Taking Back Power and Control From a Narcissist

By Ann Bradley

Get Your Power Back

When you’re being played you feel out of control.  The lies and manipulation and betrayals hurt. The games played by narcissists cut deep wounds and sometimes,no matter how many successes, how much money you’ve made, or friends you’ve made, the narcissist in your life is going to make you feel small, unimportant or crazy. Don’t give away your power to the narcissist. Take it back.

Maybe you thought he or she was the one and only, the prince or princess who said all the right words and made you think, “Finally, my ship has come in. Lucky me.” You were on cloud nine. One day he or she was buying you things, had big plans for the future, included your family in the plans, or maybe your dog. Whatever was important to you was important to him or her.

Until suddenly it wasn’t. You thought it was a mistake. A bad day. All would be well again soon. Except of course it wasn’t. You were now the victim of a liar, jerk, toad, sociopath or narcissist. Yes, this site is narcissistic abuse, but what the exact nomenclature is doesn’t matter. And if you are getting divorced, don’t tell the court your spouse has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They really don’t like to hear this except from a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Your toady narcissist is not going to become a prince charming or princess. The moment you accept this you have begun to reclaim your power. The spell is being broken and you are back in the driver’s seat. You can now begin to make decisions based on reality, not delusion. Feel proud of yourself. You are working your way out and it isn’t easy but you are doing it.

You Are A Victim but Don’t Be Afraid of That.

Too many people think the word victim means you are weak, don’t want to be a survivor, have not taken responsibility for your self or other disempowering thoughts. Nothing is further from the truth.  Do we blame the victim of a homicide for having gotten out of bed? Of course not. You are no different. Dr. Frank Ochburg, Harvard trained trauma therapist agrees.

Frank Ochburg and being a victim

Here’s a powerful mental trick to get you through rumination. Why rumination? Because I know you have thoughts that run around and around in your head and won’t let you rest or sleep. They are counterproductive, as much as your narcissist. So, here’s what you do: think of the thoughts as planes, circling and circling the airport. Seems like they are there forever, circling. But now, it is time to land those planes! Go ahead! Land those planes.

You are not helpless. You only think you are. I don’t care how much you don’t have in the bank account or whatever else is bothering you and keeping you from being the powerful person you can be. Find something you can control and do it. It may be the garden, the type of food bought, the thoughts in your head, the lawyer you choose, it may be that you refuse to pay a bill because you were treated poorly. (I chose to file a bar complaint against opposing counsel and it changed my world view.) This is the beginning. Go from learned helplessness to learned optimism. Go ahead and look up learned helplessness and Marty Seligman, PhD. See? You can change your thoughts and change the circumstance. Be proactive in your own behalf. One step at a time and soon you are walking away, across or around the mountain. It didn’t have to move. You did. Go, grab it. It’s you, it’s who you are. Powerful. Tell us, please, in the comments, what you have control over.

Ann Bradley


  1. I finally have control of when I go to sleep! I get to listen to music in the car!!!

  2. I have been seperated from my N for 1 year now …or can I say not living together,after I found him cheating on me. Since he moved out he called me nearly everyday for a yr.the other times,I called him.

    He’s paid half my rent,and I (silly me)visited him once a week.He visited me 5 times in the year.Of course all of these calls,visits were all his decisions.So you could say Ive seen him 52 times this year .Just recently he told me he wants to be just friends,he has called me twice in 4 days..offered me money ,cause he knows Im struggling,but no ;I love you anymore and no plans to catch up.You asked me what do I have power over…well I have power over the fact that he will get no calls from me and no more visits ..Im moving slow ..but I feel good that if he puts bondaries on me ..Ill put them on him too

  3. I have control over nothing because I haven’t left him. But I want to. He is a narcissist and a sociopath. It’s been 16 years since I became trapped and only now am I seeing from my teenage boy, the horror this relationship has caused. I want to have the power to look at him straight faced and say “you will never control anything in my life again.”

