By Shahida Arabi
God & Man
By Shahida Arabi
God & Man
Narcissistic Rage, Explained
Many books, articles and online platforms for abuse survivors often focus on what happens when a narcissistic abuser‘devalues’ and ‘discards’their victims. Yetwhat happens when survivors are lucky enough to identify the abuse that is occurring to them and with the right support and resources, are able to leave their abusers first?
Unfortunately, what would otherwise be a path to freedom can be complicated by the predatory nature ofmalignant narcissists, whose severe sense of entitlement combined with an unnerving lack of empathy are intrinsic to their disorder. This is a dangerous combination that can result in the abuser sustaining what is known as anarcissistic injury(a threat to the narcissist’s sense of power and control) and subsequently,narcissistic rage.
This type of injury and rage manifests in different ways. According to Dr. Sarkis, narcissistic abusers are likely to do everything possible to win back their victims if they suspect they are on the verge of leaving. Yet this also applies to after their victims leave, as well. To explore what can happen when a survivor leaves his or her narcissistic abuser first and how survivors of narcissistic abuse can protect themselves in this vulnerable stage of their healing journey, I’ve listed the four main ways in which narcissists can act out their “injury” and pose potential harm to their victims, as well as some ways you can empower yourself during this precarious time.
1.Stalking and harassment.Unless the narcissistic abuser had other sources of narcissistic supply (people who provided them a steady stream of attention, praise, admiration, resources, etc.) they were already grooming by the time you left, chances are that he or she was left blindsided by your departure – especially if you planned your departure quietly and safely. A normal partner may be understandably hurt by a break-up that was sudden and not mutual, but eventually, that partner would understand if you needed to end a relationship because it was causing you much more pain than happiness. At the very least, that partner would find some way to move forward with his or her life, knowing that you were not the one for them.
An abusive narcissist? He or she will fly off the handle when they realize that you’ve ‘one-upped’ them somehow and “beaten them” to the discard. Despite the fact that you were obviously in severe emotional and/or physical danger, the narcissist will perceive your escape as an abandonment, rather than a way to secure your safety and sanity from their psychological violence.
See, abusive relationships with a narcissist rely on an idealization-devaluation-discard cycle which enables the narcissist to degrade their victims and discard their victims without any accountability whatsoever. This cycle confirms the narcissist’s distorted sense of being superior to their victims. If the victim ‘discards’ the narcissist first, he or she upsets the power dynamic that bolsters the abuser’s desire for power and validation.
Remember: even if you left the relationship for legitimate reasons – such as for your own emotional and physical safety, your abuser still views the relationship as a competition. For you, the seemingly helpless and powerless victim, to leave first, sends them into a tailspin of fury and devastation. After all, how dare their victims forge the path to freedom, when they essentially ‘belong’ to the narcissist? That is how the narcissist thinks and believes: they truly see their victims as objects to be owned, controlled, mistreated and used as emotional punching bags, not as independent agents with free will.
Make no mistake: you deserve to live a life free of abuse. You have rights. You have boundaries. You have limits. The narcissistic abuser works to erode those boundaries and rights throughout the abusive relationship and sustain a parasitic connection with their victims; they leech off their victim’s resources, empathy, compassion and compliance. By leaving the narcissist first, you threaten their sense of ownership over you and their excessive need to control and gain from you what they cannot find in themselves.
That is why the devastation they feel at the loss of supply is not due to the loss of the survivor, but rather,the loss of power they once held over the survivor. Narcissists rely on narcissistic supply (anything in the form of praise, money, gifts, sex, attention, etc.) to survive their daily experience. They are “addicts” that zoom in on vulnerable targets – anyone they perceive to have high degrees of empathy and compassion – and exploit those targets for all they’re worth, sucking them dry emotionally, physically,and spiritually. They use their victims as trophies to give themselves access to the victim’s resources – status, wealth, the reputation of being with someone attractive and/or successful, as well as social proof of their normalcy.
When their victims are able to escape their grasp without all of their resources being fully exhausted, or right around the time when the narcissist is depending on another devaluation phase to feed himself or herself thatdailyhigh – they become inexplicably enraged.
