I believe either unresolved issues stemming from his childhood or some psychological disorder (or both) precluded my Ex’s abusive behavior. In other words, his abuse of me in the relationship was subsequent and secondary to this.
This is significant to note because it exposes the fact that the victim/target of abuse is NOT to blame for the abuser’s behavior and that the abuser behaves the way (s)he does due to issues that existed or incidences that happened before the two met and which have nothing whatsoever to do with the victim/target. Abusers tend to BLAME their victims for the abuser’s behavior. They like to attempt to make the target of their abuse the responsible party for the abuse, when in fact, the abuser him/herself is the one who is solely responsible for his/her behavior – not the victim. Abusers are typically intellectually (though not emotionally) very intelligent and the twists of logic they use to make someone else responsible for their behavior can sound very plausible! This often can be very convincing to the target/victim of abuse, who then will readily take the blame/responsibility for the abuser’s behavior, even though (s)he has nothing to do with it.
I’ve bolded those traits that apply to the Ex below, and underlined those which were particularly notable in his personality. Your own abuser may have a different assortment of traits from those listed but they all add up to the fact that if someone you’re involved with displays around 5 or so of them – they are probably a narc or they behave very much like one. Narcissism is a difficult disorder to diagnose and I’m not qualified to make such diagnoses – however, narcissistic behavior that negatively affects a person’s relationships to this extent are a problem in that person’s life (and to those (s)he abuses) – diagnosis or none. Thus, it is useful to have a very basic understanding of them in the interest of recognition and avoidance in the future.
An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:
* Feels grandiose and self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);
* Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;
* Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);
* Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply);
* Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favourable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations;
* Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends;
* Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others;
* Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her;
* Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV). Washington, DC:
American Psychiatric Association.
Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited by: Sam Vaknin, Narcissus
Publications, Skopje and Prague, 1999, 2001.