10 Fears An Emotional Abuser Or Narcissist Uses To Disempower You

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by Annie Kaszina on April 11, 2017

An Emotional Abuser  Or Narcissist Is Harmful To Your Health

Being in a relationship with an emotional abuser or narcissist is harmful to your physical and mental health.

Why is that?

 It happens because an emotionally abusive partner, or narcissist, is hell-bent on creating someone whose world revolves around him – someone needy, codependent, and fearful.

In fact, the (not so hidden) intention of every emotional abuser or narcissist, is to paralyze you by subjecting you to constant fear and worry – about their behaviour, naturally enough.   Your world really is meant to revolve around them.

The partners (and victims) of an emotional abuser  or narcissist struggle to reconcile the man they fell in love with – who had so much potential – with the man they are thoroughly miserable with. They end up believing that the man who first captured their attention, and their affection, (aka, The Sample) is the real man. Whereas the guy who takes the floor subsequently (aka Mr Nasty) is actually an alien.

Is it too much to ask for The Sample to return?

Err… yes.  It absolutely is.  The Sample should have been representative of the Whole Man – if only, that is, The Sample had not been designed to mislead.

A lesson from the mousetrap

If you think of the early charm of the emotional abuser or narcissist, you would do well to think in terms of an old-fashioned mousetrap.

In order to get the mouse’s attention, you have to bait the trap. That nice piece of cheese (more – or less -cheesy behavior) looks so toothsome that you can hardly blame the unsuspecting mouse for falling for it. The mouse sees only the promise of the cheese. The person who lays the trap figures that a piece of cheese (which the mouse will hardly get to enjoy, anyway) is the necessary price of his desired outcome.

The moral of the mousetrap is this,

If you don’t know to look out for the mousetrap, you will end up deceived and trapped by a lousy piece of cheese.

Once a narcissist or abuser will use the cheese to rob you of your freedom.  Then, he’ll start deploying the 10 fears that WILL steal your life – for as long as you let them.

Fear #1 “You’re unlovable”.

Mr Incredibly Hard-To-Love tells you how unlovable you are often enough.  Plus, he proves it by his actions.  Actions really do speak louder than words.  You soon get the message loud and clear. So, you hide in the shadows of your life because you don’t feel lovable – especially if you have already heard that message before from a parent or sibling.

Fear #2 “You could never, ever manage on your own”.  

If he’s said that to you once, he’s probably said it a thousand times.  (Question: how do you tell the difference between an emotionally abusive man and a broken record? Answer: It’s much easier to silence a broken record.) In reality, that kind of damning judgement is no more and no less than what you should expect from an emotional abuser or narcissist.   He is hardly likely to validate your strengths and qualities. Still, you managed before you met him.  Plus, you’ve survived through the miserable years of being with him.  If you could do that, why do you need to believe you couldn’t make it without him?

Fear #3 “You’ll never find anyone as wonderful as him.” 

Really??!!  Given that he is an Emotionally Abusive Clone, there are thousands and thousands out there who are equally – albeit subtly differently – awful. The question should be not whether you can find someone half as wonderful as him but how you can avoid other ghastly men, more or less like him, in the future.

Fear #4 “Nobody else will ever want you”. 

All emotional abusers and narcissists work on the premise that they have been appointed spokesman for the World Federation of Emotional Abusers and Narcissists.   The truth is, he is too much of an idiot to see and value you. However, he does not speak for the whole of humanity.  He can’t.  Humanity is not his middle name.

Fear #5 “It’s too late for you”.  

You know that old saying: “Where there is life, there is hope”?  In Abuse World, the saying has been modified to: “Where there is abuse, there is Learned Hopelessness”.  But here’s the thing, if hopelessness can be learned, it can be unlearned.  You just have to find out how to do that.

Fear #6 “I’ll never get over it”.  

Some women do get over it, and go on the have wonderful lives, while others don’t.  What separates the two groups?  Not luck.  The difference hinges on being alive to the possibilities for change and growth that exist.  The women who get over an emotionally abuser or narcissist, do so because they take action.  Without getting support, and taking first one small step, and then another, beyond what you know, you will not discover Life outside Abuse World.

Fear #7 “He’ll be happy with someone else”. 

I don’t think so, somehow.   If he’s the re-coupling kind of abuser, most likely he’ll make it his mission to tell you that your successor is A-Wonderful-Woman-Who-Makes-Him-Happy.  But think about him for a moment.  Is he naturally a happy bunny?  When was he last a little ray of sunshine?