It is no wonder, then, that narcissistic abusers are known to stalk their former victims months, sometimes even years, after the ending of the relationship, especially if their victims discarded them first. They might harass and stalk you in person, through e-mail, texting, phone calls, voicemails, or third-party contact. They may stalk you on your social media platforms and even engage in cyberbullying or threats. Their messages can range from threatening to love-bombing, and may vacillate between rage and tenderness, causing a confusing cocktail of emotions for their victims who simultaneously may want to be left alone but may also be concernedabout whether the narcissist’s performances of remorse, pity ploys, or apologies are in any way authentic attempts at accountability.
The usual advice given to the survivor is to goNo Contactwith his or her abuser – but the sneakiest of narcissists will find their way around the barriers you place. It is actually very common for an abusive ex to linger far beyond the expiration date of the relationship, because abuse is all about power and control. In more extreme scenarios, an abusive partnermay hack into your computer or phone andinstall spyware; they may obtain a plethora of fake IP addresses or fake accounts to cyberbully you on different social media platforms without it being traced; they maythreaten you“anonymously” through different e-mail addresses or texts with messages that are meaningful to you but confusing to outsiders, in order to evade suspicion from law enforcement. Narcissists can even use various phone apps to mask their numbers and use multiple numbers to harass you all day long or bombard you with an excessive amount of messages per day. This leaves you with the rather dreary choices of blocking each and every number while a new one pops up, or changing your number altogether.
When stalking and harassment takes a severe emotional toll and you feel you are being retraumatized, unable to move forward in your journey to healing, it may be time to consider taking legal action (if, and only if, you feel safe doing so) whether by reporting the harassment to the police and/or filing foranorder of protectionorrestraining order.
Some survivors may not feel comfortable with this, as it has the potential of making their abusers even more vindictive and it may be even more traumatizing should the case proceed to court. Others may feel empowered by receiving legal documentation that will often make morecowardly narcissistsback out of their schemes as soon as they realize they may face legal consequences for their actions.
Research the laws in your state about how to best protect yourself, understand which laws support you indocumentingandrecordingthe various forms of abuse and remember to also consult theNational Domestic Violence Hotlineif you have any questions about how to proceed in your specific situation.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re taking some steps to document the harassment and stalking in case you ever need proof of it. Let those you trust know about what is occurring as well as your whereabouts. At this time, for your own safety, you need to be able to seek support and ‘check in’ with those who can help you – whether it be with a trusted friend, family member, therapist or all of the above.
Never forget: the time when an abuse victim isleaving an abusive relationshipcan be one of the most dangerous points in the abuse cycle. Please take care of yourself and do what you feel is most emotionally and physically safe as well as practical for you. Don’t discount your intuition, either – it cansave your life.
2.Devaluation and Jekyll and Hyde hoovering.After the breakup, the character of the narcissistic abuser can become disturbingly clear – and dangerous. Malignant narcissists will usually attempt to sweet-talk you back into the relationship with promises of change, faux remorse for their misdeeds, and feigned accountability for their actions. They may romanticize the relationship and re-idealize you, taking back all their hurtful words and actions in one fell swoop (or cleverly constructed text message). This is known as hoovering, and it is when, like a Hoover vacuum, the abuser attempts to “suck” their victim back into the abuse cycle.
Yet when you fail to comply with their demands to meet up, reconcile, remain friends or you resist the idealization in any way, abusive narcissistsrevert back to their true, vindictive selves. Pulling thesignature Jekyll and Hyde moves they subjected you to during the relationship, theydevalue you all over again, engaging in name-calling, cruel insults and demeaning remarks about your personality, your lifestyle, appearance, talents, career – anything and everything they can pull in to make you feel small, undesirable and unworthy.
For you to say “no” (even politely) and set boundaries is akin to setting off an atomic bomb in the narcissist’s eyes. It sends them into a frightening rage as they realize they can no longer control you and that you are actively resisting their hoovering attempts. Even if you are not verbally expressing anything, you are essentially saying “no” firmly through your actions, your silence and by refusing to get ensnared once more into the traumatic vortex of the relationship.
