In 1977 Colleen Stan left her home in California, to attend the birthday party of one of her friends. She was an experienced hitchhiker and felt comfortable getting into the van of Cameron Hooker, who was with his wife and baby.
Hooker soon left the main highway and traveled down an isolated road where he put a knife to her throat. When they reached his home, he took her out of the van and into his basement. He then put a blindfold on her, stripped off her clothes, and strung her up by her bound hands, and proceeded to severely beat her. After the beating, Hooker and his wife proceeded to have sex underneath her stung up body.
After that first night, Hooker kept Stan locked in a wooden box under his bed, for 23 hours a day. Hooker was in charge of every aspect of Stan’s life, her bodily functions, her hygiene and her food and water. She was beaten or deprived of what little she was given, if she objected, or misbehaved in anyway. Eventually, she would become his sex slave. He would penetrate her vaginally and anally with objects. Daily he would enforce the belief that she was being watched by a group called, “the company,” which would kill her parents if she tried to escape. He continued to threaten that he would sell her to someone else, whose abuse would be much worse. He even got her to sign a contract, that she would willingly be his slave, for life. The abuse continued for 7 years until she managed to escape, with the help of Hooker’s wife.
This horrific true story is documented in a book called, The Perfect Victim: The Girl in the Box, by the prosecutors of the case, Christine McGuire and Carla Norton.
During the trial the prosecution called Psychiatrist Dr Hatcher to explain why, when given several opportunities to escape, over a seven year period, Colleen Stan remained in that house and continued to allow herself to be abused and locked in a box.
Dr Hatcher indicated that what Mr Hooker had done would be sufficient to coerce the majority of individuals into a desired behavior pattern and to give up any overt resistance.
He listed several steps:
- Seize the victim
- Physically or sexually abuse the victim
- Isolate the victim
- Be in complete control of the victims bodily functions
- Controlling food and water
- Punish for no apparent reason
- Establish a pattern of abuse so the victim grows a tolerance and knows what to expect
- Teach the victim that you are in complete control and they must ask for permission to do anything.
- Become the only source of the victim’s stimulation and entertainment, so the victim actually looks forward to the abusers visits, because the only other option is total sensory deprivation.
As I was reading this I started to see a lot of similarities to my own relationships. “I never would have left,” was the last meaningful thing I said to my long-term Narcissist before he walked out. At the time, what I was trying to convey was that I was loyal and he was not. I was the kind of girl that stuck it out, through good times and bad and he was the selfish cheater, that only thought about himself.
We were both unhappy, but I couldn’t get past the fact that he was able to leave me so easily, after all that time, and I would have stayed despite the immense physical, emotional and psychological toll. For a long time, I believed that loyalty was the reason I stayed, paired with everything I had invested. Why did I say? Why was I so willing to give up my dreams, my goals, my present and my future for this relationship? As I grew and healed, those questions haunted me.
Grooming the Victim
Some abusers do have a deliberate plan when they enter into relationships, a series of behaviors, that they’ve used successfully in the past, to extract what they want from others. As for my Narcissist, I doubt that he was cognizant of what he was doing to me. I was an afterthought, and his behavior was probably just an unconscious pattern he had used previously with other women.
Pedophiles have a list of grooming behaviors they use on their young victims to ensure that they comply and don’t tell on them. Were Narcissists any different? I noticed with all of the Narcissists I dated that there was a pattern and it went something like this:
They all started by putting me on a pedestal.
Then they would start with little digs, putting me down or insulting me.
Every problem or issue became my fault. They would blame and shame me for everything that was wrong with them.
They would isolate me from family and friends, causing a fuss every time I wanted to spend time with someone else, so much so that it was just easier not to.
Their behavior and mood was usually unpredictable, which kept me anxious and walking on egg shells.
They behaved as if my dreams, goals, needs, and wants were irrelevant, so I didn’t get to spend too much energy thinking about them.
They lacked any form of empathy, to any hardship I was going through.
They kept threatening to leave if they didn’t get their way, or I displayed any type of displeasure.
They kept coming and going from the relationship (either physically or emotionally).
I was required to consistently meet their needs and make my life all about them.
