If you are a man who has been dealing with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship, you are likely filled with self-doubt and you might not even know where to turn for help. Despite the popular assumption that only women are abused in relationships, the opposite is true.
Men experience toxic relationship abuse too – and they are not at fault.
You are not responsible for the toxic and hurtful behavior of another person no matter what your gender. I was talking with a friend about his feelings of self-blame after being in a toxic relationship. He was told that he was at fault by the abusive woman and because of his ability to be accountable to his own part in things became convinced that even though logically it could not be his fault he must still be to blame. This issue with men seems to go deeper because of the way they are taught by society as well as the lack of support surrounding emotional abuse toward men. Why is this? The issue is complicated.
Female Abusers Fly Under the Radar.
Female abusers may be more prominent than you’d expect. This video goes into detail about toxic women and their impact on their victims. Any of that sound familiar to you?
Men Are Taught Their Feelings Don’t Matter.
Men seem to be taught that their feelings do not matter and when abuse happens to them in a relationship and it is somehow their own fault. Women who are abused are also taught it is their fault, especially with narcissists, however, it seems men have a secret shame they also carry about what it means to be a man and experience their emotions around abuse. Male survivors tell me that even though men recognize the abuse, they lack the support needed to truly personally acknowledge it and leave the situation. Friends may likely say you are weak and should just stand up to the abuser.
Good Men Take Care of Their Wives, Right?
Or in the case of a man with a narcissistic woman, the message might be something like “ a happy wife is a happy life” leaving the man with the belief that he has to accept the behaviors, that this somehow is normal. Men have told me they use avoidance or shut down in order to cope, pushing their own feelings aside to “ keep the peace”. Having very few outlets for being heard leaves a lot of men totally invalidated. As an example of what I am talking about, another male survivor of abuse told me, “Many men have this false thought that as a man they aren’t allowed to speak up about abuse. They fear they will be shunned and laughed at and told they “let it” happen. This is, unfortunately, a stigma that is very hard to remove.”
Men Who Speak Up Might Be Invalidated.
Men who have survived narcissistic abuse face the problem of when speaking out about the abuse they have suffered, people often do not believe them. What can be frightening at times is that people instead believe they, the man, are the abuser. It is a challenge for people to see at times that being screamed at and devalued by any gender is abuse including when it happens to men, and this can be incredibly invalidating and demoralizing for male victims of narcissistic abuse. Worse, invalidation is one of the most painful parts of this kind of abuse in general – so not being heard or believed can be especially traumatic for men who have been abused by females or any partner in relationships.
You Are Not Alone
There are so many things that I can not write and even as I am writing this I struggle to say all that I feel needs to be said. In order to help men who have survived narcissistic abuse by any person in their life, know you are not alone and your feelings matter, your experience matters. The delicate nature of feelings for both men and women makes it very difficult to talk openly about this. Some men find there is no support, not from family or friends when they mention the issues that are facing.
Your Abuse Experience is Valid.
The message I would like to give to men is this. Your experience is valid. Your feelings around that experience are real and they matter. Most of all though, you did not deserve abuse. Think of the abuse in reverse ( man abusing woman) it would be blatantly unacceptable on all levels. We know with the complexity of narcissistic abuse that in almost all situations the abuse can be covert and very difficult to be recognized by anyone outside of the relationship, This is not to minimize the abuse women also face but instead to illustrate the challenges men face when speaking about the abuse they have lived with.
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Helpful Articles & Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors
- Narcissistic Altruism: The Gift That Keeps On Taking
- Shocking Truth: This is Why Even Very Smart People Can Be Gaslighted
- Toxic Love: 44 warning signs that you’re being emotionally abused
- Codependent-Toxic: Portrait of a Narcissist’s Significant Other
- Take Back Your Life: How to Control a Narcissist
- Take Back Your Life: Stop Letting Your Narcissist Parents Control You, NOW!
- Love a Narcissist? Stop Gaslighting in its Tracks With This Foolproof Trick
- Help for Victims of Narcissism and Gaslighting
- Let’s Talk About You: 10 Signs YOU Might Be a Narcissist
- Triangulation: Why you should never try to fix an argument for a narcissist
- Toxic Relationship? How to Stop Feeling ‘Dead Inside’
Lise Colucci is an intuitive healer and certified life coach, as well as a certified narcissistic abuse recovery coach. She is a long-time admin and mentor for the SPAN Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Group, actively helping survivors of narcissistic abuse in the expansive community to learn and heal.