    • Hi Candace, You have control over your thoughts. Oh, they may run away from you at times, but you can call them back and control them! And once you see this, you begin to get stronger and more proactive. Right now you are controlling where you want to go – you just defined a goal: to be free to be your own person. You have clawed your way back up and out of the deep hole you were in and that IS control. Sure, it’s a small step, but a journey of a 1000 miles begins with one step as the saying goes. And one leads to three to six to nine…it sometimes takes leaps when you take control of your thoughts. You’re on the way – and it looks like your son is with you. My advice is plan, quietly to do what needs to be done. Don’t antagonize him right now, don’t talk about what you are planning. Just start doing small things – educating yourself, (divorce?) finding out your rights to finances, etc. But please, do so quietly or you will have to put up with his revenge tactics as well. Best to you, Ann

  4. I first entertained the idea i may be dealing with a narcissist when the word was presented to me two semesters ago in a psychology course. I dismissed it from my mind quickly and i brought up the characteristics to him.

    well, a couple weeks ago my boyfriend of 10 years with whom i have 2 small children, told me that he loves me, but has never really been in love with me, and that he wasn’t sure that he could ever be in love with anyone. i was devastated and couldn’t believe that after so long he could not be in love with me (although, deep down, his actions had long before revealed this devastating truth.)

    I googled “boyfriend of 10 years said he is not in love with me” and lo and behold NARCISSIST popped up on the screen! i began to research the behaviors and characteristics and they fit him and this “relationship” to a T. I must admit that i get upset reading these things, and i cant lie, they make me want to punch him in the face. But i am dealing with the anger, thank god i have Jesus in my life and i know that my anger is making me stronger. i point out every time his narcissism flares up, if he apologizes for something i tell him, you are not sorry, you just want me to think that you are. so, i guess i am taking back control of my mind! if i remember that all of his actions are for his greater good and not for salvaging this “relationship” i will be emotionally back to my old self soon. i’m in a bad place because i can’t just pick up and leave right now, but i am making provisions to be able to do that as soon as it is possible.

  5. I have been married to an abuser for 44 years. Please dont wait that long to run from such a man!

    I am 66 years old and am having to start over. Finally, he has left our home after being arrested for abuse because my daughter called the police when I would not. I am ashamed that I did not have the courage to do it myself many years ago.

    I have taken back control over my own life even though i am old and sick. My daughter and her young child have moved in with me to help when I am too sick to take care of myself. He hates that she is seeing what he is. He has not sought help for his problem, blames me, and lies to everyone about abusing me, saying I am the abuser. he took our money and says i did. Total denial, but I was in denial too!

    I thought, hoped, prayed things would get better, but the abuse only escalated, especially after my mother died in 2012. He knew i had no one to turn to, but my daughter, who originally blamed me as well as him, began to see the truth. It is one day, one baby step, at a time for me.

    i have modified contact with him because of daughter and 5yr old granddaughter but I refuse to be with him to protect granddaughter from seeing the abuse. I wish i had known how this would end and how detrimental it wasfor my daughter to grow up in so much abuse, disrespect, and dysfunction.

    • Thanks so much for sharing this story. Do not be ashamed – somewhere along the line you were taught not to stand up for yourself. You have been victimized before he came along. Be happy you are now free to breathe. Enjoy your daughter and grandchild. Life can be good again. 66 is not old! You have a lot of living to do. Best, Ann

    • Thank you for posting about how your daughter was impacted by your staying. I have stayed with my husband for years when I wanted to leave because I have always thought it was better for my kids. I have been willing to sacrifice my happiness for theirs and would continue to if I thought staying was best for them. I don’t want to regret the way I am raising my children. I get only get to do it once and I want to do it right. I can’t change the fact that their father is a narcissist and may never have a real relationship with them- but I can show them that their mother refused to be abused and stood up for herself and them. I have decided to leave and I am preparing for it. I just hope when the time comes to actually walk out the door that I can do it.

  6. I am living in hell, I have finally found the strength to end my marriage to my narcarsistic husband of 8 yrs when the police took him in March.

    He is now trying to have me kicked out of my home, telling lies to Social Security that the children live with him so me and the children have to move out and there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

    I drop my children off to and from school and have asked the school to write a letter stating that the kids live with me and nothing. I have no friends and the only person that knows the truth is my mother. He is on drugs and has drug addict friends signing false documents ect. Child protection are involved and they cant help me either since they don’t know who the children lived with before the incident when he used drugs in front of my daughter nor can they prove that it happened HELP !!! He has threatened me several times that he will not stop until I have nothing and destroys me :(

    • You can: write to the superintendent of the school district requesting confirmation of your address and the children living with you and (very nicely) inform them you already approached the school with no response. CC the school.

      If he is lying to Social Security this is a crime. Report it to the local police, district attorney or the agency itself in writing. Talk to a criminal lawyer about his criminal activity.

      Don’t put up with his threats – this is verbal harassment and calmly put it in writing that you fear for your life and let the local police know. You CAN stop him, but since he thinks he has you as doormat, scared and afraid and ready to step on, he will.

