The superglue that keeps many narcissistic relationships in place is narcissistic rage. It’s intensity and unpredictability creates an environment that is plagued with fear, doubt, anxiety and confusion, which keeps victims of narcissistic abuse trapped within the abuse cycle for months, years, and even decades. 

It can be SHOCKINGLY difficult to identify narcissistic rage because it can manifest in so many different ways. But another issue one may run into is the minimization of narcissistic rage. That’s right, many narcissistic relationships are kept in place because the victim has been manipulated into justifying, normalizing, rationalizing, and/or minimizing the rage.

One of the biggest reasons why narcissistic rage gets justified, rationalized, normalized and minimized is because of a lack of knowledge of what it represents. I want you to engrave this quote from the Netflix series Maid into your brain, “Before they bite, they bark. Before they hit you, they hit near you.” 

It is a really important quote to remember because there are so many people who find themselves in all different types of abusive relationships but remain in because they minimize the severity of the situation they’re in. 

Victim of narcissistic abuse rationalizing the narcissist's abusive behavior because of her rough past.

The rationalization, justification, normalization, and/or minimization of abuse is a HUGE issue in the domestic violence realm. So, for this article we conducted a survey among 100 survivors of narcissistic abuse to enable readers to grasp a comprehensive understanding of why it is SO IMPORTANT to acknowledge the red flags and refuse to rationalize, justify, normalize, and/or minimize abuse.  

Survey: What Happens During Narcissistic Rage?

The purpose of this survey was to illuminate the spectrum that narcissistic rage is on and how progressive it can be. We started this survey out by breaking narcissistic rage into five sections:

  1. Physical Violence A
    • Includes but is not limited to throwing objects, punching walls, breaking windows, slamming doors, driving in an aggressive manner.
  2. Physical Violence B
    • Includes but is not limited to scratching, pushing, shoving, grabbing, biting, choking, shaking, slapping, punching, hitting, burning, use of a weapon, use of restraint or one’s body against another person, and locking someone in the closet/room.
  3. Psychological Violence
    • Includes but is not limited to expressive aggression (e.g., humiliating and degrading), coercive control (e.g., limiting access to things or people, and excessive monitoring of a person’s whereabouts or communications), threats of physical or sexual violence, control of reproductive or sexual health, and exploitation of a person’s vulnerability (e.g., immigration status or disability).
  4. Sexual Violence
    • Includes but is not limited to forced, alcohol/drug-facilitated or unwanted penetration, sexual touching, or non-contact acts of a sexual nature. A perpetrator forcing or coercing a victim to engage in sexual acts with a third party also qualifies as sexual violence.
  5. Neglect 
    • Includes but is not limited to failure to provide sufficient supervision, nourishment, or medical care, or the failure to fulfill other needs for which the victim cannot provide themselves, or the silent treatment.

By separating narcissistic rage into five sections we were easily able to track how many of the participants experienced multiple different forms of narcissistic rage and this is what we found. 

Key to Understand the Pie Chart Below:

  • Category 5 means that 10% of the participants experienced all 5 types of narcissistic rage.
  • Category 4 means that 38% of the participants experienced 4 types of narcissistic rage.
  • Category 3 means that 41% of the participants experienced 3 types of narcissistic rage.
  • Category 2 means that 11% of the participants experienced 2 types of narcissistic rage.
Narcissistic rage survey pie chart

A Deeper Look at the Significance of Neglect in Narcissistic Relationships

75/100 of the participants reported that they experienced category 5 which is neglect: failure to provide sufficient supervision, nourishment, or medical care, or the failure to fulfill other needs for which the victim cannot provide themselves, or the silent treatment.

This is a very important detail of the survey to pay attention to because one of the most common things that get neglected by those suffering narcissistic abuse is their physical and mental health (medical care).

Why is this important? 

One of the reasons that people with narcissistic personalities are able to be abusive for YEARS without anyone else on the outside of the relationship sensing that something is not right is because narcissistic abuse has a horrifying effect on your health which has a negative impact on your perceived credibility to those around you.

How is this possible? Let’s look at Brie’s story for some clarity. 

