After years of domestic violence, 28-year-old Jessica Haban took her own life on December 16, 2015. In an unprecedented move, her abusive ex-husband, Long Vang, was charged for driving her to suicide. However, the murder charge that could’ve brought justice to this case was dismissed in 2016. In another case, a former United States Air Force veteran took his own life in March 2016. This was after he and his wife encountered chronic bullying and harassment by a narcissist via smear campaigns, job loss, hacking of financial accounts and cyberstalking. This led to a petition known as “Shane’s Law” to propose a law that would legally protect victims from the underhanded bullying methods that narcissists often use to get away with emotionally harming their victims.
The year 2017 also brought with it some unprecedented and unexpected court cases in the realm of covert abuse. The recent mistrial in the case of Bill Cosby despite numerous women coming forward demonstrated that we have a long way to go in the justice system to protect survivors of sexual violence, especially if the perpetrator is a well-liked, charismatic public figure. The recent conviction of a young woman who drove her boyfriend to suicide through text messages, however, hopefully sets a precedent that one cannot cause such emotional harm without being held responsible for the consequences. It is clear that there have been mixed results when it comes to the legal justice system recognizing the covert, insidious yet highly damaging methods of malignant narcissists.
While there have been some cases where justice has been served to the survivors and victims of covert psychological violence, most of the survivor community can agree: whether it be through the enabling behavior of the court systems, law enforcement, family members or friends, the malignant narcissist or sociopathic predator can easily get away with their malicious behavior, usually without being held accountable.
What does covert psychological abuse by a malignant narcissist look like?
Narcissistic abuse is a chronic form of psychological and emotional violence inflicted upon a partner who meets the clinical criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder. It may or may not be accompanied by financial, sexual and/or physical abuse. In many cases, the partner may be undiagnosed (since narcissists rarely seek therapy, feeling their behavior rewards them) but his or her behaviors can still cause considerable damage to their victims regardless of the presence of a diagnosis.
In an abusive relationship with a narcissistic or antisocial personality, the abusive partner can subject the partner to numerous forms of coercion, degradation and control that diminish the victim’s sense of self, erode his or her self-esteem and distort the victim’s sense of reality. Narcissistic abuse doesn’t just take place in relationships – it can also occur in friendships, in the workplace and in the family.
At the very least, survivors of this form of emotional, psychological and physical abuse can suffer from depression, anxiety and low self-esteem after this experience. In the worst scenarios, like the victims we’ve seen these past few years, some of them commit suicide.
Unfortunately, tragedies like these beg the question – how many suicides were in reality driven by the abuse of narcissistic or sociopathic partners, friends, co-workers or family members?