Punishing the narcissist

9 minute read

Because you clicked on this article, clearly your answer is ‘yes, tell me STAT all the ways to punish the narcissist! I’m going to wield my fiery sword of justice on that nasty narc and teach them a lesson they will never forget!’.

Sorry gorgeous one. This piece shows you why this is completely back to front thinking. In fact, ‘punishing’ the narc is really only going to be handing over more supply. And you are DONE with that.

But I do get how you’re feeling.

You’ve suffered hell on earth through the cruelty and horror of narcissistic abuse. To say it feels like your heartbreak and rage may just kill you, is possibly downplaying things.

Before coming face-to-face with the narcissist’s ugliness, you probably believed in the essential goodness of all human beings. This worldview, is part of what makes your heart so kind, and you so very beautiful.

It’s also what drew the abusive narcissist to you. They needed these bits of you that are missing in themselves, and so they took them…only to smash them to smithereens.

heartbreak seeking revenge

Your world is now off-kilter, and you desperately need to regain some balance.

How is it possible for such truly malignant people to exist? How can they get away with it?

The jarring reality of the abuse, is just too much.  Your hurt is huge and horrendous. So here you are, googling ways to hurt the narcissist in return, thinking this will right some balance in your world.

It won’t.

Read on to find out why, and the only guaranteed way to redeem your equilibrium.

Reasons for needing to punish the narcissist

Reason 1: the need to right wrongs

Retribution is an entirely natural reaction. When injustice takes place, the order of things has been unhinged. Wanting to restore balance, to fix the wrong is an immediate response.

At the macro level, this intrinsic urge is ingrained in our humanity, with the principles embedded in rules of culture, religions, and courthouses alike. It’s just how things work.

It’s the same at the individual level. For the majority of us (narcissists aside of course), we have a strong attachment to concepts of justice and fairness. When these principles are violated, the urge to right the wrong is instinctive.

There is no denying that if you have suffered as the target of an abusive narcissist, you have endured gigantic hurts. The magnitude of the injustice and unfairness is engulfing.

In fact, the trauma to your sense of justice and fairness can be seismic to the point where your worldview is forever altered, which is a symptom of C-PTSD/PTSD.

There is no downplaying the enormousness of your injuries happening here. I get it.

The wrong thing has been done to you. Time and time again.

And at this moment, you want revenge. You want them to pay for what they have done to you.

The point here gorgeous one, is that what you feel is normal. Perhaps not the most becoming aspect of humanity, but typical nonetheless.

Reason 2: to remind yourself and the narcissist that you matter

Where narcissism is concerned, the need for revenge is not driven solely by instinct. As with all things related to narcissistic abuse, it is more complex.

I’ll assume that you have reached for this article after being discarded, hence the rage that seeks vengeance.

You have suddenly been deleted from the life of someone who professed to care about you. In true narcissistic discard fashion, this will have been done in an appalling and callous way (that is, of course, if you were notified at all…).

The effect of discard, on top of all you have endured, is akin to annihilation of your very self.

You feel that you simply don’t matter. Utterly powerless. Invisible. You may indeed be questioning, ‘do I even exist’?

For you, revenge isn’t just about righting a wrong. In some way, if you can cause pain for the narcissist you are substantiating that:

  1. you do matter because you believe that if you did not, you would not be able to impact them negatively;
  2. you must surely still exist as otherwise you would not be able to impact on anyone either negatively or positively; and
  3. the ability to cause the narcissist pain demonstrates that despite their best efforts to wholly disempower you, you do still have power.

Revenge just feels like the right way to go, to fix the imbalance, and to retrieve bits of your self you are frightened are lost.

To a certain extent, to be frank, I agree. Your narc deserves that fiery sword of justice.

But I don’t really care about what happens to them. I care about you.

So, let’s get to why you’ve just got to ditch that sword.

Reasons revenge is ill advised

1.      ‘Teaching them a lesson’ ain’t never gonna happen

Whilst wanting to teach them a lesson is perfectly natural, remember who and what you are dealing with. ‘How you know you’re not the narcissist: your proof’ details some basic differences that set narcissists apart from others including lack of capacity for growth.

The narcissist copes with life by cleaving to the conviction that they are superior to all others. Their modus operandi revolves around reinforcing to themselves that this is correct, hence their unending hunger for supply that confirms this view.

To commit to this belief, the narcissist must deny any possibility of having erred. Ever. This necessitates an absence of capacity to apply critical thinking and self-reflection to their actions. Consequently, growth and change are not possible.

If you are motivated to show them the error of their ways, possibly so that they do not damage others the way they have you, don’t bother.

‘Teaching them a lesson’ is something you could spend the rest of your life uselessly invested in achieving.  They will never change (read ‘Proof the narcissist abuses you intentionally and will never change’ for more detail on this).

2.      You’ll only get further enmeshed

In seeking to punish the narcissist, you will only get yourself further enmeshed. And this gorgeous one, is something you cannot allow to happen.

At this moment, you are out of the cycle of narcissistic abuse. This is the pathological narcissistic relationship pattern of idealise, devalue, and discard; and of mutual addiction.