When my long-term Narcissist did leave me for good, I was a complete wreck, a shell of a human being. I couldn’t function and it took me years to claw my way out of the depression that followed. When my friends asked why I wasn’t the one to leave? It seemed like a valid question. I wasn’t locked up or confined, I was free to leave at any time, but I couldn’t. It didn’t make any sense.
The truth is, the cage I was locked in was a mental one, although there were no bars or locked doors, it was just as restrictive. When someone drives home the belief, on a daily basis, that you can’t survive without them and that they are special and important and that you aren’t worthy of them, it sets you up for total dependency. I created the following equation to illustrate the formula:
Put you on a pedestal (pull away/blow cold+blame/shame you)
Your already low self-esteem
A x (B + C) / D = fear/dependence/helplessness
Some people paint – I make math equations, what can I say, but the bottom line here is, while you have been grappling over the question – why did I stay? – The truth is, the majority of people, if faced with the same set of circumstances and behaviors, would likely have reacted precisely the same way.
The police and the military have special techniques that they use to extract confessions from prisoners. This type of mental warfare does exist. There are psychological techniques individuals and institutions use to “break” people. It’s a form of brain washing and it’s the same reason that victims of abuse continued to stay.
If you notice that you are currently in a relationship where these behaviors already exist, or you start a new relationship and these signs are present, get out immediately. Chances are you are being groomed for abuse and dependency, stop it before the technique takes ahold of you and you are accepting treatment you never, in a million years, thought you would.
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My Narc I met in college after years of emotional abuse I left him in 1990….He contacted me in 2011 after my father had passed and his wife of 21 years left him..He had custody of his daughter and was living with his father who I adored. The whirlwind of expensive gifts to me and my children and family began…I asked him and his daughter to move it…They did after 6 months..All was perfect I became the perfect step mom and took care of him…Then the digs started and he had issues with how much time I devoted to my children..He worked 80 hours a week and wanted me by his side when he was not working…He moved out after 3 years stating he was unhappy and he and his daughter were moving out of state for a new job…He continued to see me as his job was taking time…I find out that he was living with another woman he had met at work after he left her to come back to me in his love bombing stage….The woman called my family and me…I was furious…he cried and begged and we went to therapy…My therapist said he had Narc tendicies and the Narc did not like him from that point on….He continued to communicate with other women telling me it was for a new job etc…If his daughter got into troublle it was my fault for him spending to much time with me! He continued with expensive gifts for me and my children…Cars and trips! I knew something was not right but after 28 years of knowing someone I put my doubts aside and enjoyed the good times..his rages became more frequent and I no longer could put up with it…No Contact for 22 days this time…He knows where I live and work….He is now back with the other woman he had carried on an affair with while we were living together…I finally understand what he was doing to me and my children when my daughter looked at me and said you two will always get back together, I knew I was teaching her to accept bad behavior for lavish gifts. I was floored my 15 year old said that and I woke up…He has over hoovered even during our marriages he would call my parents and my job..I never spoke to him out of respect to his marriage and to mine…His dad recently passsed suddenly and I had promised his father I would take care of him…I tried but I can no longer loose myself in the process….I ignored the signs because I wanted to believe what total strangers would say to us “You two are the perfect couple” we both fed on those comments I beieve now. I love his children but this has gotten to hard…Even with the side chick and me he was on dating websites…When confronted he said why are you on there? A friend had seen his photo’s…It was always turned around…After many attempts to leave him he would show up…call 37 times my cell and then my house….I would always go back to make the crazy stop…Now he has been quiet for 22 days…I am so scared that he will show up and confront me..I do believe he will wait for my son to return to college so he has an upper hand….I have suffered nightmares, panic attacks…but now I feel strong and able to beat this toxic relationship…His new supply calls, was coming to the house..I had to get a security camera as she said If I can’t have him no one can…I feared the safety of my children…After 28 years will he finally just go away? or will he begin to hoover…I feel ignoring him will only be worse in the long run…He has been using his kids to text me..I answer them giving no info just “WE LOVE YOU” and I Leave the “I” out…I feel like I am waiting for a bomb to go off…..Just waiting for him to come back around again…..I feel like i sit alone in a boat flashing an SOS sign for help!
