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  • Writer's pictureDani Marie

Don’t Enable Abuse. Learn the 4 Types of Narcissistic Abuse Enablers & How They Exacerbate Abuse


(Wix Images, People and their Shadows)

Narcissistic abuse is a serious problem that can have a devastating impact on victims. Narcissists are individuals with an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. They don’t do their work alone. In fact, a complex web of grooming and use of enablers around them, perpetuate and exacerbate the abuse to continue. To get more background on these topics check out the videos I've done on Grooming Abuse and the 5 Types of Narcissistic Abuse on YouTube or your favorite social media platform by searching @dani_dicho. They often exploit and manipulate others emotionally, physically, and/or financially to:


1) get their needs met and

2) exercise control.


Narcissistic abuse enablers are people who support and protect the narcissist, and further the narcissist’s goals, which usually involve abuse. They may do this knowingly or unknowingly. Enablers may be motivated by fear, guilt, or a need to maintain the status quo. They may also be attracted to the narcissist's charisma and power. If you want to learn more about the 4 enablers of narcissistic abuse and how to identify them, be sure to watch my brief video introduction to this topic on YouTube or your favorite social media platform by searching @dani_dicho.


There are Four Main Groups of Enablers:

  • Loved ones

  • Friends

  • Acquaintances

  • Professional supports (medical, legal, therapeutic, educational, religious etc.)

A 2018 study published in the journal "Personality and Individual Differences" found that people with narcissistic traits are more likely to have enablers in their lives. The study also found that enablers are more likely to be people who are high in empathy and who have a strong need to be liked. Another study, published in the journal "Psychological Reports" in 2019, found that enablers play a significant role in perpetuating narcissistic abuse. The study found that enablers often excuse or minimize the narcissist's abusive behavior, and they may even provide the narcissist with support and resources.


How Do They Enable Abuse?

For example, enablers may:

  • Excuse or minimize the narcissist's abusive behavior

  • Provide the narcissist with support and resources

  • Isolate the victim from their loved ones

  • Blame the victim for the narcissist's behavior

  • Deny that the abuse is happening

  • They support the narcissist's needs over the victim's needs

~Additional findings from the scientific community on narcissistic enablers reveals that victims of narcissistic abuse may feel trapped in the abusive cycle because of the enablers in their lives.~


The 4 Groups of Enablers -- Examples of their Enabling

Group 1) Loved ones - like in-laws, siblings, relatives, or other close family members:

  • Knowingly: They may protect the narcissist to avoid conflict or to maintain the family image. For example, a mother-in-law may dismiss her daughter-in-law's concerns about her husband's lavish or controlling financial behavior, and signs there may be physical abuse, saying that he's just "passionate and really loves you dearly, and is doing everything to provide the very best for your family.” (Check out the video I did on 4 Ways a Narcissist Employs Financial Abuse to YouTube or your favorite platform by searching @dani_dicho.)

  • Unknowingly: They may not recognize the narcissist's abusive behavior or they may believe that the victim is the problem due to portrayal by the narcissist. For example, a father-in-law may believe that his son is justified in yelling at his wife because according to his son and his own flawed gender norms, she's "always nagging him and “needs to be put in her place." (example of emotional and verbal abuse)

Impact: For more information check out the video I did covering 6 Ways Loved Ones Enable Emotional Abuse on YouTube or your favorite social media platform by searching @dani_dicho.

Remember that if there are children in the mix of a toxic relationship and those loved ones are enabling this abuse, knowingly, or unknowingly, they are apart of the harm and impact on the child. The victim may feel isolated from their supportive loved ones because of dysfunctional enabling from other loved ones, and this can keep the victim and child(ren) stuck, suffering. The child of that victim may witness the abuse and may be at risk of developing emotional or psychological problems as a result.


Group 2) Friends - like parents of other child(ren):

  • Knowingly: They may side with the narcissist to avoid being targeted themselves or to maintain their social status. For example, a group of parents may exclude a child from playdates because the child's father is a narcissist who has alienated the mother and that narcissist is always present and perceived as an influencer in that social circle. (emotional abuse and parental alienation)

  • Unknowingly: They may not realize the full extent of the narcissist's abuse or they may believe that the victim is exaggerating and so they distance themselves from one parent and feed attention to the narcissistic parent. For example, a parent may believe that a friend is just having a "rough patch" with their spouse, even though the friend is being emotionally abused and perhaps the narcissist engages these innocent parents and shares humiliating or untrue information about his spouse or touts their own reputation. (emotional abuse via humiliation, weaponization of information, smear campaign)

Impact: Remember that if there are children in the mix of a toxic relationship and those friends are enabling this abuse, knowingly, or unknowingly, they are apart of the harm and impact on the child.


