Is it just me, or does it seem that there’s an epidemic of narcissism in the world today?

Or maybe we just know what to call these people now. Or maybe the victims are just speaking out more. Or maybe it’s because I deal every day with women who are in difficult divorces. Whatever the reason, narcissists seem to be everywhere.

According to the DSM IV-TR, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is diagnosed in between 2% and 16% of the population in clinical settings (between 0.5-1% of the general population). And of those diagnosed, most (50-75% of all patients) are men.

So a lot of women out there are realizing that they are married to a narcissist.

How do you know if your husband is a narcissist? In an article in “Psychology Today,” Professor Preston Ni identifies these as the 6 most common traits of narcissists:

  1. Frequent Lies and Exaggerations
  2. Rarely Admit Flaws and Are Highly Aggressive When Criticized
  3. False Image Projection
  4. Rule Breaking and Boundary Violation
  5. Emotional Invalidation and Coercion
  6. Manipulation: The Use or Control of Others as an Extension of Oneself

Sound familiar?

Even though these characteristics are pretty sure to alienate everyone around him (especially his wife), the thing the narcissist fears most is abandonment. Makes no sense, right? He acts in a way that pushes you away, but can’t bear the thought of your leaving him.

Welcome to the wacky world of narcissism.

Being married to a narcissist is a soul-crushing experience. You are a captive audience for his slow-drip form of torture: his constant and pervasive criticism and belittling of you wears away at your self-esteem until you become a mere shell of a person.

There is no therapy nor drug to cure narcissism. And if you think living with a narcissist is bad, can you imagine what happens when you do the single thing that most frightens them? But that’s what you must do: leave.

So, you can understand why I see a lot of women who are in the process of leaving a narcissist. It’s a horrific experience, and you need support. But not everyone will understand what you’re up against. Most people have not experienced what you have and would probably not even believe it if you told them.

You need a support system that understands the beast. Others who have been in your shoes. People who’ve figured out strategies to “outsmart” the narcissist so he can no longer victimize you.

It will be long. It will be hard. And it will drive you to the very brink of insanity. But it will be worth it. You will finally be free.

This article originally appeared at

Victoria McCooey suffered for years from emotional, psychological, even financial abuse from her ex, but when the abuse turned physical she knew she had to get out — for herself and for her three sons. Her divorce took six years, but she persevered. The experience led her to become a divorce coach. She is the founder and head coach at “The Divorce Course for Women,” a program designed to eliminate your pain and fear, increase your knowledge and confidence and help you discover a magnificent new life. You can learn more about Victoria and her program at