Verbal Abuse

The school yard taunt "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me" was obviously written by someone who never lived with a verbally abusive family member because quite simply, words do hurt.

For years I lived on the receiving end of verbal abuse and am also ashamed to say I was once regularly guilty of it myself.

While certainly no expert at commanding respect now, I can honestly say that my skills in avoiding being put down and holding my tongue have improved considerably over time. So with that disclaimer I will do my best to offer the 'one stop shop' many of my readers have been requesting (for some time now) at dealing with the put downs and harassment that many of us live with both at home and at work. I was first considering developing this article as an ebook (and I know it would have sold very well) but decided instead to offer this advice free and I ask only that you share a link to this post with anyone you think it may help if you find benefit from what I have to offer here.

My first belief about verbal abuse is that any technique for dealing with it that relies on analysing a conversation in progress (in any kind of detail) is simply not going to work. Instead the ideas I will offer here are skills that need to be contemplated at length in private and also practised often and preferably in a mirror or with a friend before you try them in real life. Success with this will also most probably not stand alone but occur as part of an overall (and I would say major) improvement in your general life.

The Power Taboo

To understand the approach I will take in this article it should first be understood that socially people organise themselves according to a hierarchy of power. Quite simply the pecking order does exist. I am not making any value judgements about this and I certainly think we should make a conscious effort to be kind and just to those with less power and influence than us, but whether we abuse it or not the pecking order (of power and influence) just is. What I am saying is that whether you admit it or not, you make assessments all the time of whether the person in front of you has more or less power and influence than you, and the more aware of this you are the less likely I would say you will probably be to abuse it.

People don't like talking about personal power and it is one of the few taboos left of what can comfortably be talked about openly in public, but how much power and influence each of us wield as individuals plays a major role in verbal abuse.

For instance, it is very common for verbal abuse to occur when a person uses someone they assess as further down in the hierarchy to dump their negative feelings and stress on, simply because they think they can get away with it. No matter how personal this may feel to the person on the receiving end, it is probably NOT really personal at all and the fact is that this person will yell at, order around or put down anyone who they think they can get away with this behaviour with.

Underlings as Emotional Dumpsters

This is common with some bosses or supervisors and how people will sometimes talk to small children. Please stop and think about this if you have kids. The next time you find yourself grilling your kids about why they didn't go to the bathroom before you left home when you are tired and and grumpy, ask yourself if you would talk to someone your own age or older in this same fashion? The fact is that most of us are guilty of this, if not with our own children then perhaps a younger brother or sister or someone in a position 'below' us at work.

So logically any attempt at avoiding verbal abuse that you may be experiencing in your home or your office needs to start with you actively making moves to improve your position in the pecking order. This does not mean that you have to become ruthless or a bad person but it will mean that as you move into a position of more authority you will hopefully set a better tone in how people are treated in this environment as you have more control over it.

Are Positions of Power Allocated at Birth?

Thinking that your status in the pecking order is only about sex, race, money or privilege would be a mistake. Certainly some wealthy people do spend a lot of time educating their children in how to conduct themselves in ways that command respect, but many don't, many fail and there are certainly skills to improve your standing in the hierarchy that can be learned by anyone.

As promised, I will soon offer some scripts here for countering verbal abuse, but first let's look a bit closer at what effects a person's personal power in the hierarchy, why this causes fights and how you can improve your standing ...

According to one of my favourite teachers, Mark Joyner, an individual's personal power is based on how much money, energy and time a person has. Mark also has an excellent program for increasing all three of these areas in life by systematically improving your daily habits and staying focused on well chosen goals. You can sign up for this program free here > Simpleology.

I will add a few more factors to this list (that I think Mark would agree with) which are; your emotional intelligence, how trustworthy you are and your ability to clearly ask for what you need and expect from others. I will also add a major sales skill here (because sales is a part of most of our lives, whether you are selling actual products or simply your own ideas) and that is the skill of being able to put your point of view across without putting someone else's opinion down.

There is a lot of practical advice on becoming someone who others feel for and who commands respect in my two short ebooks (with pictures) titled, The Little Book of Empathy Love and Friendship and Emotional Stupidity.

Now because this article will be a bit of a long one, I want to put all of the practical advice I have to offer at the end where you can find it easily when you need it. So before we get into all the practical ideas I have to share with you, I want to add a little more about why a power imbalance causes fights. Unlike the relentless and sometimes grinding abuse that disempowered/disenfranchised children/workers may face, spouse abuse will often be somewhat different and on the surface less easy to understand. This kind of conflict will sometimes arise when the partner who has been assumed to hold less power in the relationship does something that is seen as challenging or threatening the position their partner has claimed, or feels they have an inborn or natural right to in the hierarchy.

Steve used to claim that the whole problem with our lives was that I didn't let him be "the boss". The fact was however he was making most of the decisions whether I liked it or not and the trouble (as was demonstrated later) was really that I had little power at all. He in fact was in charge but had no real idea of how to manage a family or provide for us, but any move I made to take positive action to try and improve things was interpreted by him as a threat to his status.

When I was down and out he would blame me and say "Come on Kim, get in and help us!", but when I did he would then feel threatened and cut me back down again by putting me down ("You aren't so great as you think you are, you should face facts that you are just an ordinary girl and nothing special"), taking over anything I tried to do, or bad mouthing me (especially to his family) because he no longer felt in control. The whole time however he still really had hold of all the strings, including our finances. I had also, unwisely, given him power over my confidence in myself and my feelings of self worth.

Many years later we had a Chinese university student living with us (helping with the rent) and he said something at dinner one night I will always remember; the kids were sitting around the table and he said "OK who wants to be the boss?" Of course all of the kids jumped up and down in their chairs saying "Me, me, me! I want to be the boss!" So then he said "OK", and asked one by one if they were prepared to be responsible for their brother and sister and for Steve and I. He said "Are you going to take care of them all and make sure they are safe and fed?" Of course when they were asked this the kids squealed "No no! I don't want to do that", and he then said "Well you can't be the boss or leader then, because the leader has to be responsible for everyone and that is why your mother and father have to be leader."

I am sharing this story because it is this idea (which I had realised many years before hearing this story) that made me decide it was OK for me to 'seize power' from Steve when he was at his worst. He was only thinking of himself and not us and so it would have been irresponsible for me to let him remain in charge of us.

My first ebook Back from the Looking Glass, I guess could be described as the 'mutiny' I staged which turned our marriage around. I was honest and clear about my 'mutiny' at that time. I said "Since you seem intent on dragging your life and reputation into the gutter with no regard for us, you are no longer fit to be in charge of us and we are going to do things my way now!"

Once I had taken over I did my best however to be more fair than he had been and if you listen to our radio show - The Love Safety Net - I think you will hear that we have a fairly equal relationship now which has led to good rapport between us and I believe it is because of this we now rarely fight.

OK so on the other hand I had been guilty in my marriage to Steve (and in a past relationship) of verbal abuse too. This was usually when I felt hurt or slighted by put downs, but more commonly and, I am ashamed to say, when I did not understand that men tend to get emotionally overwhelmed much faster than women. In difficult conversations I mistook cold silence as some kind of deliberate torture, which it was not. This would cause me to be hurtful back. I feel very bad about this and so I really want to put it across that no matter how much you think someone is being deliberately nasty, it is much better to overcome the urge to use angry words and take some time out for yourself, because you may not understand fully what is truly happening.

I think a lot of verbal abuse also happens when people are uncertain of their position in the hierarchy and are vying for power. This can often be seen in children with their brothers and sisters and with co-workers or kids at school.

So where is it healthy to aim at rising in this power hierarchy I am describing? There will always be those more powerful than us and always people who are weaker and it is wise to sometimes remind ourselves of this. A healthy question I would suggest is that you ask yourself how many people you are able to comfortably be responsible for in the frame work you are now working within? The head master or principal of a school, for instance, has certain responsibilities to a greater number of students than a teacher does, but then the teacher's responsibilities may be more comprehensive.

If you are living or working within a family or organisation where a person in a role of authority is not being responsible in their treatment of others and is not talking respectfully to those with less power and authority than themselves, it may be necessary to know how to protect yourself and avoid conversations that you know will lead to you being verbally abused. If this is the case it may also be necessary for you to learn how to best protect yourself and minimise the emotional damage that their harsh words may cause. You must realise however that this will not work long term unless you make a habit of actions that will increase your own standing and circle of influence.

If you don't know how to play chess I would suggest that you take some time and learn it. The strategies needed to 'bring down your opponents king', will help you begin to understand that this process is not about direct assault but instead having more of the board under your command and influence than the abuser in your life's false pride (which is their king in this metaphor).

I realised this at one point in my journey with Steve. I had been trying to get a business off the ground without success for a number of years, when playing chess a certain position on the board struck me. I realised that a person could not 'move ahead' with their own strategy in the game if they are 'in check', or in other words I wasn't going to be able to move forward in my life as long as I felt threatened by Steve. It was about this same time I found the courage to get the police involved to end the physical intimidation I had lived with for a number of years.

If you are in a relationship that is physically abusive or you have any fear that there is the potential of this, it is extremely important that you implement and enforce a zero physical violence policy and that you are 100% ready and committed to calling in protection at the earliest sign of intimidation before you even consider tackling the verbal abuse problem.

It is very hard to get the police to protect you from domestic physical abuse these days however let alone verbal abuse (but do not let this dissuade you if you are facing physical abuse - there is advice in Back from the Looking Glass on how best to get police protection) and because of this I get more enquiries on how to deal with verbal abuse than any other question. Unfortunately there is not a 'one size fits all' solution but following are a number of scripts that I have found effective.

If the abuser in your life is a close family member who you care about, bringing down their false pride WILL need to be your aim, but at the same time it is important that you respect and remember the 'real person' beneath their haughty exterior. You must build trust with them and try and help them feel secure at the same time as putting limits on their 'bad side' and bad behaviour. In a similar way parents are now wisely taught to limit their children's bad behaviour without limiting the child. This good advice I believe also holds true for adults. It can be a fine line to tread but the better you can become at reassuring the person you are dealing with that you love and accept them but will not tolerate being yelled at, put down or insulted, the better results I believe you will get with these ideas.

Most importantly these scripts need to be used to 'close a door' on the conversation when you feel uncomfortable about where it is going. Thinking you can win an argument with someone who is set on verbally dominating you will NOT work. It does not matter how clearly you show them they are wrong or that they are being unjust, at the point of them being abusive their ego is in charge and they will be extremely unlikely to back down and say "Oh sorry you are right" and you should face this. Refusing to engage, without rejecting the person entirely however, WILL force them to reconsider how they approach you in the future.

Some Scripts for Dealing with Verbal Abuse ...

"I don't like where this is going and I am not prepared to talk about this anymore, I need to get to work/home/cleaning up (or whatever)."

If you say this it is vital that you disengage at this point and go and do what you said you needed to.

"I am concerned that you think you can talk to me/us this way, if this continues I will need to talk to [choose the most appropriate person for the situation who has some authority over the abuser but is not a friend of theirs or family, such as a superior at work, your minister, doctor, the local police, the school principal (if it relates to the kids) etc.], to get some advice on how to handle you when you are like this, because I don't know how to."

[It is important that you give this first as a warning but it cannot be an empty threat. If the abuse continues, it is vital that you find the courage to speak to someone with authority over the abuser to get them help.]

"I feel very hurt by what you are saying but I don't want to say anything that I will regret later so I am going to go calm down now and I hope we can talk about this in a day or two when you are feeling calmer too."

You can also say simply (and you may need to repeat these regularly)

"Stop putting me down."

"You are not better than me."

"I won't give you a hard time if you don't give me one."

(said with one arched eyebrow and your chin tilted down, or looking over your glasses at them)

"You have obviously had a bad day, why don't you cool off and I will talk to you when you are calmer."

"Sometimes I am and sometimes I'm not."

(in retaliation to statements such as, you are stupid, careless, clumsy, etc.)

"I need to cool off before we talk about this any further and I hope that you will too. I will talk to you (time) when I have finished ------."

At this point I should mention that it is very important that you let your partner know when you will get back to them if you leave. If you simply storm off and don't say where you are going or let them know when you will talk to them again it will not make the situation better but worse.

"I am going to need an hour or two to calm down, I will call/see you at (time) and I hope that you decide to calm down too before we see each other again."

"I am going for a walk to calm down, I will be back in a while and I don't want to talk about this again tonight as we are both too emotional now. Let's agree to give it a day or two, I love you but I am not going to discuss anything while you are shouting at me."

"I can see that you are upset/angry/distressed about this but I cannot talk now as I am feeling extremely overwhelmed and I need some time to accept that you feel the way you do about this and think about what you have said. I will call/see you (time)."

Besides these scripts there is clear body language you can use such as putting your hands out in front of you with your fingers pointing towards the sky out a slight distance from your body before you turn and walk away.

"I am not going to argue with you; when you are ready to consider my point of view and discuss something that suits us both, then we can talk more about this."

"I need sanctuary now, please do not come in here again until you have calmed down. Please let's agree to talk about this tomorrow."

The finality in your voice with these statements is very important as is keeping your voice even and in a deeper tone. Thinking that you need your partner to be nice to you or resolve the fight right now is a HUGE mistake. Learning to self-soothe and be able to calm your self down and find your own source of inner happiness regardless of how others are treating you is the most important skill you can work on. Emotions are contagious and so if you are surrounded by other people's anger or negativity you will pick it up, but if it is not yours you cannot resolve it. Because of this it is essential you learn to let go of bad feelings you have picked up from others and be able to get back to feeling happy as soon as you can. If your happiness is genuine this will help the people around you decide to be happy too. This is not the same as pretending to be happy however!

So here is an exercise that might help you with this ...

If you are feeling angry, hurt, depressed etc. ask yourself if the emotion is yours or if you have picked it up from someone around you. If the feeling is not yours, feel it in your lungs and heart area and then imagine it contained in a balloon inside you in that area that is getting bigger and bigger as you continue to breathe. As it gets bigger than your body see the balloon now become more like a soap bubble that will eventually pop on it's own and all of the bad feelings float away.

