Covert Narcissistic Abuse: What It Is and How to Recognise It

Narcissistic abuse is a term used to describe the behaviors and actions of a narcissistic person that cause harm, either physically, mentally, or emotionally, to their victim. Narcissistic abuse can be overt or covert, and it can happen in personal relationships, family relationships, and even professional relationships. Covert narcissistic abuse can be particularly difficult to recognise, and victims may not even realize they are being abused until it is too late.

In this article, we will explore what covert narcissistic abuse is, how to recognise it, and steps you can take to protect yourself.


What is Covert Narcissistic Abuse?


Covert narcissistic abuse is a form of abuse in which the narcissistic person uses subtle manipulation and control tactics to undermine and exploit their victim. Covert narcissists are often charming, charismatic, and intelligent, which makes it difficult for their victims to recognise the abuse. They use passive-aggressive behaviors and gaslighting to make their victim doubt their own perceptions and reality.

Covert narcissistic abuse can take many forms, including:

  • Emotional manipulation: Covert narcissists use emotional manipulation to control their victim’s behavior. They may use guilt, fear, or shame to get their victim to do what they want.
  • Gaslighting: Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser makes their victim doubt their own memories, perceptions, and sanity.
  • Silent treatment: Covert narcissists may use the silent treatment to punish their victim for not doing what they want or for challenging their authority.
  • Projection: Covert narcissists may project their own negative qualities onto their victim, making them feel guilty or ashamed for something they did not do.
  • Triangulation: Triangulation is a tactic in which the narcissist pits their victim against another person, often someone close to them, to create drama and control the situation.


Recognising Covert Narcissistic Abuse:


Recognising covert narcissistic abuse can be challenging, as the abuse is often subtle and manipulative. However, there are some signs to watch out for:

  • You feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells around the narcissist, afraid to say or do anything that might upset them.
  • You feel like you are always the one apologizing, even when you have done nothing wrong.
  • You feel like you are constantly being criticized and judged by the narcissist, and you can never do anything right.
  • You feel like you are always defending yourself and your actions to the narcissist, even when you know you have done nothing wrong.
  • You feel like you are losing your sense of self and your confidence, as the narcissist makes you doubt your own perceptions and reality.
  • You feel like you are always doing things to please the narcissist, even if it goes against your own values or beliefs.

Our video The Most Dangerous Type Of Narcissist delves more into this dark personality.


Steps to Protect Yourself:


If you suspect that you are a victim of covert narcissistic abuse, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • recognise the abuse: The first step in protecting yourself from covert narcissistic abuse is to recognise that it is happening. Educate yourself about narcissistic abuse and the tactics that narcissists use to manipulate and control their victims.
  • Set boundaries: Once you have recognised the abuse, it is important to set clear boundaries with the narcissist. Let them know what behaviors are not acceptable and what consequences they will face if they continue to engage in those behaviors.
  • Seek support: Narcissistic abuse can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. Seek support from a therapist or counselor who has experience working with victims of narcissistic abuse.
  • Practice self-care: It is important to take care of yourself while dealing with narcissistic abuse. Practice self-care activities such as meditation, exercise, or spending time with supportive friends and family
  • Consider going no-contact: In some cases, going no-contact with the narcissist may be the best option for protecting yourself. This can be a difficult decision to make, but it may be necessary to maintain your mental and emotional well-being.




Covert narcissistic abuse can be difficult to recognise but can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. It is important to educate yourself about the signs of covert narcissistic abuse and to take steps to protect yourself if you suspect that you are a victim. Remember that you are not alone, and there is help and support available for those who have experienced narcissistic abuse.