No amount of makeup can cover up an ugly personality.
We often read stories of women being abused by men but what about the other way round? The narcissistic woman is every bit as evil as their male counterpart. Until recent times men were reticent about coming forward and admitting to being abused by a woman. Perhaps this has been due to the fear of not being believed. For centuries men have been perceived as the stronger sex. Admitting to being abused by the fairer sex may have been seen as a sign of weakness. Thankfully this train of thought is changing. There is nothing ‘fair’ about the female narcissist.
If we look at statistics, we will read that there are more male narcissists than female, but surely statistics are only as reliable as the information provided. Mark Twain once said, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” I am not sure that the statistics in relation to the male/female ratio of narcissistic personality disorder would be an accurate reflection.
How many narcissists actually present themselves to a medical health professional in order to be diagnosed with this unappealing label? Narcissists tend not to blame themselves for their noxious behaviour. They do not hold themselves accountable and shift blame onto others for the very things they do themselves.
I asked men on the Facebook page, Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse, to send me their stories relating what had been done to them at the hands of a female abusive personality.
Below you will find some of those accounts…
As with any traumatic relationship I was completely torn apart when my very short one year relationship and engagement ended with my Bi-Polar ex in January 2016. She was a very violent person who physically threatened me numerous times. I took 15 months off of dating to spend time recovering and trying to find myself. I read many self-help books and books regarding normal relationships and what to look out for when you meet someone.
I thought I had truly found my inner self and could love myself once again. I decided to go on a dating website in March 2017 and explore the option of dating again. After a few normal dates that did not work out for one reason or another I met “JS”. She seemed like a fantastic woman who had a great job as Director of HR for a nationwide law firm. We started to messages on the dating app and that quickly turned into exchanging phone numbers to text and call all within an hours’ time or so. She called me that same evening to chat and we decided to meet up at church the next day as we attended the same church.
The second date was just one day after that at a local bar (pub). FAST RIGHT? At this point she said to me that I was her type because there was a certain smell about me that she liked. I went on a work trip to Boston that Monday and Tuesday and when I came home we had set up the third date at her home on Wednesday evening.
I arrived at her home and walked in the front door to see a rifle sitting by the door. I inquired about the gun and she said that her ex had PTSD and she and her daughter were afraid of him. She left him “or so she says” in December or 2016 after Christmas. She also later gave me a story that he walked out her door and ghosted. I told her to put the gun in the closet and she ask me to help her change the locks on the house at some point in the near future.
The dysfunction of the house was noted by me on the first evening there when her 16 year old daughter walked in the living room to ask her a question and JS told her to please not interrupt our conversation, that they would talk later. Elizabeth stormed up the stairs to her room and slammed the door very hard.
Long story short, I went over the next night to watch TV and talk and the exact same thing happened with a little more aggravation on Elizabeth’s and JS’s part.
Elizabeth stormed upstairs and slammed the door to the point the house shook. JS went up after her and screamed at her.
I returned to her house with an invite that Saturday late morning. We talked all morning long on the sofa and she was very affectionate to me sharing life stories about her ex’s and family. Sunday was the same experience but with a little more sharing, kissing and eventually sex. She told me that she was in love with me after only knowing me a week or so and that did make me a little nervous at the time but I quickly overlooked it with the attention and love bombing at the time. It was wonderful to have someone so interested in me. Really lifted me up and made me feel good. The next night I went over to watch TV and chat and she said that she wanted me to stay the night and that it felt comfortable and convenient having me there. After that night, I do not think I ever slept at my place again except for my daughter weekends which were only four to six nights a month.
Soon to follow in July there were many trips planned with her and her daughter to Montana, Kansas City and Florida for that Christmas. Everything felt so fast but I was swept up in the excitement and attention of it all. Shortly thereafter we started talking about eventually getting married and when we retired moving to Fort Myers.
The lavish gifts started the following week with her buying me anything that I talked about. Expensive back pack for work several $200.00 pairs of dress shoes and so on. I felt so blessed and treated well.
About two months into the relationship something happened that reminded me of turning off a light switch. The emotions and feelings (communication) just stopped. I pointed it out to her and she said that she was just not an emotional type of person and that she liked to take relationships day by day. I found myself asking for reassurance in the relationship on a weekly basis because I never knew where she stood because of the lack of communication. We hardly ever went out or visited friends at all. The days of attention and normal relationship conversation had stopped and were replaced by a little frustration on my part. By then stories were repeated over and over again with a different ending. One day I talked to her about feeling lied to and I let her know how I did not appreciate always feeling like I was wrong. That’s the first time she got really upset and asked me to apologize to her, so I reluctantly did. How could a woman that was so amazing lie to me just about anything over and over and always change the story? I could not understand. I would correct her when she would do it and she would always tell me that people have a selective memory and I just didn’t remember what she said. (I was totally in love with this woman and my memory was always spot on.)
