I have blabbed on at length about narcissistic behavior in here, maybe some of this can be useful to be aware of in an immediate sense, but ultimately, things tend to get worse not better and I really hope your niece chooses to move out very soon.
Originally Posted by Addy
An example of his irrational behaviour- she turned the thermostat up because she was cold. It was dark outside. He turned the heat down then went downstairs and turned the power out to the whole house and left her and the children home in the dark. She didn't know how to turn the power back on
I guess this is sadistic.
Well, first and foremost, you asked about domestic violence before. This IS an example of domestic violence
and I recommend your niece seek out, specifically, a domestic violence counselor
. This example is most certainly psychological abuse (rampant with narcissists) but depending on your niece's physical needs and resources along with those of the children in her care, it might be considered physical abuse as well.
That said, while it is an example of cruelty, it does not seem necessarily sadistic. This example sounds more like a power struggle, and not at all irrational - if you apply a narcissistic rationale:
Your niece changed something in a way that crossed him. He took control back (reset temp). He then upped the ante to demonstrate that she could not/must not do that again, that he was in control. The focus seems to be about asserting his power over either her/them or
his living quarters, his territory.
I'd say that if other occurrences are similar to this, the albeit unkind actions are probably not the end but the means, there is nothing to suggest sadism. Simple narcissists will use any means
to get what they want out of a situation. Toying with others' feelings are very
effective means to do this. Narcissists do not relate to others' feelings so they just seek out one's "buttons" and push them repeatedly and strategically until they elicit behavior that feeds their own ego. They do not care whether the other person feels like a queen or a serf in the process.
If you think back to the beginning of the relationship, this guy was probably all sweet and nice, right? And i'm sure your niece was really in love and every attention he paid her i'm sure elicited more attentions paid to him That is an example where making someone else feel good works for a narcissist. When the relationship starts to cool... the incoming attentions isn't enough so different sources of ego-food (or "Narcissistic Supply") is sought.
Deference is another form of N-Supply, as is territorial or personal control. Requiring deference, or attempting to assert personal control over your niece and/or their children would mean he is "feeding" off their personal submission
to him, and that is very dangerous
to all of them, even in the absence of sadism.
A sadist enjoys cruelty for its own sake. If you hear of behaviors where this guy is enjoying harm caused and it isn't a manipulation, then, he really could have sadistic traits. IN THAT CASE
--- OR ----IF HE EVER gets even close to physically abusive, or seems to want to CONTROL/MONITOR whom your niece sees, where she goes, or when she comes and goes, etc.
---THEN---she really really really REALLY needs to take the kids and high-tail it out of there yesterday.
Another quick note, sorry this is so long (AGAIN!) ...
Narcissists play mind games - Burton mentions "gaslighting" above - where they will do subtle things and then deny doing them, even display utter indignance if accused. Alternatively they will shrug it off as something too petty to be upset about. These things can cause the other person to feel ashamed, ridiculous, inappropriately apologetic, insecure, unstable, and ultimately they might feel they are going nuts.
She has doctor, lawyer and friend support...
That is excellent.
... Do please talk to your sis about adding a DV counselor to that list!
I'm very frustrated and honestly it just helps me to talk to you all. I'm 500 miles away in a different part of the province so have had no direct contact with her... just superficial, because remember, I am not supposed to know all that I know. Its a horrible position to be in.
((((((Addy)))))) I'm so sorry!
Feeling powerless to help someone you love is indeed a horrible thing. Remember you did get that book across to her, and you are speaking with her mom... so you do get a little bit of influence in.
You are not completely powerless. And then, there is the connectedness of the universe... if you believe in that... well... just thinking of her, praying for her, or sending her good energy is doing something for her. I know it doesn't feel as concrete as being able to take her out for coffee and look in her eyes, or babysit the kids etc, but just remember everything counts.
And absolutely do please keep coming and talking to us here.
We are listening.
~ waves ~