Emotional Rape

According to Wikipedia rape is:


Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration perpetrated against a person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or below the legal age of consent.[1][2][3] The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.[4]

Emotional rape is when a person is emotionally assaulted, where another person has intentionally emotionally perpetrated against a person without that person’s consent.  No one, unless they have experienced it or have studied this type of abuse can realise how severely traumatised the victim will be.   It is an attack on their personality/spirit/soul rather than their body, it is a very misunderstood trauma and often inflicted by primary care givers.  Emotional rape is far more complex than verbal abuse and it is only when we can discuss it openly and candidly that we can help people recover from this sort of despicable abuse.

The narcissist will employ a number of tactics to do this which include:

  • Lying
  • Gaslighting
  • Smear campaign
  • Constant criticism to your face
  • Scapegoating
  • Silent treatment
  • Narcissistic rage
  • Direct verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Stealing money or possessions
  • A multitude of non-verbal signals to let you know that they view you with utter distain and contempt

All of these deceitful bullying actions are done deliberately to destroy the self-esteem and confidence of the other person, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually or physically.  Emotional rape is, in short, an attempt at the systematic destruction of someone’s personality.  To control and dominate for their own personal gain, they enjoy hurting the other person because it makes them feel better about themselves and there may well be financial or some other sort gain in it for the rapist.  The fall out of emotional rape is absolutely savage and the trauma is so severe it can leave you feeling suicidal, feeling completely helpless and that you do not have enough self-esteem or energy to find a way out.

If you feel confused by the behaviour of another person, the likelihood is that you are being abused.  Direct and clear communication does not create confusion or leave you scratching your head wondering about what was just said or why the narcissist reacted so violently to such a benign situation.  Emotional rape’s purpose is to eradicate the self-respect and self-image of another person to leave that person vulnerable to abuse.

Emotional rape sounds very melodramatic, but the reality is that it is every bit as traumatic (if not more so) than sexual assault as it can frequently happen several times a day, day in and day out, year in year out.  The narcissist will literally suck the life out of the person they are abusing.

This is especially traumatic if you come from a narcissist family of origin because you look to your parent(s) for a sense of who you are.  Children are automatically hard wired to trust and to think that their parent(s) have their best interests at heart.  So if they say something bad about you either to you or behind your back you will automatically assume that you need to modify your behaviour to be accepted.  If your parent(s) give out mixed messages that are changed according to who is around, it is very confusing for the child because it is impossible to please the parent(s) as the script keeps changing.

Other tactics that parents use to emotionally rape their child are:

  • Lying
  • Constantly breaking promises
  • Telling the child that they are horrible/bad/unlovable
  • Refusing to take care of health and well-being of child
  • Ignoring or neglecting the child
  • Refusing to acknowledge any achievements
  • Expecting the child to parent their parent(s)
  • Refusing to let child participate in community or school activities
  • Blaming the child for being a child and having needs
  • Constantly soliciting gratitude from the child for all the sacrifices that they made for the child.
  • Humiliating in public
  • Putting child in physical danger
  • Subjecting child to constant bouts of narcissist rage
  • Being jealous/envious or in constant competition with child
  • Letting/encouraging siblings to bully one another
  • Shaming their child to control them

When you consider that you normally stay with your family of origin for at least 16 formative years, that is ample time to brainwash and do considerable emotional damage to a vulnerable child who is dependent on their parent(s) for their survival.

If you have been abused like this in childhood, the likelihood is that you will have very limited boundaries, the result of which is that you might easily be prey to another narcissist in adult life.    Being educated on the subject and listening to your body when it is screaming “NO” about someone, even though they are smothering you with compliments is a way to avoid this potential trap.

It is difficult to get support for having experienced emotional rape because others do not understand the concept.  The predominant question that I have asked throughout my research on narcissism is “Why would anyone even want to do that?” if you discuss the subject with people who have not had the experience of emotional rape they will find it very difficult or simply don’t want to believe you.

So, some of the side effects of emotional rape can be social anxiety, this is when a person experiences overwhelming anxiety in a social setting, especially where there is a large group such as a party.  It can mean that they dread social occasions that most people would consider fun.  They know that they “should” go, but there is no joy or excitement in anticipation of the event.

