Malignant Narcissists and Their Equally Malignant Victims
The recent rise in the usage of the term "narcissist," has become quite the bothersome topic for me. Not only is the term being used improperly in a majority of the cases, but most people aren't even qualified to make such a serious diagnosis as narcissistic personality disorder. This is not to say that it is not possible that these unfounded accusations are in fact true, only to say that reality is dictating that there is no way that this recent rise in the use of the term and diagnosis is anything more than a new fad. Let us pretend, however, that these accusations arising in a myriad of different situations are all legitimate. Under such serious circumstances where all these allegations are true, and malignant narcissistic personality disorder is a widespread societal issue, is it not accurate to say that the victims are just as malignant? This is a very serious question I intend to explore with as much empathy and sensitivity as I am able to muster.
My Profound Experience With Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Growing up I spent most of my time locked in a home I refer to now as my prison. The only time I was allowed to leave this home was to go to school, or to a highly supervised area where freedom meant I was too afraid to interact with anyone around me. Returning to this home each day, the home where I was meant to feel safe no matter what, was the pinnacle of fear for me; I've signed my life over to the government before, and still I'll sit here and say walking into my home is still the pinnacle of fear for me. The reason I was so scared of returning home was not because I was afraid of the monster under my bed, nor because the home itself posed some sort of existential threat to me. Fear was at the forefront of my emotions when returning home because I was forced to interact with my abusive family.
My abusive family is made up of my bipolar stepfather, ultra-religious grandparents, narcissistic mother, and my alcoholic father. I also have two younger brothers but we won't be getting into them for the sake of shortening an already verbose ramble. My stepfather was more a background character in my life, as well as my father, but that doesn't mean they didn't do their fair share of contribution to my abuse. My stepfather nearly choked me to death one day when I had defended myself against my little brother who was punching me in the legs by smacking his face. I had asked my mom and my stepfather multiple times to get him to stop but all they did was sit and watch as he pounded my legs as hard as he could. The second my hand connected with his face my stepfather came rushing around the kitchen counter and jumped on top of me as I sat on the couch, wrapping his hands around my throat and throwing my head against the back of the couch over and over again. My mother rushed to pull him off of me which caused him to fall and take me with him off the couch and onto the floor where I now sat in front of him in a headlock. I'm not sure how long I was in the headlock, but my vision had gone black and I submitted to the notion I was about to die. My vision came back, as well as my fear, and they were now yelling at each other and my mom was holding him back. I ran to the knife rack and pulled a long carving knife out, then I grabbed the phone and called my dad. Having seen me do this my mom rushed over to me and began screaming at me, "What are you doing?! Stop being an idiot! You don't need this!" and then she took the knife and phone from me before I was able to get in contact with my dad. My stepfather stormed out of the house and wasn't seen again for a few hours. For those few hours I laid on the couch, curled up under a blanket and sobbing, as my mom asked me if I was ever going to stop crying. My stepfather returned later and she forced me to let him apologize, but all I could do was sob and shake, eventually she became so tired of my crying she expressed her distaste of it to my stepfather and told him to go away just so I would stop. To this day they deny that this event occurred the way I recall it, and that it wasn't anyone's fault but my own for defending myself against my little brother.
I could go on for paragraph after paragraph, ad nauseam, on the abuses I suffered nearly every day but I'll simply list one more for the sake of clarity. There was a day after a Summer reading course my mom had forced me to attend where I had argued with a teacher who tried to humiliate me in front of class. I was attempting to read Huckleberry Finn in its original form, with the older forms of English, and I was struggling. My reading partner was female, and though I expressed I was struggling with the old English, the teacher tried to say in front of the class that I was scared of talking to girls and would not stop the onslaught of humiliating remarks. Finally I had enough of this teacher trying to humiliate me, as not being able to read old English at the time was humiliating enough, and I said bluntly "You know what? You can f%#$ off with your garbage attitude, I told you I can't read this old English s^&*!" at which point I was promptly sent outside for the rest of class which still had two hours left. When everyone else had left, and my mom finally came to pick me up, the teacher would not allow me to explain my side to my mother and immediately took her into the class alone to explain what allegedly occurred. All she told my mother was an ad lib of the harsh language I used toward her, not how she was trying to humiliate me. Tears of embarrassment streamed down my mother's face when she walked out of the class, took me by the arm as hard as she could grip, and essentially dragged me to the car and threw me against it. Upon both of us entering the car, and me attempting to explain, she began to beat me unrelentingly. Punching, smacking, screaming, telling me how humiliating it was that I'd act that way to a teacher. Each time I tried to open my mouth the barrage of abuse would continue. At least this time around she didn't spit in my mouth while slamming me against the ground by my collar.