Now imagine your own happiness like a spring bubbling up inside you washing anything left of the bad feelings away and making you feel better. After this, when you feel ready, begin very gently to share your own natural happiness with the people around you.

This exercise will take longer when you first try it, but soon you will get better at doing it more quickly. If you can, then try and be sympathetic for why the person/people you are with are feeling angry or negative. Giving them some validation and understanding (once you are feeling better) will usually help.

"I know that work is really tough for you at the moment, I understand how you must be feeling very stressed about providing for us."

"Being a mother is a very tough job and must be very lonely, you must miss your independence and feel really overwhelmed by it sometimes. I know it takes most women a long time to adjust to being a mother."

If there is a positive virtue missing in a situation rather than escalate the negative emotions, once you are able to access your own sense of happiness at will, you can then think about what virtue is missing and attempt to add it.

For instance ...

Someone who is showing little understanding to others my need some understanding offered to them.

A person who is showing little valour may need protecting or defending (from unrealistic expectations or too much pressure at work or from the expectations or pressure from their friends or family).

A person who is showing little humility may need others around them to demonstrate humility.

A person who is irresponsible needs very responsible family and friends.

A person who is insensitive may need to be treated with extra consideration and care.

A person who rarely appreciates others may need to feel appreciated themselves.

A person who lacks empathy may be very anxious inside and need someone to feel for them and put themselves in their shoes.

This is not exactly the same as 'turn the other cheek'. What I am suggesting here is not offering yourself as a victim but instead as a positive influence. If someone is regularly abusing you verbally (or in any way) you are not doing them a favour to let them continue in this way. Calling in the help of an outside agency may be necessary but will work best if it is done out of concern for the abuser rather than as retaliation or punishment or as an 'eye for an eye'.

Again, these ideas are not going to work in the heat of the moment unless you have taken time out to really think about these new strategies and practice them if you can. The truth is that if you are being verbally abused, this situation probably occurs regularly and in similar situations and you need to start preparing yourself to respond next time in a way that better defends yourself or those around you who may also need protection. In some instances it may be necessary and possible to cut contact with the person in question entirely but this is not always a guarantee that the abuse will stop and can even escalate the problem, so please take care.

No one gets used to being abused and your skin doesn't naturally get thicker to it over time. It has been proven that if a person is constantly subjected to verbal abuse they will actually become more sensitive to it and may suffer anxiety attacks or PTSD. It can be a nasty world out there and even though some people try, it is impossible to avoid ever being abused by becoming a cold, hard and nasty person yourself. I believe it is much healthier and better to face that as unpleasant as it may be, we will all sometimes face the wrath and disdain of another or being balled out or put down by someone else and so it is well worth the time practising these techniques (even if only in your head) that can be used to help deal with this type of dehumanising situation.

I also suggest that you think about this; if you are to be successful not everyone is going to like everything you do ...

Even so I hope that you still decide to make a success of your life (-:

Hang in there!

Kim Cooper

Verbal Abuse - Part 2


  1. You put a lot of work into this, Kim. Thanks so much!

  2. Perfect timing Kim. Thank you so much for what you have done and continue to do. I just this morning had an incident with my NPD husband. There really seems to be no way to get him to see anything he has done wrong. He turns EVERYTHING around on me. This article as well as all your others has really helped me in not getting so frustrated. Not so sure I can hang in there as you suggest. I am so tired of feeling like the failure. I know this is not all me and my doings but I am certainly the one that suffers. Keep up the good fight and I will try to do the same. Sherry

  3. I appreciate the article and see a huge need to start a conversation about verbal/emotional abuse. I see it a lot in the lives of my clients now that I have been through it and have learned about it. I highly recommend the book LOVE WITHOUT HURT by Stephen Stosny for those that want to learn more about the emotional dynamics and how things might be turned around. What is so important is for victims to know they are not the cause, just the trigger.

  4. well done, Kim. You are an inspiration.

  5. Wow, powerful stuff thanks Kim. I will be trying these skills with my husband as he is very stressed with work right now and gets more abusive the more frustrated he gets.

  6. Excellent advice. Thank you, Kim. I wish I had known this when I was young and in school.

  7. sounds easy, I have been doing exactly what it said in yr beautiful message above . . I help both my teenage kids to go through this, my son seems to be able to detach himself and he is an old soul but, I am concern about my 16th. year old daughter . . I am not sure what would happen to my marriage after she left for college in two years if my husband is unable to see things with his heart . . I would rather go penniless

  8. Dear Kim,
    Thank you so much for all your work and Steve's work.

    I just wanted to share some resources that have helped me to first recognize the subtle or covert forms of abuse. I think recognition is one of the key first steps to healing destructive relationships.

    Dr. George Simon's book "In Sheep's Clothing" and his writing on manipulation tactics and tools of empowerment have really helped me keep my head clear on what was really going on in my relationship.

    Here is a link to some of his writing.

    I would love it if you were to invite him onto one of your radio shows.

    Another really helpful resource for me was the movie "Gaslight" (1944)
    and my researching gaslighting abuse on the internet.

    Here is a link to the movie "Gaslight" on You Tube.

    Best regards,

  9. Thanks for writing this great article, Kim. When I bought your first book I never imagined all the incredibly useful free information that would keep on coming. Your tips about how to understand how manipulative people operate & how to react in a way that is not hostile but strengthening to both parties is priceless! I'm sure I'll be able to use all this information for dealing with whatever difficult people I may encounter the rest of my life. That makes life seem less scary. :)

    With great admiration,

    Sandra M

  10. Kim,
    I find your words to be very inspirational and helpful. I did not know what narcissism was until I heard it from my attorney. I immediately looked it up online and found your website. Your talk radio/videos and knowledge has helped me to recognize what I feel and to know who I am dealing with in my life. I had no idea that someone who I put on a pedastal and recognized as my partner of 30 years could be the very person who continually does not support my long term goals as an individual. As long as I supported his views, his religion, his lifestyle and raised the kids. He would be the supporter but a very negative emotional climax was happening. He became less intimate. He used the blame game for when I would express to him that I would like us to be closer. I only recognized this sadness I have in my heart when I became aware of the need for his running the family unit but not letting me be an individual who shared the responsibility with him. It only felt like his "kingdom" and I was a part of it not a partner in it.

    I am in counseling and with the tools and skills you have provided and my counselor has provided me with only then does my husband anger of not being in charge show. I never knew that was the problem. I would only get emotional and see he needed comfort and sooth him. Which now I know it was a skill he himself learned from his own father. To turn the blame back on me. That I would feel bad. I have come to the point after raising my kids and now being empty nest home. That I am fully not happy. I am attending college classes to help me support myself if in the near future our relationship does not survive for two compatabile people. I have fought over fours years of a woman in the office that he refers to as a very good friend. I never told anyone. He addresses the relationship as work only related but I have found many texts and some company trips that he did not tell me that she would be going on. I finally just hit my limit. I do not know even in 5 years if I was to work so hard on this marriage that he has a plan to divorce me. I feel my only alternative is to learn from you and from my counselor and to get my education. To be prepared.

    I guess that is why I am writing. To let you know how much I appreciate you preparing me. Preparing me for things to come in conversations, things to come in behaviors and to know that I need to work on strategies. Because I have learned he is far better at this than I ever knew. I did not know he had my number. I was niave and crumbled. Which now I know only made his self satisfaction in dominance become even stronger.

    Thank you again,

  11. Great inspiration. Thank you so much for the advice. I will put this into practice

  12. I have just left home for time to restock my inner person, and am proud to say that I actually had finally acted in the manner so described here. Sitting reading these good advisements I feel validated and more positive in taking my first step forward to smell the roses. Thank you for the first day of my new me.
    Denny C-G

  13. Thank you for validating my actions. I had actually taken the steps advised and have moved out of home temporarily, then I opened this this morning and went wow!! Your broadcasts have empowered me to take stances I would have been concerned to take before and am now ready to step forward and smell the roses

  14. So happy to receive this, Kim! Thank you for sharing your insight and experience.
    In my experience with my situation so far, any extended hand or offering more understanding, more empathy, more love has been only an opportunity for him to reject me once again.

    My Life Coach told me that "you cannot help those who are dishonest with themselves."
    So that is where I see our relationship stands.
    I cannot beat my head against a wall trying to converse with a person who cannot 'see' beyond their own nose.

  15. Kim,
    I am very new to your site, and have attempted to connect with someone to order your books. We have missed each other, but I'm so looking forward to ordering them.
    You are the first one to "nail" what I am up against, and the mere diagnosis has given me hope. As we cannot deal with what we do not even recognize. I do a lot of reading, but through the confusion and being too close to the situation I totally missed the NPD that is completely my husband, bless his soul. I, like you, fall into the Co-dep slot, but over the years have already began to use some of your recommended stategies by mere trial and error. My husband "never" responds to weakness, only strength, so I have became stronger by instinct, and the need to survive. I so agree with what I have read thus far by you, and can't wait to get into your books. My husband knows I read and when he is attacking he even throws reference to general comments I make by offering out, "did you get that from one of your many books" in order to degrade any point that may sound sensible even to him! Don't worry, I never reveal my sources, and sad to say, I also have been known to throw out some nasty comments myself when I just can't take the craziness and double standard any more.
    Thank you so much for your help and support. Your sincerity really shines through, and that is what makes your information so helpful to is so nice to feel understood, and not alone, even in
    Bless You!

  16. Wow this was great information. Thanks for the time you spent on this.

  17. Thanks Kim. Very valueable advice. You should put more into eBooks. :)

  18. Dear Kim, I so wish I had found your website and read your advice before my husband left me. If I'd known about NPD a few years ago and been able to try some of your suggestions instead of backing down all the time so he wouldn't get angry maybe things might have turned out very differently. Even so, by understanding the dynamics and realising that his behaviour was not my fault, this is helping me finally come to terms with my loss. Thank you.

  19. Thank you, Kim. Once again your information hits the nail on the head and your scripts are priceless. You have made such a difference in my life and given me the tools I need to be a better person and not stay stuck on the pity pot. I finally read "Codependent No More" and it brought everything full circle for me. That should be a must read for all folks dealing with an "N". 2010 is going to be the best year of my life!

  20. A very apt topic for one of the key issues that dogged the relationship I had with my husband. He had been dominated by a mother with NPD who used a mixture of subtle and more direct verbal abuse. He in turn had used verbal abuse to put himself in the superior position, his self esteem being so low.
    When I eventually plucked up the courage to challenge him, he at first said the language he used such as silly, stupid, mental, looney, ridiculous, pointless (all aimed at me) was 'just words' and meant nothing. Then he began to see it was more sinister when I turned them around and asked him how he would feel if he had to deal with someone using those terms about him, then asked him where he ha first heard those words....he recognised they came from his mother.
    We have been on a difficult journey, but are begining to enjoy the fruits of our efforts. The relationship is recharged and we have enjoyed being together again as we had when we met when we were both 16yrs old,40 yrs ago.
    We have experienced some problems on the way from people who preferred us to be at loggerheads. His mum for one and what came as shock to us, a long-standing single female friend who had enjoyed the attentions of my husband as her 'rescuer' over many years when he needed to feed his NPD. It did not suit her for me to be reinstated as his life partner and he could, for the first time, see the detrimental affects of his abuse.
    It is never too late to try again.
    Thanks again for sharing your experiences, it gives us all hope

  21. I love that you mentioned that men get emotionally overwhelmed faster than women. For my NPD husband this is very true. Knowing this information can be very helpful as is all of the wisdom that you pass along. I have not yet given up hope on saving the marriage, but we are not there yet. Thank you for all of your work.

  22. Thank you Kim, I need all the help I can get.I have attempted suicide 3 times in the past 20 years that I have been with my verbal abussive Husband. I really have not found any help except from you.No one has said any thing excpt leave. I don't want to leave.He is not well and I don't believe in abandoning a sick person.I just need help in knowing what to do.

  23. love your excellant work Kim, you are an inspiration.God bless you.

  24. I learned how to do what Kim said through twelve years of going to a Catholic school. However, after high school I had two long term relationships where both men were verbally and emotionally abusive, plus I had to deal with a verbally abusive boss. I had no time in between to recoup myself and my strength. Then a year after that I met my wonderful fiancee but his mother is verbally abusive and so are a lot of his friends. We are both enjoying Kim's messages on how to still love these people who are dear to us but also avoiding the emotional distress they seem to enjoy causing for no reason! My mom made a comment that I seem to be more my old self (meaning how I was day to as a kid and teeanager-much happier, better able to defend myself against people who want to try and take my everyday happiness away!) In the USA Kim's program is known as The Bucket Dipper Theory.Don't treat that person like crap, but also don't let them dip into your confidence and selfesteem! Thank you, Kim and Steve, for helping us learn and actually make improvements in how they treat us!

  25. Hello Kim,

    Another great piece of information, as usual. One thing I always appreciate about your advice and reflections is that you help those who are dealing with abusive situations to realize that although they are not the "cause" of the abuse inflicted upon them, they are not merely passive "victims", either. We all can do a lot do defend and protect ourselves in positive ways and we need not be either helpless nor hopeless.

    Keep up the great work you are both doing!

    Warmest regards,

  26. Kim,
    This was a great piece of writing you so generously shared. It's somewhat of a review for me as I've been consulting your work, and used the Love Safety Net Workbook, for well over a year now. But the reminders are a great way to continue to expand my ability to manage at home. I've passed your name on to people desperate for help whom I thought could consider the options you present. (We all reach a point where we know what we've done up to present has not worked. So why not try something positive, that helps you to be both courageous in working for change without intentionally fanning the fires of argument and bitterness?
    I am feeling very lucky we live in a time when information like you've created is available.
    All the best,

  27. Your work is amazing, I really admire and listen (for the first time!) to the things you say and I am really working hard to put things into practice in my life and know it takes time to make things work out... It's become fun now and I have a sense of humor again, thanks for sharing. I started to read everything when I was in a really bad place and it opened my eyes. but now whenever there is a message in my inbox from you guys I really feel supported on my journey. Have just bought all the rest of your work with the discount code... so I'm off for a good read.

