A narcissist speaks about child abuse

Emotional abuse: "He made me addicted and then reduced the drug"

A case from the Enzkreis

At first he passionately conquered it, then he manipulated it and later he dropped it like a hot potato. In extreme cases, experts call this "emotional or narcissistic abuse". That is the story of Andrea and Ingo *.

Andrea shakes her head uncomprehendingly. “That I ran into someone like that,” she says and still can't quite believe it. When she thinks back on the relationship with Ingo, she feels like she has "honey on her mind".

Andrea, a professionally successful business economist, over 50 years old, comes from the Enz district. The partnership with Ingo made her sick. But now she wants to talk about it, also to open the eyes of other affected people.

Covert Narcissistic Abuse

Andrea is a classic example of emotional or covert narcissistic abuse - this is how Lucia Völlinger classifies the story. Völlinger runs a practice for psychotherapy and coaching in Malsch. Why is it called covert abuse? Because the perpetrator deceives and manipulates and does so in such a subtle way that it is very difficult for the victim to see through. "The environment is more likely to notice it, the victim himself is mostly blind in these relationships," describes Völlinger. Ingo is a classic narcissist. And Andrea was his victim.

How the relationship began

But one after the other. Andrea is divorced. She had lived by her husband's side for 30 years. After that, she placed a personal ad in the newspaper because she no longer wanted to be alone. Their marriage had been their only partnership until then. She has no children. Andrea received around 200 letters - including Ingo's. He is older than her and comes from the district of Emmendingen. He was also married and divorced.

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First meeting in the museum

Both meet for the first time in a museum, roughly in the middle of their two places of residence. After the first meeting, Andrea initially doesn't want to see the 60-year-old again. “I couldn't smell it,” she says. Ingo remains persistent and keeps answering. After the second meeting, Andrea falls in love. But then she is enthusiastic about his "funny and cheerful manner".

What attracted her to him

At first he is very affectionate and attentive. He's texting her in the morning, calling her work at noon and calling her home in the evening. But after a while he answers less and less. "Like a drug addict, he made me addicted and then slowly reduced the drug," says Andrea.

Lucia Völlinger knows such cases: "In the first phase, the new partner is showered with tokens of love." Experts call this love-bombing. Messages, flowers, constant affirmations of love. Narcissists, says Völlinger, always go all out at the beginning of a relationship. "He gives everything to make the victim dependent on himself."

Ingo was addicted to sex

Ingo's addiction quickly becomes a problem. "He was addicted to sex," says Andrea. He often wanted to - and soon there was less and less tenderness to be felt. Better hard and fast. She pretended she liked it. She mostly played highlights. Ingo was always looking for a kick, says Andrea. When cycling, driving a car or in the amusement park. Both do a lot together. He works as an engineer, but steals strawberries and flowers from fields. The forbidden irritates him.

After getting to know each other, Andrea is quickly sure that they would stay together. The two live in separate apartments - he in the Emmendingen district, she in the Enzkreis. You see each other especially on the weekends or on short breaks. Ingo introduces her to his stepdaughter and assures her: "I am glad that we are a couple." Otherwise, however, he saves on compliments. More and more often, he also unsettles his partner. Like this weekend, for example, one of the last ones before the breakup.

Ingo is looking for a sponge in the bathroom and cannot find it. He asks Andrea where he is, as if she had taken him. “He said it in a tone that was supposed to say I stole the sponge,” Andrea recalls. For expert Völlinger, these are typical features. The partner consciously lets things disappear until the person concerned becomes desperate.

"Gas lighting"

This so-called "gaslighting" is a form of emotional manipulation, a kind of brainwashing, according to the therapist. "The victim is literally conditioned and, through targeted statements and actions, made to doubt himself and increasingly to lose his self-confidence or even his identity." Also exposing himself in public to making fun of his partner is always closed with narcissists discover.

She once bought him a waffle iron because he loved eating waffles. "What shit did you buy there?" He snaps at her. “You don't have to furnish my apartment.” The clawing of flowers is also quite typical, reports Völlinger. “This rebellious behavior can be observed in many narcissists.” The narcissist only ever sees himself, says the psychotherapist. Narcissists couldn't love themselves. “There is an inner emptiness in them. They get their self-worth through the people around them. ”The partner should constantly admire him, otherwise he will be punished with psychological games. Somebody like Ingo literally sucked the victim.

Ingo lied a lot right from the start, says Andrea. When the two of them are with her on a weekend, his cell phone rings on Sunday afternoon. Ingo doesn't answer. Then a message comes. Andrea doesn't ask any further questions. He later claims it was a work colleague. But the call comes on his private cell phone, not the business cell phone. It seems strange to Andrea, but she doesn't say anything.

Separation in March 2019

The separation then runs unemotionally. It was March of this year. He lies behind her in bed and tells her against the back of her head that it's over now. He explains the beginning and the end of the relationship with his former partner, who has died. For Völlinger, this is anything but an isolated case.

The victim story, such as the death of the “soul mate”, is a well-known pattern. These can be heartbreaking stories from childhood or from failed relationships. "This awakens the desire in the new partner to get him out of his sadness and now finally give him a better life," explains Völlinger. The narcissist shamelessly abuses the new partner's empathy.

A world that collapsed

When breaking up, Ingo says that he was happy with his former partner - but only "happy" with Andrea. “A world collapsed for me,” Andrea looks back. At the time, she felt as if she had been thrown in the trash. She feels used. This is followed by pain all over the body for no apparent cause. Völlinger knows that too, the body reacts to psychosomatic stress. "The soul expresses its suffering in an illness," says the expert.

Thoughts of suicide

When Ingo gets his things, he sees how bad Andrea is. Shortly after the breakup, she even considered killing herself. Andreas ex-husband is with her in the difficult time. She often thinks back to it, to Ingo and so much that should have caught her eye. That his friends didn't know each other, for example. Or the thing with the other women. Once she even found a note with an Internet address about sex contacts. When she asked about it, he said the note belonged to a friend. She believes him. But it takes strength. After every weekend she was completely broken, Andrea recalls, because it stole a lot of her energy every time.

"Narcissists suck their victims like vampires"

“Narcissists suck their victims like vampires,” says Völlinger. "If nothing more can be obtained from the victim, it will be dropped." Andrea had felt the warning signals. During the year and a half of the relationship, she was close to ending the affair two or three times. "But every time he calmed me down and portrayed me as jealous or suspicious." In the end, he kept pulling her back into the relationship. "Hoovern" is what experts say. Like a vacuum cleaner.

Ingo even managed to make Andrea jealous of a friend. That, too, is a procedure that one comes across again and again in such cases, according to Völlinger. The man attacks the social contacts of the woman, intrigues and causes unrest.

Today Andrea wonders how a person can be so cruel. And why she didn't notice all of this sooner. A therapist and a self-help group helped her that she is now doing relatively well again.

Andrea currently has no partner. However, she would place another personals ad. She would like to meet a man again - maybe at flea markets or in the gym, where she likes to spend her free time. “If I only distrust people, Ingo would have achieved his goal,” she says. “I want to trust people again and not change my being.” Andrea wants to listen more to her gut feeling in the future. “If something doesn't feel good, then it's not good either.” She felt that with Ingo too. But she didn't want to admit it. Because the honey made her brain sticky.

(The names of Andrea and Ingo have been changed by the editors.)