This is very much my ex. The knight in shining armour on his great steed to swoop in and rescue the damsel in distress. In reality, 17 years later I am free of the narcissistic, passive/agressive co-dependency that he really is. My prison was his business wwhere I went from only helping out to 80 hour weeks. No time for family or friends, catering to his wants and needs with no time for my own. When the idea of stepping in front of a semi was buffered only by the thought of my children, I knew it had to change. Standing up for myself resulted in divorce which was of course, all my fault. As painful and a bit scary as it has been, I am glad beyond words to be free.
To those still trapped, you are a strong, intelligent and worthwhile person. Take that step for yourself.
Thank you for your page. It is too painful to read the entire set of details due to memories…but I applaud your effort and energy into one of the most worth causes and little understood. To have these out in the open and discard the usual shame that is attached is freeing. The question is, if we can get the next generation of women to not fall for this abuse, to be open about the way they are treated, to keep themselves open to get out as soon as the abuse begins, could we change the world and not accept this treatment anytime, anywhere, some day?
Having a bit of a relapse – 6 months No Contact, and coming up to anniversaries – the time I fell in love with him, the day he agreed to go out with me (and changed his mind next day) the first time we slept together (he called me next day to end the relationship) – all of that.
Anyway. One time I didn’t get some extra hours at work and was very upset. He listened a few times, then told me to get the ++++ over it. Some months later, and he didn’t get a job he’d wanted. Oh my God! how he went on about it! far more than I did.
Also: most of the time his phone was switched off. But if ever mine was off when he called – oh! How he raged!
I hope this stops soon. Missing him. Still looking at my phone in case he’s called. Then raging about how unkind he was (and in the end he was getting dangerous, physically). I want it over. I know it has to take its time.
Thank the heavens for you…your posts are spot on and so needed in this world that is appears to be creating more and more narcissists….I feel like some evil darkness has permeated humanity and too many of us are meeting up with these horrible creatures…breaks my heart.
I broke up with the narc in my life last October, but everyday it feels like it was just yesterday – I am still reeling with the aftermath.
He definitely put me on his pedestal for the first few months and then once he knew he had me; the digging comments started, the accusations started, the rolling of the eyes started, the questioning of my life choices and pure motivations started…Oh, then the dissecting of my looks started….I was told that I couldn’t wear flip flops, nor skinny jeans, nor scarves (they cover my “tits” as I was told by him), I couldn’t wear my Converse tennis shoes either. These comments would slip through in very subtle ways that I can see how he was “grooming” me to look the part of his fantasy woman; not a real woman, but what I now know to be a woman straight out of his pornography filled mind. I hate the porn industry…and I now believe he has an addiction to it. He always wanted me in high heels, questioning me when I chose to wear flats… always attempting to “groom” me to look the part. I started to realize, sadly, that he did not see me; he only saw a reflection of himself in me; his longings, his fantasies, his needs, his need for admiration from others constantly…if I looked like the woman in his dreams; then he would be validated. He groomed me also by intimidating me constantly. I could never do anything right in his eyes. I incorrectly placed a spoon on his counter after stirring boiling pasta, I didn’t dry my feet completely – perfectly – when I got out of his shower hence getting water on his bath mat, I didn’t turn the toaster off correctly, my car didn’t have tinted windows…the list goes on and on….I felt so ugly and worthless in his sight – I lost my confidence and he eroded my femininity; I am not a woman who dresses sleazy, I never dressed that way around him, yet he wanted to groom me into that kind of woman. I found myself wanting to please him, but I also recognized my strong self of identity and I wasn’t going to stop being me….The final straw was when he told me I could not wear my hair up…. Can you believe it?!?? A man telling a woman that she cannot put her own hair up? That was it for me…kind of funny that that was the push over the edge for me, but it was….As he so coldly made clear to me when I questioned him on the no hair up demand: “she can wear her up if she is in cut off shorts, a little string top, high heels, and bent over…” That about sums up the horrible man that he is…I was just body parts to him. He did attempt to groom me, but I got out. I am not healed by any means yet…I am still angry, confused, and I did talk to him again post break up – the slide…but he only abused me again…It’s been almost 2 months of No Contact now and I will stand my ground. I see him as an evil demon, sent to destroy me… I won’t let him…
Please keep posting Savannah, we need your light!
