Narcissistic Victim Syndrome

A person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) displays patterns of deviant behaviour that can create carnage for those around them (spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, peers, etc). Narcissistic Victim Abuse is abuse that has been caused by someone with this personality disorder. The NPD is not often medically diagnosed, so that the narcissistic individual goes undetected in society (home, work-place, organizations, social settings) and the victim’s plight unrecognised.

A person with NPD has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for attention and admiration, and a strong sense of entitlement. They believe they are superior and have little regard for the feelings of others. As a child, a healthy self-esteem (true self) did not develop in the narcissist so they built up defences to create a ‘false self’ in public. This is akin to wearing a public mask. Wearing the mask is not only emotionally exhausting, it also means that the narcissist is constantly on guard at being found out. They become overly sensitive to narcissistic injury which is any perceived threat (real or imagined) to the narcissist’s self-esteem or self-worth. In order to maintain their illusion and protect their ‘false self’ they seek narcissistic supply from unsuspecting victims.

The narcissist views people as objects which can feed their needs (known as ‘sources of narcissistic supply’). The narcissist will use any tactic, without guilt, empathy or conscience, to make sure they get their narcissistic supply and their needs are met. Narcissistic supply comes from public attention such as fame, celebrity, notoriety, or infamy or private attention such as admiration, flattery, acclaim, fear, or even repulsion. Regular bearers of narcissistic supply include the spouse, children, friends, colleagues, partners and clients. Anything that acts as a status symbol that attracts attention and admiration for the narcissist is narcissistic supply, for example, a flashy car, expensive property, designer clothes, being a member of a church, cult, club, or a business.

With an inflated sense of their own superiority, power and control, the narcissist renders themselves susceptible to all sorts of obsessions, compulsions, and addictions, for example, addiction to: narcissistic supply, grandiosity, control, power, rage, perfectionism, attention, fame etc. The devastating impact of these addictions on their significant others can result in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. Most victims present with no idea about what has happened to them.

Narcissistic abuse is insidious because the abuse is covert, cunning and indirect. Narcissists go to great pains to avoid being observed publicly as being abusive. The Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde behaviour creates fear, distress, confusion, inner turmoil, and chaos for the victim. The constant ‘walking on eggshells’ and attempting to avoid further conflict can be crippling. To complicate matters a narcissist is rarely medically diagnosed and often goes undetected in society (home, work, organisations, and social settings).

For whatever the reason the victim entered the Dance of the Narcissist (a behaviour known as Co-Dependency) so that in the dance there was both: 1) a pleaser/fixer (victim) and; 2) a taker/controller (narcissist/addict).

Victims present when they feel like they can’t cope. They are unaware that they have been living or working in a war zone. No-one has mentioned Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or narcissistic abuse to them. Victims of this narcissistic abuse often display a set, or cluster, of symptoms due to this physical, mental, emotional or spiritual abuse. In Narcissistic Victim Syndrome you are looking for a cluster of symptoms to emerge, many are the symptoms of trauma (avoidance behaviour, loss of interest, feeling detached, sense of a limited future, sleeping or eating difficulties, irritability, hyper-vigilance, easily startled, flashbacks, hopelessness, psychosomatic illnesses, self-harming, thoughts of suicide etc). Narcissistic abuse victims express feelings of humiliation and shame, and apt to self-blame. They have learned to take responsibility for the narcissist’s behaviour because they are constantly told the problem is their fault. Some victims develop Stockholm Syndrome and want to support, defend, and love the abuser despite what they have gone through.

Victims tend to ‘dissociate’ or detach from their emotions, body, or surroundings. Living in a war zone where all forms of power and control are used against you (intimidation; emotional, physical and mental abuse; isolation, economic abuse, sexual abuse, coercion, control etc), the threat of abuse is always present. Dissociation is an automatic coping mechanism against overwhelming stress.

Victims are often victimized by more than one person. They often internalize that something is wrong with them, that they deserve this kind of abuse, and then resign themselves to their fate. Victims may not have reached their potential in their personal or professional lives because they always have to stand in the shadow of their aggressor, and not upstage them. They learn to live in the shadows without knowing why.

Victims of narcissistic abuse often appear uncertain of themselves, constantly seeking clarification that they haven’t made a mistake or misheard something. Confidence may be so low that they have trouble making simple decisions. They will not be aware that this is caused by an abusive technique called ‘gaslighting’. Gaslighting is a technique of psychological abuse used by narcissists to instil confusion and anxiety in their victim to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. With gaslighting, the victim initially notices that something happens that is odd, but they don’t believe it. This moves to defence as the victim fights against the manipulation. Confusion sets in after incessant comments such as: ‘You’re too sensitive’, ‘You’re crazy’, ‘You’re imagining things’ or ‘I never said that.’ Gradually, the victim cannot trust their own perceptions and doubt themselves. This often leads to depression. Broken and unable to trust themselves, they isolate themselves further. The victim now doubts everything about themselves, their thoughts and opinions, their ideas and ideals. They become co-dependent on the abuser for their reality.