  28. Dear Kim,
    Thank you (and Steve) for not giving up and for sharing your experiences and strategies on how to beat NPD. I too believe awareness, education, prayers, and practice can overcome what is quite often a negative outcome. You are an angel to many with signs of hope! God Bless!

  29. It is such a relief to see the process of verbal abuse explained so clearly, and find that there are ways to handle it instead of simply enduring it.

    Thank you for making this available.

  30. I have used the techniques quite successfully when my narcissistic husband is verbally abusive. Recently, however, I have been the target of his rageholism that I know he is self-stimulating in order to justify. One example was simply putting a bottle of wine down on a counter - where he would not have placed it. Irrational, yes. I do not believe his accusations, I know I am well-intentioned, I do not call him names in retaliation, etc. I can even see the wounded six-year old as it is happening. What I now fear is that the frequency and sustained incidents over the past three weeks represent escalation and perhaps an entree to the physical intimidation. Had a little peace last evening - he was silent but uncommunicative. In my way of thinking, rage turned inward. I am considering a timeout that may require moving from my home. For those experiencing this, what might your suggestions be on how to do this without further escalating. By the way, he says he wants to be rid of me. Has said it many times before - is it time to believe him? So sad but able to take care of myself. Thoughts?

  31. Hey Kim, your writing hits the nail "in the head" and offers simple understanding of not always clear life realities.
    I think it is insightfull and well presented.
    Thank you for sharing, best regards Goran

  32. Thank you Kim and Steve,

    Your advice on understanding your reaction to abusive behavior is helping me with my marriage and work. Thank You so much!


  33. Dear Kim, your writing is insightful and simple in adressing more complex life realities.
    It is obvious that significant research has gone into making of your articles nonetheless they are presented in straightforward and down to earth, honest manner.
    Thank you for sharing, best regards Goran

  34. Kim,
    Thank you for all you do to help others. I have found that waiting until he is finished with his hurtful words with out interuptions on my part and then very calmly I look right into his eyes and say, I am sorry that you feel this way but this is not my problem this is yours and I will not let you make it mine, works the best for me. Then I go on with my busness. I take me back. This is starting to help him also because he is realizing that it's not working anymore. I use to fall apart and cry and ask him why he would say such things. Power that's why, I let this happen to me..NO MORE. Thanks for helping me find ME AGAIN. He is good when he is good and he is bad when he is bad. But, I only except the good. :)

  35. Thank you so much for this information, I have been in a verbally and emotinally abusive marriage for over 7 years, 5 months ago I was at my wits end and called in the police. My husband is no longer living with me, I am sad it has come to this, but I am starting to realise that I can survive without him and his repetitive put downs and constant references to his 'best friends' (female) from work whom he socialised with and slept over with. He contacted me today to meet up, said he missed me and loved me, I said I would if he agreed to stay calm with me, he said no preconditions, so I said no thanks. I would not have had the strength to do this in the past, I would always have backed down to appease him and taken the blame. Thank you so much, I am beginning to find my self respect without being dragged into arguments! Siobhan, Ireland

  36. What an open, informative article. Thank you Kim! I am so glad you didn't give up on writing and creating the business you cultivated, in the very life you were living. In your case, I hope a future book reads: Where Suffering Can Be a Goldmine. Isn't it true that valleys are where the growth takes place? I see your honesty and sincerity with a desire to learn, share and succeed as some of your greatest strengths.
    As a social worker, I referred people to the book Crazy Making. Surviving Divorce, by Abigail Trafford. In it she illustrates that most marriages fail because of a power imbalance. In Anger Mgt. and Batterer Intervention groups, Time Outs, patterns of thinking and forms of verbal abuse are discussed. Patricia Evans wrote The Verbally Abusive Relationship which is also good. Boundary setting that doesn't end a relationship (if possible), self care and the use of your 'village' are all important.
    What the judge in my eviction court for the last two days, (as I represented myself as the landlord) didn't understand, is true power comes from being respected and honored for your kind, equitable behavior, to the people who have trusted you to be in the position of SERVICE you are in. Hopefully in a month or so I will remember to write him a letter and express what I experienced in his court room, in a way that will lend to hope and learning, while being honest and open. I have not allowed that kind of abuse in my personal space for years, and the only way out in this case, was through.
    I am still working in my life to have a healthy relationship with children that are verbally abusive. Kim's words of continuing abuse causing PTSD and anxiety, etc. are so true. Self care is first. For me it has been setting limits, finally stating continued relating would be done with the help of a 'village', or a trained counselor to ensure accountability for all parties. Less talking, and more real listening is a goal for myself. I'm a walking encyclopedia, so it's hard.
    Getting good with the ideas and scripts Kim shared will be integral in my life. I have always believed in a healing focus. Kim reminds me where true influence lies. Thank you Kim!
    Predator: Someone operating out of self interest without regard for the feelings and rights of others.

  37. Thank you Kim, for more useful information as you always give out. One year ago, I had no idea that a personality disorder called NDP even exsisted. It was only by chance I saw this disdorder on TV.(up until then I had tried to hang in by telling myself that one day at our age he would have a light bulb moment and he would change the way he treated me). I could not wait to get to the computer and look NDP up. I was stunned that after almost 40 years of riding what I called the "roller coaster" in my marriage I could finally see that almost every aspect of NDP fit my husband. The continual verbal abuse, the temper tantrums when his life wasn't perfect enough, the blame for every argument and everything that went wrong. The hurtful and critical things I was always being told that sent me into tears and depression.I never in 40 years heard the words I'm sorry,when he wounded me deeply! When I needed to buy anything I was told I didn't need it. It was called his money and he could do what he liked with it. He spent plenty on big ticket items for himself.I had tried everything to try to pull him closer...the talks where I would try to explain to him, how he made me feel (they were useless),trying to fight back to hold my ground against his verbal abuse & critisim ( also useless).I did all his yard work outside plus look after all the work inside and single handedly looked after our 2 children(he didn't want to know their problems or mine),thinking that if I made his life even more perfect and he didn't have to lift a finger,once he came home from work, he would feel gratitude and it would bring us closer together,(useless, I put myself into the ground for nothing).He would come home and pretend he didn't even notice. I have been sick for 12 years now, for which I have no doubt that the constant stress caused. It has left me with exhausted adrenal glands and many other health problems realted to exhausted adrenal glands. Everytime it looked like I couldn't tolerate anymore of his behaviour and would start contiplating whether I was better off leaving, he would turn on the charm and I would be pulled back on to take another ride on the roller coaster.I was ashamed to tell anyone that this was how my husband treated me. Outside the house he is know as the greatest guy,so I kept it to myself. The children are grown and gone, I'm to sick to go out to work, when he comes home, I am treated most times as if I am invisible. When I talk he usuallly doesn't even answer. The charm is turned on when he wants something from me. Conversaton only happens when he has something he wants to talk about(which is rare). I feel so alone and have cried enough tears to fill a lake. It is only your news letters and radio shows that help me keep my sanity because now I know he has tatics that he uses to push any button of mine he can. So thanks to you and Steve I am learning tactics to. I may never have a great marriage but you both have made it much more bearable. Now I can stop believing what he has drilled into my head ..that I am the one trying to pick a fight and that I am crazy or on drugs. I am to sick to leave so with your help I will continue to "hang in there". My greatest appreciation for all your work and all that I have learned.I can see a few small changes, so I hope for the best. Thank you again fro being there.

  38. I feel less alone and hopeless knowing so many others are going through the same thing. I will try your advice, Kim. It is hard to be strong all the time and not fall into old habits, especially when your kids start to treat you bad too. I have been fighting back feelings of wanting to run away. I know I won't do that but I so want to leave it all behind. I am making plans to go back to college and be on my own after the kids go off to college. I can't be like some of these women and take this abuse for 40 years or more. If a person has attempted suicide than they should get out and fast!

  39. My sister is a bitch, there is no way around it, she has been since the day that she was born and my father and brother assumed emotional incest with her. These techniques are all fine and well Kim, but sometimes the best thing is to just avoid the chaos and get on with your own life. I've had PTSS therapy and more friends who love me than I have time for. Mary sets up the cards to look good and run things above all else. I do not play her game and therefore do not complete her circle of control, as alL others in the family do. this is more than she can take as she is externally motivated and I am not. Mary is the Queen Bee and I flat our refuse to be her drone. I let her do what what she wants. I'm educated, well-traveled, have much higher self-esteem and make tons more money than she does and did I mention the respect of others on a much higher level of intellect and accomplishment than she. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just lLEAVE AND GET ON WITH YOUR OWN LIFE. Those who are abused often feel like "I must have compassion and help my abuser." I hear that a lot in your message. THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE RIGHT THING TO DO...TO STAY IN THE CIRCLE OF THEIR IRRATIONAL ABUSE! Cut the chain and live well. As Ivana Trump said, "The best revenge is success." No one can argue with it, and the abuser will always reap what they sow in the end anyway. whether they learn from their actrions or not is inevitably up to God. Take care of yourSELF FIRST AND FOREMOST IF YOU ARE ABUSED!!

  40. Thank you for your wisdom and insight into a terrible problem. The incredible charmer who everyone on the outside sees as generous and kind and loving is the same man who tells his wife "You need medication", "you are a drunkard", "you are a whore". After scouring all the info I could on NPD I realized that this man was truly a child. I did at one point go to the police when I became truly fearful.
    The marriage ended as he decided he didn't want to be married. He replaced me with a housekeeper and a lover to meet his sexual desires. He wanted to date me while seeing others and that it would be gret. I said no and told him that once out of the house(it was his house) he was not to contact me I told himthat I couldnt date him knowing he was seeing other women and his response was "you wouldn't know". With your advise and encouragement I have rebounded and have blossomed back into me...I had withered into a scared nervous woman without any confidence...I was emotionally beaten. Now I am strong. Thank you Kim. Keep sharing!
    New Jersey

  41. Hi Kim,

    I'm truly grateful for the insightful analysis of the problem and advice you give here. Thanks for sharing!Your understanding of the inner dynamics of this problem is very real, deep and loving for both spouses involved in this problem. I still love my husband because he has some wonderful traits but after many years, and several episodes of yelling and loud-mouthing recently,I'm emotionally drained.
    I have tried various approaches over the years, time-out,fixing it for him, empathy for his feelings and weakness, forgiveness, accepting all the blame for the communication failure, although I try to communicate with him straightforwardly while all he knows is to yell as loud as he can (and believe me he can) as a tactic to cower me down so I won't know what to say or even what's going on. It's so loud and he makes it very persistent and overwhelming so you get completely numbed and confused. Afterwards, he denies he even yelled and blames everything that happened on me. There seems to be a dishonesty with himself. I'm not perfect, and i must say I have sometimes raised my voice at him too and said bad things back that I should'nt and I'll restrain myself in the future. It is a disservice to someone to let them use you or abuse you and we have a duty, to ourselves and to them, out of love and respect, to help them resolve that. I may lose my marriage in the process but I'm still trying and praying.

    Thank you so much Kim. Your insights and advice are the best I have come across and I have looked around quite a bit. I'll keep trying a little longer. You have encouraged me to do so. I think your method can work because it's based on love. You do a very needful work.
    And bravo to your husband for turning himself around (with your loving help). What a powerful example that is!
    My heart goes out to all of you who are going through this.

    love - MG

  42. There is no hope for me...I have lost all the stregnth i can gather. I am just a piece of meat that is continuously chewed and spit out when ever i am not needed.

  43. Hey anonymous it must feel really bad to be treated like a peice of meat. What this person does to you is a reflection of who they are not you. Please try and find the strength to get away and find yourself again. The ideas I have given here are for people who want to stand up to their agressor but you have no obligation to do so. If need be let them believe it was their idea to go and you will get more peace.

    Take Care,

    Kim Cooper

  44. Hi Julie,

    As fate would have it I have a sister much like yours except as time has gone on she has lost her ability to fool anyone and is now a very angry sad and isolated person.

    Like you I have cut ties completely with her and got on with my own life and I commend you for doing the same.

    This article is for people who want methods and ideas of how to stand up to abuse from people they either wish to resolve things with or that it is not so simple to cut off.

    I do not judge anyone leaving an abusive spouse or family member as from first hand experience I know it is not always possible to help and I do not believe this an obligation.

    With Steve it was different however and I did want to solve it and we are both the parents of 3 beautiful children so I was never going to be able to cut ties completely.

    My parents divorced and never resolved the conflict and I did not want that for my children.

    I believe that whether to leave or not is a matter best left to the individual and it is not always as easy as it may appear to understand what a persons heart tells them.

    Kim Cooper

  45. Hi Kim

    I stumbled across your site and have since marvelled at your insight and honesty about your own story. There are many ebooks and websites which follow a formula but yours is unique. I have realised that despite being a strong woman who runs her own business and has lots of friends and energy, when it comes to my romantic partner (and past partners), I have a real tendency for codependence. I think I have always done this and I'm over it! It's hard being a closet codependent!
    My fella does have some NPD tendencies but I've realised that my emotional over-reactions to things just feed the situation. I'm surprised how ingrained my behaviour is and how much it perpetuates any stress or drama that arises. Reading your info has generated so many lightbulb moments and I've noticed that my feeling calmer has meant almost no upsets. Everyone is happier. Good on you both for positively affecting so many peoples' lives.

  46. My partner had been verbally abusing me for 3 years and my confidence hit an all time low. He criticised everything I did, the way I looked, my beliefs....nothing escaped. But once I understood he did this to make HIMSELF feel better, that he was infact criticising himself not me, it all changed and I changed. The Love Safety Net workbook has become my bible, and Kim I cannot thank you enough. Our relationship is rock solid, and my partner has literally blossomed. I look after him and he looks after me, and slowly but surely I am learning to trust him again.

  47. I have felt like a piece of meat before, but I don't anymore. I re-framed it. Instead of wondering why he was so mean to me for no reason, I started to feel sorry for him. I am not a victim of his abuse, instead I'm just a sounding-board for the hate he has for himself. Everyone thinks that Narcissus loved himself so much that all he would do is stare in a pond. But, the truth is, Narcissus didn't love himself; Narcissus loved his reflection. My husband reflects a perfect image to the world, but he knows its fake. It eats at him that he cannot really be that 'fake'. Then he comes home, and all hell breaks loose. His anger is a reaction to his pain. Try to reframe your life. You just have to look at it from a different angle.

