Narcissists & Domestic Violence and Abuse
We could probably say that all forms of abuse are narcissistic in nature. Who else but narcissists believe it's OK to attack, hit or even kill someone because they're upset? Who else but narcissists believe it's OK to abuse another person because of something that is totally unrelated to that person? What other type of person thinks equality means they get everything while everyone else gets nothing? Only a narcissist would be so incensed and outraged by rejection or loss of control over another person that they would believe taking that person's life is a reasonable reaction. Only a narcissist would need power and control over someone so badly that they would actually harm them to get it, and only a narcissist believes it's reasonable to beat or even kill somebody for hurting their feelings.
Now of course, not all people who engage in violence at all are narcissists; nearly everybody has a breaking point and even rational people lose their tempers sometimes. But if someone has a pattern of being abusive, it's probably a safe bet that they at the very least have narcissistic traits. The only way it's possible to justify abusing others is by telling yourself that how you feel, what you want or what you are angry about is more important than someone else's well-being. That's narcissistic.
It's kind of odd that there is not more mention of narcissism regarding domestic violence, considering the tactics used by domestic abusers are pretty much textbook narcissistic tactics and manipulation. There is not one example of domestic violence and abuse that I've seen yet that you could not use as an example of the way narcissists behave. The two appear to be interchangeable. And that makes sense. Who else but narcissistic people gives themselves permission to treat others that way? People who engage in domestic abuse erode their victim's confidence, they gaslight and destroy the victim's ability to think straight or rely on their perception, they turn others against the victim using lies, they manipulate the victim to do things they don't want to do, they use threats, guilt and even violence to keep the victim in line, they blame the victim for the abuse. The victim in a domestic violence situation is totally subjugated by the abuser, who believes their own needs, feelings and desires are more important than anything.
Types of Abuse
Click the image to enlarge.
There are 5 kinds of domestic abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, reproductive and financial. As you can see in the previous graphics, in virtually all of these categories, the behaviors described are identical to the way that narcissistic people behave. Not all narcissists do all of these things, of course, but the relationship between this type of person and this type of behavior is too obvious to ignore. Domestic offenders abuse their loved ones because they want power and control over their victims. They fear being rejected, abandoned, humiliated and powerless. They use tactics designed to weaken the victim so that they can control them more effectively and prevent these things from happening. After an abusive episode or period of time there is a "honeymoon period," where the abuser is sorry and attempts to win back the relationship with promises of good behavior.
Again, sound familiar? In our community, we call that hoovering.
Perhaps one of the reasons narcissism isn't mentioned more in relation to domestic abuse is because experts are afraid using a label associated with mental illness will make victims more likely to stay in the situation. And that is a valid fear. Many people believe if someone has a psychological disorder, they cannot be blamed for their behavior. That is incorrect. There is never an excuse for abuse. It is no accident, and it is not uncontrollable. They know what they are doing is wrong and they are making the choice to do it. People who truly cannot control themselves will behave improperly regardless of who is there or what is going on. This is not the case with narcissists. They can control themselves just fine if they need to. They are choosing not to. It is deliberate abuse, and they have no reason to stop.
Too many people associate the word "abuse" with physical violence. Remember: if you are in any kind of relationship with a narcissistic person, whether they are your spouse or your mother or your sibling, you are likely in a domestic abuse situation. People get so wrapped up in trying to figure out what is wrong with this person that they may never even realize that all the domestic violence awareness commercials they've seen and all the posters they see hanging in the bus station pertain to their relationship. They may feel that their relationship is somehow different than "normal" domestic violence situations, that it isn't like the ones you see in movies or hear about in the news. Well, it is the same. Every person who was ever killed by a partner thought their relationship was different, too. If you are in a domestic abuse situation, please get out before it gets worse. It's not going to get better and even if by some miracle it did, the damage is already done. You deserve better and hopefully, one day you realize that.