Karli writes as a therapeutic outlet and with the hope that her articles will be useful to others who have suffered psychological abuse.
Cluster B Personality Disorders
Psychopaths and individuals with cluster B personality disorders (narcissistic, borderline, histrionic and antisocial) can truly harm the health and emotional well-being of people closest to them. Whether you were raised by such an individual, are divorcing one, or you work with one, it may seem impossible to keep an optimistic attitude and outlook with such a toxic force in your life. They use emotional manipulation and psychological abuse to control others for their own personal gain. And they cause so much distress, anxiety and fear. What's worse, they can ruin your life in very tangible ways (destroy your career and/or reputation, clean out your bank accounts, turn your children against you, etc.).
Are you a survivor?
Even after a break-up, divorce, or simply going no contact, the personality disordered can still cause further damage to you down the line. For instance, if you have shared offspring, they will implement parental alienation to cause you pain by teaching your child(ren) to hate you. Or they may use the limited contact they have with you (through coordinating visitation with minor children and the subsequent drop offs/pick ups) to falsely accuse you of stalking or some other type of abuse in order to file for restraining orders or attempt to have you arrested.
If you've gone no contact with your psychopath, and you have no shared offspring, they may still try to harm you. A favorite tactic is to start a smear campaign against you which involves telling vicious lies to any shared friends or co-workers. It's not uncommon for them to attempt to sabotage your career by any means they can think of. If possible, they will even try to maintain ties with your family members in order to spread rumors and damage your relationships with your kin. These cluster B personality disorders truly have no shame.
Go Low Contact
The responsibility of shared parenting is but one reason for not having the option of going no-contact with your psychopath. It may be that the monster in your life is a co-worker whom you must communicate with frequently, or perhaps a relative that you, for whatever personal reasons, do not want to completely withdraw from. In such cases, low contact is the next best option. Low contact involves limiting your interactions with the disordered, keeping all communications as brief and succinct as possible, and making sure that your emotions are under control.
Just like a small child, a narcissist will take any reaction from you as a victory. To them, negative attention is better than no attention. Any time they manage to push your buttons and make you angry or emotionally upset in some way, they feel vindicated. When you remain neutral and unemotional, they lose their power. Be aware though, that this is when they will try even harder to elicit an emotional response from you.
Boundaries Are Essential
If you cannot, or will not, go no contact with any cluster B personality disorders in your life, you must establish personal boundaries and learn how to maintain them at all costs. A common trait of victims of abusers is that they are "people-pleasers"; they have trouble saying no when asked to do something, even if they really don't have time or simply don't want to. Also, they typically avoid confrontations and tend to have difficulty standing up for themselves when they are being treated unfairly. People-pleasers fear being seen as selfish, disagreeable, or unfriendly, and narcissists use this to their own advantage.
Deal With Emotional Damage
It's important to take into account the emotional scars survivors of psychological abuse carry. This is especially important for those coming out of a romantic relationship or anyone who was raised by at least one disordered parent. A few common problems suffered by abuse survivors are low self-esteem, weak or non-existent boundaries, anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness. For some, it can seem impossible to go on with your life and responsibilities. The length of your recovery will depend on your own resilience, the length of time you spent with your abuser, the extent of the abuse, and other factors. If possible, it is a good idea to find a qualified therapist or counselor whom you can trust and feel comfortable talking to.
Don't Drown in Despair
It's perfectly normal to experience feelings of self-doubt and despair once you realize you've been duped and manipulated by a psychopath. An endless stream of questions arises: How could I be so stupid? Why did this happen to me? Why didn't I listen when my friends tried to warn me? How will I ever trust anyone again? And on and on. It can be tempting to wallow in this line of thinking indefinitely. However, it's important that you pull a mental U-turn as soon as possible, and focus instead on what you've learned from the experience, how much better your future can be, and what you can accomplish now that you are not being held back.
Cluster B personality disorders are also referred to as emotional vampires, which is a very apt description of them. They are very much like movie monsters in that they feed off of your fear, anxiety and despair, so do not let them deprive you of your hopes and dreams. Keep going, no matter how difficult it gets. The mental anguish will not go on forever; nothing is permanent. It may take more time and effort than you want to devote, but know that it will work out eventually; there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Rebuild Your Life
No matter how much suffering your abuser has caused, if you are allowing yourself to feel despondent and hopeless, that monster is winning. The best revenge is to never give up hope, never stop striving to make your future brighter, and never stop bettering yourself in every way possible. Even if they've buried you in debt, destroyed your career, robbed you of your health, and poisoned coworkers, friends or family members against you, know that this is not the end; life will gradually start to improve once you know what you are dealing with. You did not get to the bottom of this pit overnight, and it will take some time to climb out. In some cases you will have to start over completely from scratch, and it will take some time for things to start looking up. It will be worth it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Karli McClane
Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on December 09, 2015:
I work for a fellow that has ADHD and Bipolar, and I thought I had it bad! I have learned, however, that even when he goes off on a tangent, if I just do not respond, then he eventually leaves the room and gets over it. Thankfully, since I have been doing this, the tirades have lessened considerably.