There are physical symptoms that go with social anxiety too such as blushing, sweating, going weak at the knees, wanting to vomit or just having a knot in your stomach.  There is also a high probability that you will suffer from insomnia, this can go on for days the result of which you are constantly tired and so your judgement is impaired, you tend to over react to stimuli, you cannot concentrate or stay focused and your short term memory becomes really bad.  The physical symptoms just increase the level of social anxiety such as having sweating arm pits and feeling unattractive to others and forgetting social engagements.

Social anxiety, which isn’t the only side effect of emotional rape can also cause low self-esteem and depression.  Frequently to try to reduce the effects of social anxiety people will often take anti-depressants, alcohol and or drugs.  Which begs the question: Aren’t we missing the point when dealing with addiction?  Surely we are (not very effectively) trying to treat the symptom and not the cause, by definition it has to be ineffective.

Emotional rape is a deliberate and systematic attack on another person to undermine and control that person.  The attack is on their personality and not their body.  The attack is on their love of life, self-respect and confidence.  Emotional rape for narcissists takes a lot less energy than sexual rape.  For a narcissist it doesn’t take much energy to fire of diminutive comments day in and day out, it is a relatively “light” way to destroy the other person.

Education is the way forward, but it is also very important to develop a support system, what you think happened to you, probably has happened to you.  Don’t try to explain to people who just don’t understand.  It will frustrate you and they might label you as a bit crazy, you are not, they just haven’t experienced what you have and find it hard to believe (or don’t want to).


Respect for narcissists


We have all been told on a regular basis that we should respect everyone.  The things that these great purveyors of broad over generalised statements forgot to add are:

  • If someone behaves badly towards you, showing “respect” for that person only encourages them and gives them permission to do it again. In fact it is very unwise.
  • If you are dealing with a narcissist respect can only come in the form of not doing them harm. It is imperative that you protect yourself from them.  So, if you are insulted or verbally attacked by a narcissist, you do not need to get all introspective and wonder if “they have a point”.  A narcissist can say anything and may very well say two polar opposites with in a very short space of time.  Showing respect for yourself, and to what you know, means that you do not need to follow up all of the crazy notions of the narcissist.  Hold on to what you know about yourself and your own experiences, you do not need to listen to them, nor do you need to defend your position or attack them back.  That is as far as respect can go with a narcissist, otherwise they will hurt you.
  • When you are communicating with a narcissist their words, body language, tone and facial expressions may well all contradict each other. Some people have “bad” body language (inconsistent with what they are saying), so it is easier to follow what they say rather than to try to interpret confused physical signals.  This is not a good idea with narcissists.  There is absolutely no stability in what a narcissist says, and as such, should not be taken seriously.
  • Respect is earned when people take responsibility and are accountable for what they say and do, narcissists do not. The highest and safest form of respect that you can offer them is to resist the temptation to harm them back.  If a toddler was rude to you, you would not try to punish him/her, and so it is with narcissists.  It is confusing because they are in an adult body, but that is where they are emotionally and developmentally.
  • A narcissist will defend their rudeness and abuse by saying that “YOU earn respect you cannot demand it”, it is just their pathetic excuse for defending their abhorrent behaviour.

Narcissists Friendship & Loyalty

Did you ever question whether or not a “friend” was actually a friend or did you have a niggling feeling that they were stabbing you behind your back, only called when they wanted something?  That they act in a friendly way to you but this only a means to an end.  They will flirt, charm and be completely engaged at the beginning and seem like they have to potential to be a great friend.  Once they have harvested the information that they want about you/from you they will disengage if they do not deem you to be useful to them anymore.

Narcissists do not make good friends because they are only showing up for what they can get out of the “relationship”.  They have absolutely no sense of loyalty and will drop the friendship in an instant if someone “better” turns up.  In other words, someone/ or something that they perceive can give them more.   Make them look “better”, offer them social standing/network, be better dressed/looking or indeed make them look virtuous in some way such as church or charities.