Fear #8 “There aren’t any decent men out there.”  

Out where?    If you stay within the confines of Abuse World, that’s absolutely true.  Abuse World is people by Abusers.  But you don’t have to live in that world.  You always have a passport to The Rest of the World.  But you have to take that passport, and use it.

Fear #9  “I might regret it, if I walk away.” 

Regret W-H-A-T?  Mostly, people regret what they did NOT do, rather than what they did do.  Why is that?  Because when you take action, two things happen: first, taking action validates you and your choices, and second, almost inevitably, it lifts you out of the psychological hole you were stuck in.

Fear #10  “What will people think?”  

Insensitive people will think insensitive thoughts.  Unkind people will think unkind thoughts.  Uncomprehending people will think uncomprehending thoughts.  Caring people will think caring thoughts.  Do you get the picture?  The People Who Think Negative Thoughts are carbon monoxide to you.  Why would you choose to be in that environment?

I grew up in a climate of intense fear. Then I married a gifted fear-monger. As a result, I spent years worrying myself sick about things that never happened.  I also spent years worrying about things that,

  1. I never foresaw but, still, managed to cope with adequately when they did happen.
  2. Happened anyway – and turned out to be blessings in disguise (such as my marriage falling apart).

In every instance, the learned fear served no useful purpose.

If you are struggling with any – or all – of these 10 fears, here’s what you need to do.

  • Turn your focus onto the things you have the power to change.
  • Forget about trying to change your emotional abuser or narcissist. That will never work. Instead,
  • Get the help you need to shrink your fears until they have no further hold on you, so you can
  • Get back in the driver’s seat of your own life.

Somewhere along the line, you will decide to shed your emotional abuser, or narcissist. However, you will do so with nary a regret or a backward glance. You’ll be enjoying life too much to care.  That is how it should be. Life begins when you finally show your abuser or narcissist the door.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Reta April 30, 2013 at 6:42 am

Annie, I cannot tell you how helpful your mailings are for me. It has been a year and I still feel the shame my abusive ex played out in public towards me. A month ago he revealed my replacement and I was surprised at my thought, which was as follows: “This poor unsuspecting soul, has no idea what she has gotten herself and children into.” To date, I am still fearful, ashamed and distant from my hometown due to this experience and do not visit often. My healing is continues via your mailings,self help materials, occasional therapy sessions and surrounding myself with supportive positive people. There is one question I struggle with and that is will I ever get passed the embarrassment? Thank you!


Janet April 30, 2013 at 6:58 am

The point you made about “when was the last time that you saw him naturally happy” connected for me….he will say he’s happy being apart…..but true enough it would be decades since I believe he was reallllly happy….I believe he’s found a way to survive and that’s living with “indifference”….no over-reactions but alas no joy either…..having to live one’s life very guarded is not being happy. Essentially that is how we as the women who live or have lived with these men have lived for years….guarded….not feeling able to be truly joyful. Being financially dependent, desiring our family to be “whole” and our marriage working is what kept me there….just the idea that he couldn’t possibly want our marriage not to survive and cause harm just like his own parent’s divorce did to him…..I realize now that despite how I saw him decades ago he is not me and has completely different thoughts than me….I don’t desire to live life with disenchantment and disillusionment….that’s not my “natural” state of being…..I love your comment about taking the “passport to the rest of the world” Annie…..in my husband’s case he wouldn’t say I couldn’t make it without him….he was quite the opposite telling me that I could do so much better than him….he told our daughter that I would end up doing things in my life that I never imagined….of course he likes to put the responsibility for everything on me….and no doubt in the end he will try and take credit for my changes….the woman who has lived with a passive aggressive man tries so hard to improve things that the bonus is we do end up reinventing ourselves…..in the end Annie is right that they never wanted us for who we were….there was at a deep level a lack of appreciation for who and what we are…..I know for me that is still a bit of a whole after 4 years of being separated….as my therapist said “what are you going to do if he never acknowledges you”……all he has ever acknowledged me for is being a great mother as he had a lousy one….of course the core of the problems with these men are their relationships with their mothers when they were young and we continue to pay for that problem…..taking action does validate oneself though you are right Annie….it does life one out of the “psychological” hole that one has been buried in for years…..I have found over the past 4 years as I opened the doors of life that I discovered me…..there is still the part of me however who can’t understand how another human being can’t realize that if he’s not willing to fight for his marriage and family then nothing will ever be worth it….I find that thought disturbing Annie….that another person doesn’t care about the impact of their behaviours on others or down the line….that they don’t care about the “legacy” they leave behind…that he doesn’t see the “bigger” picture. And the final point I fear I will always find disturbing with this type of man is that they have no concern about “destroying” a family….even 4 years later I still awake with that thought…..that he doesn’t value the family….his comment was that our daughter has a mother and a father….he doesn’t see the “indelible” scar that will always remain.


