Is the Narcissist Accountable?

It’s Narcissist Friday!


In the summer of 1999, Andrea tried to kill herself several times.  She had four children, lived in a motorhome, and followed an ultra-fundamentalist preacher.  Her engineer husband got her to a psychiatrist who promptly put her on medication and urged the couple not to have more children.  In November of 2000, Andrea gave birth to her fifth child, after removing herself from her medication to protect the baby in utero.

When Andrea’s father died in March of 2001, she stopped taking her meds again and began to neglect the youngest child.  She became incapacitated and had to be hospitalized.  Her doctor warned her husband that she was suicidal again and should not be left alone with the children.  But, on June 20, 2001, Rusty Yates left for work, entrusting the care of his children, all under seven years old, to his mentally and emotionally ill wife.

On June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates drowned her children, one by one, in the bathtub.

The next few years were spent in hospitals and courts.  Rusty expressed his love for Andrea and his concern that he would never be a father again.  He blamed the doctors, the insurance company, and the drug manufacturer for her actions.  He apparently did not acknowledge his own contribution to her actions, particularly the fact that he encouraged her to continue having unprotected sex and chose to leave her with the children so that she would grow back into her responsibilities as a mother.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Rusty and Andrea divorced in March of 2005.  Rusty said he still cared about Andrea, but, “I couldn’t live that way.”  He began dating and expressed his desire to remarry and have more children.

In March of 2006, shortly before Andrea was to face the court again to determine whether she was insane at the time of the murders, Rusty married a woman he met at church.  He said he wished Andrea the best.


Now, almost all of this can be found in an article on Andrea Yates in Wikipedia.  You can check out the details for yourself, but most of these things are common knowledge, particularly for anyone who followed the case over the years.  What seems incredibly obvious to many people is that Rusty Yates exhibited multiple signs of narcissism.

I remember watching the news reports of this case at the time and noticing that Rusty seemed almost indifferent to the fact that all of his little children were dead.  He seemed artificial in his commitment to Andrea.  In fact, he seemed artificial overall.   His responses to the media were strange and distant, like he was a spectator and not intimately involved.  I know that trauma causes similar reactions sometimes, but Rusty appeared very much like a man I had worked with, one I strongly believe was and is a narcissist.

Every part of me wants to hold the narcissist accountable for his or her actions.  I have seen and read so much pain expressed by the victims of narcissists.  But so few narcissistic abusers will, in this life anyway, be held accountable.  How many suicides and murders have been prompted by the persistent cruelties and mind-warping depersonalization narcissists have committed?  Perhaps far more than we know.

But, you see, this is where the narcissist super-power comes to save them.  They manipulate the way others see them.  No one but their victims believes the cruelties.  No one can point to anything the narcissist has done to cause the problem.  They manage to stay separate from their actions and, when it comes crashing down around them, they have prepared others to take the fall.

Oh, there are narcissists in jail, usually because of how they handle money.  Because they see themselves as untouchable and others as stupid, narcissists often underestimate the ability of auditors or law enforcement to discover their indiscretions.  But in personal relationships they are nearly immune from accountability.  Even if their victims manage to escape or tell others, the narcissists simply move to other sources for their supply.  It means little for a narcissist to give up a family.  He may not wish to lose a battle, but people don’t matter to him.

Now I know that this is bringing up feelings of anger for those who read this from a victim’s perspective.  But please hear me: you cannot take on yourself the responsibility of making the narcissist accountable.  In other words, as plainly as I can say it, Please don’t go out and do something to the narcissist!  Anything you do will come back on you.  There are other ways.

I will leave you with two things:  First, you must rescue yourself.  Find the strength and support to get away from the narcissist.  Get healthy.  The best thing you can do to fight back is to find freedom and strength for yourself.  Find a good counselor (and don’t stop looking until you find one who listens and understands) and maintain strong boundaries.  Don’t let the narcissist run or ruin your life.

Second, you can reach out to the other victims of your narcissist.  They are out there.  I have heard some amazing stories of ex-wives reaching out to current wives.  (You can find one of those in the comment sections on this blog.)  You might not be able to stop the narcissist, but you might be able to rescue some victims or even potential victims.  And don’t be afraid to report things that are illegal.  Be careful that he hasn’t implicated you, but speak up when you see financial “irregularities.”  Narcissists often break the law and hurt people who trust them.  Maybe you can do something about that.

And remember that there is a Judge who sees the truth.  The narcissist will not go unpunished.  In his quest for control, the narcissist rarely submits to the Lord.  Evil will end and justice will be done.

Thanks for reading this long post.  The Lord loves you and accepts you.  Come to Him and find the freedom you need.  There is peace in Jesus.


Filed under Narcissism

13 responses to “Is the Narcissist Accountable?