Shortly after celebrating our year anniversary is when the cracks started to appear even more. Her anger got worse when I would remind her of stories that she had told me in the past that had different endings. Things would always change.
I walked by her open computer sitting on the bed one morning while she was getting ready (Gmail was open) and noticed an email from Niteflirt.com. I was shocked so I took it upon myself to type Niteflirt.com in the Gmail search bar and she had been getting messages every week or so for 4-5 years. At that point I decided that I needed to give her more attention and do more things for her around the house so she wouldn’t have to look elsewhere for it. I would hardly ever get a thank you when doing chores for her or buying her things. It’s almost like she expected it.
She told me that she was not a communication person and that she would never be. She then told me that she would never want to marry me and she would not go and see a councillor about her communication problems. That’s when I told her I had to leave the relationship. I packed my things and walked out the door.
I know this sounds like a lot of rambling with no physical abuse, but the
gaslighting and silent treatment that I experienced over the two years just tore me down to a shell. After returning the next Saturday to get my things she told me that she wanted to be friends someday, but she did not think that we should even talk for a long time.
She encouraged me to be mad at her. It was actually funny to hear her say, “You need to be mad at me and I would expect you to hate me for leading you on for two years.” How could a woman that wanted to marry me and retire to Florida just change her mind so fast? It was all very confusing to me until I started reading books on Covert Narcissism. Finally, everything made sense.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about this and possibly finally be believed and understood. I’m a big guy, 6’5″. She is 5’4″ so of course everyone thought, ‘How could she get the better of you?’ but she did in more ways than you could imagine. She played me big time. She got into my head and played with my feelings and my mind. I fell in love with her pretty quick. She told me of how she had been treated badly by her ex-boyfriends and I had no reason to doubt her. Those first few months were heaven. She said she loved me like no other and I thought I had met my soul mate. I never noticed at first that she didn’t have any friends. I thought that she had been burned by people before and decided to be choosy with the people who she allowed into her life. I was flattered that I was one of the chosen few. About nine months down the line things started to change. I bought her a handbag. She didn’t seem to appreciate it at the time and tossed it aside. I was hurt and asked her if she didn’t like it. I was berated for buying her a colour that she didn’t like and told I should have known that she didn’t like brown. She huffed and hardly spoke to me for the next few days, not answering my texts and calls. Four or five days later she called me and acted like nothing was wrong and the handbag was never seen or mentioned again. I was so happy that everything was fine between us again. That was my first experience of the silent treatment. Of course it happened again and again over the next seven years and as you said in one of your articles on the silent treatment, every one of those episodes lasted a little longer than the one before. I never knew what I had done to annoy her to bring on these periods of silence. I tried endlessly to talk to her, ask her what was wrong but was ignored until she saw fit to talk to me again. Throughout our years together she managed to cut me off from my friends, criticising them and telling lies about them. Foolishly I had believed her. It was only when I started to read about narcissism that I realised the type of person I was dealing with. I was a shell of the man that I used to be and I finally woke up to the fact that it was all down to her. I went to a therapist who confirmed what I had thought. I knew that staying with her would destroy me so the last time she gave me the silent treatment I returned the favour. I am sure she expected me to try to contact her, to try to put things right again but I’d had enough. I couldn’t take it any more. It hurt so bad but I knew it was the right thing to do. I’ll admit that as a mature man I was devastated. I read up on narcissism for months and months hoping to find something that would make me think I was wrong, that I should give her another chance to change her destructive behaviour but deep down I knew that she would never change. She moved on to another man and she has done exactly the same thing to him. I have PTSD and am still seeing my therapist but I’m getting there slowly but surely. I have never dated anyone since and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will. I am content on my own, no more walking on eggshells. People need to realise that men can be victims too.