Victims need validation and education about what has happened to them. They need information about the medical condition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and its toxicity in relationships. They need education about how they have contributed to their situation through co-dependence. They need therapy to deal with symptoms. They will need support to remove themselves from their narcissistic relationship, and to not repeat the cycle of abuse in their next relationship. One of their greatest challenges may come from not being believed by significant others, either because these others have not seen the private face of the narcissist or because they themselves are in the narcissist’s thrall.

For further information see  Christine Louis de Canonville’s article at


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    Fatima Cristina says:

    I was in a relationship with a man for 3 years and half nothing but lies, tantrums, selfishness, mind games, name calling, honestly at the end I tried so many times to walk away but somehow I kept taking him back and each time was worse, towards the end I became like one just like him, I no longer cared and started also name calling him, exposed him to everyone, realised that it was time to leave because I didn’t recognise myself anymore, then he came back saying he wanted the lovely person I used to be again and that he would change, not even a word from me. This was a long time ago and I am now happily married with someone else. Sometimes the only way to make that narc leave you alone is become one. It was a very traumatising experience, I thought I was going crazy and it all down to either I was going to put my foot down or stay with him!

    Target says:

    Hi…I’m in my 50’s. Am socially, financially, and still somewhat emotionally/psychologically controlled and damaged. I’ve been antagonized, emotionally/psychologically/mislead/manipulated/harassed and physically attacked off and on every year, probably every month and some times weekly/daily. I didn’t realize fully how serious this hostility was, until a few years ago. I’m not looking for sympathy, but empathy/support and help to get out. After harassment at a job a few years ago began to get obvious, I started noticing patterns in most of my relationships. I wanted to quit but was increasingly pressured by my husband to not quit. He helped me get the job, working for one of his friends and co-workers; so I felt guiltly when I thought about quitting. He insisted the problem was with me, and that I should see a doctor. I didn’t believe the problem was me, but I thought I needed a professional opinion to help me deal with it, I was having flashbacks, from recent conversations and much more. The Psychologist said I have Generalized Anxiety, when I learned the magnitude of that term, I started intentionally searching my memories. I realized gradually; the hostility towards me began in childhood and continued, My significantly older siblings, and possibly my Dad, were frequently harsh verbally…often; critical, dominating or they would not reply to me, would respond angrily or highly defensively, and one would occassionally physically harassed/attack me. But they were pleasant some times too, my Dad more frequently than my siblings. From my memories it seems my siblings were in better moods, mostly when other people were around.There are many more details I could share, but bullies/extremely manipulators/Narcissists likely read these articles too.
    They have emotionally/psychologically/socially/financally manipulated me to seem like many versions of a crazy/problem type of person. I don’t know for 100% that it started out with the intention of a long-term controlling goal, or if they felt that they could take out their ego, anger, anxiety issues on me and my Mom, and may be on each other, then it may have turned intentional when they either didn’t like my responses, or felt power from or saw opportunity in my responses, or they observed my Dad’s dominance, and saw the opportunity to make me and my Mom their emotional puppets too. I can see now how they played me in multiple ways, but it took a long time and intentional refection and much more to put the pieces together. They clearly involved and/or interfered with most of my relationships, and either arranged for me to me the man I married, or bonded with him the first year we dated. I believe some of the people they have involved are either fellow bullies, and/or people also manipulated, into seeing me as someone who deserves to be harassed/punished/controlled. I was also manipulated into believing lies about other people. I believe they wanted me to say good and mostly negative and hard to believe things about a growing number of people, so that I would seem like a liar, and wouldn’t be believed, then they wanted me to realized they have controlled and control my life. My husband gets almost anyone we interact with to antagonize, bait me, play emotional/phycho verbal games on me. How I’ve thought a lot about how they (my siblings/my husband) could sway people, and there are at least a few fairly easy ways they could acheive this.
    I have no money and anxiety, though it’s gotten better lately, until I think about applying for a job, and what will kind of harassment will likely happen at the next job, or how can I make money in a way that will be difficult for them to interfere ?
    I’ve tried to find other people who can relate, and be truely supportive. Any suggestions ?
    I can, and want to also, help others who are in a similar situation, to at least realize early on that they are likely being extremely manipulated.

    Christine says:

    This explains everything about my step daughter to a T. I’m one of a fairly long list of her victims and late last year 2016 I overheard a conversation between herself and someone else about the full personal and private details about another person and now my Narcissist step daughter is going to track this other person down. She might have this person as her next Narcissistic Supply, Flying Monkey, etc…, who knows…… I have never suffered from and I don’t suffer from Stockholm Syndrome which is Fortunate for me. I know her and I know what she’s really like as a person, what her real, true personality is and I am at the beginning of doing a full exposure of her and her personality to the world because I want the world to see her for what and who she truly is. The world deserves to know the truth about her, I can’t wait for her mask to slip completely and totally off of her face in front of the world, she will feel mortified!!. Thank goodness I don’t have Stockholm Syndrome and thank you so very much for this article.

  4. Jeni Mawter says:

    Leave. GET OUT NOW!!!
    Do not look back. RUN!
    Sleep on a friend’s couch. Sleep on a park bench.
    Today your money. Tomorrow your soul.
    I’m not kidding.