Your abuser had, after all, hoped that you would react just as you had all the other times you had reconciled with them after incidents of abuse – denying, minimizing or rationalizing the abuse while accepting the crumbs of their love-bombing efforts. Instead, they are left with a void in which they must try to secure other supply, lest they have to confront any need for possible self-evaluation.
Even if they are securing other supply after the break-up, it doesn’t mean they are done with you yet – they may still continue to harass and stalk you, taunting you and debasing you in order to regain a sense of power and control. They may text or call you while they’re with their new partners, to further minimize, provoke and compare you. They may swoop periodically in and out of your life through these hoovering tactics, so they can gain supply in the form of your emotional reactions.
3. Post-breakup triangulation.Once the narcissist has secured new supply, they’ll want you to know about it. That is why, on theNo Contactjourney, I always recommend that survivors block their narcissistic abusers as well as their harem members on all social media platforms, because even just one accidental look into their Facebook or Instagram can send you back into a downward spiral of self-doubt and self-blame if a new victim pops up shortly after the breakup.
Survivors who “discarded” the narcissist first may have an emotional advantage, in that they may be more fully connected to the reality of who the abuser is. These survivors may have resolved some of thecognitive dissonancethat arose during the relationship, and successfully battled the fear, obligation and guilt(FOG)that occurs due to the traumatic nature of this form of relationship. They know why no new victim should ever be envied, as these new victims too will also go through the same horrific cycle.
Still,anysurvivor is still vulnerable to post-breakuptriangulation(the deliberate manufacturing of love triangles to control and devalue you) whether online or in real life because survivors are still in the process of healing from their“addiction”andtrauma bondto the narcissist. This leaves them susceptible to further emotional manipulation, unnecessary comparisons and excessive gloating from their abusive ex-partner. To avoid this, be gentle with yourself and very firm with your boundaries so that you can remove temptation or the risk of encountering the abuser altogether.
Ensure that you are avoiding places that you know the narcissistic abuser frequents; remove any form of contact with their harem members; be mindful of any urges to ever reach out to or reestablish contact with a narcissistic partner, as they may be prone to using those instances to brag about their new supply.
4. Smear campaigns and threats.If you discarded the narcissist first without warning, they are sure to be desperate to reframe the narrative about you as soon as possible. This is because in breaking up with them first, you unintentionally ‘exposed’ who they truly were as well as the hidden nature of the abusive relationship – and exposure is one of the narcissist’s greatest fears. Breaking up with a narcissist threatens their very sense of security because it could potentially rip off their false mask and reveal the true self to their harem members.
Many narcissists beginthe smear campaigneven before any devaluation begins by sneaking in hints to their family members or friends about your shortcomings or projected abusive traits (which are in fact their own) and provoking you publicly throughout your relationship. Smear campaigns are often staged successfully when the narcissistic abuser has access to both his or her harem group as well asyoursocial network. However, if you never introduced the narcissist to your friends or your family, and if you are able to gain validation from within after the break-up, the smear campaign might be less effective.
The narcissist may still find other ways of slandering you – shortly after you leave them, they may threaten to release your personal information, such as private photos, text messages, videos or otherwise confidential discussions; theymaystalk and harass you online; they may contact others who know you as a way to gain information about you. The means in which they can desperately try to regain a sense of control over your life are endless – but the portal to inner peace is not as impossible to reach as you may think.
Remember: allsmear campaigns rely on the idea that the abuse victim is unable to self-validate and cope without the approval of others. The truth is, there may be legal ways to protect yourself againstslanderor the release ofprivateinformationdepending on the state you live in; you can still report the narcissist for harassment if they try to reach you via a third party; you can get professional support that helps to validate your experiences of the abuse and regain a sense of emotional freedom and security within yourself. As survivors, we still have choices, even if those choices primarily liewithin doing what we can to seek out resources and help.
