It is very likely you know someone who exhibits narcissistic tendencies. The person who feels they are always right, lacks empathy for others, and is obsessed with power and control. Most of the time, we can ignore those tendencies, overlook them other times, and in many cases, just avoid the person entirely.
However, when you are married to a narcissist, or living with one, the emotional abuse that results can have damaging effects on not just the marriage, but your entire self-worth. The effects can leave you feeling powerless, submissive, and dependent on your abuser. You end up sacrificing your own needs to ensure the abuser is pleased. At the same time, you find yourself walking on eggshells to avoid any confrontations or unintentional provocations.
Of course, finding a good therapist skilled in narcissistic abuse and helping you overcome and eventually separate from the abuse is paramount. Yet once you find your voice and decide to leave the abuser, equally essential to keep a mantra of empowerment in the forefront.
Katy Perry’s song “Roar” lyrics are a good reminder of the power to overcome the feeling of having to sit back quietly and take whatever is holding you down. The first step is recognizing you have a choice. You can stay quiet, and you can reach that breaking point. You can also recognize what is occurring, find your voice, and begin to make changes.
Of course, it is not as easy as the song lyrics might imply. Finding a therapist knowledgeable in narcissistic trauma is an important step. If you are filing for divorce or legal separation, finding a family law attorney who is experienced in recognizing the signs of narcissism is also essential. Otherwise, you run the risk that the people you turn to for help also fail to recognize the abuse causing you to further isolate and withdraw.
Asking the right questions during your first meeting with your family law attorney is important. Find out their experience in recognizing the different forms of narcissistic abuse, their understanding of the underlying signs of abuse, and the techniques they have found successful in arriving at a final resolution. With the proper team in place, you can indeed find your voice again and stand up and “Roar.”
About the Author:
Marlene Pontrelli is a Member in our Phoenix office and co-chair of the firm’s Family Law Practice. Marlene is a certified specialist in family law. Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law, including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody, and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. She is a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family law. She has extensive trial and appellate experience, including appearing before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court, and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ms. Pontrelli has written several books, including as a co-author of the Divorce in Arizona book. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of family law and has conducted workshops throughout the country. Ms. Pontrelli is also an adjunct professor at The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she teaches the family law class. Marlene may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5081.