Hitting and Hurting

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Can I just be blunt?  There is no excuse for violence within an intimate relationship. 

Now, I purposely made that broad enough to cover more than marriage and more than hitting.  And when I say, “no excuse,” I mean just that.  Husbands and wives should not hit or hurt each other in anger or in an attempt to control. 

There is a simple answer, at least for the short term.  If you find yourself wanting to hit or hurt, get out.  Take a walk.  Remove yourself from the situation.

And, if you find yourself getting hit or hurt, get out.  Find a shelter, get a motel room, visit a friend—just get out. 

Occasionally I get a question about whether narcissists are violent.  The general answer is that most are not, partly because they don’t have the confidence to be violent.  But in a marriage or intimate relationship, where much of the interaction is hidden and private, things can change. 

Let’s consider why.  First, narcissists are angry people.  They brood.  They remember offenses.  They hold grudges.  Then, from time to time, they strike out.  There is a narcissistic rage discussed in the literature that seems unreasonable.  It lies just beneath the surface in some narcissists and can erupt at odd and unexpected causes.  When it erupts, it goes beyond the particular cause with energy and venom that makes the victim step back in shock. 

A friend told me that his narcissist offered to give him a ride.  While waiting for the narcissist to unlock the door, my friend put his briefcase on top the car.  The narcissist went ballistic, accusing my friend of scratching his car and being irresponsible and stupid.  It changed their relationship.

Part of that anger is the frustration the narcissist has with life and people.  He is never valued enough, never respected enough, never obeyed enough.  She is never complimented enough, never cherished enough, never given enough.  The narcissist needs love but cannot receive love and, therefore, is never loved enough.  Those closest relationships are supposed to be that source of love, but they always fail and are blamed for the problem.

Now, add to the anger the lack of empathy, or the inability to see others as real.  The narcissist cannot identify with the pain of others.  If he were to hit or hurt, he would not understand that he had crossed a line in the relationship or had damaged the other person.  He might be remorseful if confronted with some loss he would feel, but he would not be sorry in the way a normal person would experience guilt or sorrow. 

Years ago I confronted a man who had hurt his wife.  In the course of one conversation, he told me that 1) nothing happened; 2) it wasn’t a big deal; and, 3) it was all her fault.  This was narcissistic rationalization.  Of course something did happen, but he easily lied and blamed.  She, on the other hand, changed her story to fit his. 

So, can a narcissist become violent and abuse?  Of course!  In fact, everyone in a relationship with a narcissist should be aware of how easy it would be for him/her to take that route.  Most do not, I believe, because they are afraid.  Narcissists are usually quite intelligent and aware of consequences.  They know just how far they can go. 

So I say it this way:  Narcissists aren’t usually abusers, but abusers are usually narcissists. 

Two thoughts:  First, if your relationship is becoming more violent, the narcissist may be experiencing some unusual stress or has decided that you are in the way of a new goal.  Be very careful.  Plan an escape and don’t be afraid to take it.  Better to take it too quickly than too slowly. 

Second, hold the narcissist accountable.  If you are physically abused, take pictures, tell others, report the crime.  This is not behavior that you should excuse.  Abusers rarely stop with one victim.  Even if you are able to get out of the relationship, he will probably do it with someone else.  You should make a big deal of the first time it happens.  If you are long past the first time, then start right now.  Keep a log, take pictures (I know I said that already), and call the police.  Seriously.

Physical abuse takes the sense of self-worth even further down.  The narcissist is good at destroying any confidence or strength you have.  Believe me; abuse will destroy it even more.  You have to talk with someone.  Find a women’s center.  Find a good counselor.  Talk to someone.

And get out.