  1. I always felt like he should have been charged with contributing to the murders. He KNEW she was sick and that the doctors advised against him leaving her alone with them. I wish she has picked up the phone and called social services instead of what she, did but I can fully understand that her mind was not in a healthy place to make such a lucid decision. Her mind had been in a dark, dark place and knowing what I now know about narcissists and having experienced my own mental tortures at the hands of a sociopath, we are all vulnerable and nothing will stop them unless we remove ourselves from their lives. She was so stuck, she felt helpless to escape. And she certainly didn’t want to leave her children to suffer without her. 😦

  2. Sheila

    What a very sad story this is. A wonderful post thank-you. It comes at just right time for me having ‘lost’ my relationship with a narcissist over the past couple of months. I spent 11 years in a transatlantic relationship with him, spending hundreds of pounds/dollars in order to visit and keep him supported. I even nursed his Grandmother to her death on one of my many visits. Then out of the blue in September he changed his FB status from in a relationship (with me) to single. I have not been able to have a conversation with him as he has ignored e-mails and calls. I tried to speak with his mother about what the situation but she was very evasive. Then just after Thanksgiving I found photos on FB with him and his ‘other half’ as he describes her at his family home celebrating Thanksgiving. I was crushed, I have flown to the USA for this event for the past several years.
    He writes a web page for a Caribbean Island and I know he uses this as a ‘hook’ to entice unsuspecting females, he did with me. The reality of visiting the Island with him a couple of times was totally traumatic for me. The non-stop drinking, disappearing until sunrise, the flirting with others, not to mention his panic attacks, depression and agorophobia which accompanied his excesses.
    Some people will say I had a lucky escape and my rational brain would agree. However, I invested 11 years of my life in this relationship and the abrupt and disrespectful way I was treated will linger for a long time.
    I could write a book about the behaviour of a narcissist, maybe I will one day.
    Thank-you so much once again for the post.

    • The narcissist’s ability to use people and then dump them is amazing. No normal person could treat another like this, but I hear stories like yours all the time. You are fortunate to be done with him, but the emotional struggle will continue for a while. I have written about this in some previous posts. Because your emotions were manipulated for so long, you will have to find them again and it will take time to trust them. But there is life after the narcissist, as many here will testify.

      • Sheila

        Thank-you for your kind words, I appreciate them. Yes it is an emotional struggle, especially this time of the year. I will get through it, my faith will support me.

  3. SueM

    Dave, you give good advice here. After 20 years, I have finally come to realize that I am not crazy, but I will be if I stay any longer. My husband was professionally diagnosed with NPD, with Anti-social features, in 2011. My wonderful Christian counselor has finally convinced me that I am indeed being emotionally abused and that I need to separate from him. I’m scared to death, but have reached out for help and am making a plan for my daughter and I.

    I have held on for so long with the hope (and expectation) that God would heal him and make him into the Godly man I knew he could become. But I have succumbed to the realization that he won’t be healed because he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with him. I am hurting and I am expecting that I will probably lose everything, but my peace of mind and that of my daughter’s is what matters most.

    I’m so grateful for your willingness to address this issue. This site has often been a light for me, when I needed that light the most.

    God bless.

    • Please know that I am praying for you. You will get through this. The Lord loves you and accepts you and those who read this believe you. You are not failing, you are fighting for your survival. Do what the Lord leads you to do and trust that He will take care of you. There are things in life we wished and believed would happen differently, but trust in the Lord’s love. Write to me anytime. I am praying for you.

    • Tammy C

      I can relate to your story so much! I was in VERY similiar shoes 13 years ago with an 8 year old boy, pregnant and only made a meager salary. I too thought I would lose everything since my husband’s business was on our property.

      I was free from my 14 year marriage to a controlling narcissist but was scared and hurting just as you are. I am a Christian from a young age, but here is what I changed and it moved God to action:
      1) Like a helpless child, I cried and knew that God alone could rescue me. I trusted God COMPLETELY. He wants our trust.
      2) I poured out my heart to God and told him the desires of my heart. He wants our communication.
      3) I joined a new church with a pastor that doesn’t hold anything back straight from the Word of God. He wants us to be a part of a body of Christ.
      4) I heard a sermon about tithing and immediately and since have given 10% of my income to my church.

      There is more but those are the basics. God moved mountains because I got the house, my salary nearly tripled within 3 years and if I told you everything here it might sound unbelievable.

      I’m not saying that trusting God always leads to financial gain, but I am saying without hesitation that a born again Christian that blindly trusts God is after his own Heart and that moves God to see to it that your needs are met and MORE.

      ((Hugs from Florida))

  4. Liza Lee

    Fortunately, I was able to get away without killing myself or harming my children. However, I have recently learned that my narcissist ex-husband is in a relationship with a woman who just lost her teenage daughter in an automobile accident. I feel so very badly for this woman, and I’m terribly afraid that he’s going to marry her and then turn her life into a living hell.

    • Yes, he will find someone vulnerable to manipulate. So sad. You have to be very careful, but I would suggest that you pray for an opening to talk with her. It seems to bring back so much of the pain to watch someone else go through the same thing. Maybe you can warn her. Still, don’t be surprised if she refuses to listen. His super-power is at work. I will be praying that the Lord would break that relationship before the narcissist can do much damage. Keep me posted.