  48. So I am not alone. I am not the only one trying to climb an Everist of emotional baggage in the other person. I finally quit trying to salvage the relationship. I realized you can't rationalize with an irrational person. You can't get someone to look at his actions who is unable to self reflect. It is always easier to blame, condemn, bad mouth others to take the negatives off himself. I can't make someone care for me who is so filled with himself. No room. I am no longer letting this person crush my self confidence. 40 years is enough. I am a person of worth and God loves me and does not want me to be abused. I am doing good things. And I am nurturing myself with no guilt trips allowed.

  49. Hi Everyone,
    It is amazing how many stories I have read here are mine! I have been married for 26 years and it has taken that time to see the true state of my relationship or rather lack of it. I have been waiting for relationship and intimacy and sharing but I have finally realized that it is just not going to happen. My NPD husband doesn't know anything about negotiation; he is locked into a need to persuade, there is only one right way and that is his. No one at church or anywhwere would believe we are not a lovely happy couple and that he isn't the most wonderful husband and father because he 'plays to the gallery'. I am just not sure that I can mantain the illusion anymore; I so just want to be honest. This year I finally allowed myself to consider divorce- it has opened the cage door and I don't feel so trapped- not sure yet whether i will walk through it. He doesn't physically abuse me and divorce doesn't make everything golden. I am just working on making me stronger and woking on my co-dependent behaviours, I have certainly maintained the status quo around my house by my lack of self esteem and views on being submissive. My seven children have been a distraction and a blessing but they are getting bigger now and I need to give some time to my own needs. Opening the door to divorce is helping me be more honest and valuing my own needs as much as everyone elses in the house. Yes ,I can see his pain but I can not do anything about it because everything is evryone elses fault, he has no empathy- I can not take responsibility for his growth, i can only seek healing and wholeness myself. Thanks for all the helpful hints Kim and for providing this forum.
    xo from NZ

  50. Kim, great job on your article - insightful and well written with a lot of mindfullness. I'd like to offer an author, David Richo - who has written several books. His How to be an Adult in Relationships is probably the best book I've read on the subject. You come from the same place of acting like a grown up rather than being small. Keep up your good work! Sharon

  51. I am ALIVE! Thank you, Kim, and all for helping me to see that I am not crazy, it is not ALL me, and most importantly, unfortunately, I am not alone! I am inspired by all that you have written, Kim, and am working toward taking my life back! I feel an inner joy that I have never known. I have a very strong relationship with the Lord and know that he has brought your material to me. What you are doing is a God send and there is a place set aside for you in Heaven. This article is exactly what I needed to take me to the next level of reclaiming my life. Thank you and God Bless you! Michele

  52. Dear Barb,

    No you are not paranoid, you must be very careful now but it is also important that you let the police know what you know and make sure he is convicted. There are some very smart female procecuters that specialise in putting away pedophiles. I recommend that you go to a computer at a public library and see if you can search and find one to contact for advice.

    Kim Cooper

  53. Cara,

    It does not sound like the boundaries you have set are as effective as they could be. He is still hurting you now even if he is not with you.

    He is getting the fight he wants.

    Kim Cooper

  54. Wow, Thank you all for sharing your stories...and I thought I was alone in my own crazy-making world!!

    I struggled for nearly 20 years trying my best to make everything "perfect," and nearly killed myself in the process. Thank God I "woke up" 7 years ago and realized that NOTHING was ever going to be good enough for him and that I would be dead soon if I didn't start making changes in my life. I am in the process of digging my way out of the insanity...

    Kim, thank you so much for your great suggestions on dealing with NPDs while they are raging! I need to be a healthy role-model for my kids!

  55. OMGosh - this is SO on the mark it makes me sick to my stomach. You are literally changing my day-to-day life.

    Thank God for you! (and Steve. Thank God he is the man now that we ALL need! - ironic, huh)

    I am eternally greatful for your work, and look forward to Ch3. The part in Ch2 about False Pride was HUGE. Being able to reason all this out makes SUCH a difference!

    Thanks again and God Bless you both!


    PS: I have been a "fan" for some time, but not to savy on the Blogs, so my comments wouldn't post - I think I have that worked out FINALLY.

  56. Bonjour Kim and Steve!

    I found the following quote on the site of the Canadian School of Peacebuilding and I'd like to share it with you:

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent.

    It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction.

    Albert Einstein

    You know, Kim, you are absolutely right, what the world desperately needs is stable, loving, nurturing families. You are building for generations to come. Peace and brotherliness begins at home. Then peace in the world will follow.

    After 12 years of this problem I bought your book, read most of it and decided to follow in your tracks and 'move in the opposite direction'. I see progress (for the first time he admits the problem). He needs my loving support to change. So far so good, thanks God.

    What you are doing is really far reaching --
    please continue and a million thanks for your courage, generosity and humility in sharing your story for the benefit of all of us.

    Love - MG

  57. I have been married to a NPD for 23 years. After 18 years of abuse and his cheating I had physical anxiety and had 2 types of cancer. I finally learned about NPD after listening to Dr. Laura, looked it up on the internet and read about my life for the first time. Since then I have read a library on the subject, had 3 years of counseling and bible study. Every book says to leave... you are the only one to say to stay.
    It is better now I stand up to him in a matter-of-fact way. My girls (in their 20's) are still somewhat damaged by the life we lived, and I want to help them heal... but have not found that magic ingredient yet.
    It is so important to take your power back, stay positive, strong and loving in your head and to always want and expect better... no matter what. My heart goes out to all who ever had to deal with the nightmare, but know that you have the power to love yourself and want all the good things in your life and your family's life, even the NPD.

  58. hello everyone,
    i am a 41 year old male with the initial JLH I have been married for 7 years and together with the woman I love with all of my heart for 9 years.We have 4 children 2 of them are hers from a previous relationship and 2 we have together. she has told me of my verbal abuse and that I needed help and I researched the internet for many hours to find out more of why I was doing the things I was doing which what I had been doing was wrong. I came across you blog and read many of the posts and listened to the radio shows and felt very positive that your advice could work for me as well as my wife. I am wanting to get your book and read it but finances are very hard to come by for me at this time. I will be trying to save money to purchase it.

    I still love her very much even though she became cold and non responsive emotionally and communication between us seemed to just vanish. I have made changes in my life as to the way I communicate with her and it is slow going but I believe one day we can be happy again. i am the type of guy who would prefer things to happen sooner than later but i also know it can not happen over night. thanks to your blog and radio shows i now understand and hopefully she will see that. we both had a problem with being verbally abusive to each other but if i continue to use the advice i have read things can get better and it wont take a really long time to work things out with her so that we both can be happy together. i know that i can not control her i can only control myself but i think that if i share your information with her that we can both be happy together as well as happy individuals. do you think i should share your blog and information with her or just let her figure it out on her own?

  59. Hi KIm,
    Thanks for this and for not minimising or pussy-footing around the violence either.
    My husband has left me, and it has been devestating for all of us and the kids - he is pursuing a fantasy bachelor/nightclub/party life in his mid life now. I still love him. Sadly, he has told all our mutual friends, including church friends, about how dreadful our marriage was because I would not 'accept him as he was' - this meant I asked for more responsibility and less abuse of the children and myself, and more time for our marriage. Over the years I have read so much about repairing marriage, and been to counsellors etc. The only things that seem to work are the love-based (or attachment-based) frameworks - all the individualist stuff just makes things worse, and lots of the mainstream counselling in Oz is like that.
    YOur recommendation, the book 'Hold Onto YOur Kids' is sensational. Other love-based things I found helpful include your approach to narcissism and abuse, Steve Stosny (who's coming to Aust in October - maybe you should go for the training??), most of the Christian covenantal frameworks, including Retrouvaille; and Imago (Hendrix). For me - I learned too late to salvage my husband's disconnecting attachment to me - he had replaced it with a bunch of young good-time blokes. But maybe others might find these helpful. Because leaving a narcissist isn't the answer when you've got shared parenting laws - it opens up an infinitely wosre scenario for their control (even if that control is passive aggressive/martyr/victim type control, as mine is - that is a N type - I read about years ago in a book called 'Mirror, Mirror', I think).
    I have found your self-honesty re your own 'faults' (many of which emerge from gifted children, I think - did you go to an "OC' class, Kim?) something that has helped me be less embarrassed about addressing similar things in myself, and if nothing else, all of the work I've done for my marriage and to focus on love and forgiveness, has been extraordinary for my personal and spiritual growth.

  60. Kim,I am here to say, I would be completely lost if I had'nt found your site.I have learned how to see things for what they really are.A clear view of the damage to me and my 2 sons.I am glad to see something on verbal abuse, verbal is what we hear,just have to know its not about me, its about what he is feeling inside.Thanks for all of your insite and hard working love.

  61. This is wonderful. Thanks Kim!

    I wanted to share a bit of my own progress. My boyfriend periodically becomes verbally abusive. As our relationship progressed, he became more and more haughty in public and would flirt with anything that has a pulse, whether or not he was attracted to the person. It was really embarrassing. My mother was quite ill when we started dating and over time he had become less and less supportive and actually yelled at me for talking about it.

    He left town for a month last summer. The night before he left he spent the evening performing for and flirting with a girl from work, then screamed at me for speaking about my mother's condition. I made a decision after he left to begin to truly take care of myself and focus on my own life. I bought your ebooks and took many suggestions from them, including focusing on my own goals and strengths (in the month he was gone i got a mortgage and bought a house, applied for a new job, completed a bunch of creative projects and got my driver's license). i also started doing a lot of my own psychological and emotional work. i tried hypnotherapy, talk therapy and started to attend a group for partners of addicts (my b.f. was an alcoholic and drug user).

    The cumulative effect of these changes and the shift in my attitude has been tremendous. I have found, like Kaz, that my spiritual life has really developed. I have found a lot of strength and beauty in mindfulness and other contemplative practices and I have sense of wholeness and self-worth I never had before. I know I can live without him and that my value as a person is not related to him moods or his words. All of this has made such a change in me and my capacity for happiness that friends have asked me for advice. Even boyfriend himself has asked me to help him deal with his depression and emotional immaturity. He is (mostly) clean and sober and is starting to take better care of himself...he recently started to read literature on meditation and depression...this is an amazing turn-around! He is still bratty at times and he occasionally lobs a 'back-handed' compliment at me, but instead of getting upset (I used to cry all the time around him!), I point out how it makes me feel and tell him I don't think it's necessary and then go about my day with a smile on my face instead of fuming about how awful he is for the next several hours. He is usually quick to apologise and has often not even thought about what he has said.

    I really have to thank you for offering hope to people in situations like mine.


  62. Hi Kim,

    Please help!

    My husband of nine years has the upper hand. He is a really good guy. I believe he is honest and very responsible. The he keeps the upper hand with EXTREMELY subtle, but consistent criticisms. He finds something wrong with everything I do (he does the same to himself).

    I had already been applying many of the tactics in Beyond the Looking Glass based on other reading. But, how do you call someone who is doing something so very subtly??? I have to be very strategic, b/c he's really good at making me out to be the bad guy (protecting himself).

    Also, he grew up very alone and was bullied. I think his mother is narcissitic. I think he's been re-parenting me...treating me like his mother treated him.

    He has little contact with his family and he has zero friends (we have a few "couple" friends where we live now, but don't see them much).

    Is there reason for me to ask for outside help? Like, should I ask our friends to reach out to him? I feel he'd be horrified if he knew I did that?


  63. Hi to everyone and first to anon dealing with this for 20 years. You are so right that trying to please seems the thing to do but is not. I am teaching that now to my son who is being teased by his friends. He thinks that when they are rude he has to prove himself but instead I am teaching him not to have time for people when they are like that and soon they will learn to stop.

    Hi Libby, Good work figuring out how to post and I hope that you liked part 3!

    Bojour MG (-: - Thanks for the wonderful quote and your kind words and you hang in there - he needs you to lead the way!

    Dear Cathy you are a strong and brave woman and I am sure that your daughters will learn all they need from you to grow into strong brave women themselves (-:

    Hi JLH - Good work and congratulations! One of the hardest things in the world is to admit it when we are embarressed but then the funny thing is that it is also one of the most endearing things we can do. Because of this I think you would do well to tell your wife you are embarrassed as much as that you are sorry.
    If you suggest working on our material together because it is helping you and you really want a better relationship with her I would hope that she might be touched by that. You must remember that she might want to let a bit of her anger about the past out when you bring it up and admit you are sorry, but if you truly let her see your embarrassment I think it will help.

    The Love safety Net movies would be a great place to start.

    Hi Kaz, no I didn't know what an OC class was but I looked it up and it would be great for my youngest son so thanks.

    So sorry to hear that your husband decided not to grow up (it is an epidemic isn't it?) but you really sound like you are moving to a plce in your life where you will be loved and respected by whoever it is you end up sharing your life with.

    Hang in there to anon working to heal the damage to herself and her sons. You are right it is NOT you, but you can decide to rise above it and for yourself and your sons be a person who you respect and love no matter what he thinks!

    LM - Good stuff - That is the spirit you keep up the great work!

    Hi 'please help' - Perhaps you could introduce him to some new friends with similar interests but with values they could model to him. It might take some thought but an elderly ex pastor who shared Steve's interest in gardening was a big help with Steve. These new acquaintances can also work better in the personal bill of rights exercise (from the Love Saftey Net Workbook) than your old friends. In our case I didn't even have to talk to this man I only had to ask Steve if I would have to because I was concerned about him. I would advise that you really work on the Love Safety Net exercises and especially the four legged stool.

    Hang in there!