      You are not alone…go search for DV groups, protective parents, etc. Go to a drug group and ask for help – document it all. You can do this!

      Best, Ann

  7. Hi Ann, the good news so far is, he didn’t get me and the kids social security.

    I have stopped letting him see my children who are 8,7 & 6 as the local hospital called and told me they found him disorientated and incoherent walking the streets – drug psychosis. Prior to that my 8 yr old little girl had said she didn’t want to go to daddys. So I have a lawyer and he has sent him a letter offering supervised visits with the local community services. No response as yet but I know he will reject it and make up lies.

    He won’t accept 50% custody he will want me to suffer. His response to my sms as I don’t take his calls as I would rather have his rants documented. I just put the kids on the phone straight away and don’t speak to him. Anyway his response to my sms was that he called the hospital and said “I’m a liar” projection and his taking me to court so I have no power over the kids or him wtf ? I am worried as he is a very good liar and his simply so vindictive. I cant eat, cant sleep there was a knock on my door yesterday which I thought was him so I never answered. I worry that he will just pick the kids up from school one day hes leaving them there alone with strangers he lives in a homeless hostel atm. There is no avo or set child care case yet so there isn’t a thing I can do anyway sorry if lm all over the place this man is evil.

    • Hi- The evidence you have on your side comes from the hospital report on his condition and their call to you which shows how concerned they were about his condition and the harm he could do. USE IT! Good for you for getting the kids on the phone and staying off. He may be a good liar but he isn’t perfect and the hospital can back that up and put him in perspective so his lies appear obvious. No need to apologize and keep on going – you can do this! Evil is difficult but not impossible to overcome. Many here have done so. Take care of yourself, do something good for yourself every day, whether its a coffee out or a tv show or a magazine or a walk or yoga. Just treat yourself well. Best, Ann

  8. Hi ann, he is back after not seeing the kids for over 6 weeks and pick them for school and drove off I did not respond. He is also picking them up from school without letting me know.I have informed the school of the situation so they said if they are taken they will let me know. He is not threatening me or anything but I know he is plotting something he knows if he misbehaves I will get an avo back in place hes not stupid I just wish to hell I hadn’t dropped the avo in the first place. I know he is only having the kids for there social security money as soon as hes lies where denied he didn’t bother with them. I am so exhausted and even though the 6 weeks of No contact has been an eye opener I feel sooo drained and can barely face the day which I know he will be smirking at. The mere thought of him makes me anxious and I know I will have to deal with him as we share children I just wish it was thru a third party as in supervised visits. I cant go to the police as he on his best behaviour. Im even thinking of moving somehow as I feel this house has bad energy in it no matter what I do. What in your opinion should I do ? Thank you for listening to me,

    • Nikki,

      Do not share custody with him. It is not the best for the children. In cases of domestic violence (and emotional abuse is domestic violence), courts are beginning to recommend that sole custody be awarded to the nonabuser. If he abused you, he is likely to abuse your children as well and to continue to abuse you through the children. Here, read this and anything else you can find by Lundy Bancroft: http://www.lundybancroft.com/articles/understanding-the-batterer-in-custody-and-visitation-disputes. All that research that says it’s best for children to see both mother and father does not apply to abusive fathers.

  9. I wish commenters would refrain from telling their personal woe is me experience with narcissists and instead contribute to the academic discussion about what you learned and how it strengthened you, etc etc so that you can be useful yo others.

    • bugger off ANDRE ppl need to put their issues in context and it seems to me that only a narcissist lurking would bitch about ppl telling woe-is-me stories, and i have always found, that while repetitive and at times, annoying, being able to talk about what is happening is THE MOST clarifying and fortifying thing a person can do. woe is how ppl feel after being strategically beaten down by a narcissist. so stop being a spoilt selfish little boy and let them speak. trying to control what ppl say is the number one narcissistic trait…. so you are busted.

  10. I learned within 2 months I was dealing with a N. After the constant 4-7 hour discussions about his insecurities, pain, and talking about everything I did wrong in the relationship, I finally had enough. I’m a very strong woman and this man stripped away my secure mindset and dug a deep hole and left me wildly confused, constantly doubting myself and wanting to change for him. Ladies, recognize this as a red flag and keep reading about narcissism every day. Especially when you miss the good times with him. The only reason he was good that day was bc you were behaving! Once you feel comfortable in the relationship, that is when he will attack… Or in my case have a calm discussion.