Omg, every article is nail on the head, how do you do it? All the behaviors you described, every one of them is so spot on. He constantly threatens to leave, it has been his MO from day one. It drives me insane. Thank you for showing me that this is so common and not something that only happened to me. Thank you.
In just seven short weeks yeah seven weeks. I say it again be cause what some go through that may have happened to them over months or years my narcissist did in 7 weeks. The greedy bastard. The adoration pedestal I got bum rushed into an euphoria so intense I’m still shook. I was beautiful, smart,he would say you never have an attitude, you are always happy. I had just moved into a new home with nothing. Oh my narc said, don’t worry you place is fine. (The place was a mess). That was the 1st Two weeks. Then came the devaluation stage. Oh my narc said you look like Larry do you know him. Larry turned out to be a 60 year old male friend of his. And wondered why I had an attitude after the comment. Thatcwas the first time I saw that sinister twist grin of delight on his face. I started buying furniture fixing the place up. Narc got irrate at little things like window blinds and unmatching towels, never mind there is a bed now. During the third weekend is when the discarding started. No phone calls no texts from him and he did not answer mine. I work weekends so I wasn’t that botheted. I asked he said he was going through something. And that he cuts everybody off during this time. Even his family.He started grooming me from day one. I can tell you are loyal. Horse playing and silly jokes. We both played. He started planting seeds of negative thought about my lazy daughter. He said he would take care of me when I go for surgery this march. In my innocense yet not to naive way I had a habit of guessing everything. Thinking by doing this he would think I was just all to interested in him. Then after the first time he with drew himself my narc changed. I wasn’t beautiful anymore. I was just sexy. The first time he left out in a rage was because he could tell my grown adult daughter did not like him. Oh i had this ahhh he don’t like anybody who is interested in me. She has to get to know you better. He atarted by saying I’m anybody now…and blah rant at the dunner table we were eating at I stood up and defended my daughter told him he did not have to come back then . he gor up and at the door said good luck being a door mat. Big blow our with my daughter over this but we make up. Nobody comes between us she reminded me. No call or text from narc. He had to realize he was wrong. Right. Couple days later I text him reminded him of our first date. Kinda said I was sorry invited him over. I had my period. So we are horse playing having drinks it started out fun. He let me win at first. Then he got rough. He let me win again. I am having total hip replacement in march this march 2015. Anyway while wrestling he pressure point pinched muscles in both my legs. Not servere but enough for me to know who the boss was and the winner. Another set up. Later that night he sat in a chair across from me while i lay on the bed. Narc says damn I I want to have a sex. I’m bleeding i say I will not do it. He says you will if I want you to standing over the bed
I know what I want. Please dont make me. Smerk grin and sweet voice “I won’t”. (Shear terror)
When I reminded him the next day what he did he said,and what he did to my legs ” no I did not”.
No emotion at all. He asked me early last week to give him a ride. Sure but I got the washing machine now catching up on the laundry. My room a mess organizing things. I tell narc sure tell him the room in a mess OK OK come on now. His treat Chinese food what we wanted he buys the drinks mix them. I’m up stairs trying finish before he comes up. Why would you do this he says. So dysfunctional. What I say calm I learn fast. Oh this mess I’m not helping you. But i stopped doing what I was doing to give you a ride. You are wrong narc. The expression on his face. Now he was in shear terror. Oh why can’t you admit your wrong and I’m right he says. I try to explain it to him like you would a child. Because that’s how he was acting. He gathers up his stuff I don’t follow him down stairs. That was last friday February 13 2015 the day after i set my surgery date. I don’t recognize or celebrate Valentine’s day but he brought me a large felt rose along with the food and drinks sweet huh. Set up. So on Sunday I text him you ready to make up now. Sure why not narc says. See I know exactly what to do now conditioned I am at this point. this past Monday February 16 driving doing errands text me all day even calls he is coming over. Narc calls buy a case of henekin beer pay you when I see you. Even though we meet online we live 3 block away from each other….hummm finish errands call narc I’m done going to get beer now…he goes in you never put me 1st…what…yeah I said it even though you were already out and….I went in why would you say that then. Silence..huh why would you say that…I’m all broke up to bits by now.
