5 thoughts on “Emotional Abuse and the Impact of Absence

  • January 12, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Although I like the fact that we are encouraged to consider the affects of abuse on us as it encourages the individual to be trauma sensitive, I don’t like the idea that personality disorders are presumed to be at fault for emotional abuse. So often people with complex trauma are severe victims of abuse and are so hurt that they recapitulate. Additionally, often those with personality disorders are the identified patient and suffer from damning stigma. This only makes things worse for all involved. I think the article implies the best thing to do is leave and take care of yourself. While sometimes this is necessary and needed, destigmatizing people and not treating them as damaged goods can help

    • January 15, 2016 at 2:12 am

      In my opinion it’s a personal decision about how much one can handle or should handle in a personal relationship with someone who has a personality disorder of some sort, and all personality disorders and all people are different and unique. I definitely do not want to stigmatize anyone, but I do want to be realistic about some, particularly the cluster B disorders, particularly narcissism. By definition, narcissists’ pathology is in the arena of interpersonal relationships. They have no insight, no empathy, do not listen to others, are incapable of mutuality, do not resolve conflicts, have a strong sense of entitlement, can be grandiose, and, in my opinion (and maybe this is an understatement), are on the border of delusional. Maybe you can know someone casually who is a narcissist, but you cannot have a healthy interpersonal relationship with one. The best you can do is learn how to “detach with love,” and if that is too hard, at least you can try to detach from the expectation of having a satisfying relationship with one.

  • January 15, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Thank you for this article. After 25 years of what I kept telling myself was a good marriage, I have realized that my wife is extremely emotionally abusive. This was confirmed to me by our marriage counselor who also told me that if I were a woman, she would have already told me to get out of the house. Your writing has helped me to see that a lot of her abuse is because of what she isn’t doing, and I have never really been able to put my finger on it or adequately explain it. Our counselor has also told me that my wife has NPD. learning about that has really helped me to see the truth more clearly, although it is still hard as a “normal” person to wrap my head around the reality of narcissism.

    Unfortunately we are now at the end. She has had 2 affairs that I know of and the most she has been able to say about them is an I’m sorry, while showing no sorrow. I have asked her to leave several times and she just looks at me like I’m crazy for even thinking that. It is all my fault, it’s he parents fault, it’s her sisters fault, it’s the churches fault. She will not commit herself to being faithful to me, but just expects me to be there for her and to continue to provide all her needs. 95% of the time she lives in a make believe world where everything is fine, nothing is wrong, and she is in control. I think this is one of the things that I feel the most abused over. The attitude totally denies that there are mountainous problems that have to be dealt with, it makes me feel crazy. I have finally gotten to the point that I actually confront her at times, but nothing happens. Just yesterday I confronted her on her emotional abuse of the kids and she just looks at me like I’m crazy to even suggest such a thing and she gets really angry. An hour later you would think that nothing happened.

    So, now I am faced with trying to divorce a narcissist and trying to do it with as little collateral damage as possible.


    • January 16, 2018 at 12:45 am

      The best thing you can do for yourself is to divorce your narcissist. Your life will be so much better!! There is nothing better than liberty!

  • January 25, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Thank your, Dr. Stines, for a very enlightening blog. I am an adult child of two narcissistic parents so double the trouble. I would like to comment on the issue of general abuse and emotional abuse by my parents both by omission and commission.

    There was the obvious critical put-down verbalization on a regular basis so I grew up my first 20 years and felt worthless, not able to think for myself, nor able to do anything unless they told me how to do it. I know this a season in my life when I felt I had “no voice”, narcissists tell you how to feel and act so you don’t talk for yourself, and God knows I tried a million times and got knocked down (literally) each time.

    But the most difficult issue is the critical missing part of normal child rearing which is to encourage, affirm, love, admonish when necessary, provide pats on the back, and verbally uplift a struggling son or daughter. There are two aspects within a normal healthy family with normal parents and children: law and gospel, the guidelines clearly laid out with boundaries and then the forgiveness, compassion, love and peace part. When the gospel part of bringing up children is missing, the kids of narcissistic parents really go astray in their world-view of what is a healthy relationship.

    When heading off to university I had the most unhealthy view of what a good, mutually loving friendship and/or relationship should look like. I was convinced that everyone was out to criticize me, put me down, put me in my place and make sure I never challenged anything. My only sibling, a brother three years older, became a life-long functioning alcoholic as he could not deal with his sense of worthlessness–all developed over years and years of mental and emotional abuse by my parents. He became a successful engineer, married and had two children and all along struggled with low-self esteem, a feeling of never being good enough so he drank daily for 40 + years to give himself a false sense of value.

    As the other child in this horribly dysfunctional family I suffered at their hands, and when you know you have no voice, no vote, no opinion that matters, you finally begin to throw in with them; just to feel a sense of belonging to someone or something.

    In my mid-twenties I married and was at that time addicted to both alcohol and prescription drugs. While dealing with the world and its expectations and yet feeling worthless you just don’t know what to do with the exceeding heavy burden of guilt and shame constantly leveled upon you by your parents even though you no longer live in their house. I worked a Chef Accountant for an insurance company so I held responsible positions, managed a department of people, etc. but much like my older brother daily struggled with the voices saying “Who do you think you are? You can’t do anything!”

    Once I became a Christian, I was finally set free and knew for the very first time that God indeed loved me, created me and had given His Son Jesus Christ for me and my life. So, things got better but it has taken me five decades to sort through the verbal, physical and other abuses by my parents and I began to gradually peel those hurts and insults, pain and frustration away as one peels an onion. It is still ongoing and I’m 73 years old.

    Having to submit to a Narcissist or two, during one’s formative emotional building years, can make it afterwards, a life-long struggle to find peace, calm, balance and a sense of honest self-worth. When people congratulate me on a job well done, I still struggle with being able to accept that positive encouragement even though I know it is true. 70 years later and the voices of my critical and abusive parents still ring in my ears and heart.

    I find and am deeply saddened that I still long for their approval and they have both been dead for years. This is an up-hill struggle and I believe I’m on the right road but there are days it takes all the physical, emotional and Spiritual energy I have to wake up and feel that I am a good person, worthy of Christ’s death on the cross.


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