My grandparents are the ultra-religious, looking forward to the end of the world because of the rapture, extremely ignorant conservative types. I view organized religion in any form as abusive in and of itself. There is no convincing me otherwise, but I have since escaped all abusive forms of religion that seek to limit human experience. I think what I have stated about them is as self-explanatory as can be, so I'm not going to delve deeper. I do feel that I need to delve deeper into my father, the alcoholic womanizer. His abuse was a strange one that stemmed from his ego rather than any sort of physical abuse. I am only able to recall two times he tried to strangle me, compared to the uncountable amount of times my other family members put hands on me. It didn't really matter what I did around my father, so long as I did exactly what he said and did not attempt to stand up for myself in any capacity then he wouldn't punish me. His choices for punishments were preferable, at least when compared to the other people in my family. For example: Let's say I didn't want to play UNO on family night, and my music from my iPod was too loud. He would attempt to force me to participate and if I wouldn't comply then he would send me to sit outside and be alone. The next day every chore in the house would be my job and the punishment would continue until he felt everything was done or I was in tears and someone else would tell him to lighten up.
If I ever got the confidence to speak out against the abuse to him it would result in a stiff finger to the chest, leaving bruises. A punch to the chest was in order if I slouched even the slightest bit. Still it was nothing compared to my mother. I'm currently trying to repair my relationship with him, but it is difficult due to everyone else in the family convincing me he is the scum of the earth my whole life, when really he is the only one who could've saved me. If you want to keep up with my progress concerning my father, click here.
The Victim is as Much to Blame as the Abuser
We all hit an age where we become fully aware of what is happening around us, and at that point it is upon us to bring light to any injustice we witness or experience. All too often we hear stories about victims who could have been saved if only they had spoken out about the abuse they were facing. In the current social climate there is no valid reason not to speak out, and in the face of so many abuse resources being made available, especially for women, you really cannot place blame on the abuser for your staying within the abusive situation. This sounds extremely insensitive, especially when considering my fear of speaking out against my abusers in the past, yet I still find what I am saying to be self evident. Sadly, even when I did report my abusers they convinced the police I was lying and simply out to get them. The police themselves told me that a little beating was not grounds for accusing someone of abuse. If only what I had suffered could be equated to a minor beating, I might not be having to overcome all this trauma if it were so inconsequential.
Nonetheless, I reported the abuse to the police, guidance counselors, church officials, and even teachers. Not a single one would listen in earnest, and many of them committed acts of abuse against me as well. In the face of all this as a young child there was nothing I could do, but as I grew up it became more and more my fault for not fighting back harder. My muscles grew, I got taller and taller, and the resources for abuse victims became more and more abundant. The longer I went without reporting my abusers the more evidence was buried under the passing of time, and the less of a chance I would ever have to bring light to the abuse and receive justice. The only thing that kept me from utilizing these resources was my own fear, and had anyone taught me to overcome that, if any of my many psychiatrists and psychologists over the years cared about me more than caring about getting paid, then I would have thrown every one of these abusers under the bus and then backed up over them. Sadly, I ran away from the issues I faced and left my little brothers to suffer.
This is where abuse really becomes the victim's fault. The victim who simply walks away without having made valid claims to proper authorities is leaving those abusers to create new victims from those too weak to run away or defend themselves. The middle child of the family is too old for me to save, convinced that it is in his best interests to remain subservient to our mother who screams at him for having anxiety, but the youngest child is an ongoing endeavor for me. His suffering is more my fault than it is the fault of the mentally ill abusers he suffers under, and had I tried to expose these abusers earlier and with greater fervor then he would not be suffering today. He only ever gets to leave the house for doctor appointments and watering the backyard, the rest of the time he is forced to eat the same pre-made food on the same grime-encrusted floor, sitting in front of the computer where he is now home-schooled, and having no interaction with the outside world because no one is allowed over to the house except those that live there. To say this is anyone's fault but my own would be a total misrepresentation in the face of all the resources I could utilize to make his situation better.
The next time you feel like throwing around psychological jargon, make sure you have looked inwards first. Destroying someone's reputation by using the trendy word of the day doesn't do anything for you, nor for their next victim.
Get the Help Everyone Deserves
If you, or anyone you know is suffering from anything that could be categorized as a form of abuse then it is your responsibility to seek out the necessary help for yourself. Don't leave your, and the safety of others to chance. I've included a list of relevant resources available to Americans, for ease of reading and reporting purposes.
RESOURCES FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
NATIONAL CRISIS ORGANIZATIONS AND ASSISTANCE:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Dating Abuse Helpline
National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp
National Sexual Assault Hotline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Human Trafficking Resource Center/Polaris Project
Call: 1-888-373-7888 | Text: HELP to BeFree (233733)
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
National Coalition for the Homeless
Futures Without Violence: The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health
1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011
Childhelp USA/National Child Abuse Hotline
Children’s Defense Fund
Child Welfare League of America
National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Child Protection and Custody/Resource Center on Domestic Violence
Love is respect
Break the Cycle
Domestic Violence Initiative
(303) 839-5510/ (877) 839-5510
WOMEN OF COLOR
Women of Color Network
Casa de Esperanza
Linea de crisis 24-horas/24-hour crisis line
National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities
The National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
Indigenous Women’s Network
Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence
Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV)
Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute
LESBIAN, BI-SEXUAL, GAY, TRANSGENDER, GENDER NON-CONFORMING
The Audre Lorde Project
LAMBDA GLBT Community Services
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse
ABUSE IN LATER LIFE
National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
National Center for Elder Abuse
National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS)
A Call to Men
Men Can Stop Rape
Men Stopping Violence
Battered Women’s Justice Project
National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women
1-800-903-0111 x 3
Legal Network for Gender Equity