The Silent Abuser, aka The Covert Narcissist

Usually I focus on overtly narcissistic parents with my writing, but today I want to talk about something a bit different- the other parent who isn’t so blatantly abusive.

Many adult children of an overtly narcissistic parent swear that their other parent is wonderful, caring, & gentle.  Someone, who for whatever reason, was simply overpowered by their overtly narcissistic partner.  They just weren’t strong enough to stop that partner from abusing their child.  But that is fine- it wasn’t his/her fault!  Sadly, this is very rarely the truth.

Most overtly narcissistic people end up married to covertly narcissistic ones.  The difference is covert narcissists aren’t so “in your face” with their behavior.  They come across simple & quiet, often martyr like in their ability to tolerate their narcissistic spouse.  They don’t wish to be the center of attention, but gain their positive attention by their good behavior.  They are extremely good at acting sweet & innocent, & often have their children convinced that they are the real victim of the narcissistic parent instead of the children.  They may say things like, “It was so hard for me to watch your mother treat you that way” or “There was nothing I could do to stop him from hitting you kids.”

My mother in-law is a prime example of a covert narcissist.  My father in-law always has been the overtly narcissist type, abusing his children when they were growing up.  She did nothing to protect herself or her children from his abuse.  To this day, my husband feels bad for her that she went through so much suffering at the hands of his father, yet pretty much ignores the fact he & his siblings were abused too.  He sees his mother as the real victim.  She is well aware of this too.  She portrays herself as a sweet, innocent, naive, martyr when the truth is she is nothing of the sort.  She was blatantly cruel to me until I stopped speaking to her, making sure I knew I wasn’t good enough for her family.  Anyone who was truly as beaten down as she portrays herself wouldn’t have it in them to be so cruel.  She would have been more focused on simply surviving instead of hurting others.  She also would know how bad it feels to have someone be cruel & wouldn’t want to make others feel that badly.

Think about your parents.  You obviously have one overtly narcissistic one, probably your mother, since you are reading my work.  What about your other parent, assuming your father?  The way I described my mother in-law in the previous paragraph- does that sound somewhat like your father?  If so, I wish to encourage you today to stop feeling sorry for him!  How about taking some of that empathy you feel for him & feel it for yourself instead!  You were the real victim- you were only a child.  It was your parents’ job to treat you well & protect you, yet they did neither.

I’m sorry to try to provoke this anger in you, but it needs to be done if you’ve never felt anger before at your father.  You need to feel that anger & process it so you can heal.  It helps you not only to get the anger out of you, but also to see your father in a more realistic light.  If you realize he is a covert narcissist, you can treat him accordingly, such as with healthy boundaries.  Healthy boundaries are vital with all narcissists, be they overt or covert, as they will use you however they see fit if given half a chance.  And, covert narcissists are big fans of emotional incest to get their needs met.  Whether their child is a child or an adult, they will not hesitate to use this sinister form of abuse to benefit them.

Any parent who enables someone to abuse their own child disgusts me.  Abusing your child is bad enough, but standing back & letting someone else do it to me is even more evil as far as I’m concerned.  Especially because the covert narcissists allows it only to avoid the overt narcissist’s wrath.  Covert narcissists will do anything to avoid the loud, violent rage of the overt narcissist, & that includes throwing their child under the bus.  They will redirect their partner’s rage onto the child & off of them. Or, they will refuse to intervene when the other parent is abusing the child to avoid being yelled at.  Either way, it is sickening!


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

13 responses to “The Silent Abuser, aka The Covert Narcissist

  1. danquality

    In my opinion, the covert is worse. With the overt you can pretty much tell something is wrong from the get-go; whereas you can spend years with the covert before finding out they’re subtly abusing you. I spent 4 years with my CuNPD before realizing what he was doing to me. I felt stupid, alone, used, and he had me thinking that there was something wrong with the way I thought.
    5 months since ive gone no contact and I feel real again!


    • I would have to agree with you danquality If I have to deal with a narcissist, give me an overt one so I know the moment they open their mouth what they are! Coverts can hide it for a long time.

      What is a CuNPD??

      Good for you on getting rid of him!! It’s so freeing, isn’t it?


  2. Yes this was my life growing up. Only recently have I started to understand the dynamics, I’m 38 years old, I have a history of broken relationships, low self esteem, no money, no home … a lot of emotional issues, I blamed myself for years, because my parents shamed me for years, they still do! After a more recent relationship breakdown, my Mother was very kind and there for me, but of course that came at a price, she toke me only holiday with her sister, her sister was very nasty and rude to me over and over again, I had no idea why … at the end of the holiday I was attacked, punched in the face, thrown on the floor as my parents stood and watched … I got up and called the police, I was told “you’re waiting their time” they carried on redirecting everything onto me, using me as a scapegoat … it was this that I then saw what was happening, my Aunty was a flying monkey, they had been filling her head with sick lies, one was that I had pushed my Father down the stairs … the truth was my Father had punched me and slapped me more than once … it was flipped back … the years of abuse came clear as day in front of me, the pain, the suffering the constant needing they’d created for me, the threats of abandonment, always leaving me alone over Christmas … don’t get me wrong they’ve done some amazing things as well, that’s the toughest part of having narcissistic parents is they keep pulling you back in with their kind sweet gestures, but only to knock you back down again and blame you! It’s a life long pattern that is very hard to break and understand and sadly the only way to stop it is to go “no contact”. I wish I could tell you there was another way, but there really isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kandy

