Helping a Loved One

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Your son is in an emotionally abusive relationship and you don’t know how to break the news. You see the signs like writing on the wall, yet you realize he can’t read. He is blind to the controlling abuse dynamic that he lives with his girlfriend. You fear that their “love” will continue to grow along with his deafness, blindness and tolerance to the abuse. Then, the day will come when he is gone. He can only be, feel, think and do as she approves. All else that he was simply isn’t anymore.

It is so clear to you that this is happening. What is unclear is how to open his eyes to what you see.

If he were a stranger or an acquaintance, it would be easier. You could simply say what you think and move on. What he chooses to do with that is his business. However, the problem most parents face when the abused is their own child is the repercussions to their relationship with their child once the cat is out of the bag. These parents know that such a disclosure could net them no contact with their own flesh and blood. It could result in their son pulling back to protect his relationship with his girlfriend or wife. Even worse is when this news travels to the abuser. His partner will tighten the leash around your son’s neck all in the name of love. What is a parent to do?

Emotionally abusive relationships often affect more than the people directly involved. If you suspect that a family member or friend is in an unhealthy relationship, most likely your first response is to want to do something – anything – to help. It’s natural for that urge to get even stronger when that person tells you that they are experiencing emotional abuse.

  • DO Listen
  • DON’T Shame, Judge, or Critique
  • DO Believe Someone if They Tell You They’re Experiencing Emotional Abuse
  • DON’T Make Excuses for the Abuser
  • DO Share and be Honest About Your Concerns
  • DON’T Make it All About You
  • DO Research Resources
  • DON’T Pressure or Force your Opinions or Views

  • Calmly start a conversation on a positive note
  • Be supportive
  • Focus on the unhealthy behaviors
  • Keep the conversation friendly, not preachy
  • Don’t place the blame on your friend
  • Allow your friend to make their own decision
  • Offer solutions to your friend
  • Expect more conversations in the future

If you would like more information on how you can help a friend in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, please check out the US Department of Health’s Office on Women’s Health, or call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to get advice.

A Narcissistic Abuser will Make Everyone Think that the Victim is the Crazy One

While the abuser appears to be calm, charming and likeable, the victim that he or she has psychologically abused and violated over a period of time may appear emotional, erratic or unhinged due to the effects of trauma.

Narcissists and those with antisocial traits learn from a very young age to mimic the emotions they need to fulfill their agendas; they present a very innocent, compelling false mask to the world, duping even the most experienced members of law enforcement and the court systems. This means they can show displays of empathy, remorse, and pity ploys to convince the court systems that they are the innocent party or that they acted out of intentions that were not entirely malicious.