What Is Emotional Abuse? (Understanding Narcissism.)

Narcissists use emotional abuse as a way of controlling another person by using a person’s emotions against them to serve the narcissist’s needs.

When you feel misunderstood, hurt, frustrated, angry, confused, anxious, worthless, ruminating about how to approach something, no longer able to speak your thoughts or feelings, and full of self-doubt around someone, there’s a good chance that someone is emotionally manipulating you.

A narcissist will.

Lovebomb, lavish you with attention, affection and support to influence you into creating a false identity of them, so they find it easier to exploit you.

Criticise using deliberate and hurtful remarks to make you question your abilities, to make you feel bad about yourself.

Blaming making you feel responsible for everything the narcissist does wrong.

Shame you to humiliate you into feeling ashamed of who you are.

Mock you, tease you, or make fun of you with the intention of deceiving you.

Guilt you into steeping away from who you are to please them.

Intimidate you, manipulative statements or actions to frighten you into conforming.

This is all done so a narcissist can influence another person’s emotions. The narcissist can then use that person’s emotions as leverage to gain control over that person’s feelings, controlling the person’s thoughts and ultimately controlling that person’s behaviour.

A narcissist wants to undermine your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and values so they can distort your reality, gaslighting where the narcissist wants to condition you into believing their lies and not your truth, to the point where you believe you’re going crazy.

A Narcissist will then blame your emotional reactions as being the problem to distract you from the fact their actions are the problem.

No one is exempt from a narcissist’s emotional abuse. A narcissist will morph into whatever person they need to be to impress whatever person they are around to exploit that person to get their own needs met, this can be family members, friends, co-workers even down to the staff at local shops and restaurants, whether that’s using others to make others feel jealous the narcissists triangulation, or gaining admiration and excessive attention from those around them.

You just can not see emotional abuse, especially when you don’t know what it is, even when you do, as it can be such a subtle, covert manipulation, even the overt, as they are so arrogant in the way in which they do things it’s difficult to see what is genuinely happening.

The narcissist’s emotional abuse slowly undermines who you are, weakening your self-esteem to the point you question everything about who you are and nothing about what that narcissist is actually doing to you. People being emotionally abused can end up with so many physical and mental health problems they can begin to isolate themselves, ending up with depression, anxiety, cptsd and feeling like they’re going crazy.

A Narcissist seldom has control over their own life because they fail to take responsibility for their own behaviour; instead, they pass the blame. In doing so, they want to silence and isolate you so they can further their control over you to feel better about themselves.

When you question a narcissist, they can come at you with, “It’s not that bad.” “It doesn’t happen often.” “Everyone else is doing it.” “At least I didn’t.” To minimise their mistreatment of you, they often exaggerate any emotional reactions you give, so you end up thinking, “Am I too sensitive?” “Was it me?” “If I hadn’t.” “It doesn’t happen often.” When it shouldn’t be happening at all.

A narcissist can withhold attention, affection and support when you don’t do as they say. They can sulk or fall silent, shame you and blame you, criticise, mock and judge you, downplay your feelings, gaslight, argue, unjustly accuse you, dismiss you, gaslight, triangulate, isolate, invalidate, and manipulate.

A Narcissist can use emotional blackmail against you.

A narcissist can shower you with attention, affection and support, then as soon as they don’t get their own way, they withhold attention, affection and support. They punish with neglect and silence. When something doesn’t feel right, and you say no to them, they’ll guilt trip with. “If you loved me, you would.” “After all I’ve done for you.” To get you to go against your beliefs and values, breaking your boundaries to serve them. A Narcissist will use your fears against you to punish you. Anything you told them in confidence, they’ll threaten to say to others, they’ll intimidate you, threaten you. “You’ll have nowhere to live. You’ll never see the children again.” A narcissist will humiliate you in the home or in public. They’ll do all they can to belittle and shame you.

Create chaos.

Creating conflict, drama and chaos, talking about things that make sense on their own but jumbling them up, the narcissist’s word salad, talking in circles so you feel like you’re never heard, and causing arguments. They argue to gain control over us and all situations around them. They know we prefer living in peace, we prefer to avoid conflict or drama, and we just want a happy, stable and calm life. They know the only way we think we can achieve this is by giving in to them, which we never can achieve peace with a narcissist, as the more control they get, the more they want, the more they’ll up their games, the more they’ll raise the bar, when we try to stop arguments occurring in the first place, walking on eggshells, giving up more and more of ourselves trying to please them, losing our boundaries, gradually giving them more control of us, our life and everything in it, so that they don’t cause an argument. The more we unwittingly give up on ourselves to please them, the more they’ll expect us to give up for them.


Mocking you, downplaying your achievements, claiming your job, career, hobbies, friends, needs, emotional or physical, are not as important as theirs, they always have to be right, they’ll make jokes at your expense, then if you were to ask them they’ll claim you’re too sensitive or that you can’t take a joke, being condescending talking down to you, claiming they know best, blaming you for anything and everything that goes wrong.


Isolating you from friends, family, financial support, controlling the finances, and hobbies, unjustly accusing you of things, hiding money and car keys, causing arguments before you go anywhere, tracking where you are and what you’re doing, making you feel afraid to make plans without them, they create an atmosphere if you want to do something, falling silent on you, claiming your family interfere too much, calling and messaging you.


Invalidating who you are, always putting you down, the overt “you can’t do that, you shouldn’t wear that.” To the covert. “Do you really think you’re good enough to do that? I wouldn’t wear that if I was you.” telling you something never happened that you know did, dismissing your very valid feelings, “your too sensitive, you’re insecure.”

You’re going to feel sensitive around insensitive people. E.S.

False accusations.

Unjustly Accusing you of being selfish, stubborn, and awkward when you don’t do exactly what they want you to do. They have no respect for your values or beliefs.

Unrealistic expectations.

They have unrealistic expectations of you, expecting you to always put them first, even before your own health. It doesn’t matter how ill you are or what you have going on. They expect you to drop everything to serve them. They will criticise you for not helping them out, and when you do drop everything for them, what you do will never be good enough. They’ll not show you any gratitude; however, they’ll expect eternal gratitude from you to guilt-trip you. “After all, I’ve done for you.” Narcissists only do for others to gain something in return.

What can you do?

If you are still with or around an emotional manipulator, work on finding a safe way out. Narcissistic people can act in many ways when you no longer play their games, and your safety comes first.

No contact, if you can not go, no contact, recognise the games they play as their games, don’t react, limited contact and grey rock.

Recognise you can not help them see the light, no one can rescue them, and you have to be the one to rescue you.

Learn to stop blaming yourself, don’t listen to your inner critic, which is often the voice of the emotional abuser who planted those doubts within you. Confidence comes from within by taking steps to learn new things, learning from mistakes and going again until you achieve, then once you achieve, recognise your actions and learn more.

Learn your values and beliefs, and what’s important to you, then create your boundaries around those.

Self-care. Start doing all the things you love to do that the narcissist wouldn’t let you do.

Listen to your instincts, listen to your feelings, and let them guide you. When you feel like you can’t trust another and they claim “you have trust issues, you’re too hung up on your past.” They are dismissing and invalidating, most often, your perfect, valid feelings. You can not trust someone who uses your emotions to make you feel worse about yourself.

Know you can, and you will recover from this.

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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.

Click here for Elizabeth Shaw’s Recommended reading list for more information on recovery from narcissistic abuse.

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