I had been attacked by my ex-wife several times before I finally called the police on her. What came of that was I wound up being charged with domestic violence because she gave a false statement to them. The last time I defended myself (yes, defended myself, she threw punches at me and I pinned her down to stop her) and she told the police I pinned her down for no apparent reason. So I served six months of probation because I took the plea bargain, I didn’t want to lose in a trial by jury and lose my job. Counselling helped, I still think about it but not as much. I went through this in the fall of 2016, started divorce proceedings during my probation, and divorced her in May of 2017. I’m glad to have never seen her since, I’ve been single since then.
I’m an ex-doorman. My partner for over 3 years accused me of cheating all the time. I got accused of cheating with people on my Facebook and Instagram so I took all my female friends off social media. I gave up my job to make her happy. I couldn’t do right from wrong. Constantly getting accused. I finished my day job, gave up my pension and stability because she said that she wanted a child with me. I got a higher paid job. Then 2 weeks later she decided she didn’t want a child. I sacrificed everything for her and she still wasn’t happy. Always picking faults and always comparing me to her ex. I felt like I lived in his shoes. . In the end it finished about 2 months ago. She wanted friendship, I didn’t. She kept playing the head games. I had enough and took her stuff to her house. A few days later I had the coppers at the door. (For me harassing her.) Wtf. But the weirdest thing is I still can’t get her out of my damn mind. She damaged my self-worth and my confidence. I second guess my self. I’ve even had to start counselling for it.
This lady has always been perfect to me with all her flaws and I always told her that I feel like every relationship I’ve been in I’ve attracted partners with problems and feel like I’ve got to help in one way or another. I know I’m a sincere and compassionate person and I know, when I’ve been pushed, I can become a people pleaser. I know I’m a strong minded person. Is that a strength people can see or a weakness they can see? Is that why I attract people with problems? How can I hide that if it is a weakness so it can’t be used against me? I know I used to have a lot of friends and I know they used me for their own benefits so I decided not to have friends. I feel happier in myself that I don’t have friends because I know I can’t get used again. I know I had to sacrifice myself for her to get help because she wouldn’t get help while we were together. She says that she is getting help now that we have split. I’m happy she has taken that step because I know that if we were still in a relationship, she wouldn’t have taken that step. It hurts, what has happened and I had to sacrifice my own future with her so she could get help and have a better life and not live in her past any more. I didn’t want to leave but the accusing and assuming was pushing me away.
About five physical assaults, all in the chest by elbows or punches. Still doesn’t make sense really. Financially, mostly everything in the relationship always seemed to fall on me there too. I enabled that too I guess. So my visa is just screwed. Emotionally, a lot of belittling, and snide remarks that seem irrelevant or harmless and “joking” but really were taxing. Mentally, the “crazy making” amplified an otherwise well managed depression and anxiety disorder, created a lot of mistrust and gaslighting.
How it all affected me? I got run down. My entire narrative became fixate with obsessive rumination of a pretty cookie cutter victim mentality mixed with Stockholm syndrome. My physical health declined. Suicide became a recurring idea as an actual option. I was kind of a shell for a good two and a half to three years after the four year relationship. It felt like it boiled over and completely turned me into a profoundly weak and shattered person like my sense of self, my sense of efficacy. My inner dialogue, my inner narrative felt like it was competing with itself to lose. And I got stuck there. So, financially exhausted beyond my means, emotionally unstable, confused, absent, self-absorbed, depressed, that was the worst. Mentally disoriented and foggy for so long and not even present in my own everyday life. And I hid from the world in plain sight. I have PTSD I guess now and still focusing on recovery. So how it affected me? It felt like someone stole my essence you know. In a sense, in a weird Jungian twist, looking over the brass tacks of it, it was like I became a reflection of her true ego. A fractured, fragile, little person you know? I didn’t externalize it as narcissism but she has psychologically wounded my spirit man. The backhanded remarks and seemingly irrelevant comments I can still hear sometimes. Those were the worst and most corrosive to my sense of self.
I currently got discarded by my girlfriend of two and a half years. I knew there was an underlying issue with her after apparent depression and suicide attempts so I researched. I was not even aware of the meaning of narcissist/sociopath or psychopath/bpd…. I have never read anything that is so dead on with all of everything, I mean word for WORD!
