Reactive Abuse: A Narcissist’s Favorite Cat & Mouse Game

People Suffering From Reactive Abuse Are Often Lead To Believe They Are The Ones With The Problem

Everyone has their limits.  Even good people will react when they are pushed beyond their breaking point.  This response, especially if it is extreme or out of character, is called ‘reactive abuse’.  The term reactive abuse is a bit confusing, but it referrers to the victim of abuse and not the abuser.

When someone is experiencing reactive abuse they are responding in a significant way to the toxic behavior they repeatedly experience from another.  The abuse may be physical or psychological in nature.  The over the top reaction often occurs when that abuser instigates some kind of controlling mind game, and constantly provokes their victim until they react. 

The victim, in an attempt to stand up for themselves, reacts to the abuser by lashing out at them.  This can include screaming, shouting, throwing things, flinging insults or lashing out physically.  The abuser can then retaliate by blaming it all on the person they were provoking.  They will insinuate that the victim was in fact the instigator; they are in fact the abuser.

The Real Reactive Abuse Abuser

To some individuals playing mind games is a fun and active pastime.  This is especially true for people who are narcissist or display strong narcissistic tendencies.  They have honed mental manipulation into an art form.  The whole situation often starts off innocuously. 

The narcissist starts by baiting you.  They will make some backhanded nasty comment to you, start an augment out of nowhere, lie to you, ignore you, or do something else to upset you.  They will overstep your boundaries; play on your insecurities and push all of your buttons, until you finally snap. 

Once they have tricked you into an over-the-top emotional response, they will blame you for over-reacting to the situation.  Then they will conveniently forget that they were the ones who instigated the whole thing in the first place.  Narcissists are very good at suppressing their emotions in this cat and mouse game.  The more you get upset, the calmer they tend to be which often makes you look like the bad guy.

You only end up feeling worse after one of these encounters.  You might find yourself apologizing for what you may have said or done or try your best to make it up to them. 

Narcissists Use Reactive Abuse To Make You Seem Mentally Ill

A narcissist relies on reactive abuse as proof, in their minds that you, not them, are the one who is mentally ill and needs help.  It is a form of gaslighting. They may even attempt to record your meltdown as evidence that you are the crazy one and use it against you for years to come.  If you find yourself in this type of situation over and over again then it is pretty safe to assume that you are in an abusive relationship.

Manipulation: The End Game Of Reactive Abuse

You might be wondering, what is their end game.  This whole sick scenario is just one big manipulation.  The abuser gets you to enter the game by instigating you, causing you to defend yourself against their ongoing gaslighting attacks.  Once you are pushed to your breaking point and react, the abuser will claim that they are the ones being abused. 

Their end goal is to condition you to accepting the blame.  Over time, you may begin to believe that there is something wrong with you.  You may begin to lose sight of who you really are.  You might begin to see yourself as being violent or unstable. 

Narcissists love the feel of power and control they over you and your emotions!  When they get you to react to their non-stop taunting they have succeeded in their endeavor.  It leaves them with a sense of superiority which makes them feel better about themselves. 

Remember, this is not who you are.  You have been manipulated into behaving this way.  You have been endlessly baiting and taunted until you cannot take it anymore and begin to dish it out yourself.  You have played right into their hands.  You have given them exactly what they want, power over you and your emotions.

What You May Experience If You Are The Victim Of Reactive Abuse

As the victim of reactive abuse, you may find yourself begging or pleading with your narcissistic abuser to stop their taunts.  You might find yourself defending yourself to their low blows and unfair insults.  A narcissist will keep winding things up, regardless of how much you try to neutralize the situation. 

People can only endure so much until they are pushed into a corner and emotionally react.  No sane person would ever blame you for responding in the way that you did. 

If you are reading this, you probably see yourself as a kind, generous and empathic person who would never intentionally harm another.  When you are in this emotional place your logic goes out the window.  It can be a confusing and scary to find yourself filled with intense emotions such as rage, frustration, anger or resentment.

Simply put, these toxic individuals bring out the worst in anyone they encounter and if you are sensitive, empathic or a people pleaser, you are more likely to find yourself caught up in their web.  The abuser relies on your empathy, your compassion or your ability to forgive.   They recognize that you would rather rise above the chaos the situation creates then continue on in an emotionally dysregulated state.  They do not call reactive abuse crazy-making for nothing, and narcissists are experts at it.

What You Can Do If You Are The Victim Of Reactive Abuse

You might find yourself trying to rationalize with your abuser.  Do not waste your time.  The more you try to clear the air, bring clarity to a situation or explain your side; you will only open the door to more insults, more diversionary tactics.  This will only leave you more frustrated and closer to your breaking point.    

Reacting only gives your abuser more ammunition to throw back at you.  Instead of engaging in their drama, walk away.  This tactic is highly effective.  Walking away gives you a chance to regroup and find your composure.  This does not mean that they will not try to follow you around in an attempt to reengage you.  Do not take the bait.  Stop feeding them and their addiction for control.

Use this break in the action to calm yourself down and become mindful of the situation.  Ask yourself, “Is this really me?” “Is it normal for me to react this way?”  Take a few deep breaths as you do this simple self-inventory. 

It might also be time to reassess your reason for having this person in your life.  It might be time to get away from the individual who is constantly pushing your buttons and causing you to behave out of character. 

Do not feel guilty when walking away.  Toxic people are toxic.  Narcissists are and always will be narcissistic. They cannot be fixed and waiting them to change probably will never happen.  Ending a toxic relationship can be hard, but it is the only way in which you will find happiness in your life.

By: Dr. Rita Louise © Copyright Rita Louise, Inc. – All rights reserved.

Taking action is the key to making positive changes in your life. This includes your mental health. So don’t wait! Take your next step right now and contact Dr. Rita to schedule a private consultation.

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