Tag Archives: isolation
Narcissists clearly are experts in the area of controlling. One lesser known tactic they use is called coercive control. It is most commonly known to happen in romantic relationships, but it also can happen in parent/child relationships.
Coercive control doesn’t always involve physical violence, yet victims wonder if they don’t obey the narcissist, will it turn violent one day? Fear is a great weapon, & those who use coercive control are well aware of that fact. Often without so much as touching their victim, they instill a deep fear in them.
There are other signs of coercive control that people need to be aware of abusers using.
Intimidation is a big red flag. Towards the end of my first marriage, my ex was trying to intimidate me by punching things other than me. After, he would tell me how lucky I was he was hitting the walls instead of me. Other forms of intimidation can include showing weapons, blocking you from leaving the room or standing over you in a way as to make themselves look much bigger than you.
“Minor” violent acts. I hate to use the word minor with violent acts because it sounds like it’s trivializing violence. That isn’t my intention. What I mean is acts like pushing, holding you in place or even pinching hard. These are so called minor violent acts.
Using threats to control. Threatening to leave you, to commit suicide or hurt your child or pet in order to get what they want fall into the category of coercive control.
Micromanaging a victim. When someone controls things like how you dress or how you wash the dishes, it makes you easy to control because in time, you feel as if you must ask your partner for permission to do everything. Some parents continue treating their adult child as if they were young children in need of their guidance well into adulthood. This is known as infantilization.
Financial abuse. An abusive partner will keep their mate in the relationship by destroying their credit, spending all of their paychecks or refusing them all access to the couple’s finances.
Isolation is another form of coercive control. It’s no secret that abusers isolate their victims. Isolation makes victims easy to control by limiting the information & support they can receive from outside sources. Abusers may claim their victims’ friends or family aren’t good for them as one way to isolate their victims.
Sex is a very commonly used method of coercive control. Abusers may violently rape their victims of course, but that isn’t always the case. Many use shame, saying things like, “Any other woman in the world would do this one little thing for me…” or, “If you loved me, you would do this for me.” They also may be very good lovers at first to get you hooked on sex with them, then in time, they suddenly lose interest in having sex with you. When you practically beg them is when they have power over you. They use the opportunity to tell you what they want from you that will make them regain interest in sex.
When things like this happen, it’s not easy to identify these behaviors as abusive at first. Abusers get worse gradually, to build a victim’s tolerance to abuse. This is probably why so many victims stay… it happened so gradually, they didn’t even realize it was happening. By the time they did, they felt unable to escape.
If this describes you or someone you know, please get out NOW!!! These behaviors are all signs of a potentially violent person! Protect yourself & stay safe! xoxo
Narcissists love keeping victims to themselves, & will go to any means necessary to accomplish it. Isolating a victim gives an abuser plenty of advantages…
The victim with no support system without caring friends & family, which often makes a victim easier to control. Supportive friends & family give a person strength & help to raise their self-esteem, which are two qualities no abuser wants in a victim.
If a victim doesn’t even realize the situation he or she is in is abusive, caring people in his or her life will recognize it. They will call the victim’s attention to it & convince the victim that he or she deserves better. They also will do their level best to help the victim to escape. Certainly no narcissist wants this scenario!
Lacking that support system also can lead to depression. Depressed people are much easier to control than happy people. They simply don’t care as much about anything, including themselves, so they may go along with all kinds of things. They also won’t talk back or question an abuser like a healthy person would. They don’t think they deserve any better, so they are easy to manipulate which works out very well for abusers.
Also with isolation, this severely limits the information available to a victim. This means a victim is less likely to realize how wrong the abuse is & more likely to tolerate the abuse without question. Isolation also means an abuser can control what information the victim is privy to, which is extremely advantageous to abusers.
Isolation can be accomplished by several different means, & abusers will use any or all of these tactics to get their way.
