How Abusers Use Your Vulnerabilities Against You

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter


Maladaptive behaviors do not spontaneously develop. They are learned in childhood where we are growing rapidly and learning to become integrated functioning human beings. These vulnerabilities are the result of the legacy toxic shame that we are left with from years of betrayal from those who professed to love us and who were supposed to help us feel safe and teach us to rely on our own emotions and selves to sustain our joy, maintain healthy relationships, and thrive. Betrayal includes neglect and invalidation and coddling and even expecting children to grow up too fast and be “mini-adults” and take care of the other children.

Even parents with the best of intentions can betray their children by not nurturing them and not validating them and not teaching them to rely comfortably on their own emotions. So folks who may not have been overtly abused and believe they were raised in the best of families can also experience the effects of betrayal and become pain addicted and dependent on others to regulate their pain and define their worth. Survivors of childhood “abuse” bring these “bad habits” with them into adulthood. We go on to teach the skewed unhealthy thinking to our children who mirror us. Narcissists also use these vulnerabilities against us and target us.


Abuse Survivors Readily Let Their Boundaries Down

Abuse survivors typically were exposed to constant boundary violation and disrespect of their emotional and physical rights and authority. The results? They are not accustomed to honoring their personal rights and authority. As they move into adulthood, they openly offer way too much information related to their personal lives and feelings to others that while “honest,” can advertise their vulnerabilities to narcissists, bullies and other abusers and make them susceptible to their attacks. Abuse survivors who are empaths, can also be too trusting.

take-your-power-back-300x300According to Dr. Jane McGregor, empaths are ordinary people who are highly perceptive and insightful and belong to the 40% of human beings who sense when something’s not right, who respond to their gut instinct, and who take action and speak up. They frequently like the child in the “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” will tell the truth and expose lies and wrong doing. A particular attribute in empaths is that they have trouble comprehending a closed mind and lack of compassion in others. This inability to see the “bad” in others also significantly enhances their vulnerability to attacks from emotional vampires throughout their lives.  Read more here on how narcissists target empaths. Empaths, to appease their need to “make things right,” may also “speak too much too soon” without scoping out the landscape first. Read more on empaths here. Trusting others before you have evaluated whether they are “on your side” or not is simply not a wise thing to do. Would you let your money hang out of your wallet while you walked down the street? I think not. Well, the same applies to your own personal emotional health and well-being that hold much more worth to your long term survival than money!


How Do Narcissists Know We are Vulnerable

Well, they learned how to recognize their potential victims in the same place you were abused – by watching the abusers in their own families. They are very slick and have spent years studying their prey, other humans no different than a mother lion teaches its cubs to stealthily hunt for a gazelle. They lack emotional empathy but have developed and learned “cognitive empathy” so they can recognize what triggers your emotions and what does not. As they get older, they hone those abilities and, for example, learn to target empaths, sensitive, compassionate people with high emotional intelligence and actively plan and plot how to “steal” their power from them by manipulating it from them. They also learn to target conscientious hard working and generous people who bring much value to the family, group, job or organization.

How Do We Learn to Protect Ourselves

The good news? We can heal. When we take our power back and build our self-esteem through self-care and self-compassion and better understand our personal rights and boundaries, we learn to release the shame and honor our personal divinity and share our truth when it is in our own best interest to do so and only with those we consciously recognize as equally deserving. We can learn to identify emotional vampires in our lives. We can also learn to assertively protect our boundaries and learn to protect ourselves from toxic people.

Read more and get many more healing lessons, tip and tools in my book, Take Your Power Back. 

Take Your Power Back is a step-by-step “How To” guide to teach you to regain and use your personal power to turn your pain-based life to one that is joy filled. It will help you discover that the source of truth-based healing resides in each and every one of you and how to tap into that infinite power.

10 thoughts on “How Abusers Use Your Vulnerabilities Against You

  1. Evelyn Ryan says:

    I fully understand. I am older myself…You just learn to do what makes YOU happy. That is always the right answer. It is important that YOU live your authentic life and believe that we deserve only the best. Someone told me day, a man actually that there are so many men who are seeking someone like me. It changed my perspective because it reminded me that we have to put ourselves out there to be found. However, there are also a lot of predators out there as well. We cannot rush healing but we can facilitate it with truth. These blogs and the Yourlifelifter facebook page are filled with it…glad to see you here!! Blessings! Evelyn


  2. P. Smolinski says:

    So your saying that we must have been abused as children for this self abandonment to occur in adulthood . I don’t believe my parents abused me . My Parents divorced my Mom was always a presence didn’t go out or drink always comforted me . She raised 4 girls essentially alone without many outside family supports . She herself I don’t believe felt safe and due to her own vulnerabilities perhaps left us to our own devices . Can parents unintentionally passively cause us to be so naive and vulnerable to these personalities .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Evelyn Ryan says:

      I modified the article to clarify abuse that can mean different things to different people. The self-abandonment starts in childhood and continues throughout our lives into adulthood. Becoming dependent on others to define our self worth and to relieve our pain is a maladaptive coping mechanism we developed in childhood. Parents with the best of intentions can “betray” their children by NOT nurturing them and not validating them and not teaching then to rely comfortably on their own emotions. Abuse is betrayal including neglect and invalidation and coddling and even expecting children to grow up to fast and be “mini-adults” and take care of the other children so folks who think they come from even the best of families can also experience the effects of betrayal and become pain addicted and dependent on others to regulate their pain and define their worth. In addition, we teach the skewed unhealthy thinking to our children who mirror us. Maladaptive behaviors do not spontaneously develop. They are learned. Where else? In childhood when we are learning to becoming functioning humans.


    • M. Downes says:

      Thank you Evelyn, this article has made so much sense to me. I believe I have been unconsciously practicing the art of not ‘sharing’ so much with others of late. Not sure if its because I cant be bothered or its just non of their business. It’s kind of evolved this way over time and I am happy that it has.
      I am feeling like its time to put myself out on the dating scene again, it’s been a little over 4 years since my 35 yo relationship/marriage to a Narc finished. So, this article has really ‘clicked’ with me……..thanks again Evelyn, life is a real learning curve!
      At 61 yrs old I am still learning what is emotionally healthy for me!

      Liked by 1 person

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