You’ve been hooked to the narc and to the relationship, endlessly waiting on increasingly rare validations that you do matter to the narcissist. In exchange for these hits, you’ve been feeding their need for validation that they are superior to all others (read for more Why is it so hard to leave an abusive relationship with a narcissist? Why narcissistic abuse and trauma bonding is so powerful for codependents & When hope is killing you: Narcissistic abuse).

The thing is with the cycle of narcissistic abuse, this moment of discard is a gift. Albeit a temporary one if you attempt to re-engage with the narcissist in any way.

Remember that all attention is fuel for the narcissist, both positive and negative. So long as you indicate that they continue to hold power over you, yes, even through displays of rage, you are telling the narc that your supply for them has not been exhausted.

seeking to punish the narcissist keeps you trapped in their web

You are signalling to the narc that you are still available to be toyed with. Predictably, the bait & hook game will recommence when they are ready to play (read How the narcissist hooks you: Hoovering & baiting). And because of your addiction to their validation, you will surely bite.

At this very moment, discard is an invitation to rescue yourself. You can either a) punish yourself by supplying them through ‘revenge’ and inevitably re-enter the cycle of abuse, or b) break the cycle and set yourself free.

For more on trauma bonding and addiction within narcissistic relationships read How No Contact supports narcissistic abuse recovery.

3.      The punishing will be yours

Driving your compulsion to punish, are the deep, aching wounds you carry because of the narcissist.

Think about what this means for a minute.

The insupportable pain that is consuming you has been caused by a person clearly capable of causing great harm. This person has shown you their cruelty not just once, or twice, but time, and time again. Ergo, you can rely on the fact that while they can get at you, they will continue to hurt you.

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, any future engagement with the narcissist, will cause you more harm.

Furthermore, you can count on the certainty of narcissistic rage which no doubt you will have had a taste of several times.

In seeking revenge, you will be looking to hit them where it hurts. If in your quest for punishment you trigger a narcissistic injury where they perceive that their beliefs of grandiosity, superiority or power are threatened, or what lives behind the mask is exposed, you can expect hell to rain down on you (read What happens when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out).

You already know that there are few things more frightening than narcissistic rage. You know how compromised your safety is when it surfaces.

No more gorgeous one. Do not expose yourself to any more forms of violence from the narcissist, whether physical or not. It is all harmful.

In pursuing the narc’s punishment, you’ll only end up the one being punished.

Redeeming equilibrium

In wanting to hurt the narcissist, you remain caught in their web.

As long as your energy is directed at them, their hold on you remains strong. Moreover, keeping your focus on them, robs you of the attention you so need from yourself at this time.

That incessant internal replay of all the trauma that demands you punish the narc, is generating continued hurt. For you. Not for them, for you.

Until you can redirect your energy on yourself and your healing, the narcissist wins. They can sit pretty knowing that their power and control over you is rock solid which is precisely what they want.

The path of revenge will not right the balance of your world. It will not give you back what has been taken from you. It will not lessen your heartbreak.

This path only exaggerates the imbalance further and will, with absolute certainty, only shatter you more.

Do not give any more bits of your precious self to the narcissist. They’ve taken enough.

I urge you to redirect the energy of your rage to fuel your healing instead.

The only ‘way to punish the narcissist’ (if we must look at it this way!) is to sever their ties of control and power. To move forward living your best life, knowing that you are one mighty warrior. That even in the face of that unimaginable ugliness, you could not be destroyed. That the kindness in your heart, your beauty, could not be extinguished.

That YOU, gorgeous one, could not be diminished.

You chose instead to be free and joyful.

be free and joyful instead

For more tools & knowledge building pieces on the issues in this article read:

As always, please do share your insights, tips, thoughts on ‘punishing the narcissist’. Sharing and encouraging others is so very necessary to help all of us on our journey of recovery – so thank you!

With gratitude,

Maggie x


Hungry for more?

The Sociopath Next Door by Dr, Martha Stout, and Psychopath Free by Jackson Mackenzie both shine the light on the machinations and dangers of the triggered malignant narcissist/Antisocial Personality Disorder’d (APD) individual. If you need more convincing, check these out (read them anyway – they are excellent books!).

In line with healing your gorgeous self, any book you pick up by Brene Brown will feel like the sweetest salve to all your sorest bits. Please, please, please read Rising Strong. It has nothing to do with narcissism or APD, but everything to do with you picking up those shattered bits of yourself from the hell you’ve been through, and choosing that free and joyful you that is busting to claim the day. Read it now!