If a victim already has friends &/or relatives they are close to when the abusive relationship begins, most abusers will sow seeds of doubt in their victims’ minds about those relationships. My ex husband did this. We met just before I turned 17, & even then, he was starting to work on isolating me. It got worse after we were married, though. He began telling me that my best friend wasn’t really a good friend. At the time, her now ex husband was doing the same thing regarding me. As a result, our friendship ended. (Thankfully we got back in touch after our divorces & are now inseparable.) My ex also told me that my grandparents, who I adored, hated me & didn’t believe me that my mother was abusive, so I shouldn’t talk to them anymore. He did it enough that I did sever ties with them for years.
If an abuser isn’t successful at making a victim doubt a person, they have other ways to destroy the relationship. If their victim is with someone, they can call constantly, interrupting that time together & generally being highly annoying. Before getting together with someone, the abuser can create some crisis, forcing the victim to cancel their plans. Bonus for them is if they can make the victim not tell the person they had plans with, to just stand them up, because certainly that person will be angry. Abusers also may keep victims so busy, they simply have no time to spend with anyone but the abuser.
Another way to isolate victims is for an abuser to show their disgust with the victim’s friends or family. Constantly talking about how bad the people the victim cares about are can erode the love the victim feels for them. The victim may begin to see these people as the narcissist does, & the victim ends those relationships voluntarily.
If the victim grows up with an abusive parent, that abuser has a big advantage that a romantic partner lacks. The abusive parent can control the child from birth, & refuse to allow that child to befriend anyone of whom the parent doesn’t approve. The parent can keep the child so close that the child has no opportunity to make friends. A parent can even home school the child or refuse to allow the child to spend time with extended family, & the child must do as he or she is told.
If you’re involved with someone, anyone, who undermines your relationships or tries to separate you from others, it’s a HUGE red flag! If at all possible, don’t let this person isolate you! Maintain your healthy relationships! They are truly invaluable!
When most people think of narcissists, they think of someone loud & obnoxious, who is obviously abusive. That isn’t always the case however. Some tactics narcissists use to abuse their victims are very subtle. So much so that when they happen, a victim may not give them a moment’s thought. That doesn’t make these tactics any less abusive.
Trying to “fix” your appearance. This can be done in very subtle ways, such as suggesting what foods you can eat to help you lose weight or what clothes would look better on you than what you normally wear. It’s a way to shame your looks disguised as offering helpful suggestions. It’s also a good way to make someone look like what the narcissist wants that person to look like.
Isolation. Whether the narcissist in your life is a parent or spouse, it’s a safe bet that person wants to isolate you. They may say things like, “She isn’t really your friend. If she was, she would/wouldn’t ….” “I heard he said …. about you. It was a terrible thing to say, especially since he’s your brother!” “They don’t like me. It really hurts me you’d be friends with people who obviously hate me.” The fewer people in your life, the easier you are to control. You won’t be able to talk about your situation with anyone, so no one can tell you what he or she is doing is wrong.
Disrespecting your boundaries. It starts out small.. a little compromise you don’t object to. Then it’s another, slightly bigger compromise, then another & another. Before you know it, you aren’t allowed to have any boundaries. The old saying, “give him an inch, he’ll take a mile” is the absolute truth with narcissists.
Making you doubt yourself. “Are you sure you said that?” “No, I don’t think you really want that. I think you’d prefer….” Subtle phrases like this are nothing but gaslighting. They make a person doubt their perceptions, feelings, & opinions. It’s a very subtle way of tearing a person down mentally & emotionally.
Using anger to control you. In romantic relationships, they hide their anger until they are comfortable that you’re in it for the long haul, then they start using their anger suddenly. Overt narcissists often will scream & rage, sometimes for hours. Covert narcissists give quiet displays of their rage- they give the silent treatment, give disapproving looks, tell other people how cruel you are to them & play the victim. Some narcissists will punch walls or take their anger out on inanimate objects as a way to intimidate you. My ex husband did this & told me how lucky I was he took his anger out on our microwave instead of me.
