Being in a relationship where domestic abuse is prevalent can be one of the most difficult things to deal with. The abuse can come in different forms and, though it is clear it is wrong, will often come with rationalizing from the abused person.
In a lot of cases, the abuser is described as being a narcissist. But is there a connection between narcissism and domestic violence? Let’s take a deeper look at both sides of the equation.
Is Narcissistic Abuse Domestic Violence?
It is important to note that narcissistic personality disorder and domestic violence are not considered to be one and the same. As a matter of fact, there is a bit of an issue with psychology forums and abuse blogs using the term “narcissistic abuse.”
Narcissistic abuse is not a clinical syndrome or diagnosis. It is a term or phrase that can actually mislead those who may be suffering from genuine abuse. It removes the term “domestic violence”, which makes it more difficult for the abuser to be held accountable.
This is ultimately quite dangerous for the victim because there is no focus on changing that behavior, which can escalate in intensity over time.
Are All Abusers Narcissists?
Claiming that all abusers are narcissists is a dangerous way of thinking. People who are in abusive relationships will oftentimes refer to their abuser as a narcissist, even labeling their partner with a misdiagnosed personality disorder.
This is often because the victim in an abusive relationship is looking for some reason as to why their partner is being hurtful or has damaging behavior. Something like a narcissistic personality disorder can provide “clarity”, whether true or false.
This way of thinking can be quite damaging. Not every abuser automatically has a narcissistic personality disorder. Abuse comes in any number of ways and has its own spectrum. There are limitless personality types that have been exemplified by perpetrators.
There is also a misconception that narcissistic traits automatically equate to a narcissistic personality disorder. Though narcissism is a personality trait, it is not the same thing as a mental illness.
Having a narcissistic personality disorder shows a general pattern of needing admiration, lacking empathy, and is oftentimes displayed in more than a single context.
What Defines a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Though many people have narcissistic tendencies, that does not necessarily mean that they have a personality disorder. There are certain traits and signs that can lead to the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.
These symptoms and signs include a grandiose sense of self-importance; belief that they are special and unique and can only be understood by others of high-importance; a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited power, beauty, brilliance, or success; a sense of entitlement; a need for excessive admiration; a lack of empathy or an unwillingness to identify with the emotions and needs of others; a tendency to take advantage of others for personal gain; arrogant, haughty behavior; or jealousy of others or a belief that others are jealous of them.
The actual diagnosis illustrates just how much more complex the disorder is. Though perpetrators of domestic abuse may possess one or more of those signs, someone who garners a narcissistic personality disorder would exhibit at least five of those traits.
Being able to recognize that an abuser can behave in any number of ways is important. Bits of narcissism in a personality is actually quite normal and, to a degree, even healthy. There is much more to the personality disorder than most realize, which leads to those with abusive tendencies being falsely diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.
Narcissist Deflecting Blame
One of the most common instances in which it can seem like an abuser is narcissistic is in the deflection of blame. One of the prime traits of a narcissist is that they will deflect blame for their actions and words to just about anything else.
Narcissists can’t take blame for anything that happens because it would mean that they would have to view themselves as having to be capable of making mistakes in the first place. Narcissists have a belief that they are superior to everyone and their grandiose views of themselves would not support that feeling.
Even if they are clearly to blame for something, with glaring evidence staring them in the face, a narcissist is still totally incapable of accepting blame. When a narcissist believes that someone is blaming them for something they did not do, they tend to deflect blame onto anything and everything in order to self-preserve.
These actions are classified as blame-shifting. Here are some common phrases that many narcissists will use to shift blame:
- “You always do that!”
- “It’s all your fault.”
- “You screw everything up.”
- “If you didn’t make me angry, I wouldn’t hit you.”
- “I wouldn’t have gotten that wrong if you weren’t distracting me.”
- “I wouldn’t have cheated on you if you wouldn’t nag me.”
The goal of each of these statements is quite clear. Instead of accepting their role in the situation and taking blame for their actions, they shift the responsibility to the other person. Even if the other person has clearly been wronged, everything becomes their fault.
Though this behavior can often have a link to abusive behavior, there is not necessarily a correlation between narcissistic personality disorder and domestic violence. It can lead to not only a misdiagnosis of the disorder, but can put emphasis on a personality trait that may not necessarily have anything to do with the abuse itself. The disorder requires a clinic evaluation in order to make the proper diagnosis.
Narcissistic Abuse Support Groups in the UK
There are a variety of support groups available for those suffering from narcissistic personality disorder and domestic violence in their relationship. Having that support system is crucial for getting out of the relationship and beginning the path to recovery.
There is the Survive Narcissistic Abuse London group based in London. There is also the Brighton Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers in Brighton. Finally, there is Toxic Detox UK based out of Birmingham.
Recognizing the signs of domestic violence, particularly tied to narcissistic personality disorder, can seem difficult. Having a good support system of friends and family can be the necessary foundation to move towards positive results.
Though narcissism is viewed through a negative lens and often has negative connotations, it is important to know that abusers are not automatically narcissistic. The connection between the two has often been unjustly fabricated, making it seem like all abusers have narcissistic tendencies or even full-blown disorders.
Recognizing the signs of narcissistic personality disorder can help to provide clarity on the matter. No matter what personality trait or disorder is at play, finding help for the victims is important. If you or someone you know has been the victim of domestic abuse, find help through friends, family, or a local support group today.