    JP says:

    My roommate is a narc. Text book in fact. We are both gay males and at first he was very nice. It was always as a friend, there was never anything romantic there. He took me under his wing as I had just moved into the city. He brought a house that he couldn’t afford(apparently typical of narcs) and offered me a sweet deal to move in. I thought it was great, but very slowly he became more and more controlling and emotionally abusive. After 2 years he has become financially abusive, emotionally abusive, physically abusive, and sexually abusive. He’s done some horrific things to me and has only apologized twice and that was because it was done in front of people that were horrified by his behavior. I now feel trapped because he has made sure that I’m financially dependent on our current living situation.

    Iamenough says:

    Each time I read an article on NPD I am stunned into silence. It was as if you wrote this about him. I have been out of my relationship with a malignant narcissist for three months now. I am still in the throws of fighting my way out of the darkness. I have two great therapists working with me (one is a psychologist and the other a pastor). Before him, I was on my way to being a successful professional. Now, I am barely keeping my head in the game and I am afraid of losing my job because my thoughts are all about my fear of myself. I question every decision I’ve made. I have zero self esteem and don’t know where this life will lead me next. I look over my shoulder and many days I am afraid to leave my home. I am a shell of myself. I pray and pray that I will survive.

    Veer says:

    Hi All,

    I just came out of a similar relationship that lasted for 6 years. Reading about narcissism has opened my eyes (quite a long time after the relationship has ended), and put all these years into a completely different perspective; the confusing feeling that something was really off after being gaslit, but feeling too worthless and insignificant to really pay attention to it, the insecurity, everything. I trusted my abuser blindly, and he could always convince me that “it” (whatever it was) was my fault, that I had wronged him and not the other way around. He was indeed in need of a constant supply of admiration and attention. I went as far as having threesomes, where I was the one “talking the other girls into it” because in the end, it was me they trusted. My abuser welcomed this with open arms. Of course, he himself never gave me this feeling of trust. Hell, maybe that’s why I welcomed the threesomes in the first place. All of the people we slept with were kind and sweet, and I feel disgusted about having dragged them into my poisonous relationship. To the outside my ex and I seemed to be a perfect couple and it has happened many times that random people told us we looked so perfectly sweet together. The end of our relationship was a disaster for me: we had an “open” relationship, in which I was convinced he was “the one”, trying to make it work, and he was doing whatever he felt like, having multiple “girlfriends” at the same time. It wore me out completely. I was confused, lost, incredibly insecure and stopped taking care of myself. This was not attractive to him, so he sought more attention from others, but he kept me on a tight leash.

    Out of protest (to regain self-worth; figure that!) I started sleeping with lots of different people, and surprisingly, one of them was a sweet, loving, caring person, with whom I very suddenly fell very much in love. From that moment on, I saw my ex differently and was able to take a distance from our “open relationship”. Unfortunately, this short new relationship ended because I had not yet started to recover from the six years of abuse and was not ready to handle a real, balanced relationship.

    Months later my sister dropped the term “narcissism” once more when talking about my ex, and after reading about it, I was finally ready to accept the truth about my ex partner. What a disturbing discovery! 6 Years of my life were a lie! I had already known that my ex did not have a healthy influence on me, but the one thing that I had never doubted was that he meant well and that he didn’t do it for personal gain, but now even this turned out to be untrue. This realization was very unsettling and left me disorientated for days. What was real from the past years? Who was I?

    Slowly everything begun falling into place: how he had always remarked upon power struggles between people (of course, he wanted to be the only King!), his interests in (and disgust of) conmen and dictators (yes, he saw through them because he was one himself), his remarks about other people’s ego’s (to protect his!), his arrogance, his inexplicable anger and attack reactions when someone contradicted him, how we never did something together because he would always take over, his annoyance when I had achieved something he had wanted to achieve, all the confusion and self-doubt…

    It occurred to me that he had sucked a big part of my personality out of me, and that I (just like everyone else who suffered from narcissistic abuse!) could become a much larger, more beautiful person, capable of loving someone and caring about someone deeply (and oh yes, I will do that again!), but also capable of knowing my boundaries, capable of seeing what a human being deserves, and capable of saying “No”.

    At this moment I am still recovering (actually, I have just passed the “I will strangle you if I ever see you again” phase). Luckily I am in a good place, with sweet people. I feel valued, taken serious, believed and trusted. The coming time I will focus on learning to believe the good parts of myself again.

    I wish all of you lots of love. Please take care of yourself, and learn to listen to your true, gut feeling. Don’t let this vampire-being suck the beauty and trust out of your soul!

    And if I ever encounter my ex again, and he pushes me to say something to him, I will say:
    Give up. You have lost. I can see right through you now.

    A big hug to all of you.