It’s really too bad, I had been so brainwashed, I thought it was all me. She made me leave all of my friends while she kept hers in a separate life. It’s so confusing how I still even hold feelings for this woman. I hope the best for her supplies. It scares me because she just moved her mother into the spare bedroom in the new house she just bought and also her 19 year old daughter in the basement apartment. I stuck with her throughout all her stress and drama, selling her home she built with her ex-husband. Renovations at the cottage, let my own home go almost abandoned because she required me to be with her. I helped her move everybody in and out of their old places to new. I was always hoping that things would wind down once the stress was gone. Wrong: Once I had done everything she completely left me, blocked me from everything. Now I found out she is with a woman that had been dating her best friend. She kept me around until things got settled. She invited me to a magic show and dinner in town with her daughter and her friend probably because she knew I’d pay for dinner… was so affectionate. Once we got to her place she started an argument over nothing and said I’d better leave. I went to leave and she said I could sleep on the couch or her bed. I was tired of getting kicked out numerous times, out for just standing up for myself (recently I have started) and went home. That didn’t go over so well. She was used to me kissing ass to just enjoy the night without drama.
I am currently recovering from the “abuse” and it’s really hard. I have been told over and over that I am a huge empath. This is the most confusing thing I have ever dealt with in my entire life. Even after writing this I feel guilty judging her as I am not qualified to do so and I don’t know whether or not to believe she knows or not. That is the reason I had stuck around for so long. I feel I had seen the good part and feel it’s still in there somewhere but the more I read I’m thinking it all was her game. I can’t believe how people actually do these things. I really feel for her because I think everybody has a right to be happy but I don’t think she ever will be now that I am more educated. I really need help and I think that this may be my opportunity to get it all out. The things I could write down are endless. It is really hard to believe how I stuck around and let myself get beat to a pulp physically and mentally.
I can’t wait for time to heal these wounds. I am so disturbed with myself. Why is it so hard to recover from this sort of person?
I was in a seventeen year long relationship, three of which were dating. It started in high school, and I didn’t know what a narcissist was, much less that people could be that evil. I was always told that relationships and marriage were hard work, so I needed to stick it out and stay in the relationship. Church pastors and members encouraged me to not end things, no matter how bad it seemed.
No one took me seriously, and I resigned to the fact that it’s simply hard work, and this was the way life being married was. I was cheated on so many times, nothing I could prove physically, but multiple times she left me emotionally for other men that I could prove. One time I was so fed up that I actually encouraged her to meet her online fling.
I know now, that she is a covert narcissist. Anytime that I’d catch her, she’d find some way to avoid taking responsibility for her actions, to the extreme of an “attempted suicide”, taking a bottle of pills while at home alone with our then, infant daughter. She simply used this to cover up me finding her the day prior talking to someone online about their hopes and dreams of their life together, and her carrying his baby. I took a screenshot of her email that she was working on as proof to confront her with.
I felt alone, lost, a roommate, a whipping boy, someone to do her bidding and if I didn’t, I’d get rage or the silent treatment. I saw how she treated others that “wronged” her, and would get me to believe that she did nothing wrong, and I ended up being her flying monkey.
Fast forward to the end of the relationship, I had enough, but couldn’t break free. She made me pay for new boobs and a tummy tuck, and later found out that this was her way out, getting confidence in her looks to sleep with as many men as possible. It took a friend who knew what she was to break me free of the seventeen year bond that was there.
Almost six years later, non-stop legal issues with the three children, and the oldest is now estranged from me. She was brainwashed and alienated from me. I attempted to catch her in this with a counsellor, psychiatrist and a guardian ad litem, all of whom were manipulated, and I ended up losing 50/50 visitation with the oldest child to the point I don’t see or hear from her at all.
To this day, I have to guard myself because she could easily manipulate law enforcement into thinking I did something to her, and end up in jail for doing nothing. So there is contact via email only, and there is little to no contact in person unless we can’t help it. She has manipulated doctors and nurses in two instances. My oldest was hospitalized for an attempted suicide (just like dear old mommy) and a back surgery. During her stay at the hospital for the back
surgery, I was kept away by her mom’s flying monkeys, and the attempted suicide was hidden from me. It took my legal team contacting the hospital’s legal team to let me in the door to see her. I was told my daughter had taken a bunch of old pills, but found that was untrue. She had overdosed on cocaine, Adderall, and had marijuana and alcohol in her system. I recently found a GoFundMe page, begging for donations for this, but under the disguise of some disease that she doesn’t have. My new wife carries insurance for her, and my daughter is not taking anything for this purported disease.
