Ten Things to Know Before Confronting Your Narcissistic Abuser

What You Must Know Before Confronting Your Narcissistic Abuser

Written by Randi Fine

Narcissistic Abuse Expert, Author of Close Encounters of the Worst Kind

Most survivors of narcissistic abuse cannot let their resentments go without first confronting their abusers. If that is something you feel compelled to do, it is important that you wait until you are emotionally ready and stable enough to withstand the challenge. If you are not, confronting your abuser can be very traumatic for you, and you will not get the relief you hoped for.

If and when you decide you are ready for a confrontation, be sure to have at least one person available to give you the support you need before, during, and afterwards. The best support will come from a therapist or counselor who fully understands how difficult confronting your narcissistic abuser can be.

You have every right to speak your truth. When you do, be mindful to stay focused on your agenda and in control of the encounter. This is your moment—it may even be the first encounter you have ever had with your abuser that you were in control. Do not allow him or her to bully you. Do not buy into denial, excuses, or pity parties. 

Direct confrontation is done in person, electronically, or over the telephone. To be most effective there are some important things to consider:

Keep emotion out of the confrontation. If you are not sure you can confront your abuser without becoming emotional, wait until you can.

The confrontation should be dignified, controlled, and direct. Be straightforward and say whatever you need to say. Focus on facts and feelings, not accusations.

When confronting your abuser, judgment, finger pointing, and guilt will get you nowhere. If you cannot restrain yourself from doing these things you are well advised not to attempt a confrontation. It will be pointless and futile, and it will only escalate the problem for you.

Though the temptation may be there, do not retaliate or try to punish your abuser. That will only make things worse and it will be counterproductive to your healing.

It is unlikely that your abuser will ever acknowledge or take responsibility for what he or she has done. Abusers rarely admit to having abused. If this is the outcome you are expecting you will only set yourself up for disappointment. Do not expect to receive any particular response.

If your abuser truly does accept responsibility and sincerely wants to make things right with you, accountability, not remorse, should be the end goal. You can forgive him or her without any of this, but don’t fall back into the manipulation trap. It will take at least a year of consistent accountability before you should even begin to entertain the person’s “sincerity.”

If you are fearful of a face to face confrontation but still feel compelled to say your peace, it is just as effective to put what you have to say in writing. With that approach you avoid having to face the rapid emotional backlash. You can calmly process your thoughts and address their responses. 

When direct confrontation is too uncomfortable, your safety is at risk, or it is logistically impossible to confront your abuser face to face, other ways to accomplish the same goal are:

Write a letter and then wait five days or more before deciding whether or not to send or email it. You may feel better after writing your thoughts down and may decide that your healing and forgiveness do not depend on your abuser reading it.

Do a ceremonial burning of letters or meaningful objects.

Use empty chair therapeutic techniques. This involves sitting across from an empty chair and speaking to it as if the person you wish to address is sitting in it. (Gestalt therapy, formulated by Fritz Perls 1893-1970)

If your abuser has passed on, visit his or her grave and speak to the person there.

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