Narcissistic Parents and Rape
By: Beth McHugh 2009
If there is ever a time when a female needs the support of her parents, in particular her mother, it is when she has been raped or in some way sexually abused. Parents react in a variety of ways to this trauma, but for the adult child of a narcissist, the pain caused by the narcissistic parent can often be worse than the trauma of the rape itself.
Let’s look at the case of Jenny. Jenny was raped by a family friend at the age of 24 but did not tell either of her parents immediately. She knew from past experiences that if she did so, she would somehow be blamed for the rape. Whatever happened, she would not get the love and support she needed and she knew this. The incidence would be turned around to be her fault, rather than that of the perpetrator.
So she sought therapy and after three years felt strong enough to tell her mother, who suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Jenny was so happy that she had waited to tell her story to her mother. As she began her sorry tale, her mother interrupted her and said “You know, sometimes when we don’t feel well, we imagine things happened to us.” Here, Jenny’s mother was denying the existence of Jenny’s rape.
But Jenny pushed on. She told her mother it really had happened. At this point Jenny’s mother put her face in her hands and cried “Why does this have to happen to me?” Unmoved, Jenny calmly told her mother that this had happened to her, Jenny.
Her mother continued to cry and Jenny restrained her conditioned response to comfort her mother, when it was her mother who should have been comforting her. Jenny’s mother has never mentioned the incident since. Jenny then faced another brief round of therapy to help her cope with hr mother’s reaction.
This is unfortunately the typical reaction of an NPD mother to their child’s trauma. Unable to cope with the “imperfection” of the incidence and certainly unable to give up the spotlight long enough to acknowledge their child’s pain, Jenny’s story is not an isolated one. It is important to also note the typical reaction in bringing the subject of the pain back to the narcissist instead of to the victim where it rightly belongs. This too is characteristic behavior of the NPD sufferer.
Fortunately through therapy Jenny was able to both prepare herself for the inevitability of her mother’s reaction and to cope with the pain of not receiving the comfort she so desperately wanted. Jenny has since recovered and moved on from not receiving her mother’s love and support.