People dealing with narcissists are often traumatized by their circumstances.
- the impact of the abuse by the people with NPD
- the hardship in trying to protect children in such a difficult family situation
- “secondary traumatization” that occurs – as it often does – when the larger environment fails to “take a stand”, even believe or protect the “victim”.
Add to that the fact that there is still relatively little awareness on the damaging impact of psychological abuse
Conversations then go somewhat like this:
“did he abuse you sexually?”
“ouf” (and onwards with things)
Or, not aware of how hard it is for people who suffered this kind of abuse to speak up – I would often speak up but then the conversation would be over in 5 minutes. It’s really not that easy to let the words come – to dive into the memory of what happened. I know it is hard to believe as an outsider. But it is like diving into a giant rabbit hole – a labyrinth of dark memory. It doesn’t have a ‘sweet entry’, a door. When it’s open it’s raw and hard. (Please only take me there when I am alone, have space and feel nourished enough to be able to stand my ground in this zone!) (Please don’t talk to me about this stuff with my children present!)
But even when the problem is acknowledged – like by a trauma therapist or a lawyer – they will themselves often state there is little they can do to protect the family. Bringing in the evidence is hard and therapists rarely dare to take a stand. Society closes an eye. “It can’t be that bad” or “it must have been an accident; a one-time thing” – looking at some instances while missing the “web of abuse” that can be so invisible. The nuclear family operates so privately that it is hard to get feedback – to see what’s what – both for your self as for others. This also makes that people with NPD are only seldom “called on their bullshit”. This can be extremely retraumatizing for people who have suffered long-term relational abuse of this form.
Even more importantly, parents who are in an abusive relationship will always wonder how they can protect their children. They often can’t and will see the same pain in their children that they have felt inside.