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Contract with Your Abuser - Part I

Uploaded 3/30/2011, approx. 5 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.


How to get your abuser to see reason in the first place? How to obtain for him the healthy needs without involving law enforcement agencies, the authorities or the courts?

Any attempt to broach the subject of the abuser's mental health problems frequently ends in fights or worse. It is positively dangerous to mention the abuser's shortcomings or imperfections to his face.

Abuse is a multifaceted phenomenon. It is a poisonous cocktail of controlled, frequently, of conforming to social and cultural norms and of latent sadism.

The abuser seeks to subjugate his victims, but also to look good or to save face in front of family and peers.

Many abusers also simply enjoy inflicting pain on helpless victims. They are sadistic.

Hence the complexity of trying to prevent or to control the abuser's behavior. His family, friends, peers, coworkers, neighbors, usually levels of social control and behavior modification, condone his misbehavior.

The abuser seeks to conform to norms and standards prevalent in his milieu, even if only implicitly.

The abuser regards himself as actually normal, definitely not the lard of therapeutic intervention.

Thus the complaints of the victim are likely to be met with hostility and suspicion by the offender's parents, by his siblings.

Instead of reining in the abusive conduct, they are likely to pathologize the victim. They are likely to say she is an odd case or to label her she is a whore or a bitch.

Nor is the victim of abuse likely to fare better in the hands of the police, law enforcement agencies, courts, counselors, therapists, guardians of Britain.

These institutions are inclined to assume that the abused victim has some kind of hidden agenda. She wants to abscond with his husband's property or to deny him custody or visitation rights. She is the guilty party.

Abuse remains, therefore, the private preserve of the predator and his prey. It is up to them to write their own rules and to implement them in their relationship.

No outside intervention is forthcoming. And if it is forthcoming, it is ineffective.

Indeed, the delineation of boundaries and reaching an agreement on coexistence are the first important steps towards minimizing abuse in your relationships.

Every agreement you make with your abuser must include a provision of urging him to seek professional help for his mental health problems.


Well, what should such a contract look like?

Personal boundaries are not negotiable. Neither can they be determined from the outside.

Your abusive bully should have no say in setting boundaries or in upholding them. Only you decide when they have been breached what constitutes a transgression, what is excusable and what cannot be pardoned.

The abuser is constantly on the lookout for a weakening of your resolve. He is repeatedly testing your mental and resilience. He pounces on any and every vulnerability, uncertainty, hesitation or susceptibility.

Don't give him these chances. Be decisive and know yourself. What do you really feel? What are your wishes and desires in the short and long term? What price are you willing to pay and what sacrifices are you ready to make in order to be you? What behaviors will you accept and where does your red line run? Where do you draw the line in the sand?

You must learn to verbalize your emotions, needs, preferences and choices without aggression but with assertiveness and clear determination.

Some abusers, narcissists for instance, are detached from reality. They avoid reality actively and they live in fantasies of everlasting and unconditional and perfect life. They refuse to accept the inevitable consequences of their own misdeeds and actions.

It is up to you to correct these cognitive and emotional deficits.

You may encounter opposition, even violence in extreme cases, but in the long run facing reality pays. Play it fair. Make a list, if need be, in writing of do's and don'ts. Create a tariff of sanctions and rewards. Let him know what actions or his or inaction on his part will trigger a dissolution of the relationship.

Be unambiguous and unequivocal about it and mean what you say.

Again, showing up for counseling must be a cardinal condition.

Yet even these simple, non-threatening initial steps are likely to provoke your abusive partner.

Abusers are narcissistic and they are possessed of alloplastic defenses. In other words, they feel superior entitled above any law and agreement and innocent victims of circumstances and people beyond their control.

Others, usually the real victims, are to blame for the abuser's abusive conduct.

A typical sentence is, see what you made me do, look what you have done to me.

How can one negotiate with such a person without in carrying his wrath? What is the meaning of contracts signed with bullies? How can one motivate the abuser to keep his end of the bargain, for instance, to actually seek therapy and attend the sessions? And how efficacious is psychotherapy or counseling to start with?

We will tackle all these questions in future videos. Stay tuned.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissist: Set Firm Personal Boundaries!

Personal boundaries are essential to protect oneself from abusive behavior. It is important to set boundaries clearly and communicate them to others, including the consequences of violating them. It is crucial to enforce boundaries consistently and involve law enforcement or friends and colleagues if necessary. One should be vigilant, doubting, and not gullible, and expose the abuser to their collaborators.


