Addison 360

— An Eclectic Blog by Addison Gray —

For the last 10 years I’ve been dealing with a covert narcissistic abuser. However, the majority of the torment began after I chose to leave the relationship. While the relationship only lasted 2 years, the subsequent eight years have been marked by relentless attempts to control, manipulate, undermine me, as well as harm me psychologically/emotionally and financially. This abuse often involves my exes new romantic partner who was manipulated into aiding the harassment. Sharing my story, I hope to shed light on the insidious nature of covert narcissistic abuse, help others recognize the signs before it’s too late, and provide strategies to protect yourself if you find yourself trapped in a similar situation.

What is Narcissism?

Before diving into my personal experience, it’s important to clarify what constitutes actual narcissism. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a clinically diagnosed mental condition characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Narcissists often exhibit behaviors such as:

  1. Excessive Self-Importance: They believe they are superior and unique. For example: My narcissist often used the word “righteous” to describe himself.
  2. Entitlement: They expect special treatment and compliance from others.
  3. Exploitative: They take advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
  4. Lack of Empathy: They are unwilling or unable to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
  5. Envy: They are often envious of others or believe others are envious of them.
  6. Arrogance: They behave in a pushy or “cocky” manner.
  7. Conversation Domination: They hoard conversations, constantly talking about themselves and their accomplishments.
  8. Inability to take accountability: Narcissists cannot take accountability for their short comings. Instead they blame everyone else. My narcissist would blame his job losses on coworkers who were “intimidated by him”. His inability to get along with others; Especially his exes was always blamed on his exes being crazy”.
  9. Understanding DARVO: Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. DARVO is a psychological manipulation tactic used by individuals to deflect blame and responsibility. The acronym stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. This method is often employed by abusers, narcissists, and manipulators to maintain control and avoid accountability for their actions. Here’s a breakdown of how DARVO works: Deny: The first step involves outright denial of the behavior or action in question. The individual refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing, often acting surprised or offended by the accusation. This denial can be so convincing that it causes the victim to second-guess their own experiences and perceptions. Attack: Once the denial is established, the individual shifts to attacking the victim. This can include verbal assaults, character assassination, and other forms of aggression aimed at discrediting the victim. The goal is to intimidate and silence the victim, making them less likely to continue asserting their claims. Reverse Victim and Offender: In this final step, the manipulator positions themselves as the true victim while casting the actual victim as the offender. They may claim to be unfairly accused, persecuted, or mistreated. This reversal confuses the narrative, making it difficult for outsiders to discern the truth and often leading to misplaced sympathy for the manipulator.

It’s crucial to distinguish between true narcissists and individuals who might have hurt you or ended a relationship. Not everyone who exhibits selfish or hurtful behavior is a narcissist. Remember, no one owes you a relationship and sometimes people are just not right for us. Breaking up with you does not make the other person a narcissist. Genuine narcissists persistently undermine, control, and manipulate their victims, even post-relationship.

What is Covert Narcissism?

Covert narcissists share the same core traits as overt narcissists but express them in less obvious ways. They may appear humble, self-effacing, or even friendly and helpful , but underneath lies a deep-seated sense of entitlement and a need for admiration. Their tactics are more subtle and insidious, making them harder to identify and confront.

My Experience with a Covert Narcissistic Abuser

When I first met my ex-partner, their charm was undeniable. They showered me with attention, compliments, and gifts, a tactic known as “love bombing.” This initial phase was intoxicating and made me feel incredibly special. However, this façade soon crumbled, revealing a darker reality.

After deciding to leave the relationship, the abuse escalated dramatically. The subsequent eight years have been a nightmare:

  1. Emotional Manipulation: They used gaslighting to make me doubt my perceptions and memories, eroding my confidence.
  2. Character Assassination: They spread false stories about me, attempting to ruin my reputation. A major red flag I noticed too late was their habit of maligning their exes to me early in our relationship.
  3. Legal Harassment: They took me to court repeatedly, using the legal system as a tool for intimidation and control.
  4. Stalking and Harassment: They continually contacted me, showed up uninvited, and used mutual connections to exert influence.
  5. Flying Monkeys: They recruited new romantic partners to aid in their harassment campaigns. These partners, misled by lies that painted the narcissist as the victim and me as the villain, became unwitting accomplices in their schemes.
  6. Conversation Domination: In any interaction, they monopolized conversations, talking over me and refusing to compromise.
  7. Private Investigators: They hired private investigators to follow me for years, ensuring I felt their presence constantly.
  8. Revenge Porn: They sent revenge porn to my family members in a bid to humiliate and control me.
  9. Fake Social Media Profiles: They created fake social media profiles impersonating me, further damaging my reputation.
  10. False Claims: They sent letters to my children’s school making false claims about me, undermining my credibility as a parent.
  11. Manipulation Tactics: They manipulated courts and others with crocodile tears, portraying themselves as the victim and me as the villain.
  12. Threats and Excessive Attention: They threatened to show up at personal events, such as my grandfather’s funeral, and demanded excessive attention and compliance. They made false accusations to escalate the conflict and provoke a reaction.
  13. Demanded I jumped through hoops for them: Believing I could maintain peace by fulfilling their constant requests, I learned that nothing I did made them happy. Their demands only increased, becoming more unfair and consuming more of my time. This left me unable to move on, and form new relationships.

The cycle of abuse is relentless, alternating between periods of manipulation and covert aggression, which kept me off balance and hopeful that the “peace” would return.

Recognizing the Signs of Covert Narcissism

Identifying a covert narcissist early can save you from years of pain. Here are some red flags to watch for:

  1. Love Bombing: Excessive attention and flattery early in the relationship.
  2. Lack of Empathy: Indifference to other people’s feelings and needs.
  3. Grandiosity: Constant self-praise and exaggerated achievements.
  4. Entitlement: Expecting special treatment and getting angry or “mopey” when it’s not provided.
  5. Exploitativeness: Using others for personal gain without remorse.
  6. Isolation Tactics: Discouraging or outright preventing contact with your support network.
  7. Gaslighting: Making you question your reality and memories.
  8. Conversation Hoarding: Dominating conversations and excessively talking about themselves and their accomplishments.
  9. Character Assassination: Speaking negatively about their exes when you first meet them. This is a significant red flag.
  10. Story telling: Covert narcissists are often skilled liars. They tell “tall tales,” but somehow you want to believe them. Remember, even though they lie, they often include tidbits of truth in their stories. Pay close attention!

Protecting Yourself

If you find yourself in a relationship with a covert narcissist, it’s essential to take steps to protect yourself:

  1. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries and enforce them consistently. Narcissists will push limits, so it’s crucial to stand firm. However, be aware that strong boundaries can often enrage them, leading to escalated abuse. Instead, consider:
  • Gray Rock Method: Become unresponsive and uninteresting to the narcissist. Provide minimal information and emotional reaction.
  • Limited Contact: Reduce interactions to the bare minimum necessary, especially if you must maintain some level of communication (e.g., co-parenting).
  1. Seek Support: Reconnect with friends and family. Isolation is a key tactic of narcissistic abuse.
  2. Document Everything: Keep records of abusive behavior. This can be invaluable if legal action becomes necessary.
  3. Professional Help: Engage a therapist experienced in dealing with narcissistic abuse. Therapy is essential for healing and learning effective coping strategies. It’s important to understand that the narcissist will not change. When they appear dormant, they are often plotting their next move.
  4. Plan Your Exit: If you decide to leave, do so safely. Narcissists can become more volatile when they sense they’re losing control. To avoid enraging them and harming their ego:
  • Strategic Exit: Leave when they are distracted or away. Prepare your departure discreetly.
  • Neutrality: Avoid direct confrontations. Keep your reasons vague and focus on external factors rather than criticizing them directly.

Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

Co-parenting with a narcissist is extremely challenging, as they will use the children as pawns to continue their control and manipulation. Here are some strategies to manage this situation:

  1. Parallel Parenting: Minimize direct contact with the narcissist and communicate only through written means, such as email or a co-parenting app.
  2. Legal Boundaries: Ensure custody agreements are detailed and legally binding to prevent the narcissist from manipulating arrangements.
  3. Therapeutic Support: Seek counseling for yourself and your children to navigate the emotional challenges of co-parenting with a narcissist.

Unfortunately, in some cases, walking away and limiting contact as much as possible may be the only viable solution to protect your well-being. Narcissists often do get custody of their children as they’re great at manipulating the court system. You may need to back off until your child/ren are 18.

After the Relationship: Are They Still Trying to Control You?