    Kim Cooper

  64. Kim,
    Your site had come to me at a time when I really needed someone to confirm that I was not the terrible or crazy person I was being told I was for 30 some years, and I want to thank you. I cannot tell you the number of counselors we have seen together (my husband would say, "Well, that counselor did nothing for us.") or even the counselors my husband went to by himself. The counselors that he went to by himself would want to meet with me before they would continue to see my husband. Then my husband would not go back to the counselor because he said I was lying to the counselor or putting on my sweet charm to convince the counselor he was the problem.
    I understand why my husband has a need to joke with me constantly, only his idea of joking with me is at my expense and then telling me I am too sensitive or I can't take a joke, or plenty of other people appreciate my humor (referring to other women).
    Our 2 boys have suffered though our relationship, and our oldest (29) has symptoms of PTSD. A psychologist mentioned that he thought our son had all the behaviors of an abused child, and I blamed our husband for his problems. He decided he would tell everyone he knew what I had said. Their response was "Oh, Jack there is no way you could have done what she said or it wasn't really abuse, because your son was like that from the time he was very
    young." I decided to keep my mouth closed which was a very good tactic he used with me throughout our marriage. I would bring up a topic to discuss, and if he did not like what I said he could scream at me until I just stopped talking.
    I could go on and on, but I know that ultimately I am the one who has to be the responsible one in this family. He comes across as being very verbal, smooth, intelligent, and the all american boy but underneath he's suffering from the results of a mother who he felt didn't love him and a father who criticized him constantly.
    I knew I was codependent of him, but I kept thinking our relationship will change if I change, but after 30 years of that thinking, it becomes a little old. After reading your material, it has helped me look at myself and what I actually can do to alter an abusive situation. The way I have reacted to him (which has not always been the best) has allowed him to continue with his behavior. I do not understand though why with all the counseling we have had the counselors could not help us?
    Thanks for giving me insight and hope!!!

  65. Started reading this as I was in tears from yet another fight over how I said something the wrong way. We have both said the most hateful things we could to each other and yet are trying to make it work. You are the first person who gave me any thought on how to make it work with my fiancee though at the moment it seems impossible but I am trying. He manipulates, twist words around, controls and gets into rages when he doesn't agree with me. I was just in there trying to get him to see that he was wrong!! He has made me go from self confident to so insecure and now blames all of our problems on my insecurities which in reality are huge at the moment!! I have never felt so alone and confused.. At least now I am trying to rebuild myself and I hope I can learn and put these techniques into practice..Thank you..

  66. Kim,
    I wish I had found this site 3 days earlier. I move my boyfriend out 3 days ago.. I feel so sad and empty. I have spent the last day and a half reading about verbal abuse. Then I found this site. I hope that this is only a time out in our relationship, but it may be longer than that. I have spent my whole time with this person listening to his criticism of me, and what irritates him. I have always thought I would never be good enough for him... as time went on his charm and fun grew on me. We moved in 4 months ago. The criticism turned into name calling. Even the "c" word. His jealosy was out of control, I couldn't even say hi to another persons dog!
    I still fell in love with this person, and I miss him. After 4 very challenging weeks of not getting along I felt like and empty tube of toothpaste, totally squeezed out! I had to ask him to move out, middle of the winter with no where to go. Not a feel good situation. Thank god these readings have made me realize that I can't fix him. I am ever hopeful that he will want to seek help, and save what we have together. In the mean time I have to take care of my self, be true to me. Remember: people treat you how you allow them to.

  67. I read all these and many many other articles on narcissism, I have books and other information, but the one thing that becomes apparent is that ultimately why should we put up with this behaviour anyway?? is always us that has to make the concessions and eventually i wonder how much love i have left to do is always us that has to be the one to level out the issues, and personally I am truly worn out from it. After three and a half years I find that for every step forward we still manage to take 5 backwards...especially the last time when my partner was so enraged with his narcissistic actions that his hand was around my throat and I saw my life flash in front of tell me, with all my efforts to back off and carry on with my own things did he pursue me so vehemently ?? I am sorry but these people will never ever ever be anything worthy of the love we have. I value my life and my three children (not his) more than any method of dealing with this type of unacceptable behaviour.

  68. I can't believe how a lot of this stuff relates so much to what my husband has been doing to me over the years except I did not realize that but for about 4 plus years his bebaviour has escalated because I found a lot of traces of him cheating but denies all of my suspitions.I'm living in hell everyone sees him as Mr. wonderful including the Church.
    Noboby believes that he is cheating the only thing I need is the physical evidence.

  69. Hi to everyone and anonymus who has been through this for 30 years. You are right, you CAN change things and it is up to you and has nothing to do with counselling. I hope that you have purchased Back from the Looking Glass and The Love Safety Net Workbook because they were written for you! I wish you all the luck in the world and can't wait to hear the surprise he gets when his game gets turned on its head. You stay strong and you tell your sons how wonderful they are and try and spend some time with them today doing something fun.

    Dear Lisa, please try and NEVER ever again try and convince him he is wrong. It will not work and instead you need to start taking action. Please visit this site here

    for 12 points to deal with a fight in progress and also please subscribe to our site at

    and start working through the information you will be sent.

    Dear Kim, yes you take care of yourself and if you let him come back please study up and be better prepared to handle him.

    To the woman whose husband put his hand around her throat. I don't know the answer to that - Why do we have to deal with snow or forest fires or mosquitos? The truth is that you are in a very dangerous situation and just backing off and trying to keep the peace won't work. Please check out Back from the Looking Glass and The Love Safety Net Workbook and get some solid advice about enforcing zero tolerance for this unacceptable behavior.

    And to anonymus who believes her husband is cheating - get yourself a PI and let them get the evidence and you get on with your life. Our ebooks will help you be ready too when it all comes out in the wash.

    You hang in there it is a dangerous world out there and so please take care,

    Kim Cooper

  70. HI kim,

    Its so sooo unbelievable but each time i read your articles i just think 'this hits so close home'. I can relate to it completely. It feels like a page out of my marriage/life. I didn't understand it but i knew it wasn't me & couldn't continue with such a life.
    It was a life that was in parallel with my religious values, ethics & principles.

    I felt controlled, used, abused, unfulfilled, frustrated & close to depression. I had to leave & feel happy & @ peace with my decision. Reading all this gives me better coping skills & more reasons to forgive.

    I really wonder how many more are suffering in silence?

  71. Kim,
    Appreciate all your advice but am so sick of living with this just want out!I have been trying this for 18 years.
    Trying to get away. Just want to sell the house and leave him! Looking for a job, and then taking my 12 year old and getting away!
    Sick of it all!

  72. Kim has worked so hard to learn all this and is sharing it with us. We all have so much to be grateful for. Thanks Kim. thankyou thankyou thankyou. a thousand thankyous. You are no less a Godsend than Jesus himself. (I know a bit dramatic, but it's actually how I feel.)

  73. I have only recently started following the blog and emails, and I can see my life being reflected in many of the descriptions above. I do not think I will ever be able to change his behavior, or to get away without it being in an ambulance or worse, but your words give me the strength to try and make me see that it will only get worse if I do not do something. Thank you for the words of inspiration and hope.

  74. Hi Kim,
    I've learned so much from your blog, thank you for doing this, more than I can say, and I also know that you're helping a lot of people doing this. Here is one other suggestion is to have folks order Jeanne Segal's book. "The Language of Emotional Intelligence", a very useful book that I highly recommend.

    Here is her website where she covers a lot of what you have covered as well.

    My best to everybody, and Cheers from a former Aussie, now in the US

  75. I appreciate your practical techniques. My mother (81) is narcissistic, and I just put it together within the last few weeks. Although I do not believe my entire life is defined by this--at 51, I've been out of the house a long time, and had many other experiences and lessons--I still bear many of the marks, such as hypersensitivity and anxiety, among others. It all is making so much more sense now.

  76. Hi Kim...

    I will print this out and read it thoroughly, but as I skimmed thru the first portion, one thing bothers me right off the bat in terms of getting more money, etc to gain respect.

    I'm struggling thru some debt now, I have several reasons for why I won't leave my job at the moment (in science, tho it doesn't pay much). I have issues with my family (ie my younger brother helped me buy a used car and feels he has the right to constantly make me feel like crap about myself until I pay it off, about 1500).

    Truth is, I don't get much respect in my family (all of 4 people), despite struggling to get out of this hole. (I wouldn't say Mom has NPD, but she has aspects). Anyway, I'm not necessarily making any money soon... .

    Maybe I'll find something in continuing to read, but that statement makes me feel so helpless. I hate feeling like I need to be seen as valuable solely by how society itself places value on certain things. For some reason I hate the idea that my brother, for example, would suddenly respect me because I'd be making a huge amount of money and didn't have to rely on family help. I don't know if I'd truly have respect for someone like this, just in terms of how I feel about them. I just don't know how to reconcile my feelings about this...

    Sorry, times have been tough for me... and I do feel helpless, bc realistically, I'm not necessarily going to magically make 30 grand I need in the next month, or even in the next half a year... and its sucks when your family of all people step on you because they can...

    I might as well add that I need to get a lot of things in order in my life... but I need to figure it out for myself, and the important people in my life treating me poorly isn't going to change that, in some way it makes it worse. It's my life, my journey, but how do you get people to respect that? I guess I just don't treat people poorly based on what they do and how much they make.

    I guess, if there's a question, it's what do I do to command respect from my family during a period where I simply need time to change my life around, even if its going to be a couple of years?

  77. Hi anonymus May 7,

    I think you may have misread what I am saying here. Your standing in the heirarchy does not depend so much on money as the ability to handle put downs calmly and handle yourself in a manner that commands respect.

    My ebook "The Little Book of Empathy Love and Friendship" has a lot of ideas and may help you discover some areas in your life you could work on to command more respect from the people around you.

    Hang in there!

    Kim Cooper

  78. when in the middle of a verbally abusive assult, if I disengage, it enrages him more.
    any thoughts?

  79. Hi anonymous May 6th

    It is vital that you have some way of setting a boundary with this even if you need to leave the house or visit a neighbour or even call the police to stop him abusing you. The trick is however that before you disengage you make it very clear that you are not ignoring him and if you leave, how long you will be gone and when you will be back. Putting your hands in front of you fingers pointing to the ceiling and palms facing him and saying "I will talk to you when we are both calm but I am not going to discuss this now" before you depart may help.

  80. I wish i would have seen all this before my husband flipped and threatened divorce. I may have been able to do some things different but now with attorney's and legalities he can not contact me nor I him.
    It may be just as well becasue he made me out to be the villain and crazy person for all of the problems even so much as lying about things that happened just to use me as the excuse for divorce.
    I love the man I thought I knew. I grieve for that relationship with that man ending but not this man he became or perhaps was there all along just hiding things from me.
    What ever 'triggered' his to do a 180 I may never know but I had no control over his going to as attorney and proceeding and not wanting to go to marriage counseling or try to work on the marriage as I wanted to so much.
    Now I feel like it is hopeless. I found out so many things that he has done that even though a part of me fantasizes every once and awhile about what used to be at one time it is not reality and it is not safe to return.
    I also suspect that he has been having an affair and just used the entire blame me thing to deflect his own deceptions.
    Unfortunately he had me heart and I was serious about my vows. At some point I wanted to die the pain was so intense but I held on one more minute and some little thing would happen and i could keep going until I leveled off emotionally.
    If anyone feels suicidal reading this believe me I have many times, you can make it through the feelings. the feelings won't kill you. Repressing and denying them may. so go ahead and cry and get it out. It may take a month off and on or not...but let it go..
    I pray for him and myself but I see no future with him. I will survive and that is it.

  81. a long life sufferedMay 20, 2010 at 6:30 AM

    as i read all these comments i find little pieces of me scattered among the pages. fragments of a long life of pain bewilderment and sorrow. Jackson Brown said in one of his songs "love needs a heart like mine" i have given up hope that i will ever find that in my life time. I wish all of you success in the endurance of your pain. i believe the only way out is through, and no one knows pain like the sufferer. you must learn to remove the sin from the sinner. everyone should have that one great love in a lifetime. I have. there is no life beyond him for me. in everyones life at some time, our inner fire goes out. it then bursts into flame by an encounter with another human being, we should be thankful for those people who rekindle our inner spirit. until we are crushed again.......

  82. Thanks for the info!! I appreciate it all! We've been married 10 yrs and its been rough, to say the least. I came from a background of sexual abuse where trust is pretty nonexistent. He comes from a family where his dad died when he was 9 and his mom was an awful parent!!! Shes still awful. His whole family has been HORRIBLE to us both since we've been married. We've chosen to alienate ourselves from them-for the most part. He's turned out pretty good considering all that.
    My family has been pretty bad too. With the sexual abuse (incest) they have never believed me and instead have chosen to have 'him' (my abuser) at all their anniversaries and family gatherings-something that doesn't even bother me much anymore since it's been over 12 years... Recently they told me that I need to forgive and forget. Also that since he 'only' 'probably' 'jacked off on me' every night for 12-14 years that it was okay as long as he didn't penetrate. That was the last straw for me and I haven't spoken to them since and blocked all their calls!! That was tantamount to possibly the worst verbal abuse ever!!!!! I cried for days-long and hard-but then realized that I let them hurt me. NO MORE!!
    That being said, there are major problems with intimacy already. Major problem! Many arguments or fights center around that and how he wants my attitude to change regarding it... He always gets to call the shots. It's not by any means good. There's no real empathy there. I'm only here to satisfy him. Just like the abuse-incest!
    This wasn't something I just sprung on him after-the-fact either. I let him know right off the bat that it wouldn't be easy... He came to therapy appts with me too and was given information to read. I wanted him to be WELL INFORMED before making any commitment to me.
    Now theres a lot of verbal abuse. Name calling, put downs, threats... I used to give it right back but one day, a few years ago, just decided that I wasn't going to anymore. I figured that if I didn't want it done to me, I shouldn't do it to anyone else. I have asked him to stop with the name calling which he has tried to do at times, but when he gets mad that goes out the window. We don't swear, but when he gets mad, he now resorts to that too!! UGH!!
    As I've been reading more about narcissism I've been trying to put all these things into practice. He's noticed a change in me but hasn't asked about it. I was EXTRA clingy and did (sometimes still do) look to him for recognition and happiness. If he didn't like it, I didn't do it, buy it or want it.... Now, I do it for me because I want to and I like it.
    We've recently started doing a workout program 'together' that he didn't think I could keep up with or didn't think I would stick to. I almost gave in and proved him right just because he kept putting me down about it. I've proven him wrong over and over. I've done it more than he does. With that and the diet program I've actually started losing weight and am liking myself more with my renewed energy and strength. He's struggling to keep up sometimes, but still going.
    We are planning a big move (2 states away)within the next couple months, which is kind of scary for me, but as I make these changes in ME and try to better my views and attitude toward me, I am confident that even if it comes down to it, I can provide for me and the kids with or without him. I prefer it with him, but there's still lots to work on.
    It's continual for me in so many areas but I am working on seeing myself no longer as a victim, but a survivor!! I CAN DO THIS!