    Keep writing the Truth! Very Helpful.
    Exactly my Fam dynamic. It disgusts me to call them “family” because they never were!!
    I am 24 I took my own life back so to speak, but due to skme stuff I have to in contact again with the creatures. Everything you said, NM is a Borderline crazy bimbo, and dear father, who trusts me has this Angel best friend who understands thing” and for outside ppl they may think Hes nice compared to your NM, on the inside is complete Creep. All the years we lived “together” it was never a normal relationship between separate ppl. Mother was the Slave of her own N mom, father the slave of his Mom. I had to take and deal with all their crap and frustrations, that could have been avoided if they werent such COWARDS toditch it all on their children. On Me exactly I was scapegoat.
    Tell me, what kind of “father” never seems interested in you, never compliments or even Notices that I existed… Oh he noticed evrr since I started my sexlife, and not as a Daughter!! He hits in me constsntly and makes it seem “accidental” I confronted the pig many times and Expose him cause there are enough !!! Women in the world. Its not my fault he choose the Bitch who humiliated abused me, and asdume denies him sex too. But reallly, that is not a Childs concern, What kind of pedo “shares and “bonds this way with child, especially Daughter. They hsve this sick Incest fixation . I even suspect him to be Gay closeted but mostly a Creep.
    Between Two Evil what could I choose ?? Well NEITHER !!
    These people never loved me, they dont they just try to keep string me and Use and Abuse me if I let them !!! These sre not Parents, a parent ptotects, Respects their children not This. And to hear them Brag about being Parents.. XD
    They know I see through their BS and keep trying to get me back to being “Scapegoat” seriously blame Me for all the abuse they themselvs inflicted. Freaks !!!!
    NContact all the way.. Thank you for this post.
    Keep Speaking the truth.. thry hate it!!


    • Thank you Kandy! I plan to do just that- keep speaking & writing the truth! There is such a tremendous need for it & I’m trying to do my part to raise awareness.

      I’m so very sorry for all you’ve gone through with your parents! It’s so sick the things they have done! Your father sounds much like my own. It’s disturbing how these men look at their own daughters. So sick & warped.

      I hope you can find ways to deal with them while you have to. It’s very hard dealing with a father like yours, I know. Sending you a big hug!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kandy

        Spot On Spot On!! Thank you very much!
        Its hard as it is to deal with this and recognize This for what it is, meaning living with Disordered mentally ill Individuals
        You know what? For so long I blamed myself, and come to think about it the “Creep” father many tkmes fueled the fights between me and Overt N bimbo mother. He took supply from it
        Not to say he did not try. Its a sad hard realization, but y know what they say.
        Truth will first piss you off, then Set you free!
        In Childhood they forced me to Mature super quickly and be the Judge each every time they fought. Now, when Ive got my Own life they k3ep trying to “put me in place” and say Its my fault, Im the problem daughter!! Such Delusional Creeps
        If Ill ever have children Ill never Treat them this way.
        Its a Choice you know ??
        They have a choice, every day but choose to dump Sh##onto me/others than look Hard at themselves in the mirror.
        Your Articles are helpful. Have a Great Day, Thank you for your reply xx


        • Isn’t it amazing that parents can get narcissistic supply from fueling the flames of a fight between their spouse & child?! That blows my mind.. my father is that way too. He has lied to my mother, saying I said things I didn’t. Probably told her things I said that were lies as well.

          Not surprising at all. You weren’t supposed to have your own life- you were supposed to be their supply forever & ever! UGH! I don’t know how people can think that way, but narcissists do.. every single day.

          I’m so glad my blog has helped you! Thank you for letting me know that. Have a great day! ❤


  4. confused

    I’m just realizing that my mother is a covert narc. Because of my CPTSD and being recently retraumatized I’m home again. This is so subversive, confusing, and messed up. It was so much easier to cut my dad out years ago. Totally disgusting and terrifying to figure out she abandoned me to be abused by my father. This thought of what she said about his current spouse years ago really says it ALL: “Aren’t you glad she is taking his abuse now and you don’t have to.” NO, IM NOT HAPPY ANYONE IS BEING ABUSED! All of her ‘silent’ abuse treatment is really becoming obvious now and the she just came home and is ‘oh-so-sweet’ and I can feel all the repressed rage, anger, disgust, disappointment, hurt, everything welling up. And i’m realizing that’s why my physical illness and disabilities spike just living with her. Today was the first day I really figured out and came out of denial and I couldn’t even look at her could barely talk to her and I’m scared what’s gonna happen when I stop supplying her. I have to get out of here and now I’m going to focus 100% on taking my life and power back. But whoa, to be totally alone and disabled at times and have no family or support system is terrifying. I even stayed in a horrible abuse relationship for a few months after losing work to avoid coming back to this house. I got out of it and she hasn’t even said a word. She knows he was abusing me. It’s just like childhood, time to end this! YUCK I just have to hold on to my lists and versions of the truth and the facts because the cognitive dissonance of the monster under the sweet savior is mind boggling.


    • My goodness… my heart breaks for you! I’m so very sorry for all you’ve been through & continue to go through! (((hugs))) I know it’s extremely painful knowing the truth since the covert narcissistic parent is the one we often think of as the good parent, but knowing the truth will help you so much. Now you know what you’re dealing with & can act accordingly. I’m praying for you! ❤


  5. lynettedavis

    Wow. This makes a lot of sense–why the silent parent throws his/her children under the bus as though their being abused has nothing to do with them, in effect allowing the covert personality a full reign of abuse. Thanks so much for this post.


  6. lynettedavis

    Reblogged this on The Broken Vessel.


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