Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions page of The ACoN Society.

Below are answers to some of the more commonly posed questions that newly-minted ACoNs have. Sister Renee Pittelli of Luke 17:3 Ministries has generously donated her answers to the unwritten questions that ACoNs have. Sister Renee is the author of "Narcissistic Predicaments" and "The Family Freeloader", and has recently published a new book, "Breaking the Bonds of Adult Child Abuse".

Following Sister Renee's answers are the QUESTIONS posed in the "ACoN FAQs - Ask and Answer" post on The ACoN Society, followed by answers written by experienced ACoNs. Each answer is preceded by the author's name.  

Ruth of We Are One has very generously taken the time to personally answer each and every question posed in the "ACoN FAQs - Ask and Answer" post with her own personal experiences and wisdom. We are very grateful to Ruth for this - you can also read all of her answers in succession on her blog post "Answering Questions" on We Are One.

Please submit questions and/or answers by commenting on this page, or by email at acon(DOT)anon(AT)gmail(DOT)com. We'd love the opportunity to help answer your questions, and we'd equally love the opportunity to share your wisdom with our readers in the form of answers! (Trolls, as always, shot on sight!).

FAQ About Abusive, Narcissistic, And Psychopathic Relatives: 
The Answers

Generously donated by Sister Renee Pittelli
Reproduced from Luke 17:3 Ministries FAQs

1. Yes, they know what they're doing.

2. Yes, they know they're hurting you.

3. Yes, they're doing it on purpose.

4. Yes, they can control it. They do whenever they want to impress someone.

5. Yes, they could stop if they wanted to.

6. No, they don't love you, even if they say they do (Actions speak louder than words). They do not feel love, empathy, compassion or remorse. Your relationship is not about love. It's about control, dominance, power, attention, "respect", admiration, subservience.

7. No, you cannot change them. You can only change yourself.

8. Yes, there is something you can do. GET OUT. I know that's not what you want to hear, but that's the answer. If it takes you years to accept this, you will always regret those lost years that you could have spent living a joyful life.
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty"...2 Corinthians 6:17-18.

Further insight into the mind of a narcissistic parent (via a psychologist that Sister Renee knows):

"Why does he/she act this way?!"

Said the psychologist - "Because it works."

Sister Renee says:
"Narcissists and psychopaths are motivated by power, admiration, "respect," dominance and control, and what they can get out of us by way of using us for favors, money, credibility with others, etc. They are predators, who think of us as weak for loving them and letting them get away with abusing us. Like the psychologist said, they behave the way they do because it works for THEM, it gets them what THEY want, not what WE incorrectly assume they want. They are not sorry for causing pain, they LOVE fighting, manipulating, lying and fooling us, they are turned on by seeing us upset and hurt and knowing they have so much power over us."

"Does my NParent know that how they treat me is wrong?"

Ruth says:
"When I was growing up I was told that my nm was just like that because how she was raised and I had to love her.  Hammered into my head over and over that it was unintentional and I was oversensitive.  One day upsi wrote about how a narcissistic will get a tiny smile on their face just before doing something cruel.  I thought no, not my mother.  Then I watched.  It was easier to see her do it to my sister because I wasn't in survivor mode.  First the smile and then the zinger.  I also remember the times my father paid me 10 - 20 dollars after a partictularly rough day with mother.  So not only did she know what she was doing but my father knew too and paid me to take it.  I felt sick when I finally put the pieces together in my 50's."

"Are they accidentally hurting me, or is it 'on purpose'?"

Ruth says:
"Some of both.  I know as a parent I sometimes said things thoughtlessly that came across all wrong to my children.  It certainly is by accident sometimes.  The difference was my nm would not acknowledge that she needed to apologize.  I was blamed for any 'misunderstanding' and I needed to 'forgive' her without any change in behavior on her part.  Other times were planned out with malice aforethought... planned out and saved for the right moment to use to maximize either pain, embarrassment, or humiliation.  Chilled me when my nm decided I was old enough to learn the fine art of manipulation through emotional blackmail.  There is another perspective that I told KavinCoach.  "If they shoot me on purpose or by accident either way I am equally dead."  I was trying to express that on purpose or accidental damage occurred and needs to be repaired.  I still need to heal.  I learned by terrible example of what to do if I accidentally hurt someone else. I apologize, try to make amends, and work at not doing it again.  With my nm, I learned to never be alone with her because she puts on a good performance and so far that has worked for me."

"Can my NParent Change?"

