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Narcissistic Abuse can happen to anyone!
I have really been beating around the bush about the “nightmare” of Narcissistic Abuse my family went through. It was embarrassing in a way, the actions of my abuser. And I was afraid of receiving more judgement from our situation. However, I had my eyes opened to the truth of the matter: I am not alone. This nightmare has played out more times than I can imagine, throughout the world, on every socio-economic level. WE ARE NOT ALONE!
This revelation has inspired me to not only tell my story. I want to help as many people as I can walking this same path. So I am dedicating August, and this post, to Narcissistic Abuse. This is the first post in my 12-part series addressing all aspects of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and how it affects the family dynamic.
But first, my story…
My Experience with Narcissistic Abuse
**While writing this post, I realized you cannot sum up the past year, and honestly a lifetime worth of abuse, in a quick snippet. This post is about the warning signs of Narcissistic Abuse in children and I want to stay focused. Instead, I have written a separate post detailing the events that led my family down a whirlwind of shenanigans. A story involving cops, CPS, arrest warrants, and lies galore (oh my!)! If you want to read my full story, click the subscribe button here:
Otherwise, we can continue with 10 Signs Your Child is a Victim of Narcissistic Abuse.
In hindsight, I saw all of the signs. I knew my mother was trying to turn the kids against me and my partner. And I knew it was only a matter of time before it would be too late to stop. I just didn’t know what I was looking at. I honestly had no idea it would get this bad! Looking at the whole picture though, I’m not surprised. This was a long time coming and it could happen (and does happen!) to anyone in my shoes.
So what are the 10 signs of Narcissistic Abuse in children?
Disrespect due to the influences of a NPD are distinct and stand out from the norm. It will be at random times and about things that have nothing to do with them. An example: I asked the girls to be quiet because I had a paper to write for my senior history class. My youngest said, “Why are you going to college? It’s not like you will amount to anything.” Aside from becoming very defensive, and then sad because she’s kinda right (there’s not much you can do with degree in History, sadly), I was shocked! Where the hell did my kid learn that?! And why would she say that, when I teach them you can do anything you put your mind and hard work to, and I have been modeling that their whole life. Which leads me to my next point…
My daughter saying I wouldn’t amount to anything is clearly an adult idea. It can be words or entire phrases that do not fit in a child’s vocabulary. Children really are parrots and if they hear it said they will repeat it. A good example of adult ideas is my girls asking what “alcoholic bitch” means because they heard grandma say it about me. (It got really bad at the end) It is safe to say that if your children are expressing adult ideas, they are hearing it from an adult. That adult is either the abuser or their “flying monkeys” that are continuing the Narcissistic abuse. My best advice is trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right coming from a child, it’s not right.
The “Grandma Card”
I’m calling it the grandma card, but honestly it’s whomever the abuser is in your life. When you’re child tells you “[Insert name of person in your life] said…” and follows it with some form of gas lighting, control tactic, or disrespect they are pulling the grandma card. Children are easily susceptible to whatever direction the NPD wants to gear the abuse, that’s why they love children. If your child is showing signs of being an abuser, they are learning from the best.
I think this is the biggest warning sign of narcissistic abuse, but the one that requires the most observation. Bullying amongst siblings is annoyingly normal, and the more kids, the more normal it becomes. However, true bullying, the kind that hurts, is not normal and signs that your child is a victim (or flying monkey) to a Narc. This is a two-sided coin, one side is the child is trying to exert some of the abuse onto another to feel relief, or they are perpetuating the abuse of the adult they are modeling. THIS IS BAD!!! My youngest daughter was the flying monkey for my mother, and my oldest and I were the scapegoats. If you see bullying in your child, find the source and cut it out!
Going hand-in-hand with the last two signs, if your child is arguing with you more than normal for children, pay attention. They will usually argue about what they think is best for them and why you’re not parenting them right. Again, this isn’t normal arguing. They are repeating the ideas of the Narcissist.
My mother’s favorite lie to tell people was she raised my children. My youngest daughter would argue with me that grandma raised her and I was never around. I could hear my mother in her words!
They are right and you are wrong, and they will tell you it. The arguing will be worse if they child sees the narcissist arguing with you. The adult abuser is gas lighting you, the child is learning how to gas light. Count the times in a day your child argues with you, and the reason. If they are trying to change your mind or reality of something, your child is a victim.