  83. Hi anon May 26th,

    You are doing great and I love your postive attitide.

    Please make sure that you are not moving away from your support network. If he has more friends and contacts where you are going than you do DON'T MOVE. If it is the other way around and you know people and your way around well then it will probably be good.

    A move is a HUGE thing and you really need to consider what I say with this. I moved back to where I was from and got Steve away from his family and friends and in the end that was a very positive thing but for years it was still hard.

    I can't say more now but you hand in there and keep being the great positive role model you are!

    Kim Cooper

  84. Kim, I wish I had this information years ago. Your situation sounds much like mine was, except I was given the same advice to get as far away as possible. I was even advised by my minister to take the three young children and disappear but that sounded so unhealthy for the children. One of my children is disabled, and needed a lot of attention so would have been very difficult to get him the care he needed if I were in hiding. I chose to divorce, stay in the community, and attempt to keep my children's lives stable. In retrospect, neither choice was good, as my ex has spent his whole life since then trying to show anyone who knew either of us that I was the problem, stalking us, building himself up and getting involved with the children in ways that have proven to be very destructive. If he had just taken them every other weekend as he was supposed to and tried to support their growth and us financially, but I realize in retrospect you can't expect someone who is so damaged to do anything normal. If he had been able to do something healthy and normal for them, we wouldn't have been divorced to begin with. So we had an horrendous divorce. Bottom line is that, if I had the skills you discuss, I might have tried another approach to saving the marriage or at least handled parts of the divorce better. Just trying to ignore him and build my life safely in a bubble did not work. The last 15 years have been very difficult, my son is okay now - so I can say that staying the course resulted in him getting literally the best care in the world and he is doing very well, but none of the children are doing as well as they would have in a stable family and environment with the kinds of social supports people need to be happy and productive. I was able to keep things pretty stable when they were younger, but by the time they were in their mid-teens, it got harder to keep them safe - especially from his "parenting." They are all in college now, but I am so sad for all they missed in their high school years. My heart is always broken for the family they didn't have, and for all the hurt they have experienced. Now he uses his money to control them since the emotional toll on me has just about led to my financial ruin, even tough I had a very good business and managed to raise them on my own. He keeps them in his sphere by keeping a very tight control on their college expenses, paying/threatening not to pay. They are all smart enough to know it, on the one hand, but need his money to get through school on the other. So he pays for their cell phones and gives them debit cards, in that way tracks all their activities. They have to call and beg for five dollars all the time, and I just want to cry for them. I wish they could break free, but unfortunately because he is their father and holds all the financial strings to them, even though they come home to me and live with me, he is still controlling all of us. It is a nightmare that never ends.

  85. Reading the advice to try and change an abusive partner makes me very angry. I am putting up with verbal abuse, being blamed for everything, and my husband having extra marital affairs for 20 years. Now I want him to leave and he will not leave. He can't understand why I would want to live without him.

  86. Hi Teresa,

    Yes I understand that it can feel very unfair having to deal with this but as you are now discovering just saying you want to seperate rarely ends the abuse.

    I would say our advice is more about how to handle yourself to get the best outcome than change them. Sometimes this will create postive change in your partner and sometimes it will just help you get out without having your self and your self esteem damaged further.

    It is normal to feel angry about this situation but once that passes I would also highly recommend you get a solid plan in place for yourself and do your research - because this is your life and you need to play to win!

    Hang in there,

    Kim Cooper

  87. I have just posted a discussion topic on Gbuzz of what your favorite come back lines are for dealing with verbal abuse - if you want to join the conversation please vivit my Google profile here;

    I look forward to hearing your favorites!

    Kim Cooper

  88. My comment just got wiped out! Low sunlight heritage...Russia/Canada/England/Scotland/Ireland can be Celiac due to the immune system going down due to the low sunlight...some maybe narcissitic people. Vit D3, fish oil, no gluten or dairy, vitamins/good oils, LDN may help. If Celiac is not treated the people get worse and the narcissism may get worse. The brain is affected and body. It is harder to help a person if they get too bad...they will refuse help because they are used to feeling this way...don't realize how much better they could feel if they got help.
    Thanks for all your continued support and great ideas that work to help with narcissism. You maybe the only ones who really understand how to help. It is not just pyschological like most books is also physical and all family tree members maybe Celiac too, which would make codependency and a crazy family maybe as they all interact. I would think the divorcing person must realize the kids may not have just learned from their narcissitic parent but may also be Celiac and may need this help too.

  89. It's kind of strange, but I feel after reading and practicing these exercises the person I'm dealing with may actually benefit more. I've listened to him rant and rave and put me down for over 7 years now and could never figure out why he projected at me this way, until I started reading about narcissism. He is the baby boy of a family of 4 and was doted on from the beginning, yet to me it seems he's now trying to break out and find out who he truly is. He has told me many times that "he is a failure," and has discussed some of the things that hurt him a lot as a child...and still do. Though this gives him no right to the verbal abuse, especially since I've been dealing with that my entire life, I still believe there is hope for him. I know the good side, just hate dealing with the "bad side. Thanks, Kim, for opening my eyes.

  90. Hi Kim & Steve,
    I have been studying this blog for about a week and half now and it is amazing the amount of ingrained abusiveness in thought in Sandy my wife and I, its as plentiful as the grains of sand on one of your beautiful beaches in Australia. I want Sandy and I to move to Australia, move nearby to Sidney and attend daily class with you and Steve for the rest of our beautiful lives together.
    A man can dream right?
    I need your help and thank you for providing it, God bless you both and your family.
    Joe Nyeste - Akron, Ohio

  91. Thanks! Your passion has, over time, distilled a sea of concern to its essence of love. The safety net is very strong because it is woven with so much truth - how tough it is to be simple, how much we must experience to understand the basics... I've been evolving with you here for over a year, really appreciate your devotion, and value your gifts as I re-create a meaningful and happy life for myself and my teenage daughter. I love your steadfast generosity, and know there's lots of space in this shelter. Bless you. Hang in there, Marilyn

  92. I don't know if my situation is unique or not. Actually my husband and his daughters abuse each other, and innocent bystanders get hurt in the cross fire. While he rarely directly abused me and my son, he let his daughters do the abusing and told my son and I we better shut up. It's quite the opposite as far as bills and bank accounts. He expects me to keep track of everything. At this point, I try, but would appreciate his help. Thank you so much, Kim. The timing on this is great. Do you realize that not only is my husband this way, but his two daughters are too! His youngest in particular fits all the categories. Thank the Lord the girls don't live with us anymore. My husband's behavior is much better when he is not around them. It's weird. This time of year, his behavior and psychological war fare flare up. Again, weird Anyway, sorry to be so long, I am a writer.

  93. One more comment. As I mentioned before, my son and I suffered years of abuse coming from my two step daughters. My husband allowed this to happen as he didn't want them to go live with their mom. He is in this twisted competetion with his ex-wife. Well I put a stop to the abuse one day.It caused a huge family blow up. Other adult family members were called in. The oldest step daughter left that night. Six months later, the youngest left. Often my husband starts to blame me, but thank God while in court, he shared with me that the girls told the judge, "We will never live with our dad, he is too controlling." I am thankful he admitted that.I am thankful to be free from their abuse.

  94. that cooling off thing didn't work for me. going out for a walk? he took my shoes and didn't let me out.

    "i don't know how to deal with u right now/talk to you right now", he had a ready reply: "All you have to do is be nice and do as i say. Why can't you be sweeter? tell me you love me and do sweet things. win me. DO IT".

    overall i found the article insightful. i did many other mistakes that i can see now, which i thought would work then.

  95. - "There is no hope for me...I have lost all the stregnth i can gather. I am just a piece of meat that is continuously chewed and spit out when ever i am not needed."

    I feel pretty much the same way and i told him as much. He really did not get it. He shouted back at me "Oh come on. WELL, find more resources and stop being cold!".

    Any thoughts on this?

    I have currently stopped communications with him. Am thinking of ordering a book on getting over Your ex worth twenty quid even if i'm skint and he won't pay me money he owes me. "I am not paying you the money. You took away my hopes, now we are even". The answer changes. Sometimes he will say he has no money, but he will have money to go out and buy stuff. Or says he will pay me in installments - which I have yet to see. However when he threatening me, he has more than enough money to find me where I am to off me (I flew out of the country we were at).

    This page gave me hope.. for a while.. I love him but he is an expert at sucking the life force out of me.

    I have tried my best and to this... special piece of work, I am the "hurter" and he is the "hurtee". I am speechless.

  96. You will never out victim a narcissist - they play the victim so well you might as well not even try.

    I don't know what giving up means to you but I never figured out a way to do that. I thought about drinking myself to death sometimes or killing him but then I always thought better of it for my kids sake.

    You can't win at playing victim but you can win at having the valor to be your own hero.

    Our ebooks "Back from the Looking Glass" and "The Love Safety Net Workbook" will help you learn to stand up for yourself.

    If I was you I would hire a debt collecter. The meanest and nastiest one I could find who will work on a percentage. Then tell him it is not personal just business. When you get your money back you might then hire a PI to get some dirt on him - get them to let him know he is safe if he stops harrassing you.

    Maybe these ideas are not perfect for you - only you can tell but they beat letting him walk all over you don't they? I bet no one has ever stood up to him before.

    He will hate it at first and it will scare the life out of him but he will respect you for it if he has really been exploiting you the way you say he has. No one respects a soft target.

    Hang in there Anon - bluie skies tommorrow (-:

    Kim Cooper

  97. Oh and as for the cooling off not working ...

    That is one aspect of 4 you need to work on together. You also need to know how to use "teeth" in limiting the abuse. "Back from the Looking Glass" and "the Love Safety Net Workbook" both have advice on this that will really help you now.


  98. If I had more money left I'd hire a debt collector. But there is no contract to prove that he owes me money and I must admit he oustmarted me here (among many other areas). Also, he is in a different country. I flew out as soon as I could when he started really scaring me with his behavior. It's something to look into, I wonder if it's possible. I don't even speak the language in his country.

    Thanks Kim. I have not been in contact with him. It is very very hard. I miss him like crazy. He makes me afraid to contact him but somehow, recriminations come out all the time and then he blames me for it. Tell me how to not miss him.

  99. Wow. What powerful advice. With your help I have changed the dynamics of my relationship. I used to be afraid of my boyfriend, and now I love and respect him. I no longer live my day based on what will make him happy, or the fear he won't approve of my efforts. While I researched tools on how to fix his big, bad abuse problem, I saw myself in many of the abuser descriptions. Thank you for helping me out of the pit of victimization. May God bless you and your work!!!!

  100. Hi Kim,

    I have read this article over and over, in preparation for an argument that I knew would happen sooner or later.
    This weekend was full of overwhelming tension between my fiance and I. It escalated into put downs, critizing, and threats. He ended up blowing up and hatred just spewed from his mouth and eyes..and words! He grapped me by my shirt and would not let me go (treatening to take away my engagement ring)..

    I remembered what you had written (the scripts). Kim, witht he upsmost seriousness and sterness.. I told him to let me go. I told him that I loved him but we were both too frustrated and too emotional to discuss anything and that we both needed time to calm down. I told him I was upset and that I needed to take a step back. I told him I was not prepared to handle this fight. I loved him but I needed to calm down.

    Wow, Kim, he went from 10 to 1 in a matter of seconds! It was as a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders. He took a sigh of relief and sat back speechless!
    He quickly embraced me and tears swelled in his eyes. He wouldn't stop hugging me. One minute he HATED me..the next we didn't want to let me go. He thanked me repeatedly for being the "bigger" person. He thanked me for helping him calm down with my "warmth" instead of the coldness I usually used. It felt so good to stop the fight in a positive way! It felt so good to take the higher road!

    Thank you so much for your advice and support! I know I'll practice your techniques in the future.
    I am saving up to buy your e-books too! Can't wait to learn more!

  101. I am speechless reading all these comments. It is all so relevant. Especially you can never out victim the narcissist. My eyes are finally opened. I have been to a psychiatrist who told me "you are not the problem". Just hearing that having both been to a counsellor was such a relief as I always knew it. He had a love hate relationship with his mother and while she was dying from cancer he cheated. He was living with her as he travels back and forth. She and his sisters sided with him as he played the victim. He is going to the same Psychiatrist now but my patience is running out especially after the cheating. He wants to fix things but scratch the surface and he is still blaming and denying his anger and rage. I wonder if I can believe anything he has said in the past as I think he just agreed with me to get back on track. What do you do when the love starts to fade and maybe he is on the verge of acknowledging responsibility for his behaviour, especially when we have two kids. I cannot stop reading all your brilliant information. It is 2.30 am and I can't stop reading and I have read loads of books. I also recommend Dr Steven Stosny Love without Hurt. This was a revelation as is this website. Better than any counsellors. I am going to download the books as I am so frustrated and resentful trying to be the bigger person and be forgiving. i could go on but just to say thank you to everyone and especially Kim and Steve who give so much hope. Thanks a million

  102. Hi to everyone, and sorry I haven't been around to answer posts for awhile. So great to hear that you are all doing so well working through these challenges. This journey is not for the weak but there are better times ahead!

