Ways Narcissists Use Shame To Abuse

Shame is a powerful weapon in the hands of an abuser.  It can cause a person to rely on their abuser for pretty much any information & make them easy to control by causing them to think they need someone smarter to tell them what to do.  Narcissists know this, & they have fine tuned many very effective ways to use shame to abuse their victims.

Narcissists will destroy a person’s self esteem in order to create toxic shame in a victim.  They point out a person’s flaws (real or imagined) constantly & tell embarrassing stories about them.  This keeps a victim on their toes, trying to be better, to please the narcissist, & to avoid doing embarrassing things that the narcissist will use to embarrass the victim with at any given time.

Narcissists also will invalidate a victim.  If they tell an embarrassing story, for example, & the victim becomes rightly upset, the narcissist will say things like, “I was just joking.”  “You can’t even take a joke!”  My narcissistic mother did this one constantly, & when I got upset, would tell me, “There’s something wrong with you.  You shouldn’t feel that way!  That was funny!”

Narcissists also love to reinvent the past.  They claim to be responsible for their victim’s successes, claim the successes weren’t all that great or even deny they happened.  Regarding their abuse, they will claim the abuse never happened or if it did, it wasn’t as bad as the victim claims or the victim made the narcissist do it.

Narcissists will twist a situation around to make themselves look like the victim rather than the abuser.  They do this in two ways.  They will tell others about how angry their victim is, how he or she yells at them, while leaving out the things they did that got the victim to that state.  They also will use a victim’s own valid reactions to their abuse to prove to the victim that the victim is abusive &/or is mentally unstable.

Narcissists never speak to their victims as if the victim is their equal.  Sometimes they will talk down to their victim, in particular if the victim in question is their child.  They want to maintain that adult/child relationship in order to make their child feel inferior to them, therefore making them easier to control.

Other narcissists will talk in circles, use big words, speak with authority & basically try to talk above their victim, which makes even the most intelligent victim feel stupid.  They may change their body language or physical position so they literally can look down at their victim.

If the narcissist’s victim has any sort of religious faith, the narcissist will not hesitate to use their beliefs to shame the victim.  Many tell their victims things like they are going to hell because of how they treat the narcissist, or they aren’t honoring their parent.  They let their victims know they are a total failure in every way, including their religious beliefs.

Narcissists view everything as a competition, & they will use comparisons to shame their victims.  If a narcissist & their victim have something in common, you can guarantee the narcissist will make sure the victim knows the narcissist does it better or has a better one or is more successful at it.  Whatever “it” is, the narcissist is the master, the victim the failure, according to the narcissist.

When a narcissist behaves in these ways towards you, keep in mind what is really happening!  You have no reason to be ashamed of yourself, no matter what the narcissist is saying.  He or she is only trying  to make you feel that way in order to abuse & manipulate you.  Like everything when it comes to narcissists, it’s all about the narcissist, & has nothing to do with you.  Never forget that!


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

12 responses to “Ways Narcissists Use Shame To Abuse

  1. My narcissist mother primarily chips away at my self-esteem by showing no interest in what I have to say. She interrupts and talks over me.

    When you first mentioned that I might be the scapegoat, I looked into it and was confused because my mom didn’t openly say mean things to me. She didn’t come right out and say “you are stupid”, “you are ugly”, “you are unsuccessful” etc. But then I realized she did actually say all these things in indirect ways.

    She would imply I was stupid by showing complete disinterest in anything I had to say unless I was agreeing with her.

    She would imply I was ugly with intermittent, backhanded compliments. For example, she would occasionally let me know my face didn’t look puffy once on a particular day. The comment would usually go something like this: “You look good today. You aren’t puffy. You often look puffy. I worried it was your medications.” (I take one medication – Propecia to keep from going bald. Fear of going bald and not looking good was a value she taught my brother and I. He recently had hair transplant surgery.)

    She would imply I was unsuccessful by showing disinterest in my work or life.
    She would instead interrupt to discuss the successes of others. In positive ways if it reflected on her. In negative ways if not.

    My brother’s successes are always mentioned in positive ways because it reflects on her, and she occasionally benefits.

    Others successes are mentioned in negative ways. For example, my mother was sure her sister bought a new appliance because she was jealous of her new appliance.

    I try to live a quiet, simple life, unlike my mother and brother who crave the spotlight. So insidious is this, that once I did buy a new couch out of necessity. I researched and bought a durable sofa from Macy’s. My narc mother had to go buy the exact same sofa – only with an ottoman! i realize she has always done this. She bought the same make and model of car I bought – only with extra features. She bought the same cell phone as mine – only with extra features. etc. etc.

    I realize as I write this, I am using the past-tense. I think that is a good sign! I hope I am getting closer to the “acceptance” stage of grief.

    Again, thanks for all you do Cynthia! Your compassionate heart is so appreciated!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sadly, your mother sounds so typical of many narcissists. They don’t always insult outright but imply. It gives them plausible deniability. My ex husband constantly got on me about my weight or about me not being smart.. I think I mentioned that before to you. If I confronted him, he would say things like, “I never said you were fat!” “I never called you stupid!” He was right.. he didn’t use those words. Instead, he’d imply I should’ve known something I didn’t, was wrong about things or a certain outfit didn’t flatter me. Your mother does the same thing from the sounds of it.

      As for the stuff, everything is a contest. You had a nice sofa, huh? She must have it but improve on it! It’s so stupid! Yet, they all are so competitive!

      It sounds like you are getting closer to acceptance! That is awesome!! It’s not easy to get there, but you’re doing it & I hope are proud of yourself!

      Thank you so very much!! You made my day! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. ibikenyc

    Oh, boy, is this timely!

    Last night he followed me in here and told me all about how I’M a Narcissist, including a whole list of stuff I do / am that “proves” it: My introvertedness; my high IQ; my psychogenic seizures (“IF,” that is, they really ARE psychogenic); few others that I forget.

    Then he pontificated at some length about my low EQ.

    Fortunately, I was able to ignore him. Heard all about that, too: “SEE?! Even now, the WHOLE time I was talking to you, you didn’t even make eye contact!”

    The one good thing that came out of all this is that it showed me that I’m a lot more healed than I’d believed. I was thinking how devastating such an accusation would be to a more-fragile person. I was upset, but only because I was worried that he’d somehow hacked into my account and was privy to my browsing history.

    I now turn this all over to You!

    Liked by 3 people

    • You really have done a lot of healing, not to be bothered by all that beyond worrying he hacked into your computer. Good for you!!!!

      Don’t you love it when they accuse us of things they do?? Projection.. such fun. Not. lol I do find one thing about it quite interesting. Most people say narcissists are incapable of self reflection. I disagree. They clearly know what they’re doing… they just refuse to accept responsibility for it & change it. That’s when they project. It bothers them to be less than perfect, especially if someone else sees them as less than perfect. Rather than deal with their flaws in a healthy manner, they accuse someone else of those very flaws so they can get angry about them without having to make any changes to their own behavior or even *gasp* admit to acting in such a way.

      Liked by 3 people

      • ibikenyc

        Thank you for the thumbs-up 🙂

        Yeah: Sometimes I’ll actually say to him, “Project much?” He obviously has no idea what that means, because he always answers “YES!” with a smug, self-righteous air.

        This didn’t at all undo me the way it once would have, but I was still pretty rattled by it; then annoyed at myself for letting it rattle me; then upset with myself for being annoyed; and on and on and on.

        I am SO Over having to always think about HIS issues / BS: What. About. Me?!

        Liked by 1 person

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