Quercus says:
"I'll answer that question with another question: 'If you were perfect, powerful, important and better than someone else, would you want to change to be more like them?!'.
You and I and decent people everywhere may not see people as "better" or "beneath" us, but narcissists do. Narcissists see the entire world as a hierarchy. To change themselves at all would be to give up their hard-fought position of dominance and control; they have absolutely no reason to want to change! They don't care if you are their child and need their love. They don't care if changing their behaviour would save your life. You are 'weak' to them and if you succumb to their 'greatness', too bad for you! Only more proof to them that they were better all along. They'll never CARE about you, because all their caring is used for furthering their own agenda. They care only for their own needs.
Hypothetically, they could change, but they won't. Believe us. They might pretend to change, but they want you right back where you were; under their thumb."
Ruth says:
"Choice to change?  A year ago I would have said a flat no.  Now I experienced seeing someone choose to change that had narcissistic behaviors.  That is when I came to understand that everyone is on a continuum from mild to severe.  However, with my Nmother she made a choice repeatedly not to change.  As far as I know, 4 different medical doctors recommended that she get counseling.  She refused.  She was given medication once that required counseling.  She went a few times.  I asked her about it.  Her reply, "The doctor was more interested in talking to your father than to me, so I stopped going."  Others asked her and she denied ever going.  My father told me that she told him it was too hard.  So my final answer...usually not since they don't believe there is a problem.  Everyone else needs to change to suit them."

"How do I know if my parent has NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) or not? Who diagnoses that? And is there treatment for it? What's the success rate?"

Quercus says:
"Mental health professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists and registered therapists and counsellors can determine whether or not your parent likely has NPD. But unless the expert actually visits with the individual (your NParent), a legitimate 'diagnosis' can't really be made. Not that it matters - apart from validating your concerns, your parent being diagnosed with NPD doesn't have any beneficial effects (i.e. they can't take them away, lock them up, force them to undertake therapy, or make them treat you better!).
There is treatment of a sort - cognitive/behavioural therapy (and if you ask a psychiatrist, probably some medication too). But I'm not sure you should bother looking into this; the therapy can't be enforced. And if the narcissist doesn't think there's anything wrong with them, they won't be looking to get 'help'! The success rate of therapy is only as high as the enrollment rate, which for all intents and purposes is ZERO. They don't want to change, so you can't make them change (no one can).
Here's what you can do: you can go to therapy (you can even take medication, too) - therapy for patching up the horrible wounds inflicted on you by the narcissistic parent. You can educate yourself on the subject, join groups like The ACoN Society, read blogs and make online friends who will understand your feelings. That is all you can do until you take the final step. The last step, and the most important one, is to simply 'walk away' from the parent who will never change and will only ever escalate and worsen with time and age.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. They won't change. They'll never love you. They'll only get worse."
Ruth says:
"A psychologist or a psychiatrist does the diagnostic, good luck getting them in there in the first place.  I read a few treatment choices but again good luck on getting them to stick with it.  Success is hard to define.  I am a great believer that any one can change if they choose to, unfortunately part of the diagnoses of narcissistic is the belief that everyone else is the problem.  Which leaves how did I know?  I didn't when I was growing up.  My counselor started suspecting there was a problem because of the way I behaved and the stories I shared that I thought were 'normal' parent/child relationship.  My counselor wanted me to go no-contact for my emotional health.  There were reason that I won't go into that I chose not to and paid the price.  There are a few internet tests that you can read and try out.  But the eyeopener for me were upsi http://upsi-upsi.blogspot.com/ and mulderfan http://muldrfan.blogspot.com/, my two heroes, that courageously shared their stories and I saw the similarities.  I was blessed with a sister that once we were able to reconnect after years of low contact due to wedges placed by nmother.  After I started counseling, my sister became my ally and we compared notes.  The results was a clearer picture than just one of us watching.  My sister gave me a card years ago showing two ginger bread cookies helping each other escape the cookie jar.  That is what we did, emotionally escaped the enmeshed narcissistic mess that kept us in the FOG fear/obligation/guilt."

"Is it possible that my NParent loves me still, even though they are abusive?"