  11. I think there are so many ppl struggling with these horrible monsters. Mine was 3 an half years an im finially free. Iv got control over my thoughts an my life an my childrens happiness. The ping pong games of who ignores who kept goin till I no longer let it bother me. I kept it short an civil an said I have hes things if he wishes me to return them other wise they will b thrown out. No reply. Big shock there. These horrible monsters only win if u let them control ur thoughts. No matter what u do they will return its up to u wether u wish to continue the game. Keep positive, keep busy an keep reminding urself how free u are without them. It takes time an it takes alotta work. I went back 17 times to mine an the same cycle continued. I ended up stronger an eventually had enough. These are not humans they are monsters who only will by u letting them control ur thoughts and ur life. Fake it till u make it an keep rescuing ur soul everyday by reminding urself what its like to live a normal life. I was in a really bad way mentally so if I can break free an become normal an at peace theres hope for anyone. Best of luck to u all xx

  12. These comments are saving me and allowing me to see a positive future. I have come so close to giving up but now I see what’s really going on, I feel stronger. Please don’t stop telling you’re real-life stories as they help more than anything else! I will tell mine too, when I get the focus and the strength. Take care of yourselves. dani

  13. 1990 I met him, 1992 I married him, 1997 our 1st daughter was born, 2003 our 2nd daughter was born. 2010 I spent 5 days on a mental health unit because he claimed I was mentally ill, the doctors declared I was mentally WELL, then I left him but 3 months later we were back together, 2011 when he attacked me for the last time I had the police remove him from the house. I thought I was free of him, but I had two things that BELONGED to him, our two daughters. I struggled to support them alone, he stripped away my finances until I couldn’t support our girls. 2013 they were living with him. 2014 I rose from the ashes much stronger than before I could now support our daughters, the eldest at 17 left him and now lives with me. He disappeared for 3 weeks with the youngest now 9 1/2. Court papers arrived through my letter box, he had applied for custody for the youngest. 2 court hearings later he has full custody of the youngest, he lied and manipulated the court system. I see her alternate weekends and each Thursday for 4 hours. The youngest is getting stronger and is starting to see what her father is like. Last week she stood up to him and said “No, I am staying with Mum tonight” he threatened me with the police and he is going to take it further. Let him try! There is one thing I know for sure, I learned the hard way what a monster he is, my eldest learned too and my youngest is starting to realize it. I am mentally strong, I am calm and collected, what gives me strength is knowing that he can no longer affect me or my eldest and soon enough my youngest will be free of him too and it will be her choice not his. I have been in this battle for 25 years. Believing in yourself is the strongest power of all, knowing that a narc will always target the nice people says it all.

    • Bravo to you for capitalizing on your strength to use it in the system as your best weapon. Calm women in the face of trauma is always unsettling to these people. They don’t know what power you might have to use against them. FYI: I’ve had great success in writing bar complaints against opposing counsel to get things to stop that are dirty tactics. Good luck,strong one! And what a great role model you are for your kids. Best, Ann

  14. Reading other people’s stories has helped me alot. I felt alone. My ex is evil too. We have a 5 year daughter becuz he raped me. I didn’t call the police bcuz I was scheduled to leave for bootcamp, but couldn’t go bcuz I found out I was pregnant. So of course the court doesn’t believe me. Even though I’m willing to take a polygraph. My N does horrible things. I’ve been in contempt of court twice bcuz I was protecting my daughter, when she returned to me with bruises on her that HE covered up with temporary tattoos, after his weekend visitation with her. He has returned her to me sick, with 102 fever and he did not seek medical treatment for her, but for some reason the court sides with him……….I don’t understand….

  15. Thanks for sharing your stories and guidance. I used to be a strong independent girl. But lately I feel so depressed and I cry several times a day. Some days I’m ok. But feel like im emotionally imbalanced.

    My husband is a narcissist. He keep pushing me down mentally, always fight with our kids. We moved in here last year and I’m far away from my friends and family. I have two young kids and gave up my career after they were born. That was 5 long years ago.

    Financially I’m not strong enough to make any decision. I can’t stay away from my kids so I feel suffocated. Last thing I want to become is mentally ill. He always point out that I’m not good enough, he does everything better. It’s like a competition in the house which I stopped trying to prove anything now. I’m glad I came across the word “narcissists” I was losing my balance. I also realized that I don’t love him. Even though he mentions it sometimes. I can’t imagine how to go on with this life. Being with this man sucked out my whole life and I’m left with this horrible lifeless body and mind. I love my kids with my life so want to do what’s best for them. I even resigned from my job because I wanted to raise them on my own. That decision paralysed me financially. What should I do?