  8. Jeni Mawter says:

    Go you! You are an inspiration and a figure of hope for others who are struggling to overcome this horrible disorder. Go in Peace, Jeni

    Ms Getting stronger says:

    3 yrs ago , I met a man who I believed to be “the one” (Prince Charming) so to speak… after 2 failed relationships with men who had addictions to alcohol , partying , lying ,cheating and verbally abusive , who I had to run around after like teenagers …
    I finally met a real Man, He came into my life and swept me off my feet , this man had a secure job, no addictions, was financially independent, caring , funny, charming , spoiling me constantly with gifts , fixing everything that needed fixing and who was totally in control – sadly 3 yrs later I realise Mr Charming also was trying to fix me and he did have an addiction but it was a control addiction , I went from being an independent single mum of 9 yrs to a women on 3 types of mental health drugs , depression pills antipsychotics etc questioning everything about myself , He convinced me within the first 12 months that I was not a good person would ignore me for three days for leaving something on the floor then yell at me for cleaning up too much , he would buy lavish things that I would say no to , then make me feel guilty that he know is in debt , I would offer to pay or get second job but he wouldn’t have it , I was so confused and walking on egg shells , things I thought he would be angry about he never would be and things that I thought would never bother him would cause him to yell and threaten to leave me and move out. He started to control everything , My friends and family where slowly being pushed out of the picture ,he would not allow us to make a fuss of him at birthdays and Christmas but for ours he would buy outrageous gifts , even as far as in the bedroom he would not allow much in the way of his own pleasure was all about me…. how can it be abuse when someone seems so loving and caring right ? After all he never hit me or called me names , yeah he would refuse to eat my food , ignore me for days at a time , yell at me like a father would lecture a child , contantly bring up any flaws , but never physically harmed me .. But if the guy was so amazing why was I constantly being made to feel like I wasn’t enough , felt indebted everyday to what a burden I must be , walking on eggshells, trying to please him but never finding the right way to do it, I still struggle to call it abuse but knew it was not normal and made me a shell of who I once was … I am out and in my own place , he still is paying for several things and I’m trying to fully cut ties , it’s just so hard to stand up to him , I don’t know if it’s the fact I still love him or if I feel sorry for him because he has no friends or family (in hind sight- major warning sign) or if I’m worried he will be mad , I think it’s that I’m worried I won’t survive without him as he has made me feel worthless and needy – Anyhow I’m almost free and everyday I spend away reminds me of that strong independent single mum who overcome every obstacle in life before him quite fine on my own ….. just want to thank you for this site as it’s a good reminder that I’m not crazy and I was abused and I’m not crazy lol … Btw I’m 6 months medication free and am continually reminding myself that I’m not the one with the problem and if you love someone you don’t treat them like that .

  10. Jeni Mawter says:

    Calling recovery from Narcissistic Abuse a ‘Full Time Career’ is so aptly put. You are so courageous. I admire and applaud your actions towards a new life. Hugs, Jeni

    Lauren says:

    This was a well written article. I suffer from narcissistic victim syndrome and it’s because I have been in several narcissistic relationships. I have tried to put pieces together of myself and had very little help from professionals who either don’t know anything or very little about these things or are themselves at least a little bit narcissistic which has been horrible for me. The most important thing that has helped me is that I’m trying (again) to learn to trust myself. Also talking to people with several experiences. Very sad that many people don’t acknowledge that these kind of things happen and it’s very frustrating when you are trying to talk about the things that have happened to you and they look at you like you are the one who is insane or disturbed or think you exaggerate the things that happened or misinterpreted them. You are then left with confusion and you feel like you are all alone in this crazy world what this narcissist created for you.

    Minnie says:

    Thank you for your generosity, Jeni.

    It sometimes seems like a career just to heal from the ravages of the narcissistic abuser. After going No Contact over a year ago with the whole pack — father, sister, niece, I am in a state of convalescence. I do my best to get through a day but with each day get better, though some better than others!

    Nobody knows how hideously abusive my father was and still is. Even having gone No Contact he is haunting. I am constantly creating tools to obliterate his psychic invasion from my consciousness. After my mother died I thought it was odd that he never shared her will with me. Later I learned that he filed a very old and outdated will she made and not the updated will which I found the lawyer’s invoice for in a file folder of papers that ended up in my hands unwittingly. He duped me out of a considerable amount of money and also tried to hold title on property that was willed to me. To make a long story short, I refused to allow him to hold me hostage financially so in going No Contact, severed all ties, even financially. Yes, I am struggling right now but am managing, by the grace of God, to get by. I have gotten so I can’t look at anything that reminds me of my father. Anything he ever gave me I have gotten rid of or am in the process of. There are no words for how despicable these people are, but our *system* is full of them. And yes, they love to embed themselves like cockroaches in churches. Yet I find the daily readings of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri tremendously healing in that the characteristics of the narcissist do not escape his radar!

    The sister and niece are another story. If I never see them again it will be too soon. Amazing how superficial and phony these people can be, always needing to be surrounded by a fan club of their sycophants from whom they get their “supply.”