The relationship with the female narcissist in my life can be very confusing and quite difficult to put into words. EVERYBODY Loves her! I loved her, still love her and have empathy for her. When I attempt to explain it to others, they tell me, “I don’t think you’re being fair. Everybody has a past.” She broke up with her first secret boyfriend, began dating me from within the church, and at the same time was sleeping with a married man. And then moved in with that man and his wife and child. She became a part of several weekday ministries within the church. After I was burnt a few times, my gut was telling me to move on (at that time I didn’t have all of the knowledge I now currently have). I had decided to go no contact for a year. We still shared the same social circle though. Before that time of ‘no contact’ she had REALLY made it appear to me and others that she and I were dating and developing something good. I had really cherished our times together. Unbeknownst to me, she was f****** a married man. I had thought, ‘Ahh, she is the one! She is the one that God ordained for me!’ Oh, damn, I was so wrong. I had to question my religion. I had found out later that she had also given that man 20,000 Dollars. She had only known him for one to three months. Within 3 months she and he were shopping for a home together. She had just broken up with her past boyfriend and would show up to church and lead me on with the love bombing as if we had a healthy courtship/relationship developing. Woah was I fooled. Over time I went ‘no contact’ to the best of my ability. Wasn’t quite as familiar with narcissism then. I attempted to date, other girls. It seems that she somehow befriended every girl I had attempted to date. A girl I had asked out because we had similar interests had called me a ‘CHEATER!’ in a very passionate way, when in fact I was single, very single. I was becoming lonely. I had actually begun experiencing something called “touch hunger”. I began to shower not to wash but to have something against my skin. I needed something to comfort and to stimulate the pressures I was beginning to feel. I had very few hugs and intimacy for a long time. I had decided to date outside of the church. I met a mature lovely woman (maybe I’m wrong) whom I had shared similar interests with. We had gone out on quite a few dates. Several dates into it I began to wonder if this woman liked me…No kiss, no intimacy or anything. I began to back off. I was becoming lonelier and desiring a partner and close companionship. This woman had found her way into my social circle. She began communicating with the narcissist. The covert narcissist invited her out to a group event. Long story short, in a time of weakness, I broke. It was.
during a transition in my life. I began dating the narcissist. Within two weeks, she was talking about marriage. The married man’s stuff was still at her house. Turns out the mature woman did like me. I acquired an std from the narcissist.
I would like to say thank you so much for all your work that you have done to help people understand what NPD is and give them tools to recover. My story is like a short journey into what happened when I met the love of my life and discovered that she was a narc. She is diagnosed with borderline/bipolar 2 but I realized after some time that there’s more to it than that. She is fifty years old and has been in a DBT treatment recently but has not handled it well. It made her worse in many ways coz she used it to hide behind instead of reflect over her own behaviour. I suspect that she has fooled her therapists in a smart way and played the victim card. Coz as we all know they are experts in acting. And she has her monkeys plus talking shit about all her exes and they are many… Still she has contact with all of them just as “friends” by the way😎😂. When we used to talk it was all about her and nothing about me. And if I tried to say that I felt bad by the things she did to me, she would reply quickly with a short, “Not my problem. It’s you who are sensitive and pathetic.” It was and still is hell to realize her total lack of empathy. I became her sex toy and it was real nice. I would be lying if I said it was not. But she used it to control me over time. So off and on for five years, love and pain in a twisted dance. And now I’m trying to recover but the hurt and cuts inside are very deep… I trust no one and look for the signs in everyone I meet. I cry a lot and feel so empty inside. But I’m on my way to becoming myself again, slowly doing the grayrock… I became like her I realized in the end and that was a painful insight coz I always try to think of others and feel for them but at the end I was cold to all people around me. Nothing matters when you’re down and sad. I drank a lot and got laid off from work. I dated and it was not one of the things I’m proud of then. I hurt a girl who loved me and I’m ashamed of that.😔
I was thinking a lot of ending my life but my inner voice saved me from that. The hard part is that you have no one who can understand why I stayed for so long and try to help her get better. (Mission impossible) So I’ve lost friends and family members who think I’m stupid for having loved her at all…
In my case, I had worked in a well-known bank for some eight years and in a variety of functions. My latest position had been my favourite and the most rewarding, but we had recently experienced some staff turnover, and the incoming colleagues replacing those of mine who had left displayed an incompetence and a lack of professionalism the likes of which I had never seen in my entire professional life. This meant that, instead of doing the job I loved and focusing on quality and a great customer experience, most of my day was spent on damage limitation, not unlike bailing water out of sinking ship while your teammates are drilling holes in the hull. Combined with a general managerial disinterest in our team’s activities, it wasn’t long before I started looking for a position elsewhere within the organisation. When a former manager of mine mentioned that another department was recruiting and that my background was a good match, I jumped at the opportunity.
