Wednesday, April 13, 2011

He is abusing his girlfriend (Happy Birthday To Me)

Today is my birthday. My father came over with his girlfriend. I was alone with the girlfriend for about an hour and we had a heart-to-heart for the first time.

She is being abused. Big time. He follows her everywhere. He suspects her of infidelity, daily, viciously, offensively, without any pretext. He accuses her of lying to him, not loving him, cheating with every passer-by. He hurls abuses at her, asks her who's been touching her, who she's been screwing all day long so she's too tired for him (after she's been guiding a group of tourists for 12 hours). He told her once, when the mask dropped, that he thinks of "his woman" as his property. I said, not just his woman. Every human being he happens to run into.

She understands there's something fundamentally wrong with him. She doesn't know if staying with him is worth it.

I shared my perceptions with her and validated hers. I mentioned "ego", "vanity", "profound insecurity", "love" that vanishes in a heartbeat, his inability to be accountable and apologize, his need to put people down and prove them wrong and crush them.
But. I didn't give her the full diagnosis. I didn't use the NPD label or tell her NPD isn't something you "snap out of". She seems to think she can help him change. I expressed doubt, but didn't feel like revealing the full extent of my knowledge.

Partly because I'm afraid she'll confront him with the NPD label and where she got it from (me). I can't see much good coming out of it at the moment.

Partly because I'm afraid she'll leave him and I'll be his main focus once more.

Am I evil? What is the extent of our responsibility towards the other people in our narcissists' lives? Do we have the moral responsibility to warn them off?

What do you do?


  1. I'm sorry for her, but I think you probably handled it as well as you could have. It's great that at least she had someone to talk to who understands. Your assessment that you'd be more of a focus seems logical; almost inevitable. Especially if the perceived reasons for them breaking up would be telling her about NPD.

    Happy birthday! Hope you had a good day, despite that.

  2. You have no responsibility because she is an adult and must make her own choices. Sounds like she already knows she is in an abusive relationship and needs to take action. You can't do that for her.

    BTW: When I shared my "diagnosis" of my parents with my brother it was a disaster.

    Enjoy your birthday with a clear conscience!

  3. I think you did all that you could. You validated and confirmed her perception as something that you agree with. Like Mulder said, "She is an adult." I'll add, the last thing you want to do is give NF a grenade to lob at you later, so keeping your diagnosis to yourself was a good measure of self-protection.

    And.... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Woo Wooo Wooo!

  4. Thank you, guys. I actually edited my post a little because, upon reflection, I DID describe his NPD to her fully, trait by trait, I just didn't label it. I tried to guide her to make that realization on her own, but she's been trying on different labels based on stuff she's interested in (homeopathy, weird spirituality) - all because she's trying to make sense of him, unsuccessfully - and wasn't prepared to venture into the domain of psychopathology.

    I realized he can be much more abusive than I'm aware of. I'd been ascribing much nicer motives to him than are realistic (I thought, for instance, that he was fishing for adoration and gratitude by driving her to and fro; turns out he's controlling her movements). MY FATHER is disturbed, evil, disgusting. I apologized to her for the fact that he is my father, knowing how ridiculous it is, but I really felt it.

    But I also realized I must be much better at defending myself and setting boundaries than I'd give myself credit for. He obviously has no scruples or conscience or limits to his abuse - but the worst he can do to me is hand me a newspaper article with a grin and a pat on the back. I don't think he dares to do more.

    I've quite enjoyed not letting him tell a single lie or other kinds of NPD BS in front of others today, so in a way I had a really good birthday ;)

  5. Wishing you a happy birthday!

  6. Happy birthday! Great comments above, I agree with the general gist of them: you gave warning, but you do not have to fully disclose the NPD diagnosis on your part.

    You're a good person for trying to warn her and give her feedback that his treatment of her is not normal.

    It's unfortunate, but people have to reach their own "last straw" moment when they're in a relationship with a Narcissist. You cannot do this for them, they must come to that conclusion for themselves. I don't think I would've paid much attention to someone if they had warned me, I had to discover it for myself.

  7. Thank you.

    I did some research. She KNOWS.

    When we talked, I tried to suggest psychological problems and kept alluding to "ego", "vanity" and "insecurity". She's into homeopathy, however, and wasn't interested in this, and I felt somehow guilty for not just blurting out "NPD".

    But she knows. She referred to him as the "Lycopodium" homeopathic type. I googled it. Trait by trait, it's narcissism. Mussolini and Saddam Hussein are described as belonging to this type. She's not calling it NPD, but her label means the same. She knows what she's dealing with. I don't have to tell her. She knows.

  8. How sad it is that we all desperately search for labels to put on these people to try to somehow contain them and explain them. How they shake our souls and lives and we keep trying to make sense of it. And they just keep thinking they're perfect and above reproach.

  9. Oh I'm glad she knows, then! I never heard of Lycopodium, that's interesting that there's a homeopathic term for it.


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