This is the warning sign that scared me the most when I realized it was happening. My daughters started telling me that they couldn’t remember things and that they get confused easily. My youngest actually told me an elaborate story involving a bike accident and a serious bump to her head that keeps her from remembering things. This was the big red flag that I couldn’t ignore; my mother was gas lighting my children. If your child alters stories and then becomes confused when you correct them, they are being gas lighted. If you hear “I don’t know” more often than not, your child is being told a different story than what they remember and they are trusting the adult over their own reality. RUN!
Not to be confused with the last sign, doubt is in themselves. The scapegoat is told that they can’t do things without the help of the Narcissist. They are weak, stupid, and incompetent. In time, your child will start to believe this. They will tell you they can’t do this or that when it comes to almost everything. Their self-esteem will be extremely low and their desire to try new things will be nonexistent. Pay attention to your conversations with your kid. If you find them putting themselves down and acting like they are unable to function without the Narcissist, you need to get them out of there.
All children want to please their parents, and most adults. However, a child with normal adult relationships understand that they will make mistakes and will be loved regardless. A child exposed to a Narcissist, and thus a victim of their abuse, will be terrified of making mistakes. If they do make a mistake, they will overreact to defend themselves or become so overwhelmed with fear of an adult’s disapproval they could become sick. This is a serious sign that the Narcissist has belittled and abused the child for past mistakes.
On the other side of the pendulum, victims of Narcissistic abuse will try to please adults and go over and above to make them happy. If the child is the scapegoat or golden child, it doesn’t matter, they either want to get in the good graces of the Narcissist or stay there. Now, I know all children want to please people, but here’s the catch. It will be mixed with severe mood swings that will encompass the other signs of abuse.
My daughter was over-and-above trying to help my mother. She started cleaning the living room and when she accidentally broke a glass on the counter, she broke down in hysterics because she was a “failure” and “she ruins everything.” In the span of 20 minutes I saw my daughter’s need to please my mother and the absolute fear of her rejection and rage flash before me. I knew it was time to stop trying to keep my mother around for the children. She was doing more harm than good.
My daughter blaming herself for ruining everything when she broke the cup is just a minor example of the self blame that victim children express. They will blame themselves for everything that goes wrong, or is perceived as being wrong by the Narcissist and/or their victims. My parents divorced when I was four. Like all children, I believed the divorce was my fault. However, I believed that for an unhealthy amount of time after. I’m talking like in my twenties! It took counseling to break me of the idea that I had a hand in my parents demise. If you’re going through a divorce (and limiting contact with a family member is a form of divorce) and you see your child blaming themselves, seek counseling and discuss with them healthier thoughts.
This one has become my biggest struggle with my daughter. Between the fear, self-blame, and bullying children can become very negative about the world around them. They become “glass half empty” people and it becomes almost impossible to break without therapy if they reach that point. You could take them to the park, Disney World for a week, or buy them a pony and they will find something to complain about. I have no idea what to suggest to do about this. If I find something I will let you know. The best I can say for now is keep being positive yourself and love your child for who they are at that moment, happy or sad.
This is my list that I have compiled after nonstop observation and recording of my children’s behavior, on top of countless hours talking with my own therapist about the effects of my mother’s abuse. Please note that I am not a professional and this post is in no way medical or legal advice. I’m just a professional mom that has dedicated my life to taking care of my children, even at the cost of losing my entire family to do so. Recovering from abuse of any kind is a long, hard road. But you will recover! Seek counseling to help fight the monster your abuser built in your head. Know that you are loved and you have the strength to walk away and live an amazing life without abuse!
So what can you do?
If you suffer from Narcissistic abuse, or any form of abuse really, get out! Get Help! You can do it and you will be so glad you did! Subscribe to my page for more information on Narcissistic abuse and more. Follow me on Pinterest and Twitter for more updates. I’ve included a free printable for this post and the signs to watch out for. Fill out the form and get yours now!
But most importantly, share this! Share it, because you don’t know what road someone is walking and who you can help with something as simple as sharing an article. Help someone today and hit the share buttons below!
Looking for books on the subject? (and ones that helped me in my recovery) Check out:
- Some of my favorite articles on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and their signs include:
- 19 Signs You’re Married to A Narcissist
- 16 Subtle Signs a Narcissist is Abusing You
- 6 Signs of Narcissism You May Not Know About
If this is your first time hearing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Gas Lighting, or other tactics of psychological abuse, check this out!
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder? – a blog on the condition
- The Mayo Clinic‘s description of the condition
- 11 Signs of Gas Lighting in a Relationship
I’m adding this flow chart from Lise Winne’s post Making a Scapegoat in Alcoholic and Narcissistic Families. This is an extremely detailed article on the role of a scapegoat in a Narcissistic family. Good read!!