Narcissistic Sexual Abuse

sexual abuseHas sex become something you just do rather than enjoy? Do you feel pressured into having sex? Is it possible to be sexually abused in a marital relationship?

Sexual abuse can happen to both men and women in and out of a marital relationship. In a relationship with a narcissist, however, that abuse becomes magnified. For the narcissist, sexual abuse is used to control your behavior, elevate their feelings of superiority, reenact their fantasies (not yours), and paralyze you. Not all narcissists use sexual abuse as a means of domination. But if you are in a relationship with one, knowing even the subtle forms of sexual abuse can be freeing.

  1. The Early Stage. A narcissist begins the abuse by grooming you. They do a mildly abusive act to see if you acquiesce. For instance, they might fondle you in front of your mother or demandsexting while you are at work. These unwanted or embarrassing sexual acts are designed to catch you off-guard and create a feeling of trepidation. It is also a subtle message to others that you belong to them. Not in a comforting way, but one that leaves you feeling like a possession. Be warned, sometimes narcissists share yoursexting photos with friends further adding humiliation. When you confront the narcissist, they minimize, deny, or blame you.
    • Verbal Assaults. In the beginning, the verbal comments are amazingly flattering. You are the person of their dreams. You meet all of their sexual needs. But as soon as you begin to disagree with a sexual preference, you are accused of being manipulative and controlling. You are openly criticized for your sexual desires or lack thereof. Then the comments turn vulgar. Sexual insults or debasing comments about your body become more common. You begin to feel not good enough, being called both a whore and a prude. Narcissists do not see partners as individuals with feelings and opinions. Rather they are pieces of meat. This is apparent in the general way they talk about the opposite sex.
    • Jealousy Rages. The narcissist demands that you tell them everything about your previous sexual partners and encounters. Then they use the information to call you a slut or use your encounters as rationalization for their own indiscretions. When you become jealous, they claim you are being irrational and domineering. Some narcissists want you to cover up in public while others want you to wear provocative clothing beyond your comfort level. No matter what the outfit, you are accused of being attracted to others, flirting, flaunting your body, and cheating. The narcissist will use these accusations as justification for further sexual abuse. “You deserve this,” or “You asked for this,” are typical narcissistic responses. They can also be jealous of children or pets, basically anything that takes your attention away from them.
    • Coercion Tactics. To persuade you into having sex, the narcissist uses harassment, guilt, shame, blame, or rage. For them, this is not sexual abuse. Yet it is; any coerced sexual act is abusive. For example, they insist on sex after an argument to prove your commitment. Or they will play the victim card and compel you to have sex so they feel safe, secure, or validated. They nag and insult you, become angry and disruptive, refusing to allow you to leave or sleep until you concede. When you do finally give in, you disconnect emotionally and hurry up just to get it over. It is not satisfying for you but for them.
    • Threatening Infidelity. The narcissist threatens infidelity if you don’t comply with their escalating sexual desires, change your appearance, or gain weight. They might dangle another female in front of you to bully you into doing sexual acts that you are uncomfortable performing. To isolate you from friends, they might openly talk or joke about being attracted to your friend. When verbal threats fail, the narcissist will be unfaithful to prove their point.
  2. The Pushy Stage. It’s never enough. No frequency or style of sex is ever enough. Just when you believe that you have reached your boundaries, the narcissist pushes you further and further. When you object, you are ridiculed for your stance and all of the tactics in the early stage are condensed into one rant until you concede. Just to prove their dominance, they use your opposition as an excuse for pushing you even more.
    • Inciting Fear. You begin submitting to unwanted sexual acts out of fear that the narcissist will hit you, leave you, humiliate you, punish you, betray you, or withhold money. To reinforce this fear, the narcissist will do these acts, blame you for “making me do it,” and then demand you have sex to prove your loyalty. The pressure to have sex is unrelenting and unforgiving regardless of your physical condition and sexual desires.
    • Selfish Appeals. A classic example of selfish sex is unprotected sex. Because intercourse is all about how the narcissist feels, they refuse to use condoms and insist you take full responsibility for birth control or STD/STI protection. It is not uncommon for a narcissist to lie about having STD/STIs, refuse to be checked, and then blame you when you contract it. Your concerns over unprotected sex are belittled and minimized. It is all about them.