Undoubtedly, this can be a difficult time, but all we can control is how we approach the situation and empower ourselves. Research what you can do legally to protect yourself. Build support networks that help to validate your experiences and strengthen your resolve to detach from the toxicity and focus on your own inner peace. Explorealternative and traditional healing modalitiesthat can reconnect you with a healthiermind, body and spirit.Find assistanceanywhere and everywhere– through domestic violence hotlines, lawyers, support groups, therapists, life coaches, books, articles – you name it, it can all be used to propel yourself towards healing and a brighter future.
Envision yourself being in a better place than the situation you’re currently in. Know your own worth and celebrate being finally free at last from your abuser. In knowing your inner power and trusting in your ability to survive seemingly insurmountable odds, you’ll realize that you are much more powerful than you might think. You were powerful enough to leave your abuser and survive the abuse – don’t underestimate how powerful you can be in thriving after it.
Want more writing like this? Read the bookPOWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic AbusebyShahida Arabi.
“Shahida Arabi is ahead of our time. I couldn’t have been in a darker place in my life when I found this book, after suffering at the hands of an abuser who was also a narcissist. This book gives you hope above all else, and it’s easily relateable if you have gone through abuse. Arabi is a talented, strong, real force of nature kind of writer. I have learned, survived and thrived in the time that I have madethis purchase.” – Desiree
How does a narcissist react when you discard them first? ›
They are the perennial victim and thus they will push all the blame for any of the relationship challenges on you if you decide to discard them first. They'll say you were too selfish, cold, uncaring, and uncooperative while implying that they were the only ones holding the relationship together.What happens when you dump the narcissist? ›
Breaking up with a narcissist is likely to be a draining experience. Either they won't let you go without a fight, or they will discard you without looking back. Both experiences are extremely hurtful.What is the best response to narcissistic rage? ›
Dealing with any form of narcissist can be difficult, but when you see that the narcissist is enraged, do not continue engaging with them. Physically distance yourself from them as much as you can. Ignore them and avoid any interaction with them. Set your boundaries, remembering that they will try to manipulate you.What happens if you ignore a narcissist after they discard you? ›
If you ignore them and deny them of their source, they may become enraged. They will essentially have a tantrum and throw insults and threats at you. In pronounced cases, behaviour can resemble sociopathic traits and may even get violent.How do you make a narcissist fear you after discard? ›
- Don't give them your attention. These attention-seekers will do anything to be noticed. ...
- Starve them of empathy. ...
- Show strength and confidence. ...
- Ignore them. ...
- Set and enforce boundaries. ...
- Challenge them. ...
- Implement consequences. ...
- Expose their narcissism.
The relationship cycle typical of extreme narcissistic abuse generally follows a pattern. Individuals in emotionally abusive relationships experience a dizzying whirlwind that includes three stages: idealization, devaluing, and discarding.Do narcissists feel guilty after discard? ›
It is common for people with a narcissistic personality disorder to regret discarding or losing someone, but it does not mean what you might think. If they feel regret, it is not because they hurt you. It is for losing something that they value. You are a possession, not a real person.What words can destroy a narcissist? ›
- 'I know the truth about you' or 'I see right through you' ...
- 'I don't remember that' ...
- 'I'm busy and don't have time for you right now' ...
- 'You are a failure' or 'I am so disappointed in you' ...
- 'It's your fault' ...
- 'I Don't Believe You' ...
They can have deep regret for failed relationships and they may feel loss very deeply. But they feel that regret and loss only insofar as they relate to their own agenda and feelings . Their remorse points inward. They may feel very sad that they lost someone and they may genuinely miss that person.What angers a narcissist the most? ›
Deep-Seated Fear of Rejection / Being Unimportant – This is the core of narcissistic rage. Many narcissists are constantly hounded by the insecurity that people may not see them as the privileged, powerful, popular, or “special” individuals they make themselves to be, and react intensely when their fears are confirmed.
