t think my Dad does anymore. He didn’t value his marriage. She helped all of us when we needed her. She even put her massive pain of this aside to help me through a difficult depressing time. addicted to prescriptions and alcohol and almost took my life. My Dad didn’t care and just made her life a living hell because she helped me. My brothers including her son that got hurt want to help her now. How can we support her? I would appreciate any help or advice. Thank you Jeff

    • Katherine says:

      Dear Jeff,
      Your story is terrible and yet there is light I would say. I was married for almost twenty years to a narcissist with clear sociopath traits too. Almost twelve years after the divorce I was diagnosed with PTSD. I had then got into a negative spiral and lost both my security, job and home, and had tried to escape all, moving abroad. A year ago, I was seriously worried that I would end up homeless or kill myself – and this is ludicrous, because I am a highly functioning person. Luckily enough I sought out help through somatic therapy (other therapy has not helped at all), and have since made a lot of progress.
      The best way you can all help yourselves and your stepmom, is to make her understand that she cannot “help” your dad at all. He does not want help. Narcissists love to paint themselves out as victims, that is one way they have to emotionally tie good people to themselves. The only thing to do is to cut with the narcissist. There is not other way.
      Stop answering the phone, stop answering mails etc.
      I will always be afraid of my ex-husband, when I would rather just forget as much as possible about him. A few years ago, he wrote me a letter, first telling me that sometimes ‘he loves me, but most of the time he hates me’. Then he went on asking for help with an exhibition he was going to have. By then we had been divorced for more than 10 years, so why the heated feelings. I think some of them never give up.
      Just forget about him, that will be the best for all of you, and celebrate!
      Best, Katherine

    • Theo says:

      Dear Jeff what a horrible life your step mom has and is living. The sad truth is these people cant be helped unless they themselves are seeking and antidote as to speak to break this trend. A very high percentage of these people dont and will nevet accept they have an issue… as cruel as it may sound you guya and your step mom either spend the rest of your life trying to help him..(which you probably wont get very far) or simply walk away and let him be.. but stand up to his threats and dont take the abuse verbal or emotional. ..apply strict no contact rules..and get an intervention order if need be to find peace…Trust me I have lived with what probably was the Queen Narcissist blended with severe whitchcraft….total evil…
      Applying a no contact rule is harsh and difficult. .but when you slowly start to resurface and find yourselves will think..”what the hell was I thinking…”..
      Being family is difficult very very difficult…but your sanity and your stwp moms well being is in danger…when you get attacked its ok to defend your self…the most poisonous people we meet come disguised as family or friends…
      I wish you all the best and i hope this helped..


  10. Rosa vazquez says:

    My narcissist ex abused me in all of the following aspects then had me arrested for scratching him after I was defending myself because he was charging at me. He lied to the police said I broke into his home and threw a knife at him I spent two days in jail. He got a temporary restraining order on me and dismissed it in court telling the judge “nah I’d like to dismiss it she’s not gonna contact me” laughing of corse trying to steal the show in a court of law. I haven’t contacted him since my arrest, he’s pure evil. Today I got out of my shower the bathroom was steaming and on my mirror was written the word w***e with a circle underneath it. I can not prove it but know he was in my house and did it. I’m now on probation awaiting for a hearing four months away and will most likly lose my job if my employer finds out. Living a nightmare. I’m scared to be home I’m constantly looking over my shoulders. Running from window to window with every noise I hear. No one cares cause after all I’m the defendent. All I can do is pray that this goes away

  11. Thank u for this article. You all have saved my life. I had to leave my husband of almost 5 yrs. I fill I am only a shell of a person, my husband showered me with wonderful things at first, and after marriage turned on a dime to nothing. No holding, hugging, no kissing, no compliments, just, cooking, cleaning, rubbing him down after work, just a slave. I am a very religious soul. I believe God will set me free. I also believe you will reap what he or she has done, god do not like ugly. I was pulled in by a charming pretender. He has all his friends fooled. This scripture in the bible at genesis 2:24, it reads:That is why a man will leave his father and mother and he will stick to his wife and they will become one flesh, we never got to that point. If he cannot tolerate you or be with you, this is a red flag. I hope and pray other sufferers see these kind of people before there soul completely disappear. Thank u all for your time.

  12. Mary Lego says:

    These are all things I have been through in the past three years. I am currently in the middle of a divorce. My husband always blamed me for everything. We were also trying to have a child the past two years. We were going to an Infertility clinic. Right before every insemination or appt we had to attend together he would cause an argument. I had to drive to the clinics most of the time. During the drive I would end up crying on the way there because he would berate me about something. One of the arguments was about me bettering myself. He was unpredictable in his moods and would go off over a utensil being in the wrong drawer. Things like that. I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to kill myself, he made me feel so bad about everything I did or did not do. I am sure he has told everyone that I am crazy or the IVF treatment caused me to go crazy. I guess it just comes down to who really believes the lies he tells. Still sad at times about this but my life will be better off this way.

  13. Shana Trahan says:

    I’m living ALL OF THE ABOVE listed in this article. It is highly accurate to my current relationship! I am so in love with him & I wish I wasn’t.

  14. Mary D says:

    I am 58 years of age and was involved with a narcissist for 8 years. It was an absolutely brutal experience. I thought I loved him so much and even felt that I had never been in love before. Two years ago I questioned his involvement with other women and that I wanted out of the relationship. He became enraged and ran over me with his truck. Because he has lots of money a lot of things were covered up by the police. It took 10+ surgeries to keep me alive. I suffered a brain injury, my right femur was broken and is now replaced by a rod and my left calf was ripped away to the shin bone. I have no muscle or tissue left on that left leg and my ankle was crushed. He even lied to me and my family while I was in ICU as to what had happened, of course, blaming me for making him run over me. My life was sucked out of me. He even convinced me, after I had been the hospital for 4 weeks, that he would take care of me even though I had caused the accident until one night after I was out of the wheelchair and was on crutches he got angry at me and was storming out the door saying “why don’t you follow me outside so that I can run over you again.” At that moment a flood of memory enveloped me and as soon as he was out of the driveway I left even though I was even supposed to be driving. I had to get away. He has nonstop smeared me. Presently I am in the court system trying to right this wrong. It is going to be a long hall. Please hear my story and never think you are safe in the relationship with a narcissist. They will always make you look like you are the one who is wrong about everything. Don’t let the fun times fool you. Some of them will be the best, but they are not real, You are the one creating the good times and they are just sucking your soul dry. The only good is you, there is nothing good about the narcissist except he is a good pretender and liar. MD

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