Friday, December 08, 2006

Divorcing a Narcissist? Plan well, prepare well

A Narcissist in divorce will test your strength. Be prepared. Narcissism will be in full flower.

Divorce is never good. But take a narcissist/verbal/emotional abuser and his lawyer and you have a situation that can turn very quickly into an explosive, tenacious, battle. You will be hit with increasingly intense abuse. The legal system can be a very effective battering tool. The first thing my husband's attorney asked him was "Shall I hit her over the head with a 2x4?" There is such pathology in this that we must be aware, vigilant, and prepared. The legal system is adverserial and full of men and women with tremendous needs for power.

The verbal abuser becomes enraged when faced with a partner who has found the power to leave. The abuser feels justified in his behavior, sees nothing wrong with it, and has no realization of consequences.

Often the abuser who sees he is losing control will escalate the methods of control and abuse. The lies will be bolder and he will backstab and betray with more intensity. He has a fierce need to regain power and control. Continued use of the legal system may now be available to him. He will deplete assets to pay attorneys to continue the battle ad nauseum.

With the psychopathology of the narcissist and you are in for a long battle. They will impoverish themsleves to harm you, to "get you", to destroy you. They will steal from family members to fund the war. They have tunnel vision when you have become the designated enemy.

(Why Lawyers Love Narcissists)

This is a dangerous time. In times of danger the best thing to do is prepare. There is a method of preparation for divorce called The Tao of Divorce based on Sun Tzu's The Art of War . Men's rights groups hate this because it empowers women by showing them tactics. Men are used to doing battle. Women are not. Divorce is war. Men do not like it when women learn strategies and tactics. They will blame your knowledge on feminism, scream that men are better parents and when none of that moves you, they will cry out "FAMILY VALUES." Let them rant. But understand that they are trying emotionalism and "sensitivity" to get what they want. And what they want is lowered support and more of the pie. Here we are dealing with narcissists who are already damaged and primed to do battle. They already lie, cheat, steal and make your life miserable. They are masters at deception and projection. Gaslighting is their forte. You need financial assets to protect yourself and your children. Narcissism can be very, very expensive.

Planning Is Critical

Be prepared. If you have not yet begun the process of divorce you must protect yourself by careful planning. If you have a lot of money, your tactics will be somewhat different than that of one with lesser money. But everyone has something to protect. There will be no mercy shown by your narcissist during this time. His sense of entitlement is boundless and you will be maligned and disparaged and anything, any crumb you get will be too much for you. In his mind, you are worthless, you deserve nothing.

Plan. Plan. Plan. Make sure you have access to all the family funds and accounts. Unless it is an inheritance or there is a prenup, family money belongs to both of you. If you are not on title of the house, make sure you do this.

Get a support group of therapists, friends, family members. Make sure therapists understand narcissism and can testify in your behalf in court.

If the therapist is good but resists the words narcissist and narcissism, call it emotional and verbal abuse.

Document everything. Do all this quietly and thoughtfully or you will enrage the narcissist.

Do not discuss impending divorce. This gives him time to drain the bank accounts, change documents. When you hire a lawyer, do not tell your spouse immediately. Tell the lawyer your situation. Ask if they can handle tough cases. Make sure you interview several lawyers. Ask who the "pit bull" lawyers are so you can interview them. That way, even if you do not hire them, neither can your spouse.

Negotiate the retainer. Most family law attorneys overcharge. Try and find one that gives you some breathing space in terms of your how they charge. The more prepared, calm and efficient you are, the more the attorney will respect you. Emotion and long stories are not liked by attorneys. They are busy, they want cut to the chase information - are there custody issues? is there property to be divided? how much? what problems do you foresee?

Planning is never so important as in divorce. Get your ducks in order and do all you can and be prepared before you announce you want a divorce.

If that's too late, then begin getting support group together. It is never too late to hire evaluators or therapists for your side. If custody will be an issue, be prepared that he will try to alienate your child from you with brainwashing. Learn as much as you can before you divorce.

It won't be easy, but it will be worth it.

Ann Bradley