Q: I discovered your site today I’m hoping that I may get an outside perspective on the situation, being that me and everyone involved is too immersed. My parent’s divorced when I was 7-8. My dad was extremely verbally abusive their entire marriage, a trait no one outside the household seemed to believe him capable of, given his charming nature and disarming smile. He justified every evil action by saying it didn’t matter, because everything my mom did was worse, so she deserved it. His brother in law (his sister’s husband) was a well-respected judge and got him the best lawyers and psychologists, which then destroyed my mom, who could barely afford her bottom tier lawyer. He won full custody, kept everything. She barely managed to get visitation rights.
Our relationship was fine at first. He put a great effort into being the best parent, taking me and my brother on vacation, buying whatever we wanted, and taking out to eat every chance he got. He would become mean when we didn’t meet his expectations, and made liberal use of gaslighting tactics every chance he got. He would even go so far as to dictate any answers to questions me and my brother were asked, including, as petty as it sounds, still believing in santa far past that expiration date. He met his future wife less than a year after, who was the ideal trophy wife, exhibited narcissistic tendencies herself and HATED that she didn’t win me over right away.
The constant turmoil caused me to turn more heavily to my mom, and decide to move in with her full time. I was too young to make the choice so another custody battle started, resulting in a few extra visitation days with my mom a month. After that, the real abuse started. He built me up as this horrible demon child and turned that whole side of the family, including close friends against me. If he got wind that I was talking to someone about my problems, he would turn them against me too, and yell about how I was slandering him and how dare I talk badly about him behind his back. We went through countless babysitters, all scared away. I eventually moved out at 14 to live with my mom. Things got worse. We’d have explosive arguments and wouldn’t talk for months until I’d cave and call to apologize. We tried counseling and mediation, but that either ended with them taking his side, or him dropping it when they realized he was the problem. He then manipulated my little brother into demanding full custody for my dad. My dad then used to leverage to cut child support payments to peanuts, forcing me and my mom to suffer financial stress while he gave my brother a life of comfort. When I hit twenty, I cut contact, moved to another city and changed my name, which I shared with him. He attempted to contact me once with a package and a sharp letter, but I stayed away. Then he started guilt tactics through my brother, a codependent, rooted from a very young age. when that didn’t work, he turned his abuse on my brother worse than he ever gave me. I only found this out recently when my brother’s girlfriend contacted my side of the family begging for help. Until that point, I had been planning to reach out to my dad one last time for closure, hoping he would have mellowed out after 4 years, but the stories I’ve heard show that he’s been spiraling into an endless rage for years about me cutting him off. I’ve been approaching members of that side of the family for their support, but the response is pretty clear: I will need to grovel and suffer for what I have done. They also seem to believe I am to blame for turning him into this monster that he always was. I’ve come to peace with who he is and what he’s done to me and if it wasn’t for wanting to save my brother at this point,
I wouldn’t have even looked back. I’m getting pressure from the family to fix things that I can’t fix without becoming his victim again and enduring a life of torment. Anything I do manage to do will be destroyed when he discovers my name change, which I’ll admit to having threatened him with in my weaker moments, but which I don’t regret having gone through with. So how do I go forward with this, without making things worse for the rest of my family and without falling back into his clutches, and most importantly, getting the family to stop blaming me for his now rampant abuse.
A: Although you sound like you have mastered NO CONTACT, each time you “cave” and contact him again (including recently when you said you wanted to reach out one last time- you know there is no such thing with a narcissist). The only closure you will get is continuing NO CONTACT and knowing that your life is better off without him. Moving on and having a good life is your closure. If your father was physically abusive, would you go back to his house and take punches for your brother? That would not solve the problem. It is the same with emotional abuse. You are a victim and should NOT be expected- by anyone- to become a victim again. You didn’t state your ages, but I assume your brother is old enough to save himself. You can HELP him save himself, if he is truly willing, by suggesting he do what you did: live with mother (if he is a minor), offer your home or move to another city, and teach him about NO CONTACT.
There is a specific article on this website about NO CONTACT and you might want to print it out for him. I would also help him understand NPD- have him read as much as he is willing, for the more he knows the better he will be able to cope and get away from his father’s clutches. Under no circumstances should you put yourself back in to the role of victim. As for the family blaming you, people have a strong need to blame when they don’t understand behavior; they feel if they can label it, it makes it okay (“yes he is abusive to his son -because of what the daughter did to him” even though that makes no sense). Because he still rants about your cutting him off, they will continue to believe that is why he is worse—even if you ‘save’ your brother. That will not change their opinion; you will need to accept their opinion for the time being as one more negative thing he has done to you. Not to mention if you ‘save’ your brother, your father will become even more enraged and his increasing rages will again be blamed on you. This will be VERY difficult, but you must let it go- you cannot ‘fix’ the problem…the problem is your father and you cannot change him.
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