Filed under Narcissism

10 responses to “Hitting and Hurting

  1. Penny

    Dave: in the wake of the Jodi Arias trial, I will take a leap here & postulate that while the jury was able to convict her of murder, they were obviously less willing to sentence her to death. Perhaps this is in part due to the disbelief, ignorance &/or reluctance of some jurors to recognize her false image, & accurately see her as a predator & a raging narcissist. I,for one, could see right through her, & watched in horror as she deceived the jury into thinking that this was an isolated incident, that she cared about “victims” of domestic violence & if allowed to live, would care about fellow prisoners. That she was able to portray herself as the victim in such a violent, raging attack is a case-study in malignant narcissism. If she is ultimately sentenced to life in prison, I will bet my next paycheck that she will manipulate & seduce some unsuspecting prison guard into impregnating her, & then use that child as a means to reduce her sentence. Even tho the real victim here was [perhaps] willingly & admittedly seduced by her, it is a chilling reminder of how those unfamiliar with narcissism will not believe you when you tell them what the narcissist is really like, behind close doors. Those unfamiliar with narcissism cannot fathom the powerful seduction of the false self & the deception; apparently , some jurors could not bring themselves to believe the horror of her rage; & thus were also seduced by her false self & the false image she skillfully crafted. If allowed to live, I have no doubt that she will rage again. She is unrepentant, unremorseful, manipulative, deceitful & self-serving. Her seduction is so powerful, that she was even able to dictate that the interviews allowed after her conviction could not show her striped prison clothes or her shackles; she could only be filmed from the waist up (in a white sweater–like some kind of angelic being); she successfully demanded “waterproof mascara”, specific makeup & hair styling (& the cameras were forbidden to record the primping process). If there is a more graphic portrayal of the false image of a narcissist, I cannot think of one. When asked by one interviewer if there was anything she could change or do differently, even I found myself holding my breath that she MIGHT say that she wished she hadn’t murdered her lover. But, like a true narcissist, she said that she wished she “had documented” her “abuse. Her tears are ever, always for herself, never for her victim, or his family or his friends. He repeatedly fell victim to her seduction and it proved fatal. Her abuse was indeed destructive, & he needed to get out. He ultimately succumbed to her deceit, and met a tragic end. This is a powerful warning to ALL of us regarding narcissism. It will kill your soul & spirit.

    • prairiemom

      Penny, your comment was chilling to me because the narc husband of my dear friend is absolutely obsessed with the Jodi Arias case. He follows it compulsively. She was originally from our area, and it seems some family member of hers even attends my church (I just found this out last week), so he justifies his obsession because she was a local girl. It has caused plenty of contention between him and my friend (his wife), and she has even said she thinks he might be in love with Jodi Arias. I know my comment has NOTHING to do with the post (my apologies, Pastor Orrison), but like I said, your comment about Jodi Arias was like cold water to the face, in light of my friend’s husband’s obsession with the case (and his obsession with other domestic violence cases, but none so intriguing to him as this one).

      Any idea why a fellow Narc would be so drawn to such a story (and I don’t buy the reason that she is a local girl)? He is mostly non-violent and has stated, as pastor Orrison mentioned, that this is mostly due to his fear of being prosecuted. Why on earth would a narc be so interested, .even obsessed, with such a horrific story? I would love to hear your thoughts, especially if you think it would indicate that my dear friend is in danger (not that i could really do anything to stop it if she was).

      • Actually, I think this is an exhibition of power, personal power. I have had others tell me of how their husbands watched Casey Anthony and commented on her being “hot.” Remember that the narcissist is not moved by what these murderers did. But, I think, they are moved by the incredible courage and strength these women exhibit. Yes, I would be extra alert around someone who is fascinated with these stories. It could be the catalyst that moves someone to action.

        I wrote to Penny that we just watched “Rope.” This fits so well.

    • Penny,

      I think you are right on with this. She is unusual, even for a narc, but she exudes power and control. In almost every clip I have seen, she is in charge. Casey Anthony was about the same. What is frightening, and connects with last Friday’s post, is the fascination America has with these people. Entertainment? Not exactly. This is a morbid interest in those who believe themselves to be above the rest of us.

      We just watched the old Alfred Hitchcock movie, “Rope,” with Jimmy Stewart. Another excellent portrayal of the narcissist. The only problem is that it was made in a day when evil had to be shown to be inferior, when the bad guy had to lose. We no longer live in that day.

  2. There’s also a sense of trying to wrap our (and by our I mean our collective culture) heads around how these personalities work. That’s why I think crime shows have such enduring appeal (judging by how many are currently running).
    The fascination in most cases an understanding that something went horribly wrong with seemingly normal individuals. My suspicion is that the killer is mesmerizing to those who just can’t wrap their heads around the “why” – also because we think it will help keep us safe so we can’t be victims.
    A therapist might say a fascination with evil is a lingering symptom of PTSD after a person has been a victim of evil.
    What troubles me about all of this coverage and some new shows (Hanibal in particular) is they encourage identification with the evil. It’s toxic in the way living long term with a bully is toxic. You habituate to it and justify the bad behavior.