    • Hi, It is tough isn’t it? But you sound very insightful. I suggest this character strength will serve you well.Make some long range plans to get out. See it as your future. Begin learning the family code for your state and what belongs to you from the marriage. Pull on your teflon clothes every day and let his words bounce off you! Be in the moment with your kids, make a life with them and enjoy them. Meanwhile, plan, plan, plan. It will give you hope and knowledge. Think of it as light at the end of the tunnel. You can’t climb out now, but you can climb to the door marked EXIT. You might think of getting a job in the future as the kids get older but right now learn as much as you can about getting out. But do it stealthily – don’t ever let him know and don’t leave traces on the computer. Many have been in similar paths and survived and thrived.

      Your body and mind are more than capable of regeneration. You are temporarily stunned by where you are but you will recover. Make sure the time with the kids is fun – for them and for you. It will be helpful to engage in a life in a meaningful way and see things can be good in the midst of troubling times. Start doing research about your state’s divorce laws and family code. Visit family law attorney sites and if they have a blog, read it. Best of luck- you will be fine in time – yes, you will! Ann

  16. Hi to all of you. Your stories and sharing truly help. I was with a textbook N for over 4 years…and a married one at that. I would like to share that I am on Day 24 of No Contact. And getting stronger every day. I have no urges to contact or to break NC. And I am getting nothing back from the N. I already know that my N has at least 2 other sources of supply that had been properly groomed for months…..now that I look back at things with perspective. The fog is lifting…slowly…..but its lifting. My biggest challenge is when I ruminate about “things we did/shared/had/promised”……which I now know were just a fabrication to keep me hooked. Over the last 4 months I was subjected to the most humiliating devalue and discard….and my self respect was nowhere to be seen….my confidence shot full of holes. I see it all now. When I think about the fake things I miss….I quickly turn my thoughts to the abuse I suffered, and the humiliation that was shoved in my face. Leaving a N is not easy…..its an addiction. But I can tell you that you need some support, need to know you are not alone, need to know you are not crazy….and need to know that No Contact works. I am proof of that. Its not easy…..but its the best way where possible. don’t fool yourself into ” no response” watching to see if they contact you….you’re gaming yourself. Block them. Ignore them. You are too valuable, your time too precious….to give them 5 more minutes……its all about you now. Not them. Not anymore. My ” personal anthem” is ” I Don’t Care Anymore”….by Phil Collins. Not a commercial for him….but the lyrics mean so much to me. Read them. See if they apply to you. Be strong. Learn to love you. Demand from others what you deserve…and that is NOT the games and abuse of a narcissist. Be strong.

    • Thank YOU! That was a wonderful foundation for how to leave, make it stick and why you’ll better if you do. From all of us, thanks much.. you sound like you will soon be thriving, if not already..

      Best, Ann

  17. I was with my N for 4 years. I can say after being away from him No Contact for 3 and a half months – I am AWARE and ALIVE in every way possible. Awareness was what got me out of that horrible dark “well” day by day I climbed upward to get out of there and be free from him and all the trauma Narcissists cause. How Dudu do it? Online podcasts on self esteem / loving myself/ daily goal setting/taking my power back. I wrote several cards out- that said: Never Ever Let Someone Control You. Take control of your life and never lose control again. Love Yourself First! Change = Happy Better Life.
    I put these cards in my car / in my wallet, took a picture of one saved it to my phone. I read them every day – several times a day. You have 1 life- ONE! Do Not Spend it with an abuser- get OUT. However- and I say this very carefully- plan it strategically. Do not go it alone. Get a real good strategy in place. Study, Google, research, seek out help, get into online support groups, skills, meetings, counseling— you need THESE things in place- you can not do it alone. Make no mistake of what exact Evil and Darkness you are breaking free of- you know the depth here of what I mean – you MUST educate yourself FIRST on how to leave a Narcissist and never return to them – NEVER – then fight like hell for your life! You will be ok. Your Life is precious – fight for it and climb out of the well of darkness. I did it – and it was the hardest thing I ever did. I made it out of the well into peace and love. I’m a strong woman who got “sucked” in so do not blame yourself- there is no shame in “your” game! You are not a victim. Love yourself enough to fight for yourself. Hugs to everyone in this battle. I pray for you all and send you strength, love and courage. You can get out. Take back your power, the “other side” aka happiness and joy is waiting for you. :))

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