When your narcissistic husband devalues you and you find yourself asking, “My husband says he’s not attracted to me anymore – why?” it’s time to surround yourself with support, learn more about narcissistic abuse, and seek safety.
Dr. Natalie Jones from A Date With Darkness Podcast is diving into this topic with Anne on the BTR.ORG Podcast – tune in and read the full transcript below for more.
It’s NOT About You – It NEVER Was
Many victims, understandably, take this form of abuse very personally, and may seek to change themselves to meet the abuser’s ever-changing standards of beauty.
This is particularly painful for BIPOC women, whose abusers attack not only temporary characteristics, like weight, but permanent characteristics, like race and culture.
But the truth is that it’s not about your skin color, size, hair color, or facial features – the abuser is simply trying to control you.
Abusers Use Criticism to Control Victims
The abuser criticizes your physical features to control you. As long as you feel inadequate and permanently “less than”, he can maintain the illusion of “power over” you.
Why? Because when abusers condition victims to believe that they’re “too much” or “not enough”, victims focus on becoming “right” for the abuser, rather than on seeking safety from the abuser’s behaviors.
How Do I Heal From This Form of Abuse?
The devastating pain that comes from this form of narcissistic abuse can feel impossible to heal from at times – the words and smirks, put-downs, and jeers can sear themselves into the memories of victims.
However, healing IS possible – but not until safety is achieved.
Narcissistic abusers are particularly skilled at making their opinions seem like facts – and that “everyone else” feels the same way that they do – when victims seek safety from the abuser, they often begin to realize that the abuser is a liar – that reality is actually the complete opposite of what the abuser claimed it to be.
BTR.ORG Is Here For You
At BTR.ORG we know that healing can feel like a far-off dream – but we are here for you as you begin your journey to healing. Attend a live, daily BTR.ORG Group Session as you begin your journey to healing.
Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne. On today’s, I have Dr. Natalie Jones. She is a licensed psychotherapist. She’s the creator of A Date with Darkness Podcast, and I have been a guest on her podcast, and so I wanted her to join us here. Dr. Jones received her Masters in clinical counseling psychology and her Doctorate in clinical psychology. Dr. Jones is specifically known for helping professional people of color heal from narcissistic abuse. Welcome, Dr. Jones.
Dr. Natalie Jones (03:28):
Thanks for having me on.
Dr. Natalie Jones Helps BIPOC Folks Heal From Narcissistic Abuse
As you’re known for helping professional people of color heal from narcissistic abuse, can you talk about why this is your specific interest?
Dr. Natalie Jones (03:39):
It started out with my graduate school dissertation, and my dissertation study was on African American women who were psychologically abused by their parents. While growing up in that study, I looked at several different elements of coercive control, and I do think that there’s different elements of narcissism in people of color versus the general types of narcissistic abuse. So for example, especially with women of color, black women in in particular, which is what I studied and what I wrote about and what I was passionate about and what I identified with is that there are certain elements of narcissistic abuse that just are not present. For example, if it was a white family, it’s just not the same. So some examples of narcissistic abuse or some elements of narcissistic abuse, which would be colorism, futurism.
What Is Colorism?
I’m actually embarrassed to say that I don’t know what colorism means. <Laugh>, I’m guessing if I don’t know that a lot of the audience doesn’t know as well, would you mind defining that?
Dr. Natalie Jones (04:55):
Colorism? It goes way back for years and generations, and what it is, is it’s a comparison to whiteness and how closely a person of color or a black person relates to a person that’s white that is then translated to be goodness or worthiness. So for example, if I have more white presenting features such as long straight hair, or I have light colored eyes or light colored skin, I’m perceived by certain people to be better, of, better version of a black person than someone who may be darker skinned or brown skin or who doesn’t have those types of features. And back in the day, it used to be called the paper bag test. That means folks would compare their skin color to the paper bag and if you were darker than the paper bag, you were perceived not to be as beautiful or not as worthy. So that’s something that is specific to people of color where there’s this perception of lighter skin or what traditional white features is perceived as being better.
How Does Narcissistic Abuse Present In Families of Color?
So this colorism you see at play in families of color that experience narcissistic abuse, they do, they treat their children better or people of color better when they have these white features.
Dr. Natalie Jones (06:32):
I can’t make a broad general statement for how every family, cause colorism presents differently. But traditionally speaking, if you have in the traditional narcissistic family, you have the child that is the golden child, and then you have the child that is the scapegoat child, that’s a golden child, often receives better treatment, is still a very oppressive family environment and a toxic family environment. But the golden child can do no wrong. Whereas you have the scapegoat. The scapegoat is blamed for everything, and all of the family problems are pretty much attributed to the scapegoat. So when you have colorism at play, traditionally speaking, a lighter-skinned child more often than not, is the golden child. And so therefore they receive better treatment, they receive more compliments, they’re told that they’re more beautiful, whereas the scapegoat may be the darker or the brown skin child, and they may be perceived as not as beautiful or put down or degraded more or comments made about their skin color and received just poor treatment overall.