(Note – if using link/s provided to purchase, you’ll receive free shipping and title heavily discounted. You’ll also be supporting my work in providing you free resources on this site, by earning a very small commission, at no extra cost to you – thank you 😊)

9 thoughts

  1. I want on a twist on punishing a narc, that recently happened to me. First some background. My narc pulled the disappearing act on me last fall, this time telling me she was going. What I suspected but didn’t know for r sure was that she’d hooked up with another guy behind my back. I didn’t care at the time because I was tired of the bs and happy to let her go. About two months later she came back into my life. We started texting again, though I only went along with it because I was sure she was up to something and wanted to see what it was and my guard was up the entire time. I now realize this was a mistake as it only gave her the opportunity to play her games some more. However, we continued to text for 2 1/2 months until I found out what it was really all about the days paraded her new guy in front of me and coldly and casually informed me he’d been her bf since the day she told me she was leaving me months before, and who knows how long before that. This time I walked away, and cut off contact. Now to the punishment part. About a month later I found out that her bf had been going behind her back to get back together with HIS ex. I knew it’s true because I witnessed it myself. (Btw I can’t help wondering if they’re booths narcs, but whatever). My ex obviously didn’t know what he’d done, only that he was suddenly acting distant toward her as she did everything she could to draw him closer. I’m not a vindictive person but I must admit did take some pleasure in know that he’d done to her exactly what she’d done to me and knowing the pain and confusion she must have been feeling. But now I realize what a waste of time that was as the only thing she was feeling was the threat of losing her latest supply, and I suspect that she managed to suck him back in anyway though I can’t prove it now. In the end she wasn’t punished and nothing has changed, no surprise in that. So whether we’re looking to punishing them or hoping they’ll be punished some other way, it won’t happen, and we’re just allowing them to stay in our minds. Now I see that the answer is indeed to just get away from ours narcs and let them wreak their havoc on someone else while we put ourselves at a safe distance where we can heal to the point where we’re no longer affected by them and can get on with our lives.

    1. Dear Joe – absolutely. Words of wisdom. There is nothing in ‘punishing a narc’. On a personal note, I’m not really one for revenge & punishment and all that, but can fully appreciate the urge to do so. The thing is that the only person this damages is the punisher, particularly so with narcissists. All that’s really happening is feeding them – it’s a big fat neon sign to the narc screaming ‘come get me, I’m ripe with supply for you’. Also, re-engagement after separation in the end just means you end up getting hooked back in again (whether intimately or not, being available to give supply is still being hooked). Great news that you are free, and healing yourself now! All the best Joe. Maggie x

  2. Easiest way to punish a narcisist is just acting like they dont exist at all. Never talk off them to anyone, dont look at them. Delete them from facebook all social media. And do the thing i just did: Just say thank you for showing me people like you exist now i never have to worry about a narc again.Tell them you dont know eachother anymore and they are like air to you. This will twist their core because they now know you know what they are. Another thing that is very funny witch ive seen with my own eyes is just tell them u feel sorry for them. This makes rage because they will then feel weak. I know this is alot and maybe it will be hard for someone, but its the only thing ive seen work vs them. Because a: Narcs biggest fear is being forgotten. And B: Narcisists think they are the center off the universe, and when you make them believe they are meaningless to you they failed. Remeber there are alot off people in the world and narcs usually gets taken care of karma. Because when they get older reality hits them like a big bang and less and less people will even give them the time of day. Narcisist fear this because they will then slowly die out with anyone and cant feed off other people anymore.

  3. Great read and although I thought about punishing my narc, I knew it was not worth my time. But I enjoyed this information as it made me giggle out loud and it was incredibly insightful. Amazingly true to those who have been unfortunate enough to be in a relationship like this. Thank you for your words!

    1. Dear Anonymous, I’m so glad the info was helpful, and perhaps even more so that it gave you a giggle 🙂 Humour is SO important! It is hugely impressive that you find this within you despite facing what you must be going through to have thought about punishment. Kudos to you Anonymous. Sending you light & love, Maggie x

  4. That totally diffused me…. thank you thank you thank you….I was sitting here spinning in grief and hurt… your words smack me (in a good way)….. in a Cher circa 1987 Moonstruck moment….. snap out of it and move on…. advice we all need in this psychotic situation…. the narcissist has already taken enough… he doesn’t get anymore…. Thank you 😘

    1. Dear Vikki, I’m so glad you found something helpful in the words. You made me laugh ‘your words smack me (in a good way)’…it’s a relief to get feedback like this! Please know that I fully appreciate that snapping out of this and moving on, as you say, is the HARDEST thing to do. But it is doable. Cher was onto something. To my way of thinking it does though take some dismantling of all the gaslighting that has taken place. And often the quickest way is to cut straight through all their ‘you know what’ to get this done. The best thing I’ve heard all day is that you are refusing to give your narcissist any more of your precious self. Good. Keep all your gorgeous self for you for now as you work through your grief and hurt, and reclaim all that brings you joy. Light and love to you Vikki, Maggie x

  5. Hello,
    Sorry if my english is not very good, I’m French…
    First of all, let me thank you for your wonderful website. I have an issue which I’m not sure should be adressed in this section… I know that we have to break any ties with the narc, and I sure will, but my problem is that we were living in the same town (he’s my ex-boyfriend), and I have all my friends there. I do not want to leave this town, where I have built all my life, but the problem is that he has made friends with all the friends I’ve known for 15 years, and now I’m kinda stuck, because if I stay in this town, I will always come across him, and in the other hand, I do not want to be separated from my friends, which would be another punishment and violence for me. I do not want to let him “win”, to stay there and see my friends, whereas I’m going to be alone in a new town. That sounds too unfair… Do you have any advice ?

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