    The real challenge is making a life for ourselves, healing, and growing the Faith we need not just to survive, but to succeed. That Faith is in God and in our selves and that somewhere there will be the relief we crave. It is developing the confidence in ourselves to pursue the dreams that lurk in the shadows of our shattered hearts. How I love my cat.

    whitepointer says:

    Just realised my neighbour is possibly a narc. Took me 30 years to work this out. The amount of lies, slights masking as sincerity, watching her overt social climbing ie sending her daughters to a better high school so they mix with well off kids and hoping it will rub off on them, actually verbalising this to me and other similar incidents which I would never admit to if I was indeed doing that…only made her look shallow. The vanity, the outward look of trying to make an imoression, with clothes, bling, the best if everything, but she in debt to the hilt and doing illegle things to keep that facade up and lying to me about it. Keeping us away from anyone that they know who are well off compared to her because I might accidently expose the facade of lies. These people know exactly what they are doing and dont care how the insult to your intelligence is percieved. A non invite to a wedding after we had been invited ti engagement and my husband ti bucks night left me very angry/insulted. How dare they invite him when everyone else at bucks probably went to wedding and we hadnt even been invited. Appalling lack if ettiquette….its the insult im upset about….not going to a bloody wedding is secondary. Ps. Dont think husband knew we werent invited to their sons wedding as he would have been mortified to do such a thing. It was her……deliberately didnt tell him and he just assumed because they go to all our stuff and vice versa. To think I used to just roll my eyes and let her get away with the stuff she lied about to me…but buggar me she found out I knew all along…and im the bad guy?

    Pam Wemhaner says:

    34 years and counting. I’m planning my departure/escape and can hardly believe I went this long before recognizing that it is not me (well, it is me too, as a co-dependent I share the responsibility). I am truly a Victim of Narcissistic Abuse and look forward to the day I can say I’ve recovered. Completely broken, used up, manipulated, gas-lit to the point of questioning my own sanity, I nearly wound up in a psych ward last Christmas. Here I am 8 months later and I am astounded at what I’ve learned this past 8 months. It all started when I was sexually abused by a close family member when I was about 6 years old. I had totally repressed it until an experimental hypnosis regressed me into my childhood where it was extremely apparent that something traumatic had happened. Several sessions later, I was able to bring it forward and have been aware of that situation now for more than half my life. I’m almost 60. I know it’s “not my fault” but I bear the responsibility heavily on my shoulders. I’ve learned to disconnect and conveniently forget stressful moments and periods of my life. It is almost like an amnesia has occurred. I only remember the good times. Anti-depressants and a good psychiatrist are brining be back to reality as I’ve never seen it before. I’m so grateful for this and so many other articles and books that finally explain, in detail, this chaotic, confusing life I’ve had. I don’t want to believe that the man I married, my supposed soul mate, could really do to me the horrible and demeaning things that I’m now realizing. Again I’m repressing the reality and find myself thinking, maybe it will get better. Many many arguments, and begging of forgiveness when I was not in the wrong and I still question my own reality. I still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel but with faith and psychotherapy I hope to soon.

  15. Jeni Mawter says:

    Of course, they can. Narcissistic Personality Disorder occurs along a continuum. Some narcissism is healthy and absolutely necessary to get through life. Everyone has an element of healthy narcissism. Others are at the extreme end where it is actually a disorder.

    Margaret says:

    Thank you so much for the information on your website. You have no idea how wonderful it is to know that I am not alone, that this is not a personality clash between me and my mother, that it is not just me not being able to get my life together. Unfortunately, the more I learn, the more I wish I didn’t know anything at all. I hope you know what I meant by that comment. I can relate to the comment “what if you have no where to go?” I know I can find a place to go or get a place soon but I also know it is not going to be easy. I am not in a financially stable position, working on it, doing temp work, it just won’t be easy.

    Luckily I have my sister, who years ago was pulled in by my mother and believed all the things my mother said about me (as did everyone else-mom told everyone my problems resulting in me isolating myself because I was humiliated by the things she was saying). My ex-husband, father of my daughter, passed away and during my time of weakness, mom jumped right in to take my daughter away from me, save the world, and make me the villain. Later I get sick and put my tail between my legs and go back to live with my mom. I feel like a fool. I have been searching for the answer as to why doesn’t my mother love me? Why doesn’t she care abut me? Why is she so mean to me? Yesterday, after a big fight over a situation with my stepsister (who is schitzophrenic) in which my stepsister verbally and physically assaulted me (while I had my grandson in my hands). Mom has slowly over the months refused to talk about the incident, she screams if anyone brings it up, so nobody every does. Mom has changed the story a bit to where I started a fight with my stepsister that day and therefore it was all my fault and so they never said anything to mystepsister about it. I refused to go along with mom’s new version and it made her absolutely furious. it was so odd to see someone get so upset, and all the while because I wouldn’t go along with her lie. I guess because in the past I would go along with her so as not to rock the boat. But, a couple of years ago, I told my mom that i’d had enough, she always took it out on me when she got stressed, yelling or even slapping. I told her then and I meant it, I will not be physically abused by anyone anymore. This ordeal with my stepsister, me having my grandson in my arms and she is throwing things at me. I did not start a fight, I tried to reason with her and was doing tons of things for my mom that day. I am a good grandmother and I would never ever want that around my grandson. My sister was out of control, I had to lock myself in a back bedroom. I will be damned if I am going to scapegoat for this one.