“Their Conditions of Worth Are Based on That”
And again, this is a very elementary school type of explanation, but I wanted to try to simplify it as best as possible. It really does get to be much more pervasive than what I’m talking about. I mean, you have people that their conditions of worth are based on that. You have people that are treated or are abused more physically and in other ways because of their skin color. So, you know, again, I won’t get, I don’t think we have enough time to get into all the different elements of it, but that’s just one way in which it, it’s very different.
That makes me so sad to hear about that. Thank you for explaining that. I think maybe in other ethnicities or other races, I’m not aware of this, but I’m just thinking of it, maybe like the most beautiful one in the family, regardless of skin color perhaps would be treated better, maybe too, like, I don’t know.
What Is Featurism?
Dr. Natalie Jones (08:55):
Yeah, so colorism is not just African American specific but it does take place in other, you know, families of color and other races and ethnicities and cultures of color as well. So I don’t wanna put that out there that it’s not on a societal level. Colorism is something in which society has grown to accept in that society also perpetuates. So what you actually see is something that is an internalized racism that’s pushed within cultures. So I think I mentioned colorism, featurism. Featurism would be comparison or breaking a person down, degrading a person based on what their body features are. So for example, if your nose is bigger or you are bigger in size or perhaps having a bigger butt, those things sort of breaking a person down based on features and degrading them based on features. Textism was another one. So again, very similar to colorism.
Textism is specifically where you’re talking about the types of hair that African American women have. So some hair is perceived to be, again, beautiful or better than other types of hair. And so again, you go back to qualities that are more white centered being perceived as the standard of beauty. So if your hair is longer, if your hair is straighter, then it’s automatically perceived to be much more beautiful than someone who may have coy straight hair. And again this is very simplified, because I’m just explaining the general concepts of that, but the patterns of abuse that went into attacking women and making them ashamed and just really breaking down their self-esteem and also making conditions of love or worthiness or acceptance based on these types of features.
“How Did you Find Your Way To The Professional Women of Color Healing From Narcissistic Abuse From Their Partners?”
As you started out with families of color, how did you find your way to the professional women of color healing from narcissistic abuse from their partners?
Dr. Natalie Jones (11:20):
When you have women that are abused or are oppressed by their families, by their parents, while growing up, my research show that they are much more likely to be in relationships with abusive partners. So if you grew up in an abusive environment, chances are more likely than not, then that trend will continue and it will, not only will it continue, but my research shown that the trend will continue and it will escalate, which means that typically speaking, you’ll have much more severe abuse with an intimate partner than you did in your family growing up.
That’s really hard.
Dr. Natalie Jones (12:06):
It is. It it is really hard. Yeah.
“Their Partners… Did Not Like Women of Color – They Did Not Like Women in General”
In your research, did you see anything specific to women of color related to their partner when it came to narcissistic abuse?
Dr. Natalie Jones (12:17):
Absolutely. And this still continues to be the trend for a lot of women of color today. And it’s actually, it’s interesting because I’m actually seeing it become a trend on TikTok as well. But one of the things that I’ve noticed that came up in the research that I just talked about with my participants is their partners did not like women of color. So their partners actually preferred other types of women based on standards of beauty, which is what they’re told, but their partners, they did not like women of color. And I think overall, they did not like women in general.
Trauma Mama Husband Drama
I’m gonna take a break here for just a second to talk about my book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama. You can find it on our books page which has a curated list of all of the books that we recommend. My book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama, is a picture book for adults. So it is the easiest way for you to explain what’s going on to someone who might not understand it. It’s also just a good reference for yourself because it shows what’s happening with very telling and emotional illustrations as well as infographics at the back. When you go to our books page and click on any of those books, it just takes you directly to Amazon and you can throw those books in your cart after you have purchased the book. Please remember to circle back around to Amazon and write a verified purchase review along with a five star rating that helps isolated women find us.
Narcissistic Abusers & Misogynistic Racism
Back to our interview. So these narcissists married to these women of color, let’s just say married for, for ease of conversation here, knowing that they, they could be in different situations, but they were married to a woman of color, but they felt like that wasn’t good enough for them. I mean, can you explain sort of the narcissistic mindset that you would see someone who doesn’t value a woman of color who would then marry one? Like, do you see my logic? I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around that.
Dr. Natalie Jones (14:27):
Yeah, no, I mean, you know, maybe it might be better for you to think in terms of someone who’s misogynistic, and we have a term for it called misogyny wire. So a misogynist does not like women. And the misogyny wire does not like black women. And so even though they may get with someone or may partner up with someone, basically they tear everything down about that person, or they tear everything down about that culture of that person, if that makes sense. So they hate the fact that they’re black, they hate all of their features. And so part of it is just breaking down everything that is black centered in that person’s being, and so they don’t identify with it. And it could even be with another black man, and I’m speaking again in gender terms because I’m talking about women, black women, but it, it can be with another black men that does not like anything about black women.
