Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist
“The best strategy for Targets of a Narcissists Blame is to take a very Assertive Approach – to quickly provide credible factual information to the divorce court and to try to be as perfect as possible in every way during the divorce court process.”
“You must rely more on exposing the false statements and serious misbehaviors of the Narcissist and the truth about you in response to each major false allegation. Evidence and credibility win in the long run against a Narcissist.”
“The way to survive and win in divorce court when your opponent is a Narcissist, is with verifiable, clear-cut facts. This is usually in the form of documents, credible witnesses, and knowledgeable experts/evaluators.”
“Do not tell others that you have diagnosed your spouse as a Narcissist. You are not qualified to do so, and this escalates resistance to any cooperation whatsoever. You may discuss “possible patterns” with a therapist or evaluator. But let the evaluator make the diagnosis that he or she is a Narcissist or explain the pattern to the court without giving it a name.”
“I use the analogy that you can’t bounce a ball off sand. The more they try to get your attention by bouncing the ball, if you’re sand, they have to keep bending over to pick up the ball. They basically run out of energy. Then they move over to the pavement (which is somebody else) and start bouncing the ball off of them. The more you don’t have any contact and become the sandbox, the better. You have to have some contact regarding your child’s welfare and medical issues etc. But it’s important to be as brief as possible, one or two sentences at most, preferably by email.”
“If you share parenting with a Narcissist, develop a stable, arms-length relationship that is not too rejecting nor too intimate with your “ex.” Support an appropriate relationship between your children and your ex Narcissist so that he or she does not feel constantly threatened with feelings of loss or inferiority. Keep record of events that could be useful if you return to divorce court. Breaking up is hard to do especially from a Narcissist. The more you educate yourself, obtain support, avoid actions that make you a target, and take an assertive approach, the better off you will be in this difficult journey.”
“In some cases, Targets have said later on that they would have given in to a Narcissist s early financial demands if they had realized how much time and money divorce court can cost. I don’t necessarily recommend this, but it is something that should be considered in each case – except when the physical and mental health of a child is at stake. On the other hand, you must consider the long-term effects of conceding to a Narcissists’ demands. In many cases, this simply reinforces a Narcissists distorted thinking and they will expect more and more concessions in the future. A key factor to consider in answering this question is whether the disputed issue is a narrow and small one that may be resolved by one financial settlement. If there are no children and you do not expect a future relationship with the Narcissist, it may be wise to make a settlement for an amount you can live with and get the battle over quickly. In fact, you may save money in the long run.”
Are you willing to tell all about your relationship with the DIVORCE – The Real Truth, The Hidden Dangers Surviving Deception, Betrayal and a Narcissist? It is common for targets to want to hold back on exposing all of this misbehaviour. You may be worried that confronting the Narcissist will escalate them, while holding back on negative feedback has calmed him or her down in the past. (You also may have engaged in behaviour with the Narcissist you are not proud of and do not want to expose.) However, if the Narcissist has already engaged you in a battle, you will need to present all of the necessary information that will help the court understand what is going on. You must be willing to expose all of this information if you intend to succeed at court.”
“Confronting a Narcissist in divorce court can take a few months or many years. It can cost a lot, in terms of time, money and emotional distress. But it often costs less if you fight hard at the start. It helps to know this and to be prepared for anything.”
“In divorce court, the goal is to make a decision. Once a decision is made, the issue is resolved and the court moves on. Decisions are based on persuasion in the adversary process. The more persuasive party (or their attorney) will prevail, and the least persuasive will lose.”
About The Author
William A. Eddy, Attorney, Mediator and Clinical Social Worker and Randi Kreger
DIVORCE – The Real Truth, The Hidden Dangers Surviving Deception, Betrayal and a Narcissist
- Ann Bradley, M.A.
“Prepare for the Narcissists lies. Have an answer. Be bold. You may have the truth on your side, but the Narcissist has no empathy and will destroy you with lies. Find a way to get the truth out that will show the lies up. There is always a lie you can build on. Take their lie and show how it leads to another and another.”
“Find a way to make sure your narcissist is getting something out of the negotiations that he wants. He has to feel he is winning. If he feels like he is losing, the litigation will continue and be used as revenge.”
