The First Concern


It’s Narcissist Friday!   


When people write to me and share their stories I try to consistently tell them they must be safe. Being safe and thinking from a place or position of safety is important.

Are narcissists dangerous? Yes. Simple answer. They mess with your thinking. Some are physically abusive. Few abuse victims expect the first slap or punch. If it happens, you are not safe. If physical abuse is happening to your children, they are not safe. If you are afraid, you are probably not safe. Get safe. That’s the first priority.

Very often people write to me asking if they should get a divorce. I understand. But that shouldn’t be the first question. The first question is whether you and those for whom you are responsible are safe. You can think about divorce later, when the real options are in front of you. Until you are able to step back in safety and have some confidence, you shouldn’t make any decision.

For some, the question of divorce is a way of avoiding the real question. Some stay in abusive relationships and continue to be abused because they ask about divorce rather than safety. They think they have to make a decision about divorce before they can move out or find support. But that’s a little like worrying about which publisher you will use before you start writing your book. There are first steps and there are later steps. Divorce is after safety.

Listen: if you are being physically abused, remove yourself from the situation. If you really cannot, because he will hurt the kids or something, then you must tell someone. But that’s a minimum. Most of the time you can leave. Look in the phone book for a women’s shelter. If you can’t find one, call a counselor from the phone book and tell them that you need an immediate way of escape from abuse. Ask where you could go. Or maybe a women’s clinic. If you simply can’t find anything, go to a motel and call the police to tell them you are there and why. The point is to remove yourself and get others involved.

If you are here, you are trying to understand what is happening or what did happen in your relationship. That’s a good step. If you are in a marriage with a narcissistic partner, one who abuses by emotional manipulation, you should study and you should talk with someone who understands. If you are not in immediate danger, take the time to gather some money so that you can leave if necessary. Build a support team of people who know your story. Don’t assume you can trust everyone, but don’t be afraid of trying. If you find a counselor or pastor who doesn’t really listen, find someone else. Find a way to be safe.

If your narcissist is your parent or friend or coworker or in some other relationship, you can still find a way to be safe by building boundaries and keeping them. Again, let someone help you. You don’t have to answer the phone. You don’t have to open the door. You don’t have to get involved in a conversation. You don’t have to answer questions or share your secrets. If it makes you feel unsafe, don’t do it.

And what if you don’t know that the person is narcissistic? What if you are new to the relationship? Again, if it makes you uncomfortable or feel unsafe, you don’t have to do it. Sometimes you learn a lot about a person when you tell them no. You must be safe or the relationship is a danger for you.

Most of us were not taught how to be safe. We assumed that we were safe, and we assumed that others would keep us safe, particularly those with whom we were in relationship. Christians are often told to think the best of others, not to distrust. But we were not told what to do when others take advantage or abuse us. Things like “turn the other cheek” or “love your enemy” were not really meant to address abusive situations, nor are they commands to remain in unsafe positions. We were taught to obey, to think of others first, and to endure suffering, but we were not taught how to deal with abuse.

There are many Scriptures about being safe. We are called to pray, to run to the Lord, to flee evil. We are not meant to live in fear. No one expects you to stay in a situation where you are in danger. Except the abusers.




This is a good time to remind readers of my friends over at A Cry for Justice.  If you are feeling unsafe or have questions about abuse, click the link and check them out.  Good folks and helpful information.


Filed under Narcissism

10 responses to “The First Concern

  1. Celeste

    It is good that you are reminding your readers that their safety must be dealt with first. Also that finding someone to talk to is very important. In my young years with a narcissist, I told no one about the confusing life at home. I was shy and I was embarrassed. Early on, I owned his behaviors and choices as my own. I did not believe anyone would separate me from his actions and words. The narcissists grooming began very early for me.

    Thank you for reminding us of healthy priorities, safety is #1. And telling someone of your situation helps to put safety in place.

  2. The Domestic Abuse Hotline is a resource for both male and female victims: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

    • Rachel

      Can I add the numbers for the UK?
      Tel: 0808 2000 247
      This is for women and children.
      For men the number is 0808 801 0327.
      And there’s a number for those who are abusing and want to get help: Respect, Tel: 0808 802 4040.
      Respect run groups for perpetrator who want to change their behaviours. These courses are long (at least six months) and effective.