    • Sexual Withdraw. Some narcissists completely withdraw all sex from the relationship. Any requests you make for sex are met with ridicule, rants about your performance, and excessive excuses for abstinence. You are to blame for their lack of desire, it is never their fault. They will also oscillate between excessive sex and complete withdraw to maintain control and manipulate you into doing whatever they ask.
    • For the narcissist, your body is theirs and their body is theirs. Therefore they feel entitled to give ultimatums about your body. You have to lose weight or exercise more or groom yourself in a certain way to keep them satisfied. You could be in the hospital sick and if the narcissist wants to have sex, you are required to meet their needs. You are forced into pregnancy or an abortion because it is what they want, not what you want. You are not allowed to breast feed your baby because they don’t like how your breasts look.
    • Destroying Principles. Prior to meeting the narcissist, you had standards of what was acceptable sexually. For instance, participating in pornography, prostitution, having multiple partners at one time, or sex with animals was completely out of the question. But now, the narcissist’s argument for bending your principles seems compelling. You begin to believe the lie that if you will submit to the act just one time, then they will be satisfied and not require more of you. So they persuade you into have sex with someone else while they watch or have you watch them having sex with someone else. They might record you having sex without your knowledge and then beg you to watch it with them. But it is not enough. If you withhold sex out of disgust over bending your principles, they become angry, belligerent and sometimes violent.
  3. The Violent Stage. Once the narcissist reaches the violent stage, sex can no longer return to an expression of mutual love or commitment. They are not able to be excited by such menial emotions or simple intimate acts. It is now about intimidation, control, domination, power, torture, and terror. Not every narcissist escalates to this level; many just remain in the pushy stage fully content. But for those who do advance, these acts are often criminal. It is the act that is criminal not the nature of your relationship. You can be married and a victim of sexual crime.
    • The FBI defines rape as “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” This is a good time to take a break and reflect. You might have made excuses for the narcissist’s actions in the past but rape is rape no matter what the nature of your relationship is. Take a deep breath and have a good cry before reading on.
    • Degrading Acts. Degradation is in the eye of the beholder. The narcissist would not view these acts as degrading but you might. You might even be okay with some of these acts or not. Without getting into too many specifics, here are a couple of examples: urinating on you, having sex while on the toilet, or sex in public places. Degrading acts are done to humiliate you and cause you to feel trapped in the relationship. The narcissist will say, “Who would want you but me after you have done this.”
    • Sadistic Sex. There are two forms of sadistic sexual acts: mild (also known as S&M) and severe which can lead to death. Mild examples include: master-slave role-playing, immobilizing you through drugs or alcohol, administering pain (whipping) during sex, confining you to a cage, typing you up, blindfolding you, or clamping your sexual organs. It is important to remember that any sexual act which is not consensual is considered rape. The severe examples include: physical beatings, psychological torture, burning, cutting, stabbing, vampirism, and murder before, during or after sex. A narcissistic sadist will not stop their behavior even when it is identified as such.
  4. The Exit Stage. You can choose to exit the relationship at any of the above stages, it is all sexual abuse. Understandably, some of these abusiveacts you might not want to share with others as a reason for your departure. It can cause you unnecessary embarrassment, increase your humiliation, and prolong the healing process. You are not obligated to explain to anyone why you leave. But it is likely that you will need some professional help in order to heal. Sexual abuse leaves scars that frequently are not fully seen until you are in a healthy sexual relationship.
    • Post-Relationship. Be warned, even after you have broken off the relationship with the narcissist, they do one of two extremes. Either you still belong to them (even after divorce) or they act as if you never existed. Since you are still theirs, they are entitled to continue to demand sex even if you are in a relationship with someone else. Or, they will wipe all memories or pictures of you out of their life pretending the relationship never happened. This is a narcissist phenomenon which can oscillate between the two extremes.

