Narcissists lack of empathy, interpersonal exploitation, and disregard for the rights and boundaries of others. If you’ve been a victim of narcissistic abuse at the hands of your spouse, you’ve likely been on the receiving end of these character defects. Now that you’re divorcing one (or considering doing so), expect these key traits to worsen exponentially. While divorce from a narcissist isn’t easy (not by a longshot), there are steps you can take to protect yourself and maintain your boundaries.
Recognize Abuse. Narcissists “gaslight” their victims by denying their reality. If you confront your narcissist about their inappropriate, hurtful behavior, he (or she) will likely employ a number of tactics to avoid taking responsibility: blaming you for the problem, pretending it never happened, and acting outraged that you dare burden them with your pesky feelings. So, not only have they abused you once, but they also continue the abuse by manipulating you into silence and passivity. Do you question your judgment? Think you’re the problem? Get some objective feedback by talking to a counselor and/or calling a Domestic Violence Hotline. The first step to extricating yourself from an abusive relationship is to recognize that you’re being abused.
Prioritize self-responsibility.Narcissists tend to attract over-accommodating partners: people who don’t feel entitled to say “no” or ask for what they want if they think it will make waves. If this is you, it’s critical that you stop taking responsibility for your narcissist’s feelings, and prioritize self-responsibility instead. That means that you take care of yourself by being assertive and refusing to be manipulated. Your #1 job, especially during divorce, is to keep yourself emotionally and physically safe.
Practice strategic communication. Narcissists love to bully their victims by attacking them in emails and texts. It’s important that you limit their access to you and disengage psychologically. If you enter into a debate or respond emotionally, you will just invite your ex to dish out more abuse. When communicating with a narcissist, be brief (less is more), informative (no opinions or sharing feelings), neutral in tone, and firm (no waffling). Also: don’t be afraid to block your narcissist’s phone number if they’re being verbally abusive.
Take time before responding. Narcissists love to threaten by barraging you with electronic communication and/or artificial deadlines (“if you don’t respond by 5:00 pm, I’m calling my lawyer!”). This is one way they manipulate you. Change the pattern by not responding right away. Wait 24 hours (or more) before answering an email. Consult your attorney if you’re afraid of the artificial deadline. Besides teaching the narcissist that you are no longer falling for old tactics, waiting before responding gives your nervous system time to calm down so you can make mindful, instead of reactive, choices.
Maintain the boundaries you set. Asserting boundaries is meaningless unless you enforce them. If your court order calls for curbside drop-offs during custody transitions (a good idea with a narcissist), do not let your ex come into your house to appease him (or her). If your ex is playing games with child support, open a case with the New Jersey Child Support Program. If you’ve been ordered to communicate through a court-approved messaging system (highly recommended with a narcissist), then ignore your ex’s attempts to engage you via regular email or text. The more consistent you are in maintaining your boundaries, the more you communicate to the narcissist that you are no longer following his controlling program.
Read more: How to get a narcissist to reveal themselves
Are you divorcing a narcissist? Learn how to protect yourself by formulating a clear legal strategy. To get answers to all your questions about divorcing your narcissist ex, including parenting time and restraining orders, please contact us to schedule your initial attorney consultation. Take the first step towards securing your future. Call us today: 888-888-0919.