    That is just the tip of the iceberg. Yesterday, after our big fight. She was so mean and cold-blooded. I was left sobbing and once again wondering “why doesn’t my mother love me?” Why is she so mean to me? What did I do?
    Finally, at 53 years of age, there’s an answer – it’s not me. (Actually this answer has been suggested to me numerous times in the past, however, I was not clear on the definition of the word narcissist and when therapists suggested that my mother was a narcissist, I immediately dismissed it.)

    Enough about all that. I do feel like I’ve wasted so much of my life. I guess you were talking to me when you said victims do not reach their full potential because they have to stand in the shadows, not upstage the narcissist. Mom always made sure I knew my place.

    It’s like I want to jump for joy that I’m not crazy. It has been a long road. My mother started gaslighting me about 15 years ago, turned almost all of my family and friends against me, making me villain with a drug problem and her to step in and save the day. Recovering from drug abuse, I was uncertain of myself. Losing my ex-husband, we were exes but he was still my best friend (and a narcissist). Mom jumped right in there to “help” me get on the right track..

    I want to cry, I want to hug you for this article. I don’t want this to be real because then I have to deal with it. But at least now I know – the reason my mother doesn’t love me is SHE is not capable of it. I don’t have to keep wondering what I did to deserve this. Any next steps or suggestions I would really appreciate. This is just Day 2 after the light bulb went off.

    Thank you so much.

    sue says:

    well – read this and everything made sense – I could tick off every symptom of the partner of someone with NPD, its been 15 years since I left and I am still learning to work out truth from lies. Sadly my grown up children prefer their dad to me and have cut off all contact – he convinced them it was my fault the marriage ended- just another consequence of this disorder. I am learning to look clearly at where my faults lie but hopefully in a realistic way, one where I accept blame for my own faults and not his.
    thankyou for your insights

    Diana says:

    My daughter has been working with a gymnastics coach for the last 5 years. I am just finding out that over the past few months he has been showing significant signs of narcissistic behavior but now that I look over the past 5 years I can see signs all along the way. The past few months have been very difficult for my daughter and it finally exploded this past weekend when he attempted to follow her home (she is 17) and she got another coach involved so her original coach has been fired and is now out of her life in the gym, but the damage has been done. What can I do to help her?. I am calling a therapist tomorrow. Is there a way to protect her from this coach as I don’t know what he is capable of doing in the future?

    m says:


    Will says:

    I recently completed my second round of therapy where I learned that I may have a partner who is a Narc. I was told to go out and research the disorder based on the information I presented in my sessions. I have done considerable reading on NPD. All I can say is WOW. Everything I have been reading has spoken volumes to me and the “light bulb’ has come on. Through reading this article and many others I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. At this point I don’t believe my partner is full blown NPD but the first step I have taken is that I have realized that my internal happiness not contingent upon my partner. There is a lot of work in front of me to recover from Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. Thank you so very much for posting this page!!!

    audrey says:

    Wow it is absolutely shocking to finally be able to put a finger on the pulse of a 40 plus year abusive relationship! One gets sooo tired of searching their own heart to find out what ‘s wrong with you! I’m sick of thinking there has to be something wrong with me?Yea there is, I’M STILL WITH YOUR PATHETIC ASS! Done with that crap for sure and if I should make a mistake, GET OVER IT! The table has turned, like me or leave, it’s that simple! Thank you Jesus! God bless you and each one of us precious souls that a unique piece to offer in this journey called LIFE!!!

  22. Jeni Mawter says:

    Hi and thanks so much for sharing your all-too-familiar story 🙁

    It sounds like you are empowering yourself, regaining some control, and definitely taking steps towards a brighter future. Go You!!!

    Wishing you peace.

    Hugs, Jeni

    Kirby says:

    Reading this article it’s as if someone verbally placed my pain on a page for all to read. I have been married to my Narc. wife for 3 years but in a relationship with her for a total of 12. Admittedly my life has been a living hell. Until recently I had no idea what NPD was but after much research my wife definitely fits into this diagnosis; add to that fact that I am also an Empath and we are a match made in hell.
    I am currently experiencing and have experienced all of the aforementioned symptoms of narcissistic victim abuse. I knew my wife had issues early on but I thought that I could show her unconditional love and heal what ails her but boy was I wrong. My life is in shambles. I can honestly say that if I do not leave I will prematurely die from the stress and drama of the constant arguments and abuse. I am a shell of the person I was when we initially met. My wife’s narcissistic abuse has eroded my feelings of self worth, self esteem and overall vigor for life. People view me as being an “underachiever” and “lazy” when in fact I’m in a state of deep disassociation from 12 constant and consistent years of mental, verbal, physical and spiritual abuse.
    No one that knows us believes or understands my pain. My wife is a master at putting up facade’s. I realize now that she is accustomed to drama and chaos and without it she feels anxious and uncomfortable. My wife is incapable of real change. In 12 years she has been to an actual counselor/ therapist (3-4 different ones) for a total time of only 6 months, although, she will plead with me that she recognizes that she has a problem and is serious about making our marriage work. I did not grow up in an abusive household so being subjected to it in the beginning was shocking. I left several times while we were dating but as time has gone on I am now accustomed (conditioned) to the negative comments and abusive behavior. Prior to meeting my wife I would not have believed I would have ever fallen victim to NPD abuse. After experiencing it firsthand, there are times that I still don’t believe how bad my life has become. I complain constantly to my wife about her attitude and behavior but nothing changes. As long as she is fine then WE are fine.
    I am slowly regaining my sense of self after being in a dark place for a long time. It took a lot of research and hard work. My wife can see her grip on me slipping away gradually each and every day. I’ve prepared my exit strategy and am working on it daily to see myself gone at the start of the new year. We have kids together and I realize that I need to be a healthy example to them because she will fail to do so. My wife was raised in an abusive environment and fails to see that she will perpetrate the same curse on our children. It stops with me. I hope my story was a help to someone out there.

