20 ways a narcissist will punish you when you stand up to them

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Narcissists don’t like it when you stand up to them about their poor behavior. Below are 20 things they might do to punish you if you dare to call them out on their crap or make it clear that you won’t tolerate their mistreatment.

1. The silent treatment.

An upset narcissist is a petulant narcissist. They’ll make a point of ignoring you completely and treating you as if you don’t even exist. If you live together, they’ll refuse to look at you or speak to you, especially if you try to get any kind of response out of them.

2. Gaslighting.

If they get bored of the silent treatment, they may try to make you think that you’re crazy by gaslighting you. They’ll tell you that things you clearly remember never actually happened, or that there’s something wrong with you for feeling a certain way, until you start to second-guess your own reality.

3. Preying on your insecurities.

Your narcissist has paid attention to all your insecurities so they have ammunition to harm you with. They’ll make remarks about your weight, age, or other insecurity to break down your self-esteem. If you feel small, you’ll be less likely to stand up to them again in future.

4. Playing the victim.

Narcissists love to play the victim and will act as though you’ve severely wounded them via your unreasonable, awful actions towards them (i.e. standing up to their abuse). They’ll likely bring up past traumas, imply that they’re too broken for anyone to love, and may even threaten self-harm or suicide.

5. Turning people against you.

Your narcissist may reach out to people in your social circle and muckrake in order to damage your relationships with them. For example, they might contact your family members and tell them that you’ve been abusive or tell your friends the “terrible truth” about how you’ve been sleeping with their partners.

6. Weaponizing kindness.

A narcissist may also be extra kind to their victim to regain the upper hand. Yours might bring you breakfast in bed, and as you’re enjoying it, say something like “yeah, I’m such a monster that you just had to be horrible to me, when I do things like this for you.”

7. Withholding affection.

Another way that your narcissist may punish you is to withhold any type of affection. They won’t return the sentiment if you say “I love you”, they will refuse hugs or casual touch, and may go sleep in another room. Additionally, physical intimacy will be completely off the table until they say so.

8. Guilt-tripping.

Your narcissist might guilt trip you for doing things that you enjoy, instead of what they want. For example, they may text you while you’re out with friends to tell you that they got injured. Naturally, if you had been home with them, it likely wouldn’t have been quite so serious.

9. Nitpicking.

No matter what you do, you’re somehow doing it wrong. They’ll tell you that you’re chopping vegetables the wrong way, that you’re inept at folding laundry, or that you tie your shoes like a toddler. Essentially, they’re telling you that you’re a constant source of disappointment and contempt for them.

10. Sabotaging your success.

A narcissist will aim to hurt you by the approach that’ll damage you the most. If you got into an amazing school, they may go into your emails and either un-enroll you or stop your tuition payments. Did you score a great job interview? They’ll email the recruiter and cancel it on your behalf.

11. Damaging or giving away your possessions.

Depending on how awful the narcissist in question is, they may damage or get rid of something that matters a great deal to you. Maybe the diary you inherited from your grandmother will mysteriously go missing, or your beloved pet will disappear because someone “accidentally” left a door open, etc.

12. Invading your privacy.

Many narcissists think that if you suddenly have the audacity to stand up to them, you must have someone else lined up. As such, they’ll go through your social media apps and emails to find out who it is, and they might even follow you when you go out with your friends.

13. Getting you in trouble.

If you’ve really upset a narcissist by standing up to them, they may go above and beyond to get you in trouble. For example, they might anonymously report you to the government for tax fraud or make an anonymous tip about you to a federal terrorist hotline for a potential interrogation.

14. Using humor to wound you (because they know how to).

Narcissists are masters at brushing off scathing commentary as “just a joke”. They might laugh at something they find ridiculous or hideous and tell you that it reminds them of you, or even insult you straight out and then pretend that they were just kidding, and that you’re being oversensitive.

15. Belittling you in public, especially with those you respect.

If you’ve dared to upset your narcissist, they’ll put you down in front of people you hold in high esteem. One minute you’re at a company party, talking to a superior whom you respect, and the next, your narcissist is telling them how you wet yourself if you sneeze too hard.

16. Creating fights out of nothing.

A narcissist will always seek to control those around them, and they don’t like being stood up to. As such, they may pick a fight over something insignificant as a means of granting themselves a self-righteous “upper hand” if they feel that they’ve lost a position of power over you.

17. Projection.

Narcissistic projection is essentially an admission, so whatever they’re accusing you of, they’re undoubtedly taking part in themselves. Your narcissist might accuse you of lying, cheating, stealing, or countless other awful things. Basically, they can’t handle the truth of their own awful behavior, so they have to pin it on you instead.

18. Interfering with your social life to disrupt your relationships.

Your narcissist may try to isolate you from anyone who may listen to or support you about their abuse. As such, they may run interference to prevent you from socializing. This can include not giving you messages, throwing away mailed invitations, un-friending your social circle on your apps, and so on.

19. Implying that they’re going to cut you out of their lives.

Depending on your relationship, this can take different forms. A narcissistic parent may threaten to cut you out of their will. In contrast, a narcissistic partner might create online dating profiles and leave those open for you to find—the underlying threat being that they’ll leave you for someone who “treats them better”.

20. Ghosting you.

This is quintessential narcissistic behavior, and every victim has experienced it. They’ll simply disappear from your life for as long as they see fit—blocking you on social media, ignoring your calls—without any explanation. They see it as a punishment, never realizing how much of a relief their absence brings.

About The Author

Catherine Winter is an herbalist, INTJ empath, narcissistic abuse survivor, and PTSD warrior currently based in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. In an informal role as confidant and guide, Catherine has helped countless people work through difficult times in their lives and relationships, including divorce, ageing and death journeys, grief, abuse, and trauma recovery, as they navigate their individual paths towards healing and personal peace.