“Even Though They’re Together, They’re Telling You on a Daily Basis That They Hate Everything About You”
You know? And they could be saying, oh, black women, they’re too angry, or they’re too assertive, or they’re too headstrong. And another common thing is they need to be more submissive, or they need to hold their man down and, and, you know, you know, they can’t be controlled by their man and so, or you need to be much more thin, or you need to have better hair or better presenting features to look like this. So even though they’re together and that person may lay down and have sex with you, they’re basically telling you on a daily basis that they hate everything about you and they’re breaking that part of you down. It’s the same as a typical narcissist would do. But they’re making it, again, as more black centered because they’re breaking down everything.
Pay Attention to This Red Flag 🚩
And if you are ever dating someone that is making statements about a race, especially their own race, and how they hate everything about it, for me, that is a huge red flag, because that implies that a person has, they hate themselves, they hate everything about themselves. So with narcissistic abuse and African Americans, if you have, for example, if a woman is dating a black man and he’s saying, I I hate black women, or I don’t identify with those people, that is a red flag because he has a mother, he may have an aunt, a grandmother, or a sister. So if you’re making a broad statement like that, what does that say about you and how you feel about yourself and your own cultural identity?
“You’re Too Much, You’re Not Enough, You’re Too Skinny…”
Yeah. That’s very problematic for white women. So I’m white and I have a lot of white friends. That same thing happens, but it’s generally not related to race, but it’s like, you’re not, you’re not skinny enough, you’re too outspoken. And, and so I wonder, do black women think from your perspective that if they were more quiet or thinner or whatever, that it would help? Or are they not realizing that regardless of race, any woman victim of narcissistic abuse is going to experience stuff like this? It might not be race related per se, but it may be like, you’re too much, you’re not enough, you’re too, you know, you’re too skinny, you’re not, you’re not cozy enough, you know, whatever. Like, it’s just always, you are not right the way that you are regardless of race. Do you feel like that’s an extra burden for women of color to carry them?
Dr. Natalie Jones (18:15):
Narcissistic Abuse Carries an Extra Burden For Women of Color
Because at least for all of the white victims that I’ve talked with, no one’s ever brought up race in relation to it. So I’m like, oh, do they not know that they would be using this with anybody? They’re also adding an extra burden of race. But even if they were dating a white woman or someone else, they would still be doing this. They’re not gonna not do it.
Dr. Natalie Jones (18:39):
Absolutely. Most victims of abuse or survivors of abuse will spend quite a bit of time trying to change and mold themselves into being someone that is worthy, because that’s what being abused does. And if you take a step back and you look at it not only from, you know, just a micro level meaning like just your, your family and, and people that, that are around you, you know, it’s a bigger issue because it’s also on a systemic level and a societal level too. Traditionally speaking, there is a sense of oppression and there is that sort of unspoken message that whiteness is better. Right. And you know, although it becomes a sense of privilege when people can’t see that because that’s never been something that they’ve ever had to worry about. The standard of beauty. Right. And just even just taking a look through your high-end fashion magazines, what are you going to see as the standard of beauty?
Narcissistic Abusers Are Going to Attack You – No Matter How “Perfect” You Are
When you take a look at people magazines, the most beautiful man or most beautiful people, what are you going to see? I mean, just systemically, those are the images that you see. It’s in the music. If you listen to any sort of hip hop music, again, that sort of also talks a lot about standard of beauty. It’s on reality television those messages that you see. And so absolutely it’s something that women of color experience on a day-to-day basis. But one of the things to remember is society also backs that message up, which also makes it that much more difficult to overcome those types of oppressiveness, if that makes sense.
“He’d Still Be Undermining Her In So Many Ways”
For all of my wonderful black friends out there listening, I wanna say, like, if you’ve listened to this podcast for a long time, you’ve heard women from all different races, religions, you know, areas of the planet, and all of us are experiencing narcissistic abuse in ways that like, we are not enough or we’re too much. One of those things we’re, we’re never just right. With narcissistic abuse. And so knowing that that’s just an extra layer of burden, but that it’s not about that because this abuser, they’re not gonna be happy with anything. So even if he was dating a woman who he deemed as quote unquote perfect, you know, she had the type of nose that he said was perfect and she had the type of skin killer that he said was attractive, he’d still be undermining her in so many ways. And also he might be attacking the way she looks.
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He might be undermining her. There is no way to win. There’s nothing that any woman could do that would stop him because it’s a power over situation. It’s not about anything else other than him maintaining power over and trying to put her down in any way he can. Dr. Jones and I are going to pause the conversation now, but we’re gonna continue next week. So please stay tuned. If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. And until next week, stay safe out there.