    Michelle says:

    Caryn, tell your therapist to put a diagnosis on hold but you would like to explore this for now and see what happens.

    First of all, you are not crazy! It can be extremely hard to give concrete examples because they are so clever. Begin keeping a journal. Write down what happens, what they said etc as soon as it happens. That is the best way. Don’t question or second guess yourself, just record it.

    Don’t be surprised if you tell someone “this happened” and they say it’s nothing or your are making a mountain out of a mole hill. That’s because if you only give one example, it sounds like not much. Also, it can be the tone of voice, the facial expression, the taking just 2 seconds too long to answer and sighing before they say anything. And all these things have to be experienced, they don’t come across when written down.

    Also a one off is nothing much. It’s the accumulative affect that makes it so damaging.

    I grew up with it, with my mother. I want to tell you, you are NOT crazy. It IS real and it IS happening. Get your therapist to come here and read this. A therapist asking for evidence is the way they normally go with people who are neurotypical and sane. You are dealing with someone who is not neurotypical. How a therapist would normally deal with clients doesn’t work with people who are going through this. They need to either get educated really fast or you need to find one who is experienced in this.

    Susan says:

    Thank you….as both a survivor and an educator, I so appreciate your ability to articulate what is so very difficult to explain.

  26. Jeni Mawter says:

    Hi Sherry, you have to be able to find a place and space where you feel safe and at peace. If you can’t get away or have nowhere to go, you will have to find it somewhere – maybe with a friend when you visit, maybe at a place of religious worship, or maybe even in your own mind. Have you tried meditation? This may help you find your peace within.
    Big hugs,

  27. Jeni Mawter says:

    Can you go, NO CONTACT?
    Never again.
    Not for any reason.
    Amputate this person from your life, plus any enablers who are helping to bring you down.
    I wish you peace.

  28. Jeni Mawter says:

    I’m glad you’ve found your way to this site and that it resonates for you. There is a huge paucity in understanding from the professionals who should be recognising and supporting these individuals. I am not a professional, but what I ask people to do is share the knowledge and information I’ve amassed. Please use these resources to inform and educate others. They are a necessity for a victim’s validation, something that is all too frequently lacking.

    Warm wishes,


    Caryn says:

    I am certain that I am suffering from this syndrome. However, my therapist has not “committed” to such a diagnosis which frustrates me.

    My husband and I had an argument on May 03rd (I was upset because he went back on his word. I subsequently discovered he had been lying to me about certain things). I exploded. He said he is divorcing me. He moved out a month ago.

    I identify with 99% of the effects:

    I feel unworthy, unlovable, unattractive, uninteresting.

    I feel like the failure of the marriage is all my fault because I experienced such frustration that I would have outbursts.

    I cannot eat. I cannot sleep.

    I’m obsessing over him. Even though there are red-flags regarding his fidelity, I WILL NOT ACCEPT that he is having an affair until I see the evidence in black and white.

    I feel like I am crazy.

    I feel like I was a drain on him financially and that I have been unappreciative of the things he does.

    I felt isolated in the marriage. He hid everything from me. He would go out several times a week without me.

    I feel betrayed.

    I feel confused.

    I felt like a 2nd Rate Citizen (actually more like a 10th Rate Citizen) during the marriage. Everything and everyone else was more important.

    My therapist asks me to give examples when I tell her how I feel and why I feel the way I do, but sometimes I can’t seem to give a substantial example. My stories sound petty and I have even forgotten what lead to some of the arguments and feelings that I feel.


    Mel says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderfully clear information – which so precisely described my 16 year marriage to a narcissist pastor. It’s only been a month since God gave me every bit of strength and courage to leave, but deep inside amongst the absolute pain and turmoil I feel great gratitude that I’m out of there. Your writings help soothe my weary soul and give me clarity above the fog of illusions. Thank you beautiful Jeni.

    Anon Ymous says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderfully clear information – which so precisely described my 16 year marriage to a narcissist pastor. It’s only been a month since God gave me every bit of strength and courage to leave, but deep inside amongst the absolute pain and turmoil I feel great gratitude that I’m out of there. Your writings help soothe my weary soul and give me clarity above the fog of illusions. Thank you beautiful Jeni.