Coping Styles: Narcissist Abuses "Loved" Ones Despite Abandonment Anxiety

Narcissists abuse their loved ones to decrease their abandonment anxiety, restore their sense of grandiosity, and test their partner's loyalty. Abuse also serves as a form of behavior modification, as it signals to the partner that they need to modify their behavior to avoid abuse. Coping styles for dealing with abuse include submissiveness, conflicting, mirroring, collusion, and displacement, but some of these styles can be harmful and should be avoided.


Spot a Narcissist or a Psychopath on Your First Date

There are warning signs to identify abusers and narcissists early on in a relationship. One of the first signs is the abuser's tendency to blame others for their mistakes and failures. Other signs include hypersensitivity, eagerness to commit, controlling behavior, patronizing and condescending manner, and devaluing the partner. Abusers may also idealize their partner, have sadistic sexual fantasies, and switch between abusive and loving behavior. Paying attention to body language can also reveal warning signs.


Narcissist's Reactions to Abandonment, Separation, and Divorce

Narcissistic abusers often resort to self-delusion when faced with the dissolution of a meaningful relationship. They may adopt a masochistic avoidance solution, punishing themselves for their failure, or construct a delusional narrative in which they are the hero. Some may become antisocial psychopaths, while others develop persecutory delusions and withdraw completely from social contact, becoming schizoids. Finally, some abusers resort to an aggressive stance, becoming verbally, psychologically, and sometimes physically abusive towards loved ones.


It's All My Fault: I Provoked Him

Abusers tend to blame others for their misfortunes, mistakes, and misconduct, and believe that the world is a hostile place out to get them. Victims of abuse often adopt the abusers' point of view and begin to feel guilty and responsible for the abusers' reprehensible behaviors. Shared psychosis is a complex phenomenon with numerous psychodynamic roots, and victims may fear abandonment, grew up in dysfunctional families, or are simply masochistic. Victims should realize that abuse is never a form of expressing love and should analyze their relationship to determine if they can reframe their roles or if they need to plan a getaway.


Over-sexed: Histrionic Personality Disorder and Narcissism

Histrionic personality disorder is more commonly diagnosed in women, leading to questions about whether it is a real mental health problem or a reflection of a patriarchal society. Histrionics crave attention and are uncomfortable when not at the center of it, similar to narcissists. They are preoccupied with physical appearance and sexual conquests, and often act flirtatious and seductive. Histrionics are enthusiastic and emotional, but their behavior can be exhausting and off-putting to others.


Shyness or Narcissism? Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, and a lack of self-confidence. People with this disorder are shy and socially inhibited, and even constructive criticism is perceived as rejection. They avoid situations that require interpersonal contact and find it difficult to establish intimate relationships. The disorder affects 0.5 to 1% of the general population and is often co-diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders, dependent and borderline personality disorders, and cluster A personality disorders.


Body Language of Narcissistic and Psychopathic Abuser

Abusers emit subtle signals in their body language that can be observed and discerned. They adopt a posture of superiority and entitlement, and they idealize or devalue their interlocutors. Abusers are shallow and prefer show-off to substance, and they are serious about themselves. They lack empathy, are sadistic, and have inappropriate affect. They are adept at casting a veil of secrecy over their dysfunction and misbehavior, and they succeed in deceiving the entire world.


Abuse Victim as Hostage: Stockholm Syndrome and Trauma Bonding

Abusive relationships require two people to sustain, and the abuser and the abused form a bond and dependence. Society often refuses to tackle this phenomenon, and people, mostly women, remain in abusive households for various reasons. The abuser treats their spouse as an object, devoid of a separate existence and denuded of distinct needs, preferences, wishes, and priorities. The abuser exploits the vulnerabilities in the psychological make-up of their victim, and abusive behavior often indicates serious underlying psychopathologies.


Abuse Victims Fear Holidays, Birthdays

Holidays can be a nightmare for victims of family violence and abuse, especially when the offender has narcissistic or antisocial psychopathic personality disorders. Holidays provoke a particularly virulent strain of pathological envy in abusers with these disorders. The narcissistic and psychopathic abuser feels deprived and wants to spoil the party for everyone else. It is important to set boundaries and punish misbehavior and maltreatment.

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