So many victims of narcissistic abuse wonder why the narcissist seems to stroll happily through life without consequences for their actions while their victims are left to suffer alone or are even blamed for what was done to them. It’s so unfair!
This came to mind recently. I had a flashback. When thinking about it later, my mind wandered to when I was 19, my mother threw me into a wall & hurt my back. She has not had any consequences for her actions in the 26 years since that happened. My father said he tried talking to her about it not long after it happened, & she just said “Are you ever going to let that go?” He dropped the subject. I never said anything to her- I was too afraid of it happening again, or her doing something worse. Also why I never called the police, even though now I wish I would have. My ex husband (who I was with at the time) also never did anything aside from tell me how hard it was on him, what she had done.
In fact, I think my father blames me for what happened that night. A year or two ago, for whatever odd reason, he mentioned that incident & told me I didn’t need to apologize for busting up the wall- he was able to repair it. Excuse me? The wall was busted up because my mother threw me into it, so no, I have no plans on apologizing for that.
Sadly, I think this is pretty typical. I can’t think of one victim I’ve spoken with who doesn’t have a similar story. And like me, they are baffled that the narcissist who abused them received no consequences for their actions. They’re also angry, which is certainly understandable. It’s extremely unfair! We’re the ones who suffered because of them, & they don’t get so much as a scolding for what they’ve done!
I really am not sure why this happens. Maybe it’s because people are afraid of the narcissists. If you don’t know much about NPD or have limited experience with a narcissist, the overt narcissist can be very intimidating. Their rages can be terrifying. Or, if the narcissist in question is a covert narcissist, maybe people are afraid of hurting them. Covert narcissists love to play the innocent victim. (They can make their victim apologize to them- they are that convincing). They make the person confronting them feel guilty, even ashamed, & certainly no one wants to feel that way!
Some who know a little about narcissism believe that NPD is something beyond control. They believe the term “disorder” means that the narcissist cannot control her actions at all, when the rest of us know absolutely she can & does on a regular basis.
Or, maybe it’s because victims are the sane, rational ones, & other people think the sane, rational one should “be the bigger person” in the relationship, the one to forgive & forget, & the one to ignore the narcissist’s “flaws”.
Whatever the reason, I know it’s incredibly frustrating that people don’t allow the narcissist any consequences for the abuse she dishes out. Just once, wouldn’t it be amazing to see her get told off for how horribly she treats other people? Maybe not the most good Christian attitude, but in all honesty, what victim of a narcissist hasn’t felt that way at some point? I sure have!
So instead of waiting on others, why not give the narcissist consequences yourself? I’m not saying go cuss her out. If you’re a Christian, act like it! But, there are ways to give a narcissist the deserved consequences without being vengeful.
Boundaries. Have & be willing to enforce good, healthy boundaries. You have every right to tell her no, you won’t tolerate that or do that. Let her figure out how to do something herself or have something done if it’s something you don’t feel you should do or if it goes against your morals. Or, for example, if you’re with your narcissistic mother & have had enough, tell her you’re going home (or need to hang up the phone). If your narcissistic mother is like mine, she expects you to deal with her until she’s tired of you & dismisses you. It will irk her to no end if you end the visit or call first, but it is entirely your right to do so! She doesn’t need to get her way all the time & you need to take care of your physical & mental health.
Don’t allow her to order you around. My mother is a big one for barking out orders, rather than saying something like “Would you please get that for me?” Instead, it’s “Hand me that.” A few months ago, I noticed this. (Sadly, it took my entire life to notice it..) I decided to change how I reacted to her orders. Rather than blindly obeying, I do a couple of things. Sometimes I tell her “In a minute” or “Ok, later” instead of interrupting what I was doing. Other times, I do as she wanted & say “Since you asked so nicely, here is the item you wanted. You’re welcome.” This annoys my mother, but she has started to say “please” sometimes. It’s a little thing, but it means a lot to me to be treated with simple respect rather than being treated like the hired help.
My mother also employs a very common coping skill, especially with narcissists. She reinvents the past. According to her, she was quite the impressive mother. Many other victims I’ve spoken with go through this with their narcissistic mother, too. Rather than validating her delusions, you have the right to tell her that isn’t what happened & tell her the truth. In all honesty, I don’t do this with my mother because I see a tremendous amount of guilt in her for how she’s treated me. I don’t think she could handle me telling her the facts & shattering her delusion. Even so, I refuse to validate her stories. “I don’t remember it that way” or “I don’t remember that happening at all” work for me. She then changes the subject before I can say what the truth was. It’s not a perfect solution but it works for us. She can still use that coping mechanism (as dysfunctional as it is) without me validating it. It’s her right to use it, after all. It’s also my right to refuse to condone it.
Narcissists may not always get the consequences they deserve, but they do need some nonetheless. Consequences teach us how to treat other people, & frankly, who needs to learn how to treat people if not a narcissist? Consequences may not make them treat you like a non-narcissist would, but they most likely will improve the way they treat you in some ways. They also will gain a little respect for you for not allowing them to push you around so much anymore. Not that they’ll admit that, of course, but it still happens.
4 responses to “Narcissists & Consequences”
This is a very difficult topic for me. When I made the decision to maintain low contact with my narcissist it was with the hope that I could somehow make her understand how much her words to and about others caused me pain or that I’d at least be able to tolerate her abuse a little better. It didn’t work. I used the strategies you listed but they did nothing to help me to deal with the abuse. I was still miserable no matter what I did, including doing everything a loving daughter would do for her mother even though I knew that she would have no appreciation for anything I did for her. The same abusive words and acts still occurred and added to the massive pile of abuse that had gone before. A narcissist will, short of a miracle from God, be ever and always a narcissist and that means that the pain of abuse will never stop. I realize that many victims choose low contact for very good reasons pertinent to them and their situation. Maybe some are able, with these strategies, to find a measure of peace that will allow them to endure a narcissistic relationship. But I think that is very rare and that, ultimately, no contact is the only thing that works to bring about healing for the victim. My heart goes out to those who choose or are forced to choose low contact. Their road is a very rough one no matter how they travel it.
Unfortunately with narcissists, no contact is often the only solution. I’m sorry you’ve been forced into that position like so many others. It’s such a shame narcissists act the foolish way they do. They basically throw away good people with their evil behavior.
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I used to think that way about my sexual abuser. Why am I tormented with ptsd when he gets to live his life like it never happened at all? But there def will be consequences. If not in this life then the next. God is a just god and He remembers everything.
As for reinventing the past my NMIL does that all the time and my DH calls her out on it. Then she says, “How dare you talk to me like that. I’m your mother!” I remember she tried to do that with me when we were engaged and I calling her out on it rather bluntly not realizing she was a narcissist yet. I couldn’t believe how childish she was acting and how unbelievably lame her lies were. Since getting married my DH has been strict with her on consequences and boundaries, but it’ll be a new test now that we have a baby. Can’t wait to see how that goes. We’ll have to set new ones and be extra clear and firm while allowing her to spend time with the baby and be an excited grandma. Kinda confusing and stressful just thinking about it…
I bet it is confusing & stressful. Thankfully you & hubby sound prepared to deal with the situation.