Ruth says:
"The need to feel loved....it tugged at my heart.  I worked so hard to 'win' her love.  Oh she would give approval and thank me from time to time; I learned the hard way to look for the hook or the 'but' at the end.  She would tell me she loved me.  But to me love is a verb not a noun.  A cliche answers it best for me, "Friends like that, who needs enemies."  I had enemies that treat me better.  By her definition of love she has those feelings for me, maybe, and some days I want to hope so....Then we drop back into the same loop, "If you love me, take care of me and fix things for me."  That damn hook is always there.  She wants me to present the happy family, she created a fantasy world and demands I live in it, then maybe if I am very good she will love me.  The cost is too high for that kind of love.  I would rather be unloved by my standards then 'loved' in her web of lies."

"Why won't my other parent do something to help me?!"

Quercus says:
"It's entirely possible that your enabling-parent is also narcissistic. They are at least to the extent that they care more about protecting themselves from the narcissist (and other 'dangerous' people and situations) than protecting their own child. Which means that they don't really love you, either (I'm sorry to be the one to point this out). They may, like the narcissist, say that they love you, but actions speak louder than words. Would you allow your child to be injured repeatedly by an abuser? No. So why does your enabling-parent?
Like the narcissistic parent, they also don't want to change. They want to maintain the status quo. You as the scapegoat served them as much as you served the narcissistic parent; you are a living sacrifice they are more than willing to make.
Your enabling-parent may not be the aggressor in terms of the abuse, but they are equally culpable and monstrous. In fact, they might actually be more guilty of your abuse - they stand by and allow it to happen.
When I pulled away and began "low contact" with my FOO, my EF came after me like a junkie needing a fix. He got weird and desperate - he needed me to go back to NM so she could abuse me. I figured out why by what he told me: dear dad became the next scapegoat in my absence. He was pleading with me to throw myself on the fire to save himself. What sort of parent asks a child to give up their life so that the parent might live? Shouldn't they willingly throw themselves down to save me from even the slightest injury?
You might not quite see that the 'other parent' is every bit as bad as the really narcissistic one yet, but you will. The enabler is the coward, through and through. He or she is the person who rushes to 'save themselves' in action movies when the going gets tough. He or she would throw an old woman aside to better escape a burning building. The other parent is also a narcissist, perhaps almost to the same degree as the NParent - they think only of their own needs. They might just be less sadistic than the malignant narcissist. They might not enjoy seeing you suffer, but they'll take it in a heartbeat if it means saving themselves!"
Ruth says:
"This one was always painful for me.  I was paid, emotionally leaned on, and bullied to accept the treatment I received.  I used to think he just didn't realize what nm was doing until he paid me.  I was paid to take an emotional beating.  I became cynical, I am going to get the emotional thrashing anyway, may as well get paid for it.  I then denied everything myself until I was in counseling.  Some of the toughest sessions I went through was recognizing that my parents were a matched pair.  I felt devastated when I lost the illusion that at least one of my parents thought I was important enough to protect.  It hurt... a lot....when I finally accepted that my father would always side with my mother no matter how wrong her behavior was.  He used me to protect himself from her wrath.  I was a human shield only the grenades were words and emotions.  There are several books written on the subject I decided not to bother with why and focus on how to stay safe since this was something I could control." 

"Is it morally/ethically/spiritually wrong of me to go 'No-Contact' with my NParents?!"

Ruth says:
"Is it morally/ethically/spiritually wrong to abuse your children?  At the age of 5, I was on the search for a new mother.  At that tender age I knew something was wrong.  The story was retold to demonstrate how heartless I was.  Nobody questioned that there might be a problem at home that a five-year-old wanted to trade in their mother.  In my opinion, many children are left with no other choice to survive.  An extreme example might help, in the book A Child Called It Dave Pelzer explains what happened in his childhood.  His second book describes being put in a foster home and going No Contact.  I don't think there is a single person that would tell Dave Pelzer that it was wrong to go no-contact.  The state helped him do just that.  I found a way to stay in contact with my parents, not everyone has that option.  My opinion now is I have a moral/ethical/spiritual responsibility to keep myself safe from abusers, no matter how I am related."

"What is 'No-Contact' anyway?"

Ruth says:
"I actually went no-contact for several months....moved away after I was married and for several months I didn't call, write or contact my parents in any way.  I liked it and then felt guilty for liking it.  Finally made contact which is to write, call, email, talk to or any form of communication with the other person.  The strictest form of no-contact was practiced often in the 1700's when children sailed to another country and their parents never saw them or heard from them again.  Now with computers shrinking the world and going to Alaska has Skype, effort is needed to cut off the other person.  No-contact is just that, no communication of any kind with the other person and talking to someone that knows the person is a form of communication since the other person becomes the relay."

This page will be updated as new questions and answers come in - check back again!

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