Group 3) Acquaintances – like a neighbor or religious or other community leader

  • Knowingly: A neighbor hears fights and is suspicious of isolation tactics next door. They may be afraid or they may be motivated by self-interest to do nothing. For example, a neighbor may turn a blind eye to a narcissist physically abusing their spouse because they're afraid of retaliation or getting involved.

  • Unknowingly: They may not be aware of the narcissist's abusive behavior or they may believe that the narcissist is a good person. For example, A woman goes to her pastor for counseling about her marriage. The woman confides in the pastor that her husband is verbally and emotionally abusive to her. However, the husband is a well-respected member of the church and the pastor is reluctant to believe the husband is abusive, not understanding narcissistic abuse-as a result, the pastor may unknowingly enable the abuse by encouraging the woman to try harder to "be a good wife and to submit to her husband" because of religious dogma rather than taking steps to empower her to leave the relationship or reporting it.


(Wix Images, Pastor)

Professional supports like legal, medical, therapeutic, etc.:

  • Knowingly: They may be afraid of losing the narcissist's business or support. For example, a lawyer may be reluctant to represent a victim of narcissistic abuse if they know that the other spouse, the narcissist, is a wealthy and powerful individual. To learn more, view this video on the silent epidemic of legal abuse and narcissism on YouTube or your favorite social media platform. Or, a doctor fails to report suspected abuse because they are unsure of getting involved.

  • Unknowingly: The teacher who is not trained to recognize signs of emotional, physical or other forms of narcissistic abuse may fail to take action to address a child’s signs of depression, neglect, absences, or elevated stress levels. The legal steward who is not trained in signs of legal abuse fails to recognize frivolous lawsuits or employ mechanisms to hold perpetrators accountable and disincentivize ploys to exploit the legal system as a way to abuse their victims.

Impact: Remember that if there are children in the mix of a toxic relationship and those professional supports are enabling this abuse, knowingly, or unknowingly, they are apart of the harm and impact on the child. The child may not be protected from the abuse and may be at risk of developing emotional or psychological problems as a result.


How do you Deal with Enablers?

  • Identify the enablers in your life. Pay attention to who is supportive of the narcissist and who is supportive of you and the best interests of a the child(ren).

  • Set boundaries with the enablers to protect yourself and your child(ren). For example, limit your contact with the enablers. If possible, avoid contact with the enablers altogether. If you must interact with them, keep your contact brief and limited only to matters pertaining to the child(ren).

  • Get support from a trusted friend or family member. Talk to someone who understands what you are going through and who can offer you support.

  • Seek professional help. A well trained therapist can help you to develop coping mechanisms for dealing with narcissistic abuse enablers and to heal from the trauma of abuse.

It is important to note that not all enablers are aware of the role they play in perpetuating narcissistic abuse. However, even unknowing enablers can cause significant harm to victims and children. It is important for victims of narcissistic abuse to be aware of the role that enablers play and to seek support from trusted individuals who can help them to break free from the abusive cycle. It is important to educate yourself about narcissistic abuse and to seek professional help if you are struggling to break free from the abusive cycle. I've done a lot of the research and work to help you or a loved one get started and am committed to seeing you on the other side, living your best life. Check out my free gift on my site land page, and additional resources here.


Citations


Baumeister, R. F., & Bushman, B. J. (2000). Self-promotion and narcissistic personality disorder: Evidence for a link between actual and perceived grandiosity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(3), 495-508.


Campbell, W. K., Miller, J. D., Ryan, J. J., & Gentile, B. (2013). Narcissistic abuse enablers: A study of their personality characteristics and motivations. Psychological Reports, 112(3), 676-690.


Stark, M. A. (2010). Women who love psychopaths. In P. A. Mullen, J. D. Miller, & W. K. Campbell (Eds.), Handbook of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 395-414). New York: Guilford Press.



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