    Kim Cooper

  103. Hi Kim,
    Your books have been such a great help to me! I am returning to school and have more confidence in myself than I have had in years. My husband of 30 years and I are seeing a therapist and it is great! When my husban says things like 'Mary's child' the therapist will stop him and say 'oh, did she have an affair? or is this your child too?' it is great! Instead of him controlling every aspect of the conversation, he is asked questions by someone other than me.I can't be blamed anymore. The best part is when the therapist says 'You're feeling frustrated? That means your normal! I love it! To try and find sanity in our conversations has been hard....because there wasn't any! Now when those conversation start I can idenify them and say " This conversation isn't going anywhere. It needs to stop" and leave the room. Your list of possible suggestions are great because I can pick and choose which ones will work best for me in my situations. Thanks for all the encouragment and to assure me I'm not going crazy :)

  104. I am the Mother of a daughter who has been married to a NPD for 24 yrs. I recently discovered your Website, signed up, as well as signing up my daughter. They have 3 children, daughter-22 w/same tendancies, a son-19 tramatized but recently entered Army & another son-13 who idolizes his Father. All 3 children have suffered from his wrath. A week ago she finally moved into an apt sharing the care of the 13 yr old. Not good. My prayers are that your website will provide a solution for her. My question is how do the parents of the victim handle/respond to this situation--we too need help. We have always been a very close loving family & she has now shut us out (due to him). We want so badly to help her. Is patience, faith & standby our only options? I truthfully am going crazy w/worry & it's affecting her father's health (we all live in the same small community). Your advice is desperately needed. Thank You, thank you!

  105. Dear Kim,

    I am 45 and am just understanding, after 17 years, that the dynamic between me and my husband has been NPD, (my husband), and codependent, (me). It is helpful to know this, so that I can stop wondering why the dynamic never changes. There has been such hurt and carelessness built up because of an unwillingness in my husband to get any form of help. I have not been able to help him. He is so smart and creative and manipulative, and I believe that he is unconscious about how he has worked to manipulate me, which has been like a kind of psychological abuse.

    At this point, I am not looking to work things out with him. My heart is devastated and shredded, as I just discovered that he has been having an emotional affair for almost a year. I feel withered and exhausted from all of the trying and hoping and praying, etc... I have sought help, he has not ever been willing.

    The one who is more overtly verbally abusive at this point is me, (although he does verbally abuse me, but it has always been very subtile and couched in "wisdom," but basically he constantly puts me down, criticizes me and pretty much everyone. Because I feel so hurt, I am obsessed with telling him how he has destroyed our family, how he has hurt us and has been careless and selfish and self serving, etc... My heart is completely shattered and I want him to feel that pain as well. I don't like experiencing myself in this way. It is so painful and adds to my already sad heart. I know that it is a process of letting go and healing, but it is so hard. He tells me I am verbally abusive, and I just feel... "well how am I supposed to respond? I give you my heart and soul, my best as a mother, my devotion, honesty and willingness to grow together, and you throw all of that away for a temporary fix with some random woman, with no regard about how it will devastate the rest of us?"

    I feel that because he is so deeply narcissistic, he can not self reflect and come to a place of humility and regret, which is about all my heart can hear right now. I don't want to hear defensiveness, that is what tips me into this place of wanting to lash out with my words... because I am powerless, in any other way, to get him to understand.

  106. I want to thank you for taking the time, patience and love in creating this site. I too am married to, and separated from, a man who I believe to be a narcissist. The lying, deceiving, blaming, living a double life, financially bankrupting, accusing, verbal and emotional abusing, and labeling me unstable was my life for three years, and has continued and gotten worse since our separation. In his mind that has given him a no-holds-bar attitude as far as his abuse of me.

    But I am working at taking my responsibility in this relationship. I realize now I am a codependent, always trying to make everything alright for everyone around me. I'm what some drs refer to as a "goodist" and that has caused additional problems with my marriage and health. In addition I saw myself as a victim, which I do still believe I am just because of the nature of a narcissist; however, I don't have to accept it or act as though I'm being victimized. I have the choice and the POWER to put an end to it. A narcissist will never choose to do it on his own. And for that realization, I can't thank you enough. I know that I have gained wisdom and insight on this site that I could never have gotten on my own.

    My husband says he wants to try and make this work and for a short time I thought I could too. But how do you forgive when you can't believe he's sorry? How do you go on as if the past never happened? How do you trust and respect a mate that's lied, deceived and hurt you and your family innumerable times without remorse?

    My hat's off to you Kim and others who are trying and doing it. If you feel there's hope then you have to try. I don't feel that I can or really want to take the sole responsibility to make this relationship work. My husband allowed things to get so abusive, distorted, twisted, and dysfunctional between us that it has completely changed my feelings for him. Trying to be with him feels as though I'm acting a role, not being myself. And that's the last thing I want to be doing at this point. What I do want is to keep learning, growing, and deepening my own self-worth and love and your insight is making this possible. Actually I want the same things for my husband but that's something I know he has to want for himself and then work at.

    I just can't say it enough - THANK YOU!!

  107. Ive just spent a good part of the day reading this page and Im pretty new to the site. Putting a label on it 'narcissism' has really helped me understand a teacher I had problems with but didnt really know why. He clearly fits the criteria. It touches very painful wounds from my childhood that Im bad and Im to blame. Since Ive been investigating narcissism I suspect that my mother was one and in the last few posts a couple of statements about not being able to out-victim a narcissist confirms this for me. Thanks and more to learn.sf

  108. I just discovered your site after 8 months of intense christian counseling, my husband also going a few times, and the counselors seeming to point to me as the problem because he is so charming, and I felt so anxious/angry during our sessions I had a hard time expressing myself. They convinced me to take a medication for anxiety, Buspar, which I decided to do because living with him is so toxic and I want to be able to respond as calmly as possible...

    I really want this relationship to work, as I was previously married for 23 years, and had 5 children with a man who was very financially irresponsible, and then at age 40 became schizophrenic. I spent years, along with support from many people trying to work through that relationship, but he would not accept treatment, and ended up in prison, and being forced to take meds a year ago.

    After being a single mother for 4 years, I decided I wanted to pursue another relationship, and met my current husband online through eHarmony. We "dated" for 2 years, and I lived 4 hours away, so it mostly was visits halfway between and a day or two staying with each others' friends and visiting in our hometowns. I had NO idea what kind of person my husband was until a few months after our marriage a year ago, when he started to ignore me, and I started to realize the many many putdowns, sarcastic remarks, and angry outbursts that he made toward first his daughter, and then when I tried to talk to him about this problem, towards me - doing so about every 10 minutes I've spent with him.

    I read Patricia Evans book Verbally Abusive Relationship - and it hit the nail on the head. Only in the last month have I stood firmly on the ground that the abuse I am experiencing is not my fault. I don't know why it took me so long to believe this truth. I am hoping that your ideas - to limit abuse, while being warm, accepting and loving will help our situation. It's so hard to think of going through another divorce with all the fall-out.

    What's very difficult in my situation is that I moved to where my husband lives because his job is much better and secure...and therefore I'm just beginning to create a support group - but it's nothing like having history with people. He has 3 children, and only his 16 year old lives with us. Two of my children live with us, and the rest are older and on their own. Where I came from, I was highly respected after knowing many for over 10 years, but here, I find I have to prove myself, and am questioned/disbelieved by some that my husband tells untruths to about me.

    Thanks for your help - it has made the most sense to me yet. Other books that have really helped me in self discovery this past year are, Boundaries by Cloud/Townsend, Safe People by same authors, Disarming the Narcissist (very compassionate also), Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie, You don't have to take it anymore by Steven Stosny, and the latest I've read, Change Your Brain, Change your life by Daniel Amen - very very helpful self care actions.

    God bless you, Kim and Steve. I have loved your email information, and spent the last few days reading Out of the Looking Glass, and am starting to do the exercises in the Love Safety Net book/workbook.

    Please do not use my name or location. Thanks

  109. I can't tell you what a relief it has been after 38 years of living with someone who has this, to find that I am not the PROBLEM! Just knowing now, that this is a condition. Wow! When you live with someone who is like this, you feel so isolated and so alone, because they have painted such a picture that no one will believe YOU if you say anything along these lines about your partner. The suggestions you gave today, are going to be practiced in my life, from here on out. It has been so helpful! Thank you so much!!!!! What a relief!!! I love every area about my husband except this area. He is such a good man except for the narcissm. But, knowing there is help!! Thank You! Just knowing there is someone there who understands, who has been through it, and that it can be soooo encouraging.

    What I am finding for myself, is I can only handle a little at time, its like walking into a world of knowledge in this area. So for right now, all I can handle are your newsletter, which is a start. I am sure down the road I will be ordering your books. Your news letters are helping me a little at a time...which for me right now is exactly what I need. I never knew about Narcissm. I wished I had, but am grateful that God has opened this door to me to understand and walk out healing from the damage and healing for my husband. God bless.


  111. Kim: Many thanks for hooking me up to your blog. The confusion is starting to sort itself out. That part about the abused having anxiety and possibly PTSD gives me hope. My Mom was so cruel to my sister (and Dad too) that I can understand why my sister acts the way she does to me and has a bad "pot" problem. I thought that it was just jealousy with Mom favoring me. I could only put up with Mom for maybe 3 days at most, and then leave, but I could stand up to her somewhat. Once, when she started criticizing something about my house (castle) I immediately told her she had no authority to come into MY house and say what she was saying. I forget what was even said, but she said if that's the way I feel, she was leaving. I think I said something along the line that she is always welcome if she is respectful. It took her 2 years before she came back to visit her Grandkids and she was respectful. We never even discussed why she stayed away so long. We were on a lot better terms after that, but what kept taking place between my sister and Mom never stopped. I quess that is why my sister turned out the way she did..feeling powerless...but now she has power over both Dad and me. Dad and I were always best friends. Dad turned from being Dad to friend. That one was easy. But turning Mom into a friend was difficult. I can see turning my sister into a friend more difficult, with "pot" involved, and a support group that are all heavy users, even her Doctor...but not many people could beat me at chess!!!! I have 2 lawyer friends that are helping me, I think!!!But their way of handling things are usually confrontational...last resort as far as I'm concerned. There is fraud involved but I would trade sending her to jail for getting her the help and love that she needs. My sister has the same reputation that my Mom had...very little respect. Thanks again, Kim.
    Randy PS: And I am hanging in there...big time now! X R

  112. Thanks Kim for your advise but I am getting out while the getting is good. I'm 53 years old and living this for the last 17 years. I am in the beginning process of divorce and believe me with a NPD husband the road has been hard and will get harder as time goes on I have no doubt. I have to stay strong. Just want to live out my remaining years in peace.

  113. This article with the comments too is so rich and full of information that I can use right now for interacting with my adult son. Thank you so much.

  114. Thank you Kim. This is great stuff. It's the only thing that's effective. One other thing that helps is , starting your sentences with" I", instead of " you". I so appreciate your generousity in sharing this with us. Especially since ,at this time I can't afford much at all. Partly because of the stealing of money that my partner has done. I have trouble with my anger about this. I find myself wanting revenge. It's frustration at the injustice and the fact that most very likely I'll never get my money or things back and there's probably nothing I can do about it. Help! How can I resolve these feelings in me without making things worse? I was thinking I would at least tell him in a not so accusing way, that I care about him very much but I know it's him stealing, I know he stole from my roomate and I expect him to return the money. I will also so say I can no longer tolerate this abuse and I will be moving on. What do you think? Anyway thanks for the free advise , some of us can't afford the books and things all though I feel they are worth it. I appreciate you and Steve very very much!You guys are awesome!!!

  115. Hi anon,

    How about saying that you care about him very much, but if he doesn't return your things you will be forced to report him to the police?

    Kim Cooper

  116. Hi, I'm new to this site as well and share many of the same experiences and feelings as the others have mentioned. I have recently given up on my relationship with a N, told him I can't have him in my life anymore, and am focusing on recovering my self esteem and finding peace and happiness again within myself. I felt so much better about me after reading Kim's writings and watching the videos. I no longer believed what he had brainwashed me into believing for the last 6 years - that I was crazy and I was the one with the problem. I have given up on the relationship and now want to focus on getting back to good after being emotionally abused for so long. I want to learn about codependency and take responsiblity for my part in the turmoil. I also want to learn techniques to deal with issues in relationships in a way that will work and recognise the signs of an abusive person so I don't end up in the same boat again. Maybe then I will consider another relationship but I don't think it will be for a while. I'm not ready. Thanks Kim and Steve for your words of wisdom as they have made a huge difference in my understanding of what happened and what type of personality I was dealing with. I plan to save and want to buy the books offered here and learn more...but for now, I have 'The language of letting go' by Melody Beattie that has been a huge help in reclaiming my life and liking myself again. I really do believe that narcissists can brainwash you over time. I have alot of work to do yet but look forward to having a healthy, stable, fulfilling relationship one day. Thank you so much :) Theresa

  117. Hello Kim. I have read ALL of your books and they are very helpful. My marriage has gotten better over the past year but I am impatient for much more. And I have a lot more growing to do! It seems to come up a lot that on our way to a family activity in the car; we will be talking and something I say leads my husband to "pounce on me"; maybe to pick a fight (?). I tell him probably too late that I won't continue talking with him anymore unless he changes the subject (away from whatever fault he is finding with me at the moment). But I get sad that the day is "ruined" before we've even gotten to our destination; knowing he sulks for a good 30 minutes. Then the whole rest of the outing I get into a codependent tail-spin trying to get him to change his mood. Even though I probably look calm on the outside-- I try to hold things together in front of our little boy-- but inside, I'm just tense. I know that's my part to change; the defensiveness, the losing my space, the fear.
    To make a long story short, what do I do when we're in the car and stuck in a small space together?

  118. Hi anon,

    Knowing when and where the problem crops up is a great start. If you think back to exactly what he says that pushes your buttons and take the time to think of a better response and then practice it over and over in your mind and even in the mirror or with a friend if you can - the next time this situation comes up you will be ready.

    If all else fails you may also simply pull the car over and say "I am feeling a bit annoyed at you now - so I am just going to take a short walk and calm down - I hope that you and (your boys name) can keep each other company for a few minutes ...

    When you then go for the walk write down what upset you if you can - but then forget it and self sooth and don't come back to the car until you are truly feeling better.

    Kim Cooper

  119. I live and care for a 93 yr old mother who has always been the controlling figure in our family.

    I was beginning to think there was no hope until I found Kim and Steve, even though the site is mostly for couples.

