Narcissists don’t have to be enraged to become violent, although anger is often why they resort to physical abuse. My ex-husband is a Malignant Narcissist who didn’t need a reason to plow his fist into my head. He just did it whenever the urge struck.
That’s not to say all narcissists are violent, but those who are should be taken seriously. Narcissism exists on a continuum, ranging from healthy to pathological.
People at the high end of the spectrum are most likely to be physically abusive, and to find pleasure in acts of violence. In fact, research shows that people scoring high in narcissism and psychopathy reported having positive feelings when looking at sad faces.
Once They Become Physically Abusive, Narcissists Don’t Stop.
Covert narcissists hide their propensity for violence by wearing a mask of gentility. They are mild-mannered and nonaggressive, but appearances are deceiving. Although they may not engage in violence themselves, they’ll try to convince someone else to do their dirty work.
My former business partner was this type. He looked like a kind great-grandfather, was a deacon in his church, and had a soft, gentle voice. The ever-present smile on his face was a facade, disguising the monster inside. More than once, he tried to hire someone to kill a former employee, business rival, and his girlfriend’s husband.
Malignant Narcissists are the type most likely to turn violent, especially toward their partners, and once they start, they don’t stop. Christine Hammond, author of the bestselling book, The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook, says that physical abuse always escalates, eventually resulting in extreme injury or even death.
Narcissists use five methods to physically abuse their partners:
Intimidation is a tactic used by a violent narcissist to bully and threaten his partner. By standing over her or getting in her face and refusing to back off, he frightens her into submission. He punches holes in walls and slams doors to let her know he’s capable of physically harming her.
Isolation limits the victim’s ability to escape in dangerous situations. She may be trapped in a car while he drives recklessly. Or he might expose her to severe weather conditions, or environmental hazards, with no way to escape. If she’s ill or injured, he’ll delay seeking medical treatment. All these things force her to rely completely on the abuser.
With restraint, the narcissist may block the doorway to prevent her from leaving, grab her forcefully, tie her up, or lock her in a room. This causes a feeling of entrapment or imprisonment without escape. At this point, the isolation and restraint become a promise of additional physical aggression. When these things happen, the next two things are not far behind.
Aggression is any physical act which results in pain, discomfort, or injury, including:
- Arm Twisting
- Hair Pulling
- Striking with objects
- Force-feeding, including drugs
Endangerment is extremely dangerous for the victim. At this point, intimidation and isolation are so commonplace, she is numb to their effects. When a narcissist realizes he no longer commands the same level of fear, the attacks escalate. He verbally threatens her life, those of other family members, and even themselves, with no moral issues stopping him from following through.
The narcissist will always blame his partner for his violent behavior and will not stop using force once it’s started. He’ll merely find more ways to justify his brutality.