  3. Your blog posts are an oasis in the desert, a port in the storm. Although I am years removed from my abusive situations, your compassionate and affirming words to the victims of narcissistic abuse are healing to my soul.

    In a world where victims are often blamed and many well-meaning but ignorant Christians give the worst possible advice, yours is a voice of love, grace, and reason.

    Thank you, Pastor Dave.

  4. Icedancer

    I agree with Linda Lee, this place is an oasis in the desert and a port in the storm. I have only just accepted that my husband of 30 years is likely a N.

    Right now I am physically safe and learning how to be emotionally safe. It is very wearing. Sometimes I feel so alone, but at least now I know I’m not the only one in a difficult place.

    Thank you Pastor Dave for helping me face the truth.

  5. Still Reforming

    Some of the difficulty lies in the facade of the narcissist. For instance, my (now ex-) husband called to re-price the auto insurance on my vehicle. He never told me about it; I got a letter in the mail stating, “Here’s the rate quote you requested.” And it was to increase the coverage three-fold. (I found out when I called the insurance company to inquire why I got the quote and who requested it. They said, “the spouse.”) I shared that info, by the way, with two women from my church. Both thought nothing of it. No big deal. It was amazing. Because he had already proven untrustworthy, there was no point in asking him about it, but I never had him work on my vehicle after that. He had also spun the car around with me and our child in it, but…. those things happened rarely and at the most unpredictable times. And it’s hard to justify leaving when you haven’t really been overtly threatened, and the shiny veneer is so…. well, shiny. Everyone loves the guy. Only the family at home knows the real guy behind the curtain. No one understands walking on eggshells until they’ve done it themselves, it seems. When there is overt danger, definitely leave. The difficulty for me was that it wasn’t so overt. It was very, very subtle and rare, but enough to keep me where he wanted me. Quiet. Careful. Unquestioning. Or if I did question, labeled “unforgiving, rude, blunt, dripping wife, nagging faucet… ” Thank you for a safe place here to share.

  6. eahill58

    Thank you, you are an oasis for me too, i am a survivor of abuse from many years ago,but now my two sons are suffering verbal abuse from their Dad, very painful all over again, a month ago when he was abusive to them seperatly on the same day, they both independently decided not to see him again,Ben 25, is Autistic (which the child Pyschologist said at the time was caused by seeing Jon his dad try to kill me), and Joe 24, with his own child,used to go every Sunday afternoon to Jon’s parents house,to see him, and although they have been ringing every week ‘just to see if Ben has changed his mind’ (not taking no for an answer)! I have recently come to realize that they are just as manipulating as their son,are so pleasant,friendly,until i have had to say no! Nothing i have done to keep the boys seeing him is appreciated, in fact he recently told Joe that i had stopped them seeing him,the last twenty years of Sunday visits didn’t exist then!! (because he used to have them one night a week in the evenings and keep them out until 9 p.m which was far too late for 4 and five year old’s!! so that’s when the Sunday afternoons started!) Joe has decided he doesn’t want his father to see the baby,and the conversation took place over facebook,that’s when Jon claimed i had tried ‘to do the same thing to him’!!.. I dread the Sunday morning Phone call from Granddad, with the shaky voice asking ‘ is Ben coming today’ and then the breaking voice when i say no, ‘he doesn’t want to see Jon’.. I FEEL GUILTY!! which i suppose is the whole point!!..he even slipped one day and said’ are you going to ‘let ‘Ben come on Sunday’!!. they think its me after all these years!! they are grown men who make their own decisions!, but of course their nasty son has NOTHING to do with it!!..but with your encouragment this week i am going to say,’ there is really no point in ringing every week ,when, and if Ben changes his mind i will let you know!’ If i get calls despite saying this i will not answer!! thank you again!!!

    • Penny

      Eahill: please be careful about too many details. While I am truly so very sorry for your situation, PLEASE take to heart Pastor Dave’s plea to BE SAFE. It’s difficult to learn how to do that sometimes, especially when you are hurting so deeply. While this blog is a safe place, it also can be “found” by those who could care less about your safety, or that of your precious family. It can be used against you, so be prudent with “personally identifiable information”. I agree with Dave, please visit A Cry For Justice:

  7. grace551

    This is so sane and wise. Thank you. You are a blessing to many.

  8. SaraJane Barto

    Thank you for all of your wise counsel. You are forthright and plainspoken, and you give a practical view of biblical truth. I look forward to your weekly posts. Thank you again.

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