Have you ever found yourself wondering why the narcissist in your life seems to hurt you on purpose?

If so, you’re definitely not alone. In fact, during our last focus group, a community member asked, “Why does she (the narcissist) hurt me on purpose?”

So, I looked into it, and here’s everything I found.

The reason a narcissist will deliberately hurt you is:

  • To maintain control and power.
  • To feed their ego.
  • To provoke a reaction
  • To avoid accountability. 
  • They might have sadistic traits.
  • To regulate their emotions.
  • To reinforce their victim narrative.

In this post, I will guide you through these reasons to help you understand why narcissists often hurt people on purpose.

If you have or currently are experiencing narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse for help.

1) To Maintain Control and Power

A narcissist might deliberately hurt you to maintain control and power in the relationship.1  

You see, by hurting you, they keep you unsure and off-balance, making it easier for them to dictate how things go. 

This could be through putting you down, making you doubt your worth, or even scaring you with anger outbursts. 

A narcissistic woman making someone else doubt their worth.

The idea is to make you feel so small and dependent that you won’t think you can manage without them or challenge their authority. 

This control feeds their need to feel superior and in charge, ensuring that you remain under their influence and are unlikely to stand up to them.

2) To Feed Their Ego

Another reason narcissists deliberately hurt others is to feed their ego.2 

Imagine someone needing to win every game, not just to have fun but to prove they’re better than everyone else. 

For narcissists, making someone else feel bad can falsely boost their sense of self-worth. 

By criticizing, belittling, or even betraying you, they create situations where they appear strong, superior, or desirable.

This behavior reassures them of their value, especially when they feel insecure or challenged. 

It’s a way to prop up their fragile self-esteem3 by putting others down, reinforcing their deluded self-image of being unmatched and deserving of admiration at the expense of those around them.

Suggested Reading: Do Narcissists Have Low Self-Esteem?

3) To Provoke a Reaction

Narcissists often deliberately hurt others to provoke a reaction, which they then use to their advantage.4 

It’s similar to someone poking a bear just to see it roar, except in this case, the “roar” can be any emotional response that the narcissist can exploit—be it anger, sadness, or confusion. 

A survivor of narcissistic abuse exploding in anger because of being provoked by the narcissist.

By eliciting strong emotions, they affirm their ability to influence and manipulate those around them, which in turn reinforces their sense of control and power. 

This tactic, known as narcissistic baiting, can also serve as a twisted form of entertainment or satisfaction for the narcissist, as it provides them with evidence of their impact on others. 

Moreover, your reaction can be twisted and used against you, making you appear unstable or overreactive, thereby undermining your credibility and further isolating you from support.

4) To Avoid Accountability

Deliberately causing harm can also be a tactic used by narcissists to avoid accountability for their actions.5 

By shifting the focus onto your emotional response, they can create a narrative where you are the one at fault for overreacting or being too sensitive, diverting attention from their initial wrongdoing. 

It’s a bit like a magician using misdirection; while everyone is focused on the reaction, the narcissist’s original action is pushed into the background, forgotten or dismissed. 

This strategy allows them to dodge responsibility, maintain the upper hand in the relationship, and continue their behavior unchecked, all while making you doubt your perceptions and reactions.

If you need help with anything related to narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

5) They Might Have Sadistic Traits

Some narcissists deliberately hurt others because they possess sadistic traits, taking pleasure in seeing others in pain or discomfort.6 7

This is beyond just wanting control or feeling superior; it’s about finding joy in someone else’s suffering. 

Imagine someone dismantling a toy not to understand how it works but simply to break it. 

For a narcissist with these tendencies, causing emotional or physical hurt is a source of amusement or satisfaction. 

It reaffirms their power over others in the most direct and cruel way, by witnessing how their actions directly impact another person’s well-being. 

This behavior is particularly dangerous because the harm they inflict isn’t a means to an end (like control or avoidance of accountability) but an end in itself, making them unpredictable and especially harmful to those around them.

6) To Regulate Their Emotions

Narcissists might also deliberately hurt others as a way to regulate their own emotions.8 

By projecting their feelings of being unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, or weak onto someone else, they temporarily relieve themselves of these burdensome emotions. 

A narcissist projecting their feelings of being unlovable and inadequate onto someone else.

It’s like offloading heavy luggage onto someone else to carry. 

In their minds, making you feel these negative emotions instead allows them to distance themselves from their own vulnerabilities. 

Through belittling, demeaning, or otherwise hurting you, they create a scenario where you appear to be the one with these flaws, not them. 

This projection acts as a defense mechanism, protecting their fragile ego from confronting painful truths about themselves and maintaining their deluded self-image of perfection and superiority.

7) To Reinforce Their Victim Narrative

Narcissists might also hurt you to reinforce a narrative where they are the victim, despite being the perpetrators of harm. 

By provoking you into a defensive or emotional response, they can twist the situation to portray themselves as the ones being mistreated. 

This manipulation tactic is similar to someone starting a fire only to blame someone else for the damage it causes. 

Through this victim narrative, the narcissist seeks sympathy and validation from others, diverting attention away from their abusive behavior.9 

This not only confuses and disorients you but also can sway the opinions of friends, family, or even professionals, such as therapists or law enforcement, making it more challenging for you to stand up for yourself.

This strategic victimhood plays into their need for attention and affirmation while further entangling you in their web of manipulation.

If you are ready to be more than a victim of narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.


Thank you so much for reading!

I hope this article has helped you understand the reasons why narcissists often deliberately hurt those around them.

Now, I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever found yourself on the receiving end of such deliberate hurt by a narcissist? What impact did it have on your life and well-being?

What strategies have you employed or found effective in dealing with a narcissist’s harmful behavior, and how have they helped you?

Or perhaps you’re currently seeking advice or support in managing a relationship with a narcissist and are unsure where to turn.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Our Latest Articles

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. National Domestic Violence Hotline. Why People AbuseAbuse is never okay. Learn why people abuse. National Domestic Violence Hotline. https://www.thehotline.org/identify-abuse/why-do-people-abuse/ ↩︎
  2. Carrie Askin. (2015. October, 27). Five Reasons People Abuse Their Partners. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/hurt-people-hurt-people/201510/five-reasons-people-abuse-their-partners ↩︎
  3. Zeigler-Hill, Virgil, Erin M. Myers, and C. Brendan Clark. “Narcissism and self-esteem reactivity: The role of negative achievement events.” Journal of Research in personality 44.2 (2010): 285-292. ↩︎
  4. Christine Hammond. (2017. March, 22). 13 Reasons Why People Abuse. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/pro/exhausted-woman/2017/03/13-reasons-why-people-abuse#1 ↩︎
  5. Red Flags To Look For In An Abusive Personality. https://www.med.unc.edu/beacon/wp-content/uploads/sites/598/2018/03/redflagabusivepersonality.pdf ↩︎
  6. Rogier, Guyonne, et al. “Pathological narcissism and sadistic personality: The role of rivalry and malicious envy.” Personality and Individual Differences 205 (2023): 112097. ↩︎
  7. Staff, H. (2008, November 23). The Narcissist as Sadist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, March 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/malignant-self-love/the-narcissist-as-sadist ↩︎
  8. Loeffler LAK, Huebben AK, Radke S, Habel U, Derntl B. “The Association Between Vulnerable/Grandiose Narcissism and Emotion Regulation”. Front Psychol. 2020 Oct 15;11:519330.  ↩︎
  9. Hilary I. Lebow. (2022. May, 20). How People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) Play the Victim. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/health/narcissist-delusion ↩︎

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.