A hallmark of narcissistic abusers is their relentless need to control, even after the relationship ends. If your ex-partner is:

  1. Trying to Ruin Your Life: Spreading false stories about you to damage your reputation.
  2. Taking You to Court: Using legal systems to harass and intimidate you.
  3. Harassing You: Continually contacting you, showing up uninvited, or using mutual connections to exert influence.
  4. Recruiting Flying Monkeys: Enlisting new partners or mutual acquaintances to aid in their harassment.
  5. Hiring Private Investigators: Monitoring your activities long after the relationship has ended.
  6. Sending Revenge Porn: Distributing intimate images to humiliate and control you.
  7. Creating Fake Profiles: Impersonating you online to further damage your reputation.
  8. Threats and False Accusations: Threatening to show up at significant personal events to cause trouble, like my grandfather’s funeral, and making false accusations to escalate conflicts.
  9. Sending False Claims: Making false allegations to your children’s school or other institutions to undermine your credibility.

These behaviors indicate that their need for control persists. Protect yourself by:

  • Legal Measures: Obtain restraining orders or other legal protections if necessary.
  • No Contact: Cut off all communication. This includes blocking them on social media and changing your contact information if needed.
    • Informing Authorities: Report any harassment or stalking behavior to the police.
    • When No One Believes You
  • One of the most distressing aspects of dealing with a narcissistic abuser is their ability to manipulate others into supporting them, often making you appear as the irrational or abusive one. If you find that no one believes you, here are some strategies to cope and gain the support you need:
  • Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of all interactions, including emails, texts, voicemails, and any other forms of communication. This evidence can be crucial in demonstrating patterns of abuse and harassment.
  • Seek Professional Validation: Engage with therapists, counselors, or other professionals who are experienced in dealing with narcissistic abuse. Their support can provide validation and expert testimony if needed.
  • Find Support Groups: Connect with support groups for victims of narcissistic abuse. These groups offer a safe space to share experiences, gain advice, and find solidarity with others who understand your situation.
  • Educate Your Support Network: Provide friends and family with resources and information about narcissistic abuse. This can help them understand your experience and recognize the manipulative tactics used by the abuser.
  • Stay Calm and Consistent: When explaining your situation to others, remain calm and consistent. Emotional outbursts, though understandable, can sometimes be used by the narcissist to discredit you.

Courts: Courts are often safe havens for abusers

Unfortunately, the legal system can often be manipulated by narcissistic abusers to further their control and harassment. Courts rarely recognize the subtle and insidious nature of narcissistic abuse, and abusers can use their charm and manipulation to appear as the victim. To navigate this challenging environment:

  • Hire an Experienced Attorney: Seek legal counsel from an attorney experienced in handling cases involving narcissistic abuse. They can help you build a strong case and protect your interests.
  • Present Clear Evidence: Use the documentation you’ve gathered to present a clear, factual case. Avoid emotional language and focus on concrete examples of abusive behavior.
  • Request Specific Orders: When dealing with custody or restraining orders, be as specific as possible in your requests. Clear, detailed orders are harder for the narcissist to manipulate or violate.
  • Consider a Guardian ad Litem: In custody cases, request a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to represent the best interests of the children. A GAL can provide an independent assessment of the situation, which may help counteract the narcissist’s manipulations.
  • Getting the Support You Need: Finding support is crucial for your well-being and recovery. Here are some additional steps to ensure you have the support you need:
  • Professional Help: Continue to see a therapist who understands narcissistic abuse. They can provide emotional support, coping strategies, and guidance on legal and practical matters.
  • Self-Care: Prioritize your physical and emotional health. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, and practice mindfulness or meditation to manage stress.
  • Safe Environment: Create a safe environment for yourself and your children. This may involve moving to a new location, changing your contact information, and setting up security measures at home.
  • Trusted Confidants: Identify a few trusted friends or family members who believe you and can provide emotional and practical support. Keep them informed about your situation and lean on them when needed
    • Conclusion
  • Living with and leaving a covert narcissistic abuser is an incredibly challenging and painful experience. Recognizing the signs early, protecting yourself through careful planning and documentation, and seeking support from professionals and support groups can help you navigate this difficult journey. Remember that you are not alone, and there are resources and people who can help you regain control of your life and heal from the trauma of narcissistic abuse.
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