What are rage attacks typical of a narcissist? ›
This rage may take the form of screaming and yelling. Selective silence and passive-aggressive avoidance can also happen with narcissistic rage. Most episodes of narcissistic rage exist on a behavior continuum. On one end, a person may be aloof and withdrawn.What provokes narcissistic rage? ›
Narcissistic rage can be triggered in a person with NPD when they perceive that those near them are questioning their abilities, or they are not being appreciated and recognized. These actions lead to feelings of extreme shame and fear that someone will see their vulnerable side.How do you know if a narcissist discard is permanent? ›
You point out all their flaws and deflecting onto you is exhausting for the narcissist, so they give up. The discard is permanent because you don't allow them to use their narcissist tactics on you.Do narcissists stop thinking about you after the discard? ›
As a general rule, narcissists will come back after discarding you. But sadly, this isn't because they love, care about, or miss you. It is because they want to maintain power and control over you for as long as possible.What makes a narcissist devalue you after discarding you? ›
You were too difficult for them to control. You were easily manipulated by them, causing them to look down upon you. You no longer fuel their ego, so they've moved on to someone else who can supply what they need.How do you beat a narcissist in his own game? ›
- Recognize and Acknowledge the Abuse. A relationship with a narcissist often has a façade of normality. ...
- Don't Stoop to Their Level. Narcissists thrive on drama. ...
- Don't React to Their Abusive Tactics. Your reaction is exactly what they want. ...
- Remain Mindful of Your Needs and Emotions.
- 1. “ ...
- “I Can't Control How You Feel About Me” ...
- “I Hear What You're Saying” ...
- “I'm Sorry You Feel That Way” ...
- “Everything Is Okay” ...
- “We Both Have a Right to Our Own Opinions” ...
- “I Can Accept How You Feel” ...
- “I Don't Like How You're Speaking to Me so I Will not Engage”
Being more secretive may also be a sign of narcissistic discard. People with NPD may begin to hide things from the other person, withhold information, or behave in more secretive ways. For example, they might refuse to tell someone what their plans are, where they're going, or what they've been doing.What is the silent treatment in the narcissist discard phase? ›
Silent treatment vs silent discard
People with narcissistic tendencies tend to see others as objects to meet their needs and will discard them when it is no longer met or the person adds no value. Their pattern of relationship is to idealise, devalue and then discard. The silent treatment is a temporary discard.
Narcissists carry a LOT of shame. From mistakes made in the past, fear of not being enough, to fear of criticism in the present and future. For many narcissists their lives are rather shame-based but, they will never admit it.
What scares a narcissist off? ›
Although narcissists act superior, entitled and boastful, underneath their larger-than-life facade lies their greatest fear: That they are ordinary. For narcissists, attention is like oxygen. Narcissists believe only special people get attention.What is a narcissist's weakness? ›
A monumental weakness in the narcissist is the failure to look internally and flesh out what needs to be worked on. Then, of course, the next step is to spend time improving. The narcissist sabotages any possibility of looking deep within.How do you mentally beat a narcissist? ›
- Educateyourself. Find out more about the disorder. It can help you understand the narcissist's strengths and weaknesses and learn how to handle them better. ...
- Create boundaries. Be clear about your boundaries. ...
- Speak up for yourself. When you need something, be clear and concise.
Although they will try to mask it as much as possible, a narcissist will get angry, seeing that you have moved on already. Deep down the show of grandiosity, narcissists have a fragile sense of self-esteem, which is easily threatened when they see their ex with someone else.Does a narcissist ever let go of a victim? ›
Breakups with narcissists don't always end the relationship. Many won't let you go, even when they are the ones who left the relationship, and even when they're with a new partner. They won't accept “no.” They hoover in an attempt to rekindle the relationship or stay friends after a breakup or divorce.How does a narcissist feel when you discard him? ›
As a result, their charming, charismatic, confident, and articulate personality begins to disintegrate and they are left feeling unlovable, undesirable, inadequate, worthless, and weak. This is why discarding a narcissist makes them feel rejected, humiliated, and abandoned.What is the greatest revenge on the narcissist? ›
- Criticize them.
- Take authority away from them.
- Say “no.”
- Go “no contact.”
- Expose their behavior in public.
- Succeed in areas they want to dominate.