Introductory interviews with the manager of that other department were soon set up. These were fairly informal, since it would be an internal transfer, so my employee transcript was freely available, and it was taken as given that I knew the ins and outs of the bank, both in terms of systems and procedures, and in terms of people and departments. Unlike my previous managers, who had tended to be pure products of the organisation, or specialists in operations or controls, this new manager was a high-profile expert in her field, and the type whom journalists and news networks occasionally approached for informed commentary. My knowledge of the workings of the bank, combined with my quite respectable language skills and academic achievements, came across well, and rather than finding myself in an interview situation in which I had to sell my skill-set to a prospective employer, it almost felt like this new manager was courting me: singing my praises, waxing lyrical over my CV, expressing amazement that “someone of my calibre” had spent “so much time” in “dead-end jobs”, and promising me significant promotions and pay increases. Being thoroughly fed up in my then-role and with my then-colleagues, I took the bait, and within a couple of months, was installed in my new function.
The job itself was challenging on several levels. First of all, although I had been nominally hired as a “business manager” (in itself a title so vague as to be almost meaningless), I found that there was no exact precedent in the organisation for what was expected of me, my responsibilities falling somewhere between project management and IT support/development, neither of which I was versed in. As my manager was herself a new appointee (the previous manager—and entire team—having resigned and left the bank some months previously), the majority of my initial work was essentially “continuity management”: painstakingly going through the records of the past, so as to maintain a semblance of Business As Usual, while myself learning those procedures and attempting to update them to the new team’s requirements. In this, I achieved a measure of success; not as a self-congratulatory self-evaluation, but gleaned from the appreciative remarks I received from several higher-ups.
The red flags started after perhaps three months, corresponding, coincidentally, to my notice period. At first, there was the occasional odd remark from my manager (addressed to me or to colleagues) or questionable conversations I might overhear, as I was seated right next to her. While she made good on her promise of a pay increase (and later on, of a promotion), when she told me, without a trace of humour, “Take the time to get to know the activities and procedures really well, because by year-end, your honeymoon period will be over,” I did wonder what I had signed up for. Given that I wasn’t exactly spending my days hob-knobbing with colleagues at the water cooler, but was instead putting in nine or 10 hours of hard graft a day, I wasn’t sure how that could be described as a “honeymoon period”. It wasn’t an exaggeration, though.
Questionable, inappropriate, and frankly unacceptable incidents came thick and fast. She was not stupid; she systematically reserved her worst behaviour for private settings behind closed doors, or for brief tête-à-têtes while on a lunch or cigarette break, where there were no witnesses. On more than one occasion, I overheard her on the phone with Human Resources, wanting to fire an employee for not having done things the way she wanted, or for having failed to show adequate deference, the poor HR employees being in the unenviable position of having to stand their ground, explaining that what the manager was suggesting amounted to unfair dismissal, and that she would likely get the bank hauled in front of an employment tribunal. In meetings, she would regularly denigrate other employees’ comments and suggestions, and during telephone conference calls, rather than being encouraging, fostering discussion, or leading by example, she would often resort to bullying tactics, quite literally shouting orders rudely down the phone. These conference calls at this point could have upwards of 20 participants, mostly middle and senior managers worldwide, so her behaviour was no longer even on the down low, but more of an open secret.
It was an open secret, known to those in our immediate sphere of activity, but also (I would later discover) known to Human Resources, who maintained a “blacklist” of problematic managers, not that it did much good. Although her abusive behaviour was known to us, it wasn’t tolerated. She was essentially the bank’s global head of activities for our area, so the abuse was that much harder to counter than had it been coming from someone on the same hierarchical level. Instead, the period during which I was there saw probably the highest staff turnover in recent memory, outside of any actual organisational restructuring.
Increasingly, being the closest thing to her right-hand man, I also became the subject of much of her ire, even though I was regularly assured by colleagues, with some sympathy, that I was doing a sterling job. Note at this point that I was already incapable of telling whether I was really doing a good job myself, as my sense of validation, understandably, but in this case toxically, was based on feedback from someone I’m quite happy to define as a malignant narcissist.