  5. annie

    Thankyou. I will write privately when I’m back home next week. Your response, and this today, has helped enormously. This is the Grace message I believe. The “other” is being taught in more subtle ways at the previous church. Eg Telling me I should forgive or i wont heal and my unforgiveness will cause him not to be set free…. This actually causes more anxiety and trauma. I know Holy Spirit will bring that about as I walk the walk with Jesus. Completion in Forgiveness is gradual for many victims . I also doubt that a Narc is a true Christian ….. I got out in three years, but he has been out there in this Christian farcical life for over 15 years. Beginning in a strongly pentecostal group. Nothing has changed in him. Holy Spirit would have done a job on him by now…. If only he would let him. The Pastor refused to make him accountable and talk to him for all sorts of reasons, so did other seniors, even one who was his pastor in a previous church who now attends the Narcs church. I believe it is because the Narc has befriended the Chaplain and his wife and the Senior pastor wont go against them. In Australia, men have gotten behind ” White Ribbon Day”. The church needs to as well. I was told by the pastor and the Chaplains wife …. Everyone is welcome here…. God’s Grace is for everyone. Yes it is ….. But accountability of the members of a community to one another is necessary. It’s called “tough love” in some circles. bless you for your courage to help us through our pain Thanks again I will email soon. Annie

    • Penny

      How well I remember this story, as I live in Texas. A very young, naive pastor used the Andrea Yates story in church a few days later, blaming her & waxing eloquent in his judgement. After the service, when others were commending him on a “hard hitting” sermon, I approached him & cautiously told him that my own WWII-traumatized, mentally ill father had also tried to kill his 5 children, & the fact that I was standing there telling him I survived was a testament to my mother for getting him appropriate help & intervention. The pastor was not pleased that I presented another scenario, nor was he the least bit empathic with Andrea Yates or others like her. Pastor Bubba did not like it one bit that I dare suggest that Andrea Yates deserved our grace & that her husband was an idiot who should be reproved. The church fails at this, sadly all too often, & I do remember as a child clinging fiercly to God’s Sovereignty b/c the church did not help us, & in fact, harmed us & abandoned us. Yet I am reminded of a line from the Civil War novel “Cold Mountain”: “there WILL be a reckoning, in this life or the next.” My Daddy lived to the ripe old age of 91, & entered Heaven this past Father’s Day. I am grateful that as an adult I finally got to know the man, the hero, that my mother married, & who was often hidden from us due to the ravages of war & wounds & PTSD & mental illness. My father was a good & honorable man who loved his kids & needed help at a time when there was little help to be had. My Mom stayed by his side, remained faithful to him & to her Savior & we were all blessed. Rusty Yates did not know nor care who he lost, thus he did not deserve them. They were simply props on the stage of his 1-act play. May The Lord reprove him.

  6. Tammy C

    Pastor Dave is spot-on post as usual and has great advice for narcissist victims. You must remove yourself from the abusive relationship, even from phone calls that prolong the manipulation and crazy making!

    Not only are narcissists a lot alike in their treatment and depersonalization of others, but victims seem to behave in strikingly similar ways. Like SueM, we wait around for them to become who they ‘could be’ rather than opening our eyes and seeing who they REALLY are NOW. Like Sheila, the pain lingers long after the relationship is over and we wonder if he is finally treating his new ‘love interest’ as we wanted him to treat us.

    Pastor Dave is giving you GREAT advice. Remove yourself from any contact, find a good counselor and compare notes with other victims. If the counselor doesn’t “get” narcissistic behavior, they might see you as needy and miss the boat. I have personally experienced this.

    DEFINITELY seek out other victims of ‘your’ narcissist. Pastor Dave wrote about how they are experts at keeping you and other victims away from each other like spokes on a wheel. If you talk with others in their life, he (or she) could be exposed and they will avoid that at ALL costs. Again, I have personally experienced this.

    See my comments under Dave’s post “Disagreeing with a Narcissist” for a summary of my experience. Long story short, I was not educated about narcissism and only once warned her that he would just “cheat on her too”. Now I wish I had talked with her later on after the “honeymoon” was over. Perhaps she would have listened then and I could have helped to prevent years of abuse.

    As many of you are doing, she is trying to recover from the abuse and sort things out. As I did 13 years ago, she recommitted her life to Christ, she is tithing, praying, trusting God to provide for her needs. She is healing and I am helping where I can. We are living out the amazing story that Pastor Dave is referring to. We are now friends and I am again amazed at what God is accomplishing in her life as He did in mine. Our stories are again strikingly similar and now in a good way.

    This story is not over so I will post again when I can. Next time I believe it will be a comment on Pastor Dave’s blog post “Can a Narcissist Change?” The jury is still out on our common narcissist and at this point I would have to say it is not likely that a narcissist can change.

    Pastor Dave – keep it coming. May God continue not only to pour out His wisdom through you, but also to richly bless you for putting so much energy and time into blessing and helping others.

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