- Make them jealous.
- Trick them into doing you a favor.
They get jealous about everything
They talk a good game, but narcissists actually have very low self-esteem. Low self-worth/confidence/esteem is at the core of a narcissism. This low sense of self naturally makes it extremely easy for them to become jealous – very jealous.
Empathize with Their Feelings
It is extremely soothing to Narcissists when you demonstrate that you understand and empathize with how they feel. But..do not insert anything about how the situation makes you feel, or anything about you at all unless it is an apology.
Signs of narcissistic collapse include: Stonewalling the other person (completely withdrawing from the conversation, often without warning) Gaslighting. Repeatedly accusing someone or something else for hurting them.
What words not to say to a narcissist? ›
- Don't say, "It's not about you." ...
- Don't say, "You're not listening." ...
- Don't say, "Ina Garten did not get her lasagna recipe from you." ...
- Don't say, "Do you think it might be your fault?" ...
- Don't say, "You're being a bully." ...
- Don't say, "Stop playing the victim."
In a survey we conducted among 400 survivors of narcissistic abuse, we found that the average duration of a single narcissistic rage episode is three hours. We also found that the average duration of narcissistic rage from a narcissist who was experiencing multiple episodes is five-and-a-half days.What is an example of a narcissistic rage? ›
A narcissist wants others to acknowledge their dominance and superiority. They feel they know better than everyone else so if this is challenged, they can become angry. For example, your manager explains a work-related issue but they get something wrong and you correct or challenge them.What personality type do narcissists hate? ›
Type As can also be dangerous to narcissists
Although they can be targeted, type A people can also become a narcissist's worst nightmare. One of the most important defenses against dark personalities is having strong boundaries yourself, and type A people are usually aware they have the right to build them.
Narcissists love attention, validation, and power. So what drives a narcissist crazy? Simply put, anything that jeopardizes their basic needs for superiority can quickly irritate them. If you want to know how to infuriate a narcissist, you can look no further than giving them nothing.Can you tell a narcissist that they hurt you? ›
Narcissists don't know they're hurting you. It doesn't even enter their minds. And, if you try to tell them how you feel, they get defensive and make you feel you're wrong again. In fact, they'll even rather “innocently” tell you: “I'm only trying to help you.”How does a narcissist end a relationship? ›
A narcissist will gaslight their partner throughout the relationship, to the very end, making them question their own beliefs and sabotaging their self-esteem. Allow me to remind you, they are making it obvious that you are not needed, but they won't call it quits.How does the narcissist react when he realizes you no longer care? ›
Worse, their neediness fuels anger, criticism, rage, and passive aggressions. In their neediness they draw you into griping sessions, circular arguments, and complaints. Likewise, it prompts them to use sales tactics (like persuasion and pleading) in their discussions with you.How does the narcissist feel when you move on? ›
They're utterly delusional in believing that you couldn't possibly want to be with anyone else because there is no one better than them. Because you've moved on to someone new, your new partner serves as a constant reminder that they were not good enough for you, so they'll launch an attack against them.How do you make a narcissist lose their mind? ›
- Tactic #1. Know your enemy. ...
- Tactic #2. Call them out on their “bs” ...
- Tactic #3. Tell them, “No” ...
- Tactic #4. Hit them with new boundaries. ...
- Tactic #5. Hold them accountable. ...
- Tactic #6. Set consequences. ...
- Tactic #7. Hit them with facts and evidence. ...
- Tactic #8. Shift the spotlight onto yourself.
How does a narcissist feel when you reject him? ›
Gaslighters/narcissists are extremely sensitive to rejection. Any perceived slight can throw them into a tailspin. Many times, gaslighters/narcissists will be out for revenge. One of the most common ways gaslighters/narcissists attack those who reject them is by subjecting them to public humiliation.How do you tell if a narcissist is jealous of you? ›
- The inability to congratulate others on a job well done.
- A constant redirection to ones self when he or she is not in the center of attention. ...
- Contempt and condescension.
- Minimization and misattribution.
- Perpetually moving the goal posts.