How well do you know your partner? Your best friend? Neighbor? Brother or sister-in-law? How well do we really know anyone? How many times have you heard yourself say, “Oh no, he/she would never do anything like that?“ And what degree of certainty would you place on your assumption? We all think we are pretty good judges of character. We would all know if someone in our circle was kinda ‘off,’ right?

I love those real crime shows like 48 Hours, Dateline, Forensic Files and 20/20. I love the way they lay out the evidence, so one minute you think the perpetrator is this person, but the next minute, it could be someone else. For all of us amateur detectives we’re able to use logic and reason and our gut instincts to come to our own conclusions. Most of us watch these kind of shows because we want, better yet, we need to understand what drives a person to commit such heinous acts.

The most common theme for murder on these shows is a spouse murdering their partner for money, a new lover, or both. It’s unfathomable to us how someone could justify killing the one person, they should love the most, for selfish gain. It’s like they perceive this person as their personal object, a toy that they no longer want to play with, that they are free to discard at any time, and in any manner they see fit. Another common theme is, the jilted lover, who comes back to exact his/her revenge by murdering the object of their fury.  In this scenario it’s your life for my wounded pride.

Narcissists are possessive, suspicious, jealous and all about control. They don’t do rejection well at all. They have no problem rejecting you though, but their fragile sense of self isn’t capable of allowing such a transgression to go unpunished.  The recent poster child for a Narcissistic revenge killing is Jodi Arias. She was the jilted lover, who stabbed her boyfriend 27 times, slit his throat and shot him in the head, then thought she could out-smart everyone and get away with it.

Usually the Narcissistic characteristics of the guilty are apparent, but sadly, the disorder is rarely ever mentioned on these shows. One of the most common questions I get in my emails is, “Why didn’t I know this existed? Or, why don’t they teach us about NPD in school?”  And they’re excellent questions. It should be the most natural thing in the world, for a parent or a teacher to warn the young about the predators of the world. Other animals teach their young about what predators to look out for – why not us? People just don’t seem to want to talk about or acknowledge mental health issues, until it lands on their doorstep and demands explanation.

I recently received an email from a grieving woman looking for answers, as to why her sister was murder by her ex-boyfriend. Her therapist mentioned the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder and she did some online searching. She wanted to know, why this happened, how it happened, why no one even saw it coming and what she could have done to prevent it.

I should preface everything by saying that, not all Narcissists are violent, just like not all Psychopaths are serial killers. The simplest ways to determine if someone is a violent abuser is a) Witness his/her current behavior (are they violent with you?) b) Have they been violent in the past with previous romantic partners? and c) Do they have a criminal record associated with any type of violent acts? This is a good start, but it doesn’t always complete the picture.

A Narcissists ego is extremely fragile. We’ve all heard the term Narcissistic Injury. This is any slight real or imagined that threatens the Narcissist’s sense of superiority and grandiosity. When you break up with a Narcissist, to them this a full fledge assault to their very core. It has the power to insight an uncontrollable rage. You’ve probably heard witnesses to violent offenders say it was like a switch went off and they were out of control.  Deep inside all violent Narcissist this rage lies dormant just waiting for the right trigger.

The Narcissist is able to keep some  form of control over themselves by controlling others. This is why they play these emotional head games, to beat down their partners self-worth and ability to fight back. It ensures them of your compliance and gives them control. When the Narcissist holds the reigns to your power, he or she is in full control of you and this is exactly how they like it.

In the Jodi Arias case, her lover Travis Alexander had broken up with her many times. The control game she played with him, and all female somatic Narcissists for that matter, was sexual seduction. Many people were surprised that his killing was preceded by intercourse, but this is how the female Narcissist regains her control – through seduction. Very likely, to his detriment, he probably made it clear after they repeated this exact same behavior a hundred times before, that this time, their physical act wasn’t going to change anything between them, this time they were done.

If I can’t have you, no one else will

A partnership with a Narcissist is about control, dominance/obedience, and ownership. A love partner is their fuel, a limited resource with which they must horde and shield from others looking to tap into their supply. This is why a Narcissist makes it very difficult for their partners to maintain outside relationships and why they can even be jealous of their own children. Losing control threatens them so severely, that they may resort to absurd tactics to regain their hold.

There is a story in my family about my great aunt, who married a Narcissist and they had a child together. After repeated abuse, she decided to leave him and on the eve of her and her son’s departure, he snuck into the baby’s room and kidnapped him. This was some time in the 1950’s and kidnapping laws were not what they are today. He shipped the child off to a relative’s, on the other side of the country and would not give him back to his mother, until she agreed to go back with him and was pregnant with their second child. He didn’t care about the welfare of their baby. He was another pawn for him to use to regain control over his other possession.

If you leave a Narcissist when they are in the discard phase of your relationship, your departure won’t affect them the same way. They may at some point dangle some carrots in front of you just to check and see that they still wield control over you, but they won’t lash out with a vengeance, because they are the ones that did the leaving and thus, their ego wasn’t threatened.

It terrifies me greatly when women and men are planning to leave their abusive spouses, because you don’t really know what you’re dealing with, or what they are capable of. Did Jodi Arias’s boyfriend think he was going to die that day? I can guarantee you, he did not see that coming. He had no idea just what kind of monster was inside of her and the lengths that she would go to, to maintain her control and neither do you.

“If I can’t have you no one can,” is the phrase people use to try to explain it. What it really means to a Narcissist is, “You are mine. Everything about you is mine, even your life. That’s how powerful I am.“ They follow up this belief with the mentality that they are special and smarter than everyone else, so much so that they will get away with it. Grieving loved ones, that are left behind, are not even a consideration to a Narcissist. To them, you are an afterthought and don’t have the same kind of rights and privileges that they do.

I often wonder how much different my life would have been, if I had been taught about self-esteem and emotional predators in school. “When you know better you do better,” Oprah always says. When you don’t recognize something, when it’s not even on your radar, how can you protect yourself.  Travis Alexander, the beloved sister of my reader and all of the victims of Narcissistic violence, would have likely had different outcomes if this information was more readily taught in homes and schools.

Leaving a Narcissist is dangerous. It’s not like any other break-up you’ll ever encounter . Your safety has always got to be your top priority, especially if they have been violent in the past. There are shelters that can help with this type of transition, they were created for just this purpose. Call professionals who deal with this type of situation, talk to your friends and your family about your concerns. Educate yourself so that you’re aware of all of your options, before you make the break.

But honestly – the best way to leave a Narcissist is to convince them that the break up is their idea. This keeps their fragile ego intact and protects you in the process. Failing that, don’t discuss leaving with them, make a plan and just go. Leave no trace behind. Go no contact – get a new number, new email address, buy pepper spray, a tazer- anything to protect yourself and be prepared to make a lot of changes in your life. Like I said, not every Narcissist is violent, but how can you know for sure. It’s better to be prepared than a statistic.

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