If someone is doing these things to you or someone you know, it’s abuse, plain & simple! You have every right to protect yourself from this type of behavior, no matter who is doing it. Take back your power! Set & enforce your boundaries. Leave if the person becomes angry, especially if you’re afraid for your safety. Rekindle old friendships the narcissist forced you to abandon. Start a journal if you don’t currently have one, & keep track of the things the narcissist says- seeing things in writing may give you more clarity. Most of all pray. Ask God what you should do in this situation. He will guide you & give you creative ways to handle it or the strength to go no contact.
Good afternoon, Dear Readers! I hope this post finds you well.
I am making progress on my new book about narcissistic mothers. As of today, it’s at 38,500 words (needs to be 40-60,000). Gettin’ there! And thank God for that, because this is one very hard book to write! I’m very surprised at just how challenging it is. After writing my autobiography, “Emerging From The Chrysalis,” I was sure everything else I’d ever write would be a walk in the park. Seeing the traumatic events of my life written out in black & white was very hard for me, yet validating at the same time. This book is not the same..not even close!
Devoting an entire book to the topic of maternal narcissism has been a daunting task. I know a lot on the topic, but I was unsure if I had enough to fill up a whole book. I have asked God to help me out- make sure I leave nothing out of this book, & please teach me what I didn’t know that He wanted to be included. He has answered those prayers. I have been learning a lot! Things to include about the book as well as things in my personal life that I never thought of as abusive before.
For example, today I was writing about isolation being the favorite tool of all abusers, why they do it, & how engulfing narcissitic mothers (like mine) excel at isolating their children from others. After writing some on the topic, I decided to research it online, to see if there was anything I forgot. What I read slapped me in the face. Hard. Here is a portion of it:
“The abuser may “assign” the victim numerous domestic duties designed to keep her at home. “
(see the full article here: http://www.abigails.org/Saul&David/control%20&%20isolation.htm)
Wow. I never thought of this as abusive behavior! My ex-husband’s mother used to do this to me during the brief time we lived with his parents. I never understood why I had to work so much for her. I was responsible for all housework, balancing her checkbook, & maintaining paperwork & records for my ex’s father’s trucking business. Other miscellaneous tasks were assigned to me as well. There were three other adults in the house- why was so much on me? I now wonder if was because my ex was very much into isolating me, & if she was “helping” him by keeping me so busy. They were a very dysfunctional family, so that is a distinct possibility. Also the only answer I can come up with at the moment.
Thinking back, she also didn’t like me spending time with friends or having them over to our house. Another isolating behavior.
Whatever the reasoning behind this behavior, this new realization hurts. I loved his mother a great deal- she & I were good friends, & often had a lot of fun together, in spite of the frequent problems in our relationship during the time of living together.
Something else to process. Yay for me.. not.
Sometimes it seems like healing is the most frustrating, never-ending thing in the world, & sometimes I get so tired of new revelations that show me just how abused I have been in my life. Honestly, it gets depressing! I don’t like feeling sorry for myself, but it is hard to avoid 100% of the time. I know it can be healthy to indulge in a bit of self-pity sometimes, but even so, it doesn’t feel nice. Learning these things also makes me wonder what is it about me that makes people think it’s ok to abuse me?! Do I behave in a certain way that says “Go ahead- hurt me. Treat me like dirt. It’s fine!” UGH!
In spite of my lousy mood, though, I’m still glad that God is helping me to heal, learn & grow. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it can be frustrating. However, it also is helping me understand behaviors & people a lot better. It’s answering some questions, like why do I get angry or hurt when people behave a certain way. Like with my ex- mother in-law. Her list of “duties” for me to do every day used to really make me angry at the unfairness of the amount of duties I had to contend with compared to everyone else in the house. But, I never knew why until today. Now, I understand, & feel validated. Angry, but validated, & at least the anger won’t last long- I am usually pretty quick to forgive.
This really lousy mood is telling me that it’s time to relax. Maybe stop working on the book for a little while, too. Relax, turn on some good music or watch a good movie or tv show, do some nurturing behavior that makes me feel good like crafting or snuggling the furkids. & no cooking- hubby is either taking me out tonight or we will have something delivered.