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Opinion: Narcissistic Abuse Is As Bad As Physical Abuse, And We Need Laws Against It

Millions of us from all over the world are suffering or killing ourselves because of an insidious and invisible psychological abuse. We deserve validation and justice just like any other victim of insidious crime. There had been victims of severe narcissist abuse for over many years and the impact is life-changing, depressing and horrible. So many women and men suffer in silence even as most people don’t even understand what narcissistic abuse is.

There are many cases of narcissistic abuse, crime, criminal behaviour, physical abuse, self injury, divorce cases and suicides in India and all over world. Narcissistic abuse encompasses emotional, spiritual, sexual, mental, financial, fraud, theft and physical violence.

This article was written to raise awareness on the issue and to advocate the creation of laws to protect victims of narcissistic sociopath abuse in India.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder characterised by a long-term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy toward other people. People with NPD often spend much time thinking about achieving power and success, or on their appearance. Typically, they also take advantage of the people around them. Such narcissistic behaviour typically begins by early adulthood and occurs across a broad range of situations.

Narcissistic Abuse

NPD is included in the cluster B personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Therapy is difficult, because people with narcissistic personality disorder usually do not consider themselves to have a mental health problem. About one percent of the world population is believed to be affected with NPD at some point in their lives. Narcissistic abuse must be considered a crime. It tantamounts to physical abuse. Victims of narcissistic abuse have been know to:

There had been victims of severe narcissist abuse for over many years and the impacts are not desirable.
  • commit suicide in some cases,
  • lose their job, house and money,
  • have their relationships destroyed,
  • be susceptible to loneliness,
  • be unable to defend themselves,
  • have been deprived of credit for their hard work,
  • feel like a loser,
  • blame themselves,
  • humiliated publicly,
  • have had false rumours spread about themselves and their family,
  • face domestic violence and psychological abuse,
  • develop PSTD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Narcissistic Traits

Following are, according to me, some traits that one might observe in a narcissist:

  • They’re all about control.
  • They rage a lot.
  • They lie about everything.
  • They often have a weird giggle.
  • They’re obsessed with their reputation.
  • There is no such thing as boundaries for narcissists.
  • They have a cognitive inability to empathise.
  • They don’t change.
  • In replacing you with someone else, they use your nicknames, wedding venues and vacation spots etc.
  • They believe they’re an Einstein and that you’re an idiot.
  • They’re often super-attractive.
  • They find another bedmate.
  • They do things to make you run away.
  • They say you’re perfect, until you’re not.
  • They’re incredibly jealous of others.
  • They’re big on threesomes.
  • They’re prone to cheating.
  • They use sex as a weapon.
  • Their verbal attacks escalate to physical abuse.

Narcissists love to set up ‘triangles’ in which their partners feel ‘at odds’ with each other, and enjoy the jealousy and the fighting ensue. They do so not only with partners but also with ex-partners, mothers and friends. The point is to make sure they’re at the center of attention and desire. This is called ‘triangulation’ in psychology. It is meant to make you feel insecure, undesirable, and keep you anxious and ‘on your toes.’

Narcissism And Divorce

A divorce with a narcissist is difficult. They lie about everything to anyone who would listen, especially their attorney and the judge. They bury their spouse in paperwork and false accusations. They manipulate at every step. A narcissist wishes to win no matter what, for which they can create their own facts. They want their ‘truth’ to prevail.

  • By engaging with you in a court battle, the narcissist uses you to feel powerful.
  • They want you to capitulate.
  • They are in it to win.
  • They think of a divorce as a game.
  • They don’t tally emotional losses.
Triangulation is meant to make you feel insecure and undesirable. It is meant to keep you on your toes.

‘Flying Monkeys’

Flying monkeys is a ‘pop psychology’ term used in the context of narcissistic abuse. Flying monkeys are people who act on behalf of a narcissist, usually for an abusive purpose (e.g. smear campaign). The phrase has also been used to refer to people who act on behalf of a psychopath, for a similar purpose. The term is not used in psychology, medical practice or teaching.

Abuse by proxy (or proxy abuse) is a closely related or synonymous concept. Flying monkeys is actually a pop culture reference to the winged monkeys used by the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film Wizard of Oz to carry out evil deeds on her behalf.

A flying monkeys is anyone who believes the narcissist’s fake persona. This includes the narcissist’s daughter, spouse, child, friend, sibling or cousin. According to author Angela Atkinson, flying monkeys are usually unwittingly manipulated although they may also be narcissists themselves.