In the beginning, it is common for you to be in a state of shock and have intense fear about leaving. Just reading the information here may increase your anxiety or cause a panic attack. This is normal. You are coming out of the fog of abuse and it is a sign of health for you to react that way. Alternating mood swings of anger and depression are also typical as you begin to see your partner for the person they are rather than the image they have created. Just because a narcissist has an unrealistic image of themselves does not mean that you have to believe it.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Bible’s Top Sexual No-No’s

Ever wonder what the Bible says about sex?  It is filled with plenty of practical information about our daily lives including advice on love, money, wisdom, relationships, and work but what about sex?  Surprisingly, there are many verses about the matter and even an entire book called Song of Solomon written about it.  Yet not much is discussed in Christian circles about how God views sex.  There is much discussion about how other people view sex (just look at the titles of magazines at your grocery store), but few if any discuss how God views it.

So after looking over many verses, it all comes down to a couple of basic ideas and here are the top sexual no-no’s in alphabetical order.

  1. Adultery is sex with someone who is not your spouse.  This commandment was given by God through the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:14.  Jesus expanded the definition in Matt. 5:28 to include someone who looks at another with lust in their heart.  This therefore would include any pornography.
  2. Homosexuality is sex with a person of the same-sex.  Lev. 18:22 and Rom. 1:26-27 warns against such practices.
  3. Incest is sex with family members or relatives.  Lev. 18:7-18 provides quite a long list of relatives which include immediate family and extended family as far removed as first cousins.
  4. Lustful pleasure is what the Gentiles live for according to Eph. 4:19 and as Christians we are not to act like them.  This means we do not live to have sex, it is part of our lives but it should not occupy the majority of our thoughts.
  5. Obscenity and coarse jokes are inappropriate sexual comments in a public setting.  Eph. 5:4 calls such behavior unfitting of a believer.  This includes sexual harassment.
  6. Orgy is having sex with multiple partners at a time.  1 Cor. 6:16 states that sex is intended to unity two people, not three or four.
  7. Prostitution is paying for sex or receiving payment for sex.  Neither a male nor a female should be a prostitute according to Deu. 23:17.
  8. Rape is forced sex without the consent or permission of one of the parties.  Deu. 22:26-28 calls for death for the person committing the rape.
  9. Sexual immorality as defined by 1 Cor. 5:1 is having sex with a member of your family not biologically related (which is incest).  The example given is a man having sex with his step-mother and would also include abusive sex.
  10. Sexual sin is outlined in 1 Cor. 6:12-20 and it explains that every time a person has sex with someone, they are joined with them becoming one.  By this standard, any sex which is not meant to be part of unifying two people (such as marriage) is sexual sin.
  11. Sodomy is unnatural intercourse such as having sex with an animal.  Lev. 18:23 calls such behavior perverse.

Having said all of this, the Bible also makes it clear through the book of Songs that He intended sex to give you pleasure and within the bonds of marriage, you are free to express yourself and share your bodies with your partner.  After all, He is the creator of sex and intended it for pleasure and procreation.  With the exception of the items listed above, sex should be a natural outpouring of your love, commitment, dedication and intimacy with your partner.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Love Conquers All – Or Does It?

Newly engaged couples are so much fun to watch.  They are very tender with each other, they smile when they speak to each other, they care about the other person’s opinion, and they are optimistic about life in general.  Best of all, they believe the other person is perfect and their love will last forever, that somehow they have the ideal type of love and their love will conquer all problems life tossed their way.  This is what is meant by having rose-colored glasses when looking at your partner, seeing only the good and none of the bad.

However something happens when these engaged couples walk down the aisle and say, “I do”.  The same rose-colored glasses seem to shatter resulting in the good becoming minimized while the bad becomes exaggerated.  One of the many reasons premarital counseling is recommended is to help to highlight via an indifferent experienced third-party, the potential areas of contention.  While God’s love is capable of conquering everyone and everything, man’s love falls far short.  Here are some of the major areas that man’s love cannot conquer.

Addiction.  There are many forms of addictions a person can have: alcohol, gambling, pornography, drugs (illegal and prescription), and sex just to name a few.  These addictions consume time, money and energy from your relationship and in the long run, can even destroy it.  Your finance may even say that their addiction tendencies are less because of your presence and while this may be true for the time being, it will not be true in the future.   The reason the addiction is less during the engagement is because of the excitement of the upcoming marriage and the hope and promise it brings.  As soon as difficulties surface, this hope will quickly turn into despair and the addiction will return sometimes with a vengeance.

Abuse.  There are also many forms of abuse such as physical, emotional, sexual and verbal.  Physical abuse involves any physical contact that is unwelcome or threatening.  Emotional abuse is neglecting your partner’s basic needs for security, love and attachment.  Sexual abuse includes rape or any type of forced sexual encounter.  Verbal abuse is the use of foul language, demeaning statements, biting sarcasm or hurtful remarks.  Loving someone will not stop the abuse.  Often the abuse is very subtle in the beginning and often in frequent during the engagement process with your finance being very apologetic afterwards.  These are warning signs that should not be ignored because the abuse is very likely to increase after the wedding.

Alarm.  There are many ways your partner can alarm you, perhaps they engage in self-harming behavior (such as cutting), threaten to commit suicide, threaten to cause you physical harm, or have irrational fears (such as paranoia or extreme jealously).  These behaviors need to be addressed with a professional who has experience in helping individuals to overcome their alarming behavior rather than a well-meaning finance who is unsure of how to handle the situation.  Getting married will not eliminate any of these behaviors no matter what your finance says, in fact it will worsen.

