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Narcissism – Is it abusive???

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

Narcissism is subtle. Your partner may be kind, loving, and caring in public, but at home the disguise is removed, and they are completely different. You feel exhausted... always on edge. You are afraid of making your partner angry… of doing something wrong. You feel alone… confused… and guilty for your “mistakes.” You have apologized over and over… You keep hoping... but nothing seems to change.

Narcissistic behaviors destroy relationships and are painful and destructive to family members and partners. Over time, they can completely devastate the partner’s sense of self. These behaviors are abusive.

Abuse is a strong word but, simply put, abuse is about power. One partner seeks to obtain and hold power over another. We often think of abuse as being physical but take a look at the various types of abuse and see if you can identify how power is a driving force.

Physical – throwing things, hitting, pushing, controlling access to medication

Emotional / Psychological – gaslighting, silent treatment, threats, derogatory terms

Verbal – threatening violence against a person or pet, threatening self-harm or suicide, telling someone that they are worthless, name-calling

Religious / Spiritual – using religious or spiritual beliefs as a form of manipulation, quoting religious texts to justify abuse, insisting children are raised with religious practices not mutually agreed upon

Sexual – forced or manipulated sex, birth control sabotage, unwanted sexual jokes or comments, ignoring sexual boundaries

Financial – insisting a person work outside of the home or not allowing them to work, denying access to bank accounts or income sources, sabotaging education or work

Cultural / Identity – using slurs, withholding identity documents, using cultural norms to justify abuse, isolating from cultural community

Technological – not allowing someone to get their own email address, constant calls or messages, changing or demanding passwords without permission

Not one of these areas is unreachable by a narcissist seeking power or control in a relationship.

Are you in this situation? Due to the manipulative, gradual nature of narcissistic abuse, it can be difficult to obtain clarity. This short quiz, taken from Spin Cycle Coaching, can help in determining whether you are in a narcissistic relationship. Read through the list and, for each “yes” answer, give yourself 1 point.

The Toxic 12 Quiz

  1. Does the person always put their needs and priorities first?

  2. Does the toxic person respond in a way that makes you question your own thoughts, memories, and events occurring around you? And yet are the tables turned when you bring up a valid complaint, leading you to forget the issue and focus instead on your own behavior?

  3. If you disagree with an opinion or decision, are you called disloyal, negative or antagonistic?

  4. Are you made to doubt simple actions such as buying a household product at the store?

  5. Do you find yourself taking the blame for things that aren’t your fault?

  6. Do you find yourself apologizing a lot?

  7. When your friends or family members express concerns about what’s happening, do you defend the abuser or come up with excuses for their behavior?

  8. Does this person behave negatively towards you, but pleasant towards others? And, when you ask for the same treatment, are you told you’re the only person who has a problem with them?

  9. Have you lost your identity, ambitions, values, and beliefs?

  10. Do you feel belittled, devalued, or dismissed?

  11. Are you made to feel that you’re too much or not enough?

  12. Is your voice not heard, validated or welcome in the system?

Looking at your list of “yes” answers, if you have five or more, you are most likely dealing with a narcissist.

If so, please remember these three important points:

You are not crazy.

It’s not your fault.

You are not alone.

Recognizing the relationship dynamic is the first step. The journey of healing and recovery from a narcissistic relationship takes time. Remind yourself as many times as necessary… You are not crazy. It is not your fault. You are not alone.

KS Services is here to walk with you… to stand beside you… to remind you of the truth. Please give us a call if you would like to learn more or have questions about your relationship. In addition, below are a few resources for further information or study.


First and foremost, make contact with a therapist who understands the nuances of narcissistic abuse.



Healing from Hidden Abuse – Shannon Thomas

Exposing Financial Abuse – Shannon Thomas

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? – Dr. Karyl McBride

Please call or email if you would like further information or a presentation on this subject.

References: (n.d.). Narcissist toxic 12 traits quiz. Retrieved from

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