At the beginning they can seem absolutely charming, have many shared interests and values and look like a potentially good friend.  However, this is all completely insincere and done to “groom” you, make you like them.  If you are not famous, rich or powerful they will lose interest over time and will expect you to come and visit them, do all of the running in the relationship and make all of the effort.  They will be indifferent about anything going on in your life, interrupt you if you talk about anything that interests you and expect you to listen endlessly to them and be tolerant of their latest obsession.  They are not looking for a friendship like most of us see them, they are looking for your attention and any resources that they might be able to extract from you, by lies and deceit if they think that it would serve them better.

Loyalty doesn’t exist for them as they do not see other people as anything other than objects to be manipulated and mined for resources.  They can easily say vicious things about you behind your back.  However, narcissists do understand the concept of loyalty as they will expect is from you.

If you suspect that your “friend” is a narcissist ask yourself:

  • Do I feel better for having spent time in their presence?
  • What is my energy level like after being with them?
  • Did I just drive for an hour to see them and all they did was talk about themselves?
  • Did they ask about me?
  • If they did, did they wait for you to answer or get bored with what you were saying very quickly?
  • Narcissists see their friends as accessories to prop up their image, are you welcome to some events and not invited to others because you don’t have the right clothes or contacts?
  • Narcissists feel superior to other people and to maintain this feeling of superiority will devalue others (including you).
  • They will not be able to enjoy/sincerely celebrate any of your achievements and if someone else congratulates you, they will behave like you have stolen something from them.
  • Narcissists are cold and manipulative, even if they hide behind a mask. You will feel that you have been walked up a blind alley a lot of the time.  They are incapable of genuine warmth or even considering your needs.

“We have to recognise that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.”

Cornel West, Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life

Narcissists and the outside world

Narcissists do not really relate to the outside world.  They look for supply from the outside but filter all data that comes their way to fit in with their own model of how the world is.  In this way they are introverted.  The narcissist only presents their public image to the outside world and never their authentic self.  The only people who will see the true character of the narcissist are family members, partners and work colleagues.  This true character will flash on and off like a light depending on what they narcissist wants from the other person and how well they are serving them.

Due to the lack of access to their inner landscape a narcissist will be very quick to jump to conclusions about other people and situations with little or no information.   All data they receive is filtered by how they want it to be.  This can give them an “excuse” to feel wounded, neglected, self-righteous, entitled but most importantly superior.  However, this like all things with a narcissist is like quick sand and can change at any given moment.  Their judgemental nature is very strongly ingrained and they will frequently project their own negative attributes onto an innocent bystander.

The narcissist is never really sure of what is going on around them, they have a “feeling” that they are missing out on something but they are not sure what it is, they look at the way that other people relate to each other and it confuses them and can make them feel paranoid, as though other people are using a secret language that they don’t understand.  It is not a secret language, it is just one that they do not understand and it is composed of empathy, compassion, emotion and love.   They assume that everyone thinks like they do and will project negative intentions on to others where there are none.  If you are kind and generous to a narcissist for no apparent reason, they will get suspicious and think that you are trying to manipulate them or have slighted them in some way behind their back.  This is because behind all of their guff they have very low self-esteem and they tell people who they are rather than just being in the presence of others.  Their radar is constantly on high alert to make sure that they are projecting what they consider to be a “good” public image.  Their true and authentic self has been shut down since they were infants and they will be disconnected from themselves and others.  It is only when they feel under attack that their authentic infant self comes out.

A narcissist will decide what someone is and will try to force or coerce them into the role they have designated to them.  This can be all sorts of roles and is usually projection.  They can say to someone’s face “you are always criticising me”, you know that you are not always criticising them, it is the other way around, when you point this out they will say “see there you go again”.  If they want to “give” you a public image they will say something really nasty and hurtful to you in private and then say something to someone else like “s/he is always so angry, I don’t know what their problem is” when you bristle around them in the presence of others, of course this is the set up they were looking for and they will consider it a “win”.  If they see people laughing and joking together they will assume that they are being laughed at, even though they have not been privy to the conversation.  If they see people being affectionate towards one another they will assume that they are doing it to make the narcissist feel excluded.  If they see people having fun, they will assume that they are doing it to annoy them.  They assume that everything that they see or experienced has happened with them in mind.  This can include the weather, traffic jams, bad service in a restaurant and other peoples inter personal relationships.