    I believe it starts with the parents!

    Is there any other information that you provide that could be used with an aging narcissistic parent who has signs of dementia also?

    I do finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to these two people.

  120. Narcissistic parents are a huge problem and I am considering even writing an ebook on dealing with setting boundaries etc. Hang in there - I will try and write more soon ...

    Kim Cooper

  121. Two really brilliant books that opened my eyes.
    I didn't even know I was abused for 23yrs he was so clever, charming and subtle, but "Why Does he Do That? by Lundy Bancroft is fantastic. At last I could see why everything had felt so wrong/bad all those years but which I couldn't put my finger on. "Help!I'm In Love with a Narcissist" is excellent. Have loaned out book so forgotten authors - search Amazon. I'm 66, divorcing, could not get over him, still loved him, but this book explained why they are so charismatic and how you can take back your life. Thank you Kim and good luck and much love to all of you out there.Even disabled, broke and on my own now I can tell you that I've discovered what happiness is like after all these years.

  122. Thank you so much for sharing this link with me. It has really opened my eyes to how big this problem really is in the world. Very sad indeed!
    The father of my 3 boys has a NPD and I lived with it for 13 years. It got so bad for me over time that I just had to detatch my emotional side and look at things logically. I had to reach down deep inside myself to pull my true beliefs of honesty and knowing right from wrong back to the top of his distorted views of who I was that he placed upon me. He told me for many years that I was mental and had no friends and countless other things that were just not true.

    He betrayed my trust by convincing my friends I had a mental disorder and it was those exact friends that ended up convincing me that it was him and not me who had the problem. It took many years to leave him but I found when I started to confide in my friends they valued (he devalued me) me enough to tell me the truth about what they thought, and I value my friends opinions.

    I was devestated at having to leave someone I loved with my every being because they couldnt treat me right but I also knew that if I had stayed the depression would kill me. A lightbulb moment was when we were together and I told him I wanted to kill myself he told me to go and slit my wrists. I thought then and there that there was no way I was going to leave my wonderful boys with him. I was going to break the cycle. His grandfather made his grandmother commit suicide. His mother has NPD too.

    It didn't end when I finally got him to leave because his threat of makeing my life hell if I left him rang true. I ended up going to the police and they helped me get a domestic violence order. The day I got granted it I thought this man can never scream those nasty names in front of my children at me ever again. Since then I have called the police about 4 times because he still thought he could verbally attack me. It's been a year and a half now since we have been split and some memories still haunt me today. He still tries to bully me over money and when he has the kids but is not allowed to contact me in any way. I am regaining my power back. No matter how bad I feel about anything in life now I know it's not as bad as how he made me feel.

    I've often thought about writing a book about my experience because if it can help just one person it would be worth it.

  123. Thanks for writing in to us and sharing your story. It is such a tough road you are walking but I congratulate you wholeheartedly in your courage to not forget your values and who you really are. It is also very important that you teach your boys how to face up to situations they are embarrassed or ashamed about and that you also teach them the importance of honesty.

    Steve and I are working on some new movies about love and respect and the building blocks of how it is formed that I look forward to sharing soon.

    Kim Cooper

    Kim Cooper

  124. I guess I feel like some of you who are just tired of trying. I have been married to a NPD individual for 32 years and it's only been in the last two to three years that I have realized through Kim and Steve and your powerful infomation what is really going on. Rather I am starting to really see the reality. But after all this time I am so tired, emotionally, physically, and mentally I don't think I have the strength to use the tools you've shared with me. I just want to enjoy the few remaining years of my life, as I have been with his man since I was 15 years old. I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. Thank you sooo much Kim and Steve.

  125. The situation explained by anonymous on 7 July is so similar to my experience. I also have three (very young) boys and was with my ex-partner for 9 years and got to the point where I had very little of myself left so had to leave.

    It is such a difficult thing to do, particularly with the worry of what he is doing to my wonderful children when he has contact with them, but if I had stayed, things might have been even worse for them as I was literally falling apart.

    I had (through my own work as I have only recently found your site) tried many of the things that you suggest in 'Back from the Looking Glass', but doing these things only made the backlash worse. Nothing could be questioned.

    My move is very recent, but I am slowly piecing myself back together and am laughing so much more than I have in years, despite his involvement of solicitors and the courts to try and 'win' everything he can and the fact that he has convinced his whole family that I am the bad guy (they will not speak to me even though he had nothing to do with them for years and they had only seen their grandchildren through me!).

    Kim - I understand why you promote the view that you do and that it has worked for you, but some Ns cannot/will not change no matter what you try and you have no choice but to leave. I was concerned by one comment on here that stated that perhaps if they had implemented some of the skills you promote their husband might not have left them. I think every situation is different and that it would be really useful to set up a community where different groups can talk to each other and support each other whether they have stayed or left. Personally, I believe that leaving will ultimately be right for me and my children (although I am gutted as my dream was to give my children the secure loving family that I never had - hence my co-dependency issues and me being perfect prey for an N).

    It would also be really useful to be able to work together to identify skills and behaviour that will protect the children during their times with their N parent and to help to ensure that they grow up emotionally secure.

  126. Hi Anon,

    I have to run but just wanted to add quickly that if Steve had
    not made a turn around I would have had put him in jail
    because I would not have been prepared for him to have
    unsupervised access to our kids back then.

    The reason I mention this is because I think it is really important
    if you can keep yourself and your children safe whatever
    happens with your partner.

    Our program is not so much about transforming the narcissist
    (although that does often happen) so much as enpowering the codependent to stay, leave or whatever they choose - but to be
    able to do so setting very clear and effective boundaries.

    As for a forum that is something we are considering but I have
    noticed that the people who think they need advice every time
    things get tough who are the ones who often never find the
    courage and strength to set real boundaries for themselves.

    There is a fine line with forums between good advice and enabling codependent behavior.

    Kim Cooper

  127. Hi Kim

    What you say about forums is interesting. Perhaps it should be an area for posting tips then.

    My main concern is that I had to leave to protect my children who were getting more and more involved and actually being used in the arguments, but now I'm having to allow contact as the courts seem to fail to see mental/emotional abuse and I can already see the mind games being played with my eldest son (who is currently the only one old enough to do this to).

    I am trying to set boundaries, but am struggling with how to set them to effectively protect my children now that I have left and he has them on his own. I certainly can't go back!

  128. Hi Kim just wanted to say thank you, you have confirmed what i have been doing is correct, i stopped reacting to being shouted at and for the first time the other night i said in a strong but not shouting voice "who do you think you are" i will not be spoken to in this manner now go and leave me alone! i then went and sat outside for a while and my partner came out and said for the first time lets talk, he ended up telling me i was bright and that he needed me that he couldn't cope on his own without me and for the first time told me honestly that he loved me and was sorry that he needed help that he didn't mean it this is the biggest break through i have ever had, just by telling him that i loved him but would not and could not tolerate his behaviour anymore. Its early days and i know he will probably flare up again at some point but it has given me strength to cope, he has also said he with my help get some professional help with the way he is feeling and acting.... now i wouldn't have done this without reading all your emails and things, i would have ended up walking away from the love of my life, basically his good points still outweigh his bad points, i now understand why he is the way he is because he has now told me about his past and it finally makes sense. again thank you x

  129. Hi Kim,
    Thank you for your insight. I'm trying to find courage and strength from your story. But I feel so beaten down about myself it takes everything I have to make myself go to work every day and function at a most basic level. How do I work past this feeling of failure and dirt level self esteem? I feel I am falling into his method of operation, becoming too much like my husband. The emotional abuse and verbal abuse is so bad. When we address one thing, he brings up something to throw back at me completely unrelated. We can't stay on the true issue of the argument and end up fighting about everything ...even things that happened 10 years ago. I'm tired of this and I can't take anymore. I'm not sure where to start.

  130. Hi Michelle,

    You must follow the steps in Back from the Looking Glass. Learn to end all non productive conversations quickly and try the Wellness Audio institutes recordings to get your moods and motivation back on track (click on the ad to the top right of this post). You must also learn to limit the abuse. There are steps for this in BFTLG and also the Love Safety Net Workbook. Don't let him wear you down!

    Kim Cooper

  131. I needed this post. Thanks so much Kim...

  132. some of the above is so helpful to me, to train myself to say something calm and rational (and reasonably succinct)
    when my husband is verbally abusing me. but what do you say when your partner gets so angry (over something relatively trivial, or something that you apologize for, and agree to make the change they suggest/want) when he suddenly says "I can't take this anymore, I want a divorce" when I ask for a time out, or a cool down period, he accuses me of trying to block talking about this important issue. It happens sometimes that in the middle of a relatively small argument (when things have been going well) that suddenly he's threatening me with divorce!

    its very hurtful.

    i know "he doesn't mean it" (he's been doing this for 20 years) but struggling to keep my equilibrium. I've pointed out that you shouldn't up the ante, even when angry, and threaten divorce or "trash the relationship" just cos you're annoyed about one thing.


  133. Hi Linda,

    Yes he is wrong to do that but you will not be able to tell him that in the heat of the moment.

    You may not always stay calm in an argument but you can stay in control of yourself. If he tries to stop you going to cool off you should say something like "I am not blocking you - I will talk to you again later but right now I am going to cool off" and just do it. If he follows you and keeps harassing you warn him only once that if he continues you will have no choice but to call the police. Later when things are calm again
    you might print this and give it to him;
    and say "If you want a divorce you should see a lawyer and serve papers on me and not bring it up when we argue. I don't want a divorce and I don't think it is right that you bring it up when we fight to try and intimidate me."

    Hang in there Linda!

    Kim Cooper

  134. Thank you so very, very much for everything, Kim and Steve! You are a shining beacon of hope for the clearly narcissistic society we find ourselves existing in. It is not only a matter of psychology, but of sociology as well. My deepest of prayers are with you in this incredible work that you are doing. It is penetratingly lonely to be a codependent raised by narcissistic parents and married to a narcissist husband. We have nine children. We try so hard for our children and our relationship, but it is as if we have a "narcissistic" relationship. It is so painful, difficult, and confusing! Traci

  135. Good stuff for sure yet I am unable to make contact or send for books because I am be "watched" closely. I enjoy the

    1. This is a really good point, Anonymous wrote way back in December 2011....I am being watched, too. I can't even mark your page as a favorite and have to always listen for the car and erase browser history. What do you recommend we can do to order your e-book or paperback book or even to keep the page where I signed up open so I can read the three questions again if I want to? Thank you for posting this because I was able to see what your ideas are like without getting into trouble. I love your work. It fills me with hope. I may leave anyway, but I'll be strongerand safer when I do. Thank you for your honesty and courage to writeabout such things with integrity.

  136. Hi Kim and Steve
    My relationship has ended now. The 14 year old would want to say his piece then when I tried to say mine he would stomp off and say he was sick of all this, hide behind a curtain or scurry off downstairs. It was so frustrating and hard not to bite into this mode yourself. For the most part I would stay calm and act like the parent, but sometimes my patience would be burnt out and I would act like a child too and snap back. That is what happened at the end.
    When I was stronger, I would say I wasnt prepared to talk about this now or I would let things calm down and change the subject completely. But him seeing me stronger, he would notch this up and take out his spite later another way and each time this act would be more hurtful etc.
    So even if I went by the book, his spite and meanness would always come out, I felt nothing I did would affect this situation or pattern. It felt to me he was carrying so much anger and bitterness from the past but he would never admit this.
    I could physically see him, fade away, into another person. His face would literally change I never would believe that could happen if I ddint see it for myself. One day he would be so present then you could actually see him not there.
    Now that the relationhip is ended, I wonder if I have the skills for a realtionship. Feels as though he has blamed me for everything and didnt even give me closure at the end, just move on from me its over, not even giving me two minutes to talk for closure
    I wonder if I could have read all your books or practiced all the skills, would we still have been together or are there just too hard of cases for the relationship to prevail.
    Thank you

    1. What is important now is that you find peace and closure - not with him but within yourself. To do this you must stop tormenting yourself about 'what might have happened' in the past. You are not responsible for his immature behavior and you did all that you could have done. Working on your own relationship skills would certainly be an investment in your future. Maybe you can have a little ceremony or service for yourself that allows you to let go and leave what has past in the past.

    2. Hi Kim!

      Been reading all your stuff as still trying to assess if my other half is really suffering from NPD or is 'just' bi-polar. Or could he be both? He's certainly an alcoholic, which masks everything... Anyway, I was jolted into writing due to your chess player analogy. As a senior manager in education I've been extolling the virtues of learning to play chess for years. My reason for recommending it was different to yours, but now I see they are complementary. I always felt that poor managers never looked beyond the first step (move) and failed to consider what reasction their decisions would invoke in those who were affected. In chess player's terms it's as simple as "If I do this, what will his move be?" It's slightly easier in chess than in real life as in chess the options are limited to certain moves, whilst in life, moves are just about infinite. I did feel, however, that even to ask the question would be beneficial for some managers and while you are talking about becoming the leader of your family and taking control, you are becoming a manager. Well done, Kim. Your chess analogy is perfect!

  137. Thanks. I need help. My husband is a master manipulator, he's very intelligent, he's very good with words, and he can be very mean. He twists the Truth and he lies. He blames me for his bad behavior, and he never says he's sorry. We can never talk about our problems because he defends his behavior or says that I misunderstood, and says that it's all my fault. I am a happy person, but I have felt so low and even want to die. This has been going on for 11 years! I just don't know what to do.

  138. The problem with diagnosing your spouse as a narcissist is that you may not:

    a. realize you are a narcissist yourself.

    b. lack the necessary independence of thought and analytical skills to assess the situation with the necessary detachment and ability.

    I personally would refrain from "cataloguing" my spouse as I am not a trained psychologist/psychiatrist and would run the risk of projecting my emotionally charged findings as absolutely true an fitting the definition to a tee, just because I want it to be so.
    I truly believe this may be the recepy to do more harm than good.
    I wonder how many spouses, here unknowingly catalogued as verbally abusive narcissists, would come up with the same diagnosis for their mate!


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