Updated: May 20
2.10.2016, Paracelsus Recovery
Narcissism is a personality disorder marked by a powerful sense of personal entitlement that often leads the narcissistic person to disrespect the feelings of other people. Individuals who suffer from this difficult personality disorder tend to be arrogant, manipulative and condescending towards others, often requiring a steady stream of attention to prop up their fragile self-esteem.
Although the media, the medical community and the justice system have successfully directed our attention to male narcissists and their female victims, narcissism affects both men and women, and female narcissists are capable of inflicting just as much misery as their male counterparts.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC), notes that one in seven men over age 18 have been the victim of stalking or violence at the hands of a partner at least once in their lifetime. Research indicates that the ratio of male and female victims is about 50-50, although the behavior of female narcissistic is somewhat different.
Thanks to prevailing cultural norms across much of the world, men are expected to be strong and dominant while women are kind and helpful. As a result, female narcissistic behavior often isn’t as apparent and tends to be more subtle.
Like female victims of narcissists, men can suffer great pain and humiliation at the hands of a female partner. Because the complaints of male victims are often met with skepticism or derision, men, who are socialized not to display signs of weakness, are often too ashamed and embarrassed to report the abuse to authorities.
At the hands of female narcissists, male victims may experience threats, manipulation and other forms of emotional or psychological violence. For example, female narcissists may spread ugly rumors about their male partner. They may turn on the charm in public while bullying behavior is reserved for behind closed doors.
Withholding sex is a common ploy of female narcissists. If physical assault is involved, it often means men are victims of biting, spitting, kicking, punching or throwing things.
Most domestic violence shelters are designated for female victims, and male victims are often unaware that in the United States, the government requires that funding for domestic violence programs must be used to assist all victims – not just women. The fact remains, however, that there is a shortage of resources for male victims.
It doesn’t help when law enforcement personnel tend to be skeptical and are inclined to take the woman’s side. Many men are hesitant to step forward, as judges continue to reward custody to women and men are fearful of losing contact with their children. As a result, female batterers often get away with abusive behavior.
What to do if you are a Male Victim of Abuse
If you are a male victim of a female narcissist, you are understandably mentally and physically exhausted from living with constant trepidation. Here are a few suggestions that may help:
Read books and articles about narcissistic personality disorder. It will help you to have a clearer understanding of this complex disorder.
Learn your legal rights in case you need to seek a restraining order, or if you need to get temporary custody of your children.
It may be necessary to sever ties and cut off all contact with your narcissistic partner as a means of self-protection. This includes email, texts and phone calls. If this is the case and you have children, consider setting up a neutral, third party mediator.
Counseling can help you change your negative thought patterns and learn effective strategies for coping with stress. A victims group may be a great source of support.
Maintain a journal and keep track of all abuse episodes, however minor. Take pictures of cuts and bruises or damaged personal possessions. Get copies of police reports or other legal documents.
Never attempt to “get even” with your narcissistic partner, even if you feel retaliation is justified. You may be arrested or forced to leave your home.
If you have turned to substance abuse in order to cope with your difficult situation, don’t hesitate to seek drug and alcohol treatment or rehab. Treatment for substance abuse or addiction can help you learn to cope and make well- reasoned decisions about your future.
Make sure you choose a treatment center who also tend to the underlying cause of substance or alcohol use, which is often trauma and a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Without attention to the underlying cause of alcohol or drug use, rehab success might be limited or not successful at all.
13.12.2015, Paracelsus Recovery
Individuals who feel trapped in bad relationships often turn to isolation to cope with stress. For those who live with a person suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, the likelihood of substance abuse as a means to escape the abuse and following trauma is even greater.
Many people think that a narcissistic person is simply conceited or egotistical, and it’s true that many people may display narcissistic tendencies. However, true narcissism is a complex personality disorder marked by a number of symptoms such as grandiosity, lack of empathy, tendency toward manipulative or controlling behavior, a compulsive need for admiration, a sense of superiority or entitlement, and increased aggressive tendencies.
Mental health professionals estimate that approximately 65 percent of individuals diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder are men, and many women suffer tremendous abuse at the hands of narcissistic partners. However, male partners of narcissistic women suffer just as much, although the problem of narcissistic women is rarely discussed.
It is important to understand that abuse doesn’t always involve physical violence or battering. Female narcissists may engage in emotional abuse or belittling such as accusing their male partner of being unattractive, not understanding enough, not communicating well, or failing to work hard enough to make the relationship work. Continued mistreatment at the hands of a female narcissist can produce tremendous humiliation and shame, leaving a man feeling depressed, fearful, worthless and even suicidal.
Because society continues to place different expectations on men, partners of narcissistic women tend to stay trapped in horrible relationships because they feel the need to be masculine – which often means being a hero, a provider or a rescuer. As a result, many abused men are reluctant to seek help because they are embarrassed to admit they are victims of severe mistreatment, or they are hesitant to discuss their severe emotional pain and confusion.
Often, men stay stuck in narcissistic relationships because they are fearful of divorcing a narcissistic woman who may be extremely vindictive. A man may be concerned that he will be alienated from his children, especially if the female partner undermines him or intentionally turns his children against him.
Victims of narcissistic partners commonly develop a war zone mentality. They may experience panic attacks, rage, guilt, shock, fatigue and a sense of hopelessness. They are often deliberately and strategically alienated and detached from the support of family and friends through the female narcissist.
It isn’t surprising that men in such adverse circumstances often feel emotionally depleted so that they turn to alcohol to numb the pain, fear, loneliness and the sheer bewilderment of an unpredictable life that is controlled by the female narcissist, often every hour or even every minute, there is no breathing space. Men who lack social support or those who have a family history of alcoholism are more likely to turn to alcohol.
The problem however is, that drinking to manage stress is a temporary fix at best, and is self-defeating in the long run. Addiction sneaks up quickly when a person requires more and more alcohol to attain the same feelings of relief in a situation which will get worse, not ever better.
Breaking ties with a narcissistic partner may be frightening as narcissists manage to put up the most charming and innocent face to the outside world but turn vindictive and full of rage and revenge once a partner is trying to get away, but remaining in a toxic relationship presents considerable risk to health and wellbeing, especially when harmful coping substances are involved. If you or a man you care about is involved in a relationship with a narcissistic female, encourage this loved one to seek help as soon as possible. The longer the situation continues, the more opportunity for severe mental, emotional, physical, social and financial damage as well as damage to children*.
Addiction treatment or rehab can help trauma victims through narcissistic abuse gain knowledge and understanding of the disorder, stop self-blame, rebuild self-esteem and regain a sense of personal strength and power. Rehab is also a good opportunity to learn resiliency and better ways of coping with high stress situations in life so that the original “need” for a numbing substance such as illicit replacements ceases to exist.
*More information on “adverse childhood events” can be found here and in our online article on this topic here.
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