According to Sam Vaknin, a sufferer of NPD and an author who’s written on the subject, proxy abusers can come from a number of sources:

  • The abuser’s associates
  • The victim’s associates, manipulated to side with the abuser
  • Authority and institutional figures, manipulated to side with the abuser

Narcissists And Their Tactics

The flying monkey does the narcissist’s bidding to inflict additional torment on the target. It may consist of spying, spreading gossip, threatening, painting the narcissist as the victim (victim playing) and the target as the perpetrator (victim blaming). Despite this, the narcissist does not hesitate to make flying monkeys his or her scapegoats when and if needed.

The flying monkeys may make it seem like the narcissist is not really involved, and they likely have no idea that they are being used. Multiple flying monkeys act as a mobbing force against a victim.

Narcissistic Parent + Children = Instability

Children raised by a narcissistic parent experience continued psychological whiplash. They control with the threat of withdrawal of support or rage. They are full of drama, they may harm themselves, manipulate, and concoct incidents. The non-narcissist parent is affected too.

Here’s a portrait of a narcissistic parent:

Your socially engaged mom becomes a controlling mom at home. She’s no longer the woman wearing a perpetual smile that never falters, at least in everyone else’s eyes. She is demeaning, she criticises, and lets you know in more ways than one that you are not up to her standards. She makes you feel like a failure if you’re not doing what she wants right now. Your mom is really good at manipulation, especially when your emotions are involved. If you aren’t fulfilling her desires to make her feel like her needs are of utmost importance, be prepared to experience pain in the way of criticism or an attack. And, if you are looking for validation, you may be waiting a long time.

She is easily offended, claiming that she does ‘so much’ for you. If you don’t give her what she wants, she’s upset and pulls the “you don’t love me because if you did, you would do what I wanted” card or she’ll simply accuse you of taking her for granted and not appreciating her as a mother. She might compare you unfavorably to someone else who is “good” to his or her mother.

She is privately opinionated, blasting people in private, while pretending to be forgiving in public. Your mom needs to look good in front of everyone, even if she isn’t too fond of them. She is charismatic, smiles and even chats with them while saving her criticism for home. She finds fault in you. And when you make it right, you barely get validation. “I’m sorry mom” is never enough with her and you can never figure out how to please her with an apology.

She makes you anxious, not filled with self-confidence. She makes you feel inadequate, even if you do something that deserves praise. We all need validation, especially early on in life.The world revolves around her. Your mom has to be the center of attention at all times. She needs to be waited on and adored and expects you to provide her with all of the above and more.  

A narcissistic parent can instigate self-doubt in everything that you do, yet, we all require parental love. The consequences of being raised by a narcissistic parent can be subtle or dramatic, often affecting adulthood. Neither the parent nor the child may realise this until then. Remember that children must adapt to their early childhood, and the way we do so influences who we become.

No one should ever have to feel that taking their own life is the only option to be free of their abuser. To prevent narcissistic abuse happening to others, enforcement measures were proposed as Shanes’s Law in the United States a few years ago.

Narcissistic Or Simply ‘Passive-aggressive’?

What is passive-aggressive behaviour? And how does it cross the line into being narcissistic? Is passive-aggressive behaviour simply narcissistic behaviour? Wikipedia states passive-aggressive behaviour as being ‘a type of behaviour characterised by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation’.

I truly do believe that all narcissists operate in passive-aggressive ways, because being passive-aggressive, they are not open and honest about feelings, or interested in working with people honestly, or asking for what is required personally, instead, they express displeasure through actions.

What I’ve outlined here should be taught in schools, to the police, to social workers, to the government, to judges, to the court, and to law.

I want this abuse to be explained to children before they start intimate relationships, and for it to be made a criminal offence for narcissists to abuse their parents/partners/friends/family/colleagues with this sort of abuse.

This abuse is wrong on so many levels and something needs to be done now. The longer this phenomenon goes unheard and unnoticed, the worse it will become and the more likely people are to succumb to narcissistic personality disorder. Help make a change, so people know this is wrong. This sort of abuse shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone in any circumstances no one should have to go through it.

Narcissist Abuse And Law

In the UK, the Serious Crime Act of 2015 Section 76 does actually deal with emotional abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour and pretty much most of the typical narcissistic behaviours and abuse. So yes, in the UK, you can go to the police and potentially have an abuser arrested, and yes they could go to jail for up to five years.

America may have a law soon as well. There’s an ongoing petition.

Many countries have come up with strong laws to prevent people from going into depression and killing themselves. The law should always protect people from those who throw stones, visible or not. Help to protect victims and save lives by sharing this article. The first step towards fighting such evils is to make people aware of it, especially kids.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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