Skip to Content

Why does the narcissist abuse you?

Narcissistic abuse is a chronic form of psychological and emotional violence inflicted upon victims by malignant narcissists. The abusers are driven by their disordered needs for validation, power, and control over others. This leads them to devalue and discard their victims without remorse or empathy.

What is narcissistic abuse?

Narcissistic abuse refers to the patterns of manipulation, mistreatment, and exploitation that victims experience at the hands of narcissists. It encompasses emotional, psychological, financial, and sometimes physical abuse.

Narcissistic abuse differs from other forms of abuse in that it is perpetrated by narcissists – people who have an inflated sense of self-importance and feel superior to others. They have an excessive need for control and lack empathy. Their abusive and exploitative behaviors are driven by their sense of entitlement and need to manipulate and exploit others for personal gain.

Common forms of narcissistic abuse

  • Gaslighting – distorting the truth and denying the victim’s reality
  • Projection – attributing their own flaws onto the victim
  • Scapegoating – blaming the victim for the narcissist’s mistakes or bad behavior
  • Triangulation – turning people against the victim
  • Stonewalling – emotionally withdrawing from the victim
  • Insults and put-downs
  • Devaluation – making the victim feel worthless
  • Discarding – abandoning the victim without warning or reason
  • Smear campaigns – slandering the victim’s reputation
  • Financial abuse – stealing, withholding money, or sabotaging victim’s job
  • Coercion and threats
  • Isolation – cutting off victim’s support system
  • Exploitation – using the victim for personal gain

Why do narcissists abuse?

Narcissists abuse others for several key reasons:

To control the victim

Narcissists have a pathological need for power and control over others. Abusing the victim is a way to maintain dominance and authority in the relationship. Narcissists will degrade, criticize, bully and manipulate their victims in order to get them to comply with their demands.

To validate their false self

Narcissists have a grandiose false self that requires constant validation. Putting their victims down helps them to elevate their own fragile egos and maintain their fantasies of superiority.

Their sense of entitlement

Narcissists feel entitled to abuse, exploit, and manipulate their victims in order to get their own needs met. They do not recognize the victim as a separate person with their own rights and boundaries.

To relieve insecurities

Deep down, narcissists feel insecure and inadequate. Abusing others provides temporary relief for these feelings of deficiency by making the victim feel even more insecure.

Sadistic tendencies

Some narcissists derive pleasure and sadistic gratification from demeaning and tormenting their victims. Watching victims suffer boosts their egos.

Defense mechanism

When held accountable for their actions, narcissists deflect blame and responsibility through emotional and psychological abuse. Victims are made to think they are the problem.

Lack of empathy

One of the hallmarks of narcissism is a complete lack of empathy. They are unable to put themselves in their victim’s shoes or understand the pain they inflict. This allows them to abuse without remorse.

7 stages of narcissistic abuse

Narcissistic abuse tends to follow predictable patterns and occur in cycles. These stages may look different depending on the context, but commonly include:

1. Idealization

The narcissist showers the victim with excessive praise, flattery, and attentiveness. The victim feels special, loved, and validated.

2. Devaluation

The narcissist begins alternating loving behavior with belittling comments, insults, and emotional unavailability. The victim’s self-esteem starts to erode.

3. Discarding

The narcissist abruptly ends the relationship, often without warning or explanation. The victim is left confused, broken, and discarded.

4. Hoovering

Seeing the victim move on, the narcissist returns and uses emotional manipulation to suck the victim back into the relationship.

5. Re-idealization

The narcissist promises change and showers the victim with love. The victim believes the narcissist and re-enters the relationship.

6. Re-devaluation

The cycle begins again, with narcissist belittling and abusing the victim even worse than before. The idealization-devaluation cycle repeats.

7. Final discard

At some point, the narcissist tires of the relationship and discards the victim for good. The victim is left traumatized.

Effects of narcissistic abuse

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can leave long-lasting emotional and psychological scars. Effects of narcissistic abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • PTSD
  • Stockholm syndrome
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • C-PTSD
  • Self-blame and guilt
  • Difficulty trusting others

Why victims stay

Narcissistic abuse is highly traumatizing and difficult to escape. Victims stay for many reasons, including:

Trauma bonding

The cycle of abuse forms an addictive attachment making it hard to leave. Intermittent reinforcement hooks the victim.


The narcissist instills fear in the victim through intimidation, threats, and coercive control. The victim is terrified to leave.


Narcissists manipulate victims into believing the abuse is their fault. Victims feel obligated to stay and try to fix things.

Financial control

Economic abuse, such as restricting access to money, sabotaging jobs, and accumulating debt in shared accounts inhibits the victim’s ability to be independent.


With their support system destroyed, victims have no one to turn to and nowhere to go if they leave.

False hope

During the idealization and hoovering phases, the narcissist gives their victim just enough hope to keep them holding on.


Victims blame themselves for the abuse, believing if they just try harder, they can make it stop.

Learned helplessness

The chronic abuse leaves victims feeling helpless and believing there is nothing they can do to change the situation.

Low self-esteem

Victims’ self-esteem is completely destroyed by the narcissist’s cruelty, making them feel unworthy of a better life.

Signs you are in a relationship with a narcissist

Here are some key signs your partner may be a narcissist:

Signs of a narcissistic partner
– Belittles and demeans you
– Uses gaslighting and projection tactics
– Shows little remorse for hurting you
– Exploits and manipulates you
– Acts entitled and superior
– Requires constant praise and admiration
– Lacks empathy for you
– Excessive anger when challenged
– Hot and cold behavior
– Dishonesty and deception

How to safely leave a narcissist

Ending a relationship with a narcissist can be extremely challenging and even dangerous. Here are some tips for leaving safely:

Create a safety plan

Document the abuse and identify safe spaces you can go to. Set money aside, pack a bag, and have your important documents ready.

Build your support system

Surround yourself with people who can provide emotional support and practical assistance. Join a support group.

Set firm boundaries

Limit contact as much as possible. Reject any hoovering attempts firmly and consistently.

Get legal protections

You may need to get a restraining order, custody order, or divorce. Consult a lawyer to understand your options.

Seek professional help

Enlist the support of a trauma-informed therapist to help you safely detach and start healing from the abuse.

Practice self-care

Make your physical, mental, and emotional well-being a top priority. Adopt healthy coping mechanisms like meditation.

Stay vigilant

Narcissists don’t respect boundaries. Be watchful in protecting yourself and your loved ones.

Healing from narcissistic abuse

Recovering from narcissistic abuse takes time, but healing is possible. Some important steps include:

  • Seeking therapy and support groups
  • Blocking the narcissist on all platforms
  • Journaling and processing trauma
  • Learning about narcissism
  • Practicing mindfulness and self-care
  • Setting healthy boundaries
  • Forgiving yourself and moving forward

With determination, support, and compassion for yourself, you can overcome the pain of narcissistic abuse and reclaim your self-worth. The future will be so much brighter without the narcissist’s toxicity dragging you down.


Narcissists abuse due to their disordered personalities and toxic inner worlds. Their deep insecurities and need for control leads them to systematically manipulate, exploit and traumatize their victims. Recognizing the signs of narcissistic abuse and leaving safely requires courage and support. With time, victims can fully heal from the trauma and recover their sense of self-worth stolen from them by the narcissist. There is hope for a happier, more peaceful life ahead.