  3. Penny

    These comments are all so insightful; sadly those of us with a “trained eye” are able to discern when narcissism is rearing its ugly head. I remember when Casey Anthony was first arrested; there were video-taped visits with her family during which she was lamenting that “everyone is talking about Caylee” [her missing child] but no one was talking about HER. (Duh–ya think??) She actually said , “I need to be looked at as a victim because I’m just as much a victim as the rest of you and it hasn’t been portrayed that way,” Doesn’t that sound eerily close to Jodi Arias’ portrayal of herself as the victim? I also found this article from 2 years ago that discusses narcissism much as Dave does here, and the author makes this chilling comment: “Narcissists care more about power and image than they do about love. These and other studies have documented the “agentic” concerns of narcissists: they’d rather be seen as superior than likable; as dominant rather than community-minded or cooperative; and as competent and important rather than honest and trustworthy. How they appear to the camera is far more central to their sensibilities than how they relate to another person. For them, admiration is far more necessary than intimacy. What other people refer to as the negative aspects of narcissism, they see as not only true but desirable.” Yikes. Jodi certainly loves the camera, her appearance, & promoting her false self. She is condescending & arrogant…yet she believes those are admirable attributes. Tell her that she is arrogant & she will take it as a compliment! She seems to have successfully convinced some jurors that she will be “community-minded” & “cooperative” in prison and has yet again seduced them into believing another lie! I also have read that the “reddest flag” of narcissism is when a person has a “backwards reaction” to something (like being fascinated by Jodi Arias rather than being repulsed by her, or feeling empathy for the Fullerton, CA cops who beat Kelly Thomas to death b/c he was an annoying, schizophrenic, homeless man, rather than feeling empathy for the victim, Kelly Thomas). To take the “reddest flag” even further, what little empathy a N may have is spent either on themselves or on other abusers. In other words, “those who excuse abusers are themselves abusive.” Yikes again. Perhaps that could explain why PrairieMom’s friend’s hubby is so obsessed: a backward reaction to an abuser is a HUGE red flag, and then excusing that abuser b/c she she is “hot” (as in Casey Anthony) is in itself abusive. I have seen this with my own Ns, and how he/she identifies primarily with the abuser rather than the abused. As ProdigalKatherine said, they identify with evil. And as Dave has recently written, narcissism is going mainstream: [like autism] it is being normalized & celebrated in a culture where a generation ago even Alfred Hitchcock portrayed it as inferior. But when our own government blames others and behaves as tho they are above the law, when no one will take responsibility for a negative outcome, & when lies rule the day, I am afraid that we are in for a long, dark & scary ride. I would like to watch the movie “Rope”. Sigh…….here is the article I referenced; read it & weep:

  4. Kathy

    Well written.

  5. dombeckblog

    Can I be blunt?

    He strangled me. He wrapped his hands around my throat, face to face, standing up. When I started to lose consciousness I fell to my knees, and then he let go. I don’t even know what we were fighting about. We were at the cabin. It was winter. I took our baby, his only son and set out for help. But I didn’t go to the neighbors. I sat on the hill for about an hour trying to understand what just happened and what I should do about it.

    I went back and told him if he ever laid a hand on me again he would never see me or his son again. His response? He denied it ever happened.

    That was 20 years ago. I should have went to the neighbors. I should have called the cops. I should have left him. Although he never “man handled” me again, the threat was always there. He did the same thing to his dogs. The fear never subsided. I lived in terror. Even now, though I haven’t seen him in three years, I am still traumatized. Probably more traumatized by his complete denial than the actual deed. He gaslighted me.

    Thanks to you, Pastor Dave, I can see it, I understand it, I can talk about it, I am healing.

    • Kathleen

      "I should have…" and "I should have…" and "I should have."
      Please take another look at your life. Change those statements to "I did…." and "I did….." and "I did…."
      You did. You got out. You did it. It may have take 20 more years, but it wasn't 20 years and 2 months.
      You did it.
      You are strong.
      You are a survivor.
      You are valuable.
      You are free.

      – Kathleen

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