In team meetings, my comments would be derided and denigrated in front of everyone, the insinuation being that I had nothing of value to contribute, and leading to much post-meeting commiseration from appalled and well-intentioned colleagues. In bullying fashion, and perhaps in an attempt at some “good cop, bad cop”, she would try to commandeer my workstation, so as to send rude and wholly inappropriate emails to her underlings from my email account, forcing me to physically shut down my computer. On a couple of occasions, I witnessed her being (mildly) taken to task by her senior colleagues or her own managers, but it did no good.
By the end, I was living in a liminal nightmare scenario of constantly being made to feel inadequate and incompetent, contrasted with the positive feedback I continued to receive from colleagues, all the while pulling 10-hour days, with this monster sitting next to me, for 18 months. My sleeping and appetite were affected, with friends outside work commenting that I looked positively gaunt; I was drinking too much by way of self-medication; and ultimately, I suffered two nervous breakdowns, not just while working for her, but literally at the workplace.
I took some much-needed holiday time one summer. Two weeks, but it was barely enough to recover from the psychological abuse. My manager had already planned to take two weeks off immediately after me, so I fancied I’d essentially have four weeks of breathing space and comparative normality. That didn’t happen. The very day I got back, I was subjected to ongoing and almost daily emails from my manager (while she was on holiday) enumerating what she saw as all of my failings and incompetence. (For the record, until this posting, I had a stellar employee record.) I saw these emails more as a reflection of her frustrations and panic at being left alone without me to do her bidding, but by then I had already reached breaking point.
I decided that I couldn’t (or wouldn’t face her again), and wouldn’t even wait for her to return from her holidays. I did my work as per usual, tied up some loose ends, and took my leave on a Friday lunchtime for a wisdom tooth extraction (this was actually true, not a ruse). I then consulted my GP and told him all that had transpired, and he put me on sick leave, so that I didn’t have to return to work.
This sick leave was extended for a period of three months (after my GP, it was granted by a psychiatrist I started seeing, in combination with a psychotherapist specialised in work-related PTSD). During my official absence, my manager tried to contact me several times (which is technically not allowed), leaving voice messages imploring me to contact her. I did no such thing. I then started receiving calls and voicemails from colleagues who had never previously contacted me, so it became obvious that she was trying to get me to contact her in a roundabout way, perhaps not unlike police trying to track a line when they’re on the phone with a hostage taker. It sounds paranoid, and perhaps it was, but at that stage I believed her to be capable of anything.
The bank belonged to those companies that had had their share of regulatory and employee woes; there were quite literally legal practices in town that specialised in the fall-out from employees taking the bank to court. I think this bank was eager to avoid legal action, as I could certainly have made a case, and they were already aware my manager was a problem for them. Instead, my contact with them was limited exclusively to HR managers (they no doubt informed my manager of this, too), and they offered me a generous severance package, along with an excellent letter of recommendation (signed by my manager, through gritted teeth, I imagined).
I spent a total of six months in therapy, recovering my sanity, my sleep, and my health, after which I moved to Berlin for a month, both for the language experience (languages being my first love), and to have a real holiday, away from the looming prospect of working with a pathological narcissist, and looking forward to writing a new chapter in my life. My experience in therapy and the insights it gave me was an incredibly positive one, and inspired me to take university short courses both in philosophical logic (constructing and deconstructing arguments, learning about logical fallacies), and in psychology, where I focused on abnormal psychology, specifically.
I don’t think one ever really completely gets over such an experience. Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is the day you no longer think about your abuser, not as a result of repression, which is unhealthy, but because you’re as over your abuser as you can hope to be, and they no longer have a hold on your emotional and psychological processes—or at the very least, when you do think of them, the thought is no longer a trigger for distress. That, I think, is when you’re free, and at present, I’ve rarely been happier.
The woman who abused me from an early age was none other than the woman who brought me into this world, my dear beloved mother! A mother in name only.
My dad left her after I was born. It was my fault that he left. She used to tell me that if I had never been born, he would still be around. I didn’t know any different.
My brother was five years older than me. My mom gave him all the love she had and there was none left for me. I was the accident, the disappointment she wished she never had. My brother never did anything wrong so she allowed his friends to the house and I had to go to my room. I was always the cause of her embarrassment and never did anything to please her so she wouldn’t let my friends come round.
I grew up believing that I was not good enough. I tried hard at school hoping that she would be proud of me but she never was. If I did something that displeased her she would acknowledge me at all. I used to go to my room and cry wanting her to hear me and show me the love that she gave my brother. I waited and waited but she never came. Why would she? I was hard to love, so she said.