… I’m running around buying curtain rods and Shit from our last argument. He giggles a little (I see that smerk grin in my head) He hangs up on me and txt me I’m a drama queen that to don’t call or text him he is blocking my phone. I text back…leave me alone.(almost destroyed) He texts blocked puff be gone (Im dealing with an infant)I text…good. I do not know if he blocked me or not. Last time he said he was going to block me I text him he answered. The cycle started again. I blocked him on the dating site my cell phone and erased his number. That was it for me. By this time I had already googled to find out what the fuck was happening to me and why. I used maybe one tactics to start NO CONTACT…. By simply asking him him “why would you say that I did not but him 1st” that day when he had answered his very own question himself.
He has never made contact with me first when he broke up with me before. I pray this is his final discard. No contact no contact no contact….yeah I was groomed. Fast I must have been a tasty supply… God help me its only day 2 of no contact…. Hope this helps some one… 7 weeks…damn
So, could you give me an idea if my ex was a narcissist. Im 4 months out of the relationship of 7 years. Definitely received extensive love bombing professed she loved me within a month and I had moved into her home within 4. She literally came in and rescued me as my previous relationship had just finished and I had nowhere to live etc. She was always particular about how she wanted things done around the house and was always correctly how I hung out washing, loaded dishwasher, dusted, washed up etc etc. I just thought these were house rules but I did comment over the years that the house doesn’t feel like home if I cant move freely around. She then started making comments about my best friend ringing the house constantly to speak with me. She made this so uncomfortable I stupidly let a 20 year relationship drop. I had to be in contact with my ex to sort out house and other commitments but she would fly into a rage if my exs name was even mentioned making it almost impossible to sort out an amicable split. She was critical of all hers and my friends, colleagues and family, played the victim (I should have a better job, my boss is useless, I can do his job better etc etc) She was always looking in the mirror and asking me why I loved her and Id have to describe to her in detail why I did so.She wanted upgrades on flights, free lounge passes, best seats in restaurants,concerts, latest gadgets and brand names. In the latter stages she started introducing work colleagues names into our relationship and seemed almost like she had crushes on them. She couldn’t do enough for them and yet hardly did anything for me. She left me twice but came back within a week asking for forgiveness. She withheld sex even though Id talked to her about this a number of times as it hurt me. The last straw was when my mother had a major operation (she hated my mother and was clearly jealous of our close relationship) I went down to help the family with the nursing of my mother and was very hurt to find she’d arranged a weekend with “friends” and had not even asked if I needed any support. Consequently we had a row over the phone where I questioned her priorities in our relationship and when I returned home I was met with the coldest, cruel evil, blank stare as she said very calmly “I want you out of my house in 2 days”. I had challenged her commitment to us and she threw me out. She then gave me the silent treatment for the whole 48 hours until I left. She had a cruel brutal blank look on her face and communication was impossible. Surely a normal person cannot throw a relationship of 7 years away like this. Its beyond human?
Blubell It’s impossible to do an online diagnosis of anyone, but the one thing I can tell you from your description is that it seems you two were not a good match. The way you describe her she does seem very cold and unemotional. You seemed to be unhappy much of the time and it sounds as if you had a difficult time getting your needs met. She may very possibly be a Narcissist, or she may just be a very cold and distant person, but either way it seems as though she was not the right girl for you. I think you should try to look at this as though she did you favor, now you can spend your time looking for someone that will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. I know it’s difficult when you’re initially faced with the shock of it ending, but I think in time you’ll realize it was the best thing for you.