kris April 30, 2013 at 8:55 am

Hi Annie, your site and your goal are wonderful. I just have one question and I would really appreciate to hear your opinion. What if there are little children involve in the situation. How can I leave, knowing how it will be hard for them to grow without their father and they are very close to him. That’s one of my fear. I don’t want to hurt them in any ways but how can I escape then?


Annie April 30, 2013 at 9:51 am

Hi Kris,

When there are little children involved in the situation, it’s awful. There’s no way round that. Of course your children want to be close to their father, that’s only normal. So, now here’s the big BUT

If they grow up in an abusive home, guess what they will learn?

You won’t be able to shield them from what’s going on, no matter how hard you try.

We all do our level best to protect our children.

But it doesn’t work.

When children live in a toxic environment, they cannot help but be affected by the toxicity.

And, I promise you, that if you don’t hurt them, he will. Abusive fathers just do that kind of thing.

So, I fully understand your argument. It was my argument for a long, long time. But it’s not helpful.

A final question for you: how can you stay, knowing that they will suffer? They’ll hate knowing what he does to you. They’ll dread the fights. They’ll have role models that won’t teach them how to have healthy relationships, and it will happen because you are overcome by guilt.

If their father is a half-way decent father – and that may be a big “if” – then he can still be a father to them, even if he isn’t living with you. End of story.

I’m sure this isn’t what you wanted to hear – and I apologise for that. But it’s what needs to be said.

Very warm wishes for your happiness, and the happiness of your children,



Amy April 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Yes, Kris, I have thought that too. I have 7 children! Annie is right and it took a friend twice telling me that. The children are suffering and now he is playing them which is manipulation. Sometimes he is sweet to them, other times things set him off, so ‘he is in control’ of the household-very scary! I haven’t made the big leap yet either due to no income and no skills, which he knows. Little by little tho I am trying-not as fast as I would like but the best I can for now. Meanwhile we enjoy going places-not far enough away tho because I have so much fear and panic attacks due to this whole mess. I and my children can and will enjoy life, smile, laugh and carry on!


Penny April 30, 2013 at 2:48 pm

You know, I’ve thought about how self destructive it really is for a man to take it to that level though, trying to keep you in a state of fear. They obviously just don’t get what there are actually doing. You’re an angel Annie, thank you!


Annie May 1, 2013 at 1:34 am

Yes, Penny, they do get it. They, actually, totally get it.



suzie bilsland May 13, 2013 at 8:33 am

hello these n
blogs are very useful i was in abusive realship for 5 years tryin find ways to recover i just recently started councling but its only 6 sessions i dnt if goin to be enough there was so much mental abuse done im not sure where get proper help from could advice me please where i could?x


hannah grey August 24, 2013 at 3:30 am

i think you need to no more


Nannette May 23, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Just recently took a class called “You Can Heal Your Life”, based on the writing/book of Louise Hay. I learned that attracted my abusive spouse because my own mother abused me emotionally (through the silent treatment lasting for days, relegating me to my room for hours, slapping my face if I spoke rudely). I was afraid of her and still am, so I attracted a man who made me walk on egg shells, too.I suggest looking at yourself, as I had to . Recognize the pain from your family. Even negative attention from a parent gets recognized by us (anger magnets) as love. Forgive your parents for their abuse. Then, after that, start forgiving yourself for abusing yourself. Your own critical parent in you talks to you in the same manner, doesn’t it? I post affirmations about loving myself and read them daily. When you start loving yourself truly, the dynamic of your relationship will change. Either you will drive him away because he wont be able to control you anymore with his anger, or he might get angrier and more violent. I was told by a counselor, that it wasn’t IF, it was WHEN, he finally became physically violent. And” when” happened when I stopped caring about his anger outbursts. At the point of physical, leave at once. The court system is at your disposal and much help is available. Get your education and job skills asap.


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