Addiction, abuse and alarm are three good reasons to end an engagement.  Yes, your finance can get better with professional help, a willingness to overcome the challenges, and by the grace of God but even these ingredients separate from each other do not guarantee success.  Just for a moment, take off your rose-colored glasses and look at your partner objectively to see if there is any trace of these behaviors.   After all, your love does have limits.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Dealing with the ghosts of your sexual past

One of the most frequently asked questions by couples preparing to get married are, “How much of my sexual past do I need to reveal to my partner?”  While this can be a difficult question to answer, there are some basic guidelines to follow.

  1. Don’t lie.  Starting off your marriage with a lie is not a strong foundation and sooner or later the truth will come out in the most horrible way.  Even though it might hurt your partner’s feelings or you might potentially lose them, it is far better to be honest and suffer the immediate consequences then it is to lie and live with life-long guilt and much worse consequences.  Remember a lie is not just speaking untruthfully; it is also withholding the truth.
  2. Disclose any health hazards.  Some states require that you disclose any sexually transmitted diseases or infections before they offer a marriage license.  If you or anyone you have slept with has or has the potential for a STD (sexually transmitted disease), STI (sexually transmitted infection) or HIV/AIDS, you must tell your partner.  It is lying to do otherwise.  While on this subject, it is a good idea for you to be tested prior to marriage as there are many types of STD’s or STI’s some of which cause or contribute to infertility.
  3. Disclose any sexual abuse.  If you have been sexually abused or molested as a child, raped as an adult, or the victim of sexually harassment, you must tell your partner.  This may be an embarrassing admission on your part, just remember you were the victim.  And as a victim of a sexual crime the potential for some word, phrase, touch, look or position to trigger memories from the past is likely.  Your partner needs to know of your triggers so as to protect you and not add to any re-traumatizing.
  4. Disclose any abortions.  Statistically, one in three women has had an abortion, so it is likely that either you or your partner were involved in an abortion.  While this topic may be controversial and seem more like a private matter, not disclosing it is again a lie.  Your partner may feel differently about abortions than you and this is an opportunity to learn more about each other. Also when you have children in the future you might feel differently about abortions and the remorse may surprise both of you at a time when you should be feeling joyful.
  5. Disclose any addictions.  Pornography is addictive and any and all uses of it should be disclosed to your partner.  While it may seem like most people look at pornography at some point in their lives and the need for it will disappear with marriage, too often this is not the case.  After the honeymoon wears off and problems surface in your marriage, escaping to pornography to feel better can and frequently does happen.  Knowing your partner’s weaknesses and setting necessary boundaries such as an internet filter is demonstrating love for them.  Ignoring the problem and hoping it will just go away is foolish.
  6. Disclose any sexual crimes.  Sexual crimes are molestation, incest, rape, abuse, harassment, trafficking, prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, sex with animals, or obscenities.  If you have been found guilty of a sexual crime, you must disclose it.  If you have been cleared of charges of a sexual crime, you should still disclose it.  If you have committed a sexual crime but have never been caught, you should disclose it.
  7. Disclose any adultery.  If you have been involved in an adulterous affair, disclose it.  While the affair may have ended a long time ago and you have parted ways without speaking about it, the guilt of having committed the offense will repeatedly torment you.
  8.  Don’t give too much detail.  While you must be honest about your past, too much detail about frequency, positions, locations, or anything else that could cause your partner to fantasize about you having sex with someone else is dangerous.  Say enough to be honest but not too much to cause your partner harm.
  9. Ask for forgiveness.  Once you have found the right partner, the other sexual partners of the past seem to fade in comparison.  However, the reality is that you did not wait to have sex with just your partner and this is precisely why you are having reading this article.  One of the hardest things to do is admit that you were wrong for having sex with anyone other than your marriage partner.  So begin by asking God for forgiveness and then ask your future spouse for forgiveness.
  10. Better to ask.  If your partner is secretive and refuses to disclose any information about their sexual past, be direct and ask them about the above points of disclosure.  If they are still not forthcoming, then seek professional help.  It may be that your partner is more comfortable dealing with this issue with a professional or it may be that they are unwilling to be honest.  If it is the latter, then know that you are building a marriage on unstable ground and it is likely to fail.

These guidelines are just that, guidelines.  They are not meant to be all-inclusive but they are meant to set the outside perimeter of what should be expected.  By discussing these issues prior to marriage, you will find more peace and less anxiety about your partner’s sexual behavior.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.