Great post. Two comments. One I found out through counseling you marry the stronger personality of your parents. I married a narc, I was unceremoniously dumped and because he does not want to leave the state… he is intent on destroying me financially, my reputation, everything so he can say “SEE! She WAS terrible!” Second – a good resource book something like Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers, Will I Ever be Good Enough.” Very helpful
Through extensive therapy ive had it confirmed shes hit high on spectrum. Just before my first discard I had the “opportunity ” to see her true self
She took to her bed depressed distant and when I asked her what was wrong she said she felt completely void and empty of every feeling towards anything especially towards me then got up and left. Calling me in 4 days begging for foegiveness. That was the start of the cycle.I have been diagnosed with pstd having invested everything emotions and finance into a lie
The counsellor is helping but this is a hell of a journey in realising you were loving a lie, they werent in it for.love and my role as an enabler. Im happy to work on me but the hurt and disbelief wont go away
what about if this is your adult married daughter who is abusing her mom?
Sometimes, I get scared. What if I underestimated my Narc and though I don’t think he would be capable of physical violence, what if I am wrong? What if he can’t withstand the pressure of the break up and cross it out his own limits and hurts me or our son?
I think, I know him but what if I don’t?
I shared my life with this guy for 17 years and didn’t see signs of emotional abuse only till recently!!!
Sometimes, I think I am going crazy!
Looking back on my experiences with my Narcissistic mother and boyfriend, I honestly don’t think they were cognizant about abusing me — it’s as though they were just on auto-pilot. Let me explain.
Predators like the man you mentioned in your story and what I think are called sociopaths (is that the proper term?) I think are the most dangerous people in society. But aren’t sociopaths completely cognizant of what they are doing and are purposefully seeking out people to abuse, hurt and break down? Aren’t sociopaths also extremely intelligent, charming, very socially sophisticated, good at faking emotion, tend to be good-looking and the last person anyone would expect to commit a crime or be abusive?
My mother and ex boyfriend are the opposite of the traits that I’ve described. They are not very intelligent. They are not socially sophisticated, at all, and are quite introverted and prone to all kinds of anxieties. Both of them have infantile-like minds and reactions: They rage and throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want, or are faced to deal with something they don’t want to deal with, like being told they are wrong, just the way a toddler would.
Calling my N a master manipulator would give him too much credit — he’s too stupid to be a master manipulator. I honestly think he has the same MO that he did with me with every woman he has dated, and that this is just what he does, unconsciously. A healthy woman who had high self-esteem saw through him right away and left or never agreed to go out with him the first place, but those of us who are co-dependents are the ones who stayed and put up with his crap.
Hey NR: Psychopaths and Sociopaths are interchangeable terms describing someone that suffers from anti-social personality disorder – the term used depends generally on what branch of psychology you’re coming from. Psychopaths like to abuse people for their own amusement. The man in this story is most definitely a psychopath. You are right on – a person with healthy self-esteem would normally bolt at the first sign that there is something off about their potential new mate, but sometimes even healthy people miss the signs and can be targets of brainwashing and abuse.
Apparently his new lady is “tolerant”, ha I was actually very intolerant of his behaviour (I used to argue endlessly with him about it, but it was like water of a ducks back and he even said it just washes over him) but in saying that I still tried to make it work for 5 years so I guess that makes me just as tolerant as her.
He used to say that I was the best he had been with…the best at what…crying, being anxious and depressed, taking him back after he’d treated me like crap..then yep I was the best!! Yay for me!
I was so very, very tired by the time I broke up with him, you shouldn’t have to explain respect and consideration to a grown man, I just find it so hard to explain to people I know as I still can’t get my head around someone like him so these forums are excellent as you all know what I am talking about!
It’s been a long haul over the last 19 months to recover from what was quite bad abuse and I still am not who I used to be, I guess I will never ever be that person again but that’s okay, I feel the strongest I have been in years.
I was in a gradual situation but all the steps were there. We got divorced 2 weeks ago at the court he informed me that we were getting a divorce because I was so difficult to live with. There were too many cruel acts in the marriage to list the worst one being him having a year long affair with his step sister including having sex in our home with our two young sons asleep upstairs and her husband and baby present in the basement. In his mind though to this day everything is my fault. When you get some distance the craziness is funny but very sad. I was a fool that learned my lessons but he has to live with that psychotic lack of self awareness – which I doubt he will ever let go of. I’d rather be the fool that grew thank you!
I think mine knew I was vulnerable and knew I really loved him! I broke free after a violent attack! He has a fresh victim now and as soon as I saw her I knew she looked a perfect victim for him!