I couldn’t wait to grow up and leave home and I did as soon as I was working and earning a wage. She tried to make me feel guilty for leaving and said that I should stay and help her and pay her back for raising me. I believed I owed her something and sent her money every month. When I met my wife, we were saving hard and I told my mom that I wouldn’t be sending her money any more. I told her that I was getting married and was saving for our home. The verbal assault was something else. It was hard to listen to her rants about how she was sorry that I had been born. I figured out then and there that I owed her nothing more. I hung up the phone, wished her a nice life and have never spoken to her again. I don’t feel guilty for cutting her out of my life. I did for a while and went to therapy. The support from my therapist and my wife helped me see that her presence in my life was toxic for me. I still have feelings of low self-worth at times but my therapist is helping me deal with those. I know that years of conditioning me to believe I was worth nothing played with my mind and cemented those feelings in my brain.
My second ex wife and I had been friends for several years. We met at work, which was the inpatient cancer unit of a paediatric hospital. You would think anybody who can do that kind of with is automatically a good person, but that’s not the case.
I had to quit working shortly after we started dating after years of battling chronic illness. I have severe fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and anxiety. We were still in the love bombing phase, and she vowed to support me and stand at my side, and I believed her.
Her mask started to crash around the time we got married. She began to have angry outbursts that scared me. After we married, her mask came off altogether. The sweet, seemingly empathetic person I had known disappeared and was replaced by a sarcastic, critical, raging monster. Most of the emotional and verbal abuse took place behind closed doors. She was charming to coworkers, friends, and frankly, but vicious behind their backs. She would crack sarcastic jokes putting me down all the time. She would constantly deride and belittle me, as well as others. There were days where I would be incapacitated in bed, literally shaking with fibromyalgia pain, and she would stand over me screaming and cursing at me. Her former admiration of me was replaced with resentment and contempt. She had no interest in listening to anything I had to say, but expected me to listen to her whenever she wanted to spew venom. She isolated me from family, friends, and the finances. She knew stress made my condition worse, but she did not care. She would storm around the house throwing things and slamming doors. Her rage was unpredictable and terrifying. Her own children were afraid of her, but when I would try to advocate for them, she would rage at me and deny all the abuse.
The stress from the abuse became so bad that I began having seizures. I felt like I was on the verge of a stroke, and my doctors told me that was a very real possibility. I reached out to some friends she had isolated me from, and they believed I was experiencing narcissistic abuse and was in an abusive relationship. I planned my escape over the course of three weeks. The day I left, she was at work and the children were with their father. I had to gather seven boxes of DVDs to sell to Movie Trading Company to get enough gas money to drive thirteen hours cross country to my parents. I have never been so scared in my life. I had to pack up my car and grab my car, and do all of this while literally shaking with Fibro pain and fatigue, and under the weight of anxiety that she might come home early from work.
I made it to my parents that night with $12 left, with my cat, and with my life.
Life since then has been hard. I have been diagnosed with PTSD from all the trauma. She was vicious and nastier than ever after I left. She had blocked communication with my stepdaughters and is trying to poison them against me.
I fell into another relationship shortly thereafter with my childhood sweetheart, whom I had known for twenty five years. She ended up being a covert narcissist who used me and my family and threw us away like trash. I am devastated. I am in therapy trying to break the cycle of abusive relationships I’ve been living, trying to heal, and trying to learn to live myself again.
Narcissistic abuse is terrifying, powerful, and insidious. It sucks your soul dry, destroys your health, ruins your finances, shatters your mind, and erases your value and sense of self. And it knows no gender. The road to recovery is long and arduous. Trauma bonding makes you miss the narc, in spite of what they did to you, and feel like you’re going through drug withdrawals that are so painful that I wanted to commit suicide just to escape the pain.
I’m slowly beginning to heal, but sometimes feel I will never escape this trauma. Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue.
The subject of men being abused by women is very real and something that needs to be addressed by society in general. Police, legal professionals and the court systems need to recognize different perspectives in relation to emotional abuse. Men need to talk about abuse without the fear of not being believed simply because of their gender. Let go of the notion that admitting to being abused is a sign of weakness. On the contrary, talking about abuse is a sign of strength. It is not easy talking about what has been done to you especially if you hold the belief that your story will be dismissed. So come on guys, let’s talk about this. Let’s get this information out there. Change your mind-set. Make this a topic that is no longer taboo. Let’s get men being abused by women out in the open.
Written by Anne McCrea
My thanks to all the men who have contributed to this article.