By R. Lundy Bancroft
An abuser/Narcissist focuses on being charming and persuasive during a custody dispute, with an effect that can be highly misleading to Guardians ad Litem, court mediators, judges, police officers, therapists, family members, and friends. He can be skilled at discussing his hurt feelings and at characterizing the relationship as mutually destructive. He will often admit to some milder acts of violence, such as shoving or throwing things, in order to increase his own credibility and create the impression that the victim is exaggerating. He may discuss errors he has made in the past and emphasize the efforts he is making to change, in order to make his partner seem vindictive and unwilling to let go of the past.
An abuser’s/Narcissist s desire for control often intensifies as he senses the relationship slipping away from him. He tends to focus on the debt he feels his victim owes him, and his outrage at her growing independence. (This dynamic is often misread as evidence that batterers have an inordinate “fear of abandonment.”) He is likely to increase his level of intimidation and manipulation at this point; he may, for example, promise to change while simultaneously frightening his victim, including using threats to take custody of the children legally or by kidnapping.
Excerpts from: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Author Lundy Bancroft
He is careful not to create the impression he’s bad-mouthing her, while subtly planting his poisonous seeds. He might say, for example: “She’s telling people now that I was abusive to her, and that really hurts me. It’s gotten so I don’t want to show my face places ’cause of what she’ saying. I’m not keeping any secrets; I’ll tell you right out that I did slap her one day, which I know is wrong. She has this thing about saying that my mother is a ‘whore’ cause she’s been divorced twice, and that really gets to me, but I know I should have handled it differently.
When he leaves, her parents find themselves ruminating “Gee, she didn’t mention anything about insulting his mother in that incident. That makes it a little different. She can have quite a mouth on her. I’ve noticed that myself. He shouldn’t slap her, but he’s obviously feeling guilt about it now. And he’s willing to admit that it’s partly his fault, while she blames it all on him. She does that in conflict with us sometimes, she doesn’t realize it takes two to tango.”
The part about the woman calling his mother a degrading name may never have even happened: my clients smoothly make up stories to cover their worst incident. But whether or not he’s telling the truth is almost beside the point; he is playing to the societal value, still widely held, that a man’s abuse toward a woman is significantly less serious if she has behaved rudely herself.
When an abused mother does break up the relationship society tends to do an abrupt about-face. Suddenly she hears from court officials and from other people:
“Well, maybe he abused you, but that’s no reason to keep the children away from him. He is their father, after all.”
”Don’t you think your own resentments are clouding your judgement about your children?”
”Don’t you believe that people ever change? Why don’t you give him the benefit of the doubt?” In other words, a women can be punished for exposing children to a man in one situation, but then punished for refusing to expose them to the same man in another situation. And, the second case is potentially even more dangerous than the first, because she is no longer able to keep an eye on what he does with the children or to prevent the postseparation excalation that is so common in abusive fathers.”
Batterers/Narcissist s naturally strive to turn mediation and GAL processes to their advantage, through the use of various tactics. Perhaps the most common is to adopt the role of a hurt, sensitive man who doesn’t understand how things got so bad and just wants to work it all out “for the good of the children.” He may cry in front of the mediator or GAL and use language that demonstrates considerable insight into his own feelings. He is likely to be skilled at explaining how other people have turned the victim against him, and how she is denying him access to the children as a form of revenge, “even though she knows full well that I would never do anything to hurt them.” He commonly accuses her of having mental health problems, and may state that her family and friends agree with him. The two most common negative characterizations he will use are that she is hysterical and that she is promiscuous. The abuser tends to be comfortable lying, having years of practice, and so can sound believable when making baseless statements. The abuser/Narcissist benefits to the detriment of his children if the court representative fails to look closely at the evidence – or ignores it – because of his charm. The Narcissist also benefits when professionals believe that they can “just tell” who is lying and who is telling the truth, and so fail to adequately investigate.
Batterers/Narcissist may continue their harassment of the victim for years, through legal channels and other means, causing periodic re-traumatizing of the victim and children and destroying the family’s financial position. Motions by abusers/Narcissist for custody or for increases in visitation are common forms of retaliation for things that he is angry about.