“My mental health was atrocious. I WAS drinking more, because I felt so trapped. Nothing I did made it better, and truly felt there was no way out. I was suicidal and it showed. I did not take care of myself. At times I couldn’t eat or sleep. So I would either cry myself to sleep every night or drink until I passed out. Plus, I didn’t understand the manipulation that was happening, so I would constantly be trying to figure out what was happening. So basically, I WAS a crazy person.” – Brie Robertson

The difference between the two photos is MIND BOGGLING. On the right you have the beautiful, energetic, motivated, and happy person that everyone knew for the better part of seventeen years. On the left you see the depressed, suicidal, lost, and hopeless woman who was subjected to 17 years of abuse by a covert narcissist. 

So, what do you think happened when Brie was finally able to acknowledge the abuse and reach out for help? Her abuser would use her appearance against her. He would tell friends that she was bipolar and he would tell the mutual family members and doctors that she was abusing substances. 

When you combine the drastic change in her appearance, the isolation, silence, and manipulation that narcissistic abuse brings, people around her have no choice but to essentially choose who looks more believable. The charming, charismatic, and intelligent narcissist or the depressed, lost, and hopeless woman who didn’t know she was being abused so neither did those around her. 

Every Participant Experienced Psychological Violence From Their Abuser

100/100 of the participants in our survey reported that they experienced psychological violence, 85/100 of them reported that it was the first form of rage they experienced, and 65/100 mentioned that the psychological violence manifested in either coercive control or the exploitation of one’s vulnerabilities. 

We think this is really valuable information because one of the most common things that gets overlooked in the beginning stages of narcissistic relationships is their incessant need for your attention and rage when they don’t get it. 

“I remember when we first started dating my narcissistic ex would always show up unannounced. I thought it was really cute because he would come with flowers and gifts but looking back, it was so controlling. Sometimes, because I didn’t know he was coming, he would show up and I wouldn’t be where I said I was. Like if I had gone to the store for something and I knew I’d be home soon, I would just say that I was home. When I wasn’t where I said I was he would get so angry, break things, and storm off. Instead of seeing it for what it was, I blamed myself because I felt like I lied to him.” – Claire

Where this gets really alarming is that out of the 100 participants who experienced psychological violence, 96 of them experienced either physical A or physical B violence as well.

Sexual Violence in Narcissistic Relationships

34/100 of the participants reported that they experienced sexual violence as a result of narcissistic rage. According to WebMD, the four signs of a sexual predator,  a person who seeks out sexual contact with another person in a predatory or abusive manner, are the following:

  • Someone Who Manipulates Others to Create Dependency and Intimacy
    • “A sexual predator may begin manipulating their chosen victim to create dependency and intimacy. In the beginning, they may be very attentive, showering the individual with gifts, praise, phone calls, and texts.”
  • Using Manipulative Language
    • “They may insult or mock the victim on their behavior, appearance, clothes, friends, or other parts of their personal life. When challenged on this behavior, they may lie and twist the information, making the victim feel as though they are at fault. They may repeatedly focus on their own feelings in order to make the victim feel guilty for hurting them.”
  • Someone Who Pushes Healthy Boundaries
    •  “This behavior may begin with seemingly innocent touches on the back, hand, or leg. But it may escalate to inappropriate touching on the thigh, near the genitals, on breasts, or even fondling without the person’s consent.”
    • “If the predator is already in a relationship with the victim, they may cross pre-established boundaries or fail to ask for consent. They may use manipulation to push the person to carry out tasks they are not comfortable with.”
  • High Levels of Jealousy and Controlling Behavior
    • “A sexual predator may be jealous and controlling around friends, family members, or other romantic interests. They may monitor the victim’s social media activity, personal life, and day-to-day activities.”
    • “This can be taken a step further, to the point where the predator becomes controlling. They may seek to limit the victim’s contact with others, especially those of the opposite sex.”

32/34 of the participant who reported that they experienced sexual violence as a result of narcissistic rage also reported that they experienced psychological violence and either physical A or physical B violence.

This was really alarming because the criteria that WebMD gave for a potential sexual predator is congruent with MANY narcissistic behavior patterns (gaslighting, narcissistic rage, scapegoating, intimacy avoidance etc.) and the experiences of 32/34 of the participants who reported being sexually abused by the narcissist in their life.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

It’s really important to understand every single narcissist on the planet has the same underlying characteristics: controlling, manipulative, insecure need for power, charming, charismatic, intelligent, prone to rage and so on. 

It’s important that you don’t minimize your situation simply because it hasn’t gotten physical yet. “Before they bite, they bark. Before they hit you, they hit near you.” 

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References:

Signs of a Sexual Predator