Advice for lawyers/mediators about narcissists

There are several key indicators that your client has been abused by a narcissist.  The first one is that they are frightened of the person that they are trying to separate from.  If they have recently separated from their partner, they will want to do it as quietly as possible to not incur the wrath of their ex.   They have been badly bullied and their self-esteem will be low.  Narcissists are parasitical predators and they will have exploited their partner for the duration of the relationship this will have been emotional/psychological abuse but it can be financial and expecting their partner to do everything for them too.  They will actively target people who will give them a place to live, provide them with financial stability, have good social and business networks, cook and clean for them (or hire someone to do it) and other support activities such as doing all the accounts etc.  They will be furious that these benefits are being withdrawn and will fight to punish your client for having the audacity for denying them what they want (whatever the cost to your client or their children)

The narcissist may sound reasonable, despite the fact that everything s/he says is a lie. This person will do what they can to discredit your client, spread vicious rumours about him/her, attack their reputation, and use whatever means possible to make your client look bad. It doesn’t matter that none of it is true, and since they will do it all behind your clients back you will not know what you are defending him/her against.

The narcissist’s narrative is often believed by otherwise capable and competent professionals such as lawyers, mediators, judges and therapists. Most of us are just not prepared for the magnitude of the lies and the fact that the narcissist is totally indifferent to the emotional, financial and psychological damage that their behaviour has on their children, ex-spouse, family and friends.  The narcissist will usually pepper their lies with half-truths, which makes them all the more credible.

The narcissist is in court to win and the more damage they do the more powerful they feel.  They are not looking for a compromise and have absolutely no negotiation skills or the desire to find a mutually beneficial solution.

They will use manipulation to get what they want when the relationship comes to an end they will do everything in their power to destroy their ex psychologically, socially and financially.  If their destruction has an extreme negative impact on their children, they will consider it to be collateral damage.

They will do this by:

  • Lying
  • Playing the victim
  • Tears
  • Pretend to be devastated
  • Hiding their own financial resources
  • Try to drag out the separation process as long as possible to wear your client down both psychologically, emotionally and financially
  • They are going to actively work against finding a solution or compromise
  • They are in the “fight” to win and if it means financial ruin to both parties then that is what they will do, because the narcissist will be on the prowl for a new target the minute they know their current relationship is over, one who they can sponge off and suck dry like they did to your client
  • They love drama and will probably try to get the divorce to go to court, where they can be centre stage and show off their acting skills to a captive audience
  • They will lie under oath or get other people to lie for them (their witnesses may well believe the lies of the narcissist and think that they are telling the truth under oath)
  • Narcissists see themselves as being above the law and have no moral compass
  • Morality is for other people to use when dealing with them, not the other way around.
  • They will happily use children as pawns in a divorce if it serves their purpose without any consideration for the negative impact it might have on their own off spring
  • They will bully, brainwash and cajole their children in to supporting their stories
  • Even though it might not show on the surface, children of narcissistic parents are terrified of them. They can control their children with a glance or a facial expression without saying a word.  The child will have been trained from a very early age that this is a warning signal and the punishment will come later (when no one else is around)

It is important for your client to keep a diary of everything that has happened.  This is for the purpose of keeping the facts right, but also as a reference.  Someone who has been in a relationship with a narcissist has been very abused and may well freeze in a situation where they have to defend themselves or become completely confused, it is important not to project good intention onto the narcissist because there is none.  They will insist that there is, but that is another lie.

The narcissist will have consistently and deliberately isolated your client from any support network, so that they can exercise maximum control.   They will have made your client doubt themselves and their sanity to manipulate to their own advantage.  It will probably take a while to get the true story from your client and they may be reluctant to share everything or even be apologetic for having needs.  This is because they are confused as they will have been shut down on anything that does not suit the narcissists agenda, they may well be embarrassed for letting themselves be pushed around and they will probably be suffering from cognitive dissonance from what they know to be true and the narrative that they have been endlessly fed.