Funny how the most morbid stories are the ones that hit home the most. We are all capable of being groomed by manipulators into doing things that seem against our nature. It’s like you care about this person and you put up with their stuff, then a little more, then a little more. With the brainwashing it’s like they always try to keep you unstable, always doubting yourself – they always know just the right buttons to push to make you feel like no one else will want you and you have no other option but to stay and take more of their abuse. Great insights Sav as always.
Over this long holiday weekend he was home. I catered to him and still was told all that I did was worthless and was attacked for leaving a paper cup in the cup holder of the car and letting some milk dry in the bottom of a glass. I clean up after him and cater to him constantly. I fhave stopped taking care off myself. I have Imagined myself as a fly on the wall, afraid to move my eyes. I might as well be locked in a box. I feel like I am eithe going to lose my mind of have a heart attack. I want to leave, but I have nowhere to go and no money.
For sure, Savannah. It’s a recipe from a book. Each of us tell the same story.
Wow, your list really brings home some memories. Looking back at my relationships with Narcs, I can see that most of the criteria were very subtly done. Much easier to take the blame as there were no evident psychological attacks.
However, the last one was the most overt and text-book case as shown in your steps. Of course, I didn’t know that then, so I was still as hooked, even though I felt I was being attacked, which was inexplicable after the pedestal thing. The first thing that put the hairs up the back of my neck was during our nightly ritual of chatting on MSN with a webcam (he wouldn’t use Skype, which I later realised was because he was also typing to another woman…or women, even…that he was also grooming). Anyway, during this particular, early instance, he moved the webcam around his bedroom to show me the walls, which were covered in pictures of me that he’d printed out…and lots of them. I knew then there was something very wrong but, not knowing any better at the time, I ignored that and all the other red flag moments.
After the pedestal period, he soon started the digs and insults on the forum that we both frequented online, so it was a public humiliation. I questioned him about it and he said he didn’t know what I meant as we were just having fun bantering as normal. Making it out to be my imagination or fault, as they do. Then he gradually shifted into a stern, unforgiving taskmaster.
Because I couldn’t understand what was happening, and even though I was walking on eggshells and scared to displease him by then, I still questioned his actions. Because of that he said I was accusing him and broke off with me. I was devestated at the time but it was the best thing to have happened. Even though I went through torment for a long time before I eventually sought counselling…which I truly wish I’d done when I was younger (although it wasn’t really available then), as it made so many things clear and finally gave me the help I badly needed in learning self-worth and breaking the habit of bad relationships.
I’ve also since read that those who have a short relationship with a Narc, or other psychopath, before they finish with you, is because they can’t quite keep the control they wish to influence over you. You’ve become hard work and they will always take the easiest option when it comes to getting their needs met. Questioning them about their behaviour makes them realise that you won’t be so compliant after all, therefore they’ll find someone who will be. Also, they might use you for a stop-gap between two long-term relationships, and because of that the tactics are gone through very fast to compress the cycle within the short time frame, and with devestating consequences. Whereas, the longer cycles (of longer relationships) are a lot more gradually and less easy to notice at the time, and it’s this gradualism that stops the preyed-upon from questioning too closely.
I’ll always be grateful for having had the ‘quick’ experience because it put me onto the right track for healing at last. I just wish it had happened sooner!
Thank you so much for this reminder, Savannah. A great list, and fantastic advice. 🙂
Savannah – once again, you hit it out of the park. Great job, and anyone reading this last piece of Savannah’s advice, please take it…get out, listen to your intuition! It will save you years of pain.
Your post today hit home in oh so many ways. I stayed for 42 years. He left with a note on the door claiming he needed to find himself and that I was too smart for him. I know the meaning of empty shell, trauma bonds and oh so much else that I did not know 3 years ago. Some say ‘knowledge is power’ I would change the phrase a bit, ‘knowledge is power and a bitch but oh so necessary’! Thanks for all of your posts I have come to value your insights To the others out there, get out if you can. I have lost much of my life serving the narcissist and only now realize that I was in part my own jailer because I thought that what we had was ‘true love’. — Too soon old; too late smart!