    Mary Golab says:

    I am so glad to have found your website. You have put a name,Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, on a set of symptoms and behaviors that is very distressing to those that have been abused by persons with NPD. I agree that the public and mental health community need to become more aware of this syndrome and its effects for effective treatment modalities. I myself have been abused, sometimes covertly and invertly, ie., gaslighting, etc., and it has been hard to explain to others. Remaining silent can be at times a strong motivator because of the dislief or criticism from others. Also, I liked how you defined and differiated this syndrome from codependency, depression, and codependency. I personally feel that treatment needs to be more targeted to help individuals understand what happened to them and steps to recover from this type of abuse. I’m so glad you’re writing on this subject. I hope you will reply as I am very curious about authors and professionals writing on this subject. As you said, NPD is specified in the DSM and I am interested in the ways that people could inform and promote the need for diagosnitic category and treatment to be recognized by the the mental community and its professional associations. Looking forward to your reply. Sincerely, Mary Golab

    Nigel says:

    It is of some reassurance to see that the problem of narcissists in our world is becoming ever more recognized. Unfortunately, with varying degrees of narcissists, they all share the same self-loathing attitude but some are more financially viable and therefore much more dangerous when they can afford the time to continually ruin your life, whilst you are kept too busy keeping your head above water.
    My elder brother and I ran a business 25 years ago, and the level of manipulation and theft was so brutal against me that I found myself regularly fighting to keep my possessions and relationships. 15 years ago I was running my own business, and yet again as I reached a level of success the manipulation set in. I could do nothing more than to try to expose this behaviour. The problem was being able to prove it, and in my search I found major frauds being committed, so I blew the whistle in the hope that it would all come to a stop. I pleaded with government, various departments, “please help me I’m losing my home and family as my business is being targeted”. I then lost everything. No help or support was afforded to me and I nearly went to prison for trying to expose the truth!
    So, 25 years on, seeing several businesses and jobs being destroyed over a generation, and once again having rebuilt my life I seem to again be running into problems. I joined a company 2 months ago and sold a contract worth £100,000 in my first month. You would think any company would be pleased, but yet again I find myself fighting for the commission, being slandered and forced out of the company. I’m convinced my brother is again networking a story of how easily I can be turned over. I don’t seem to be afforded fairness in the justice system either as I recently lost a case in court over a car I purchased, and had good evidence of miss-selling, but I was denied a penny. I have become infamous, as the bloke worth “Hazing”. In the past I could become angry, or aggressive about this unfairness, but as that was used against me, I have to work hard just to keep my head whilst watching everything around me being destroyed!
    He is protected by a fraternity, and seems to be above the law? He makes my life a constant stream of hurt and misery, and I have no idea how to stop it, even after 25 years. He has the finances to continue hazing me until the day I die, and I have to be honest, I don’t think I will last that long. The stress of this designed hazing has put my mind and body under such pressure, I now feel it will put me in an early grave. How can I enjoy life and get on without being the target of this seriously sick man? The Police just take the side of the richer more financially credible it seems.

    Survivor of abuse says:

    I just ended relationship with a Narc and thank goodness for the information to define the tsunami I just experienced. This guy was charming and mirrored me back to me. So of course I would fall in love with him. He just came out of prison and didn’t have any friends. Codependecy showed up and wanted to be his friend. Wow the price I paid for that friendship was truly out of this world. Isolation from friends and family. Then it had to be their way or the highway. Sex was good but I wasn’t the only one. When confronted he ran out of my house without his underwear. I allowed him to come back over a movie and dinner. He lived in a rooming house with other sick men. Saving money to get his own place only to move somewhere with other men who drank and smoked pot daily. On the weekends the house would have big parties. I never received anything of real value except this phone. That I pay the bill always and a pair of 200.00 jeans that I never wore out with him. He claims he spent 10,000.00 on me in less than a year. One of the most selfish persons I ever met. Shopped at the dollar store for food. He got a good job and the people there became his family. Not able to work with anyone he did the job of two people. Saving and making the company lots of money. Until. …he blew out his seven year hernia. Then he needed me. He almost died, from poor self care. Two surgeries in 24 hours for the same hernia and the man was still abused me emotionally from his death bed. I stayed by his side and missed work which he called me stupid. I was there for him until he got his staples taken out. He then discarded me by calling me a prostitute. Because there was no way I could go without sex for 3 plus months. That was it for me because I had not had sex for two years before I met him. I know myself worth and had been going to therapy for months to learn about narcissistic behavior. And I identify with my issues of codependecy and abandonment/rejection. People pleasing big time and allowing myself to be isolated when my soul mate shows up. This guy was a good professor and I was a dam good student. Found out from him three weeks ago that he had one more time too hit a woman and he was going to prison. Ok……that was enough for this survivor of narcestic abuse. Didn’t want to end up like Nicole Simpson. God bless you all on your journey to wellness and seeking help. Thank you Jeni Mawter.

    Anon says:

    Narcissists are like acid. They will eat away at your humanity until you have nothing left. They try to fill their void with your good stuff so they have something. If you run into a narcissist, you will know it when you start to feel yourself shrinking.

    They don’t give back what they take. They fight to keep taking it from you. Let them go.

    They will find someone else to feed off. They are very good hunters that way.

  36. Jeni Mawter says:

    It’s not an easy road to negotiate BUT as you’ve decided to hang in there …

    Find a space that validates you and your needs in some way.


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