The narcissist will go on a smear campaign and may very well have turned family and friends against your client so that they cannot find reassurance or comfort in others.  Living with a narcissist is so toxic that it has a huge effect on the mental and physical health of your client, to the point where they might well be feeling suicidal.  They may want to give the narcissist what they want just to get away from them as they could be in a life or death situation.  They really are that toxic.  Charming and charismatic to others, but determined to destroy their ex.  The narcissist, because they do not feel many emotions can come across as calm and collected while your client might appear unstable in the eyes of the professionals, this is because they will have endured so much abuse and may well be suffering from CPTSD (Complex post-traumatic stress disorder), this is when a person experiences repeated traumatic events at the hands of an abuser.  It can manifest itself in insomnia, memory loss, exhaustion, difficulty concentrating and very low self-esteem.

Your client has been betrayed by someone they thought they loved and who loved them.  They will be grieving a relationship that they thought was real, but was not.  There is a lot of intense emotional “stuff”’ for a person leaving a narcissist, so they may well appear to be unstable (as the narcissist will have done everything within their power to destabilise them) and will have been messing with their meta-data, which will make them unsure of themselves.

NOTES if your client does have to go to court in a divorce 

It will be hard to prove what your client says in court as it is the word of your client against your ex’s.  It is really important that your client does not lose his or her cool, as their narcissist ex will be acting like they are trying to win an Oscar.  There are some useful things that can be done:

  • Advise your client not make eye contact with their ex at any time. They have been training them through intimidation and bullying to expect a rage reaction if anything is said that they don’t like.  It is important not to let them trigger fear, advise your client how to respond to the question that they have been asked, rather than react to the “you’ll pay for this” silent signals that they will give your client if they can make eye contact with them.
  • Advise them not look at their ex’s lawyer when answering their questions, they are looking for a win too. Not because they have an interested in “what is best for everyone concerned”, but because they have a vested interest in winning, as that improves the lawyer’s reputation (more clients/more money) and they will intimidate to get this result.   It is what is said that goes on court records, not where your client was were looking.  It might seem odd that not engage to in the normal body language/facial expression intercourse with their lawyer, but that is fleeting – what is said will remain on record.
  • If your client is feeling overwhelmed, dizzy, confused and does not feel that that they can answer questions in a way that is in their best interest (some lawyers are extremely aggressive), tell them to let you (the lawyer) know. You can agree on a sign to let them know that they are experiencing difficulties before your client takes the stand.
  • When your client’s ex starts to lie under oath, remind them not interrupt, call them a liar or make any noise. Ask your client to write down the lies that have been told and them to give it to you, or one of your legal team.  You (the lawyer) can intervene on their behalf, as there is no emotional investment and you will be capable of making a much more level headed rebuke.
  • Your client’s ex narcissist will try to play games in the court room, so it is important that your client appears as cool and collected as they can in the court room
  • Ask your client not to show blithe humour, it will not be appreciated by anyone and will mitigate against your client for being fickle and disrespectful of the legal process.
  • Advise your client to dress and speak respectfully, refer to the judge with the reverence they expect. Asserting a stance against them will only garner hostility



What is physical abuse when it doesn’t include physical contact?

Physical abuse by a narcissistic parent when there is no physical contact such a hitting or pushing can include:

  • Not comforting a child and making them feel safe when they are clearly showing physical and emotional signs of distress.
  • Ignoring or punishing pleas for solace when they have fallen and hurt themselves.
  • Denying the child’s expressions of feelings
  • Not listening to them when they express fear of some external influence (person, animal or situation) that poses a threat to them.
  • Keeping them up too late when they are clearly exhausted because the parents are enjoying themselves.
  • Not taking care of their medical needs when they are sick.
  • Not trying to understand why a child does not want to do something such as going to school or playing sports.
  • Not protecting their child when they are being bullied by a sibling or another child.
  • Not making sure that the child is wearing climate appropriate clothes or clothes that they feel comfortable in
  • In general, not making the child feel safe.

The effect of this sort of abuse is that the child becomes very reactive because the clear message from their parent(s) is that “what you want doesn’t matter and I can and will abandon you at any time if you make any demands on me”.  The result is that the child constantly feels insecure, unsafe and unloved.  This child has been brought up in a constant state of “danger management”, so feeling safe and secure is something that is completely foreign to them, this sort of neglectful abuse will have consequence right into adulthood.