Vanessa Reiser, a clinical therapist, is a survivor of narcissistic domestic abuse and wants to make others aware of it too.
There are times when we realize that there is a problem in our relationship but can't pinpoint it. We might have questions about our partners and could be facing a problem getting any straight answers from them. Maybe, your partner makes you doubt yourself constantly and tries to control you as well. If you can relate to these issues, there could be a rare chance you are in a relationship with a narcissistic person.
One woman in New York is trying to raise awareness about narcissistic abuse, which is a kind of domestic abuse. Vanessa Reiser, a clinical therapist, is a survivor of narcissistic domestic abuse and wants to make others aware of this by running 285 miles in a wedding dress. She used to be engaged to "a diagnosed narcissist sociopath" who had abused his previous partners as well, as per People.
The New York native will begin her run in Oswego, New York, on May 17 and complete it on May 29 at Jay Hood Park on West 174th Street and Haven Avenue, according to The Washington Heights-Inwood Patch. She is going to wear a wedding dress to "symbolize the silent victims who fall prey to abuse at the hands of their domestic partners."
"What I want the world to know is that narcissism is not about selfies. As a psychotherapist, I know the clinical criteria someone has to meet to be diagnosed as a narcissist, but I did not know the true meaning of what narcissistic abuse was and what it was like for the victims who lived with it, until I started to research," Reiser said in a news release. "I am now part of a tribe; a group of special superheroes who have survived it."
The abuse victim describes "narcissistic abuse" as "an insidious form of domestic violence." She told People, "Narcissists generally will use the wedding or an engagement as a form of control and manipulation. They entangle you. And so, [the dress] is a representation of how they do that."
Her experience with a narcissist put her at risk many times. "He left me in Cape Cod and then I had to rent a car to get home," she explained. "He padlocked me out of the house. A few months later, I left him and he spit on me, called me a bunch of really awful names, told me that my dead father was a loser — my father died when I was 18 — and then he bleached all my clothing," she added.
He also tried to get her thrown out of the board of the Domestic Violence Center by claiming that she abused him. "There was a lot of pain," she said. "I had to stay at my mother's house for three months. It was really awful," added Reiser.
She couldn't figure out initially what was not right in the relationship. It wasn't until she withdrew from her favorite activities, because of her partner, that she realized what kind of a man she was with. "The day I figured it out, I left," she recalled.
Not everyone is lucky like she is to be able to leave an abusive relationship. However, Vanessa is trying to make it easier for them by starting a charity called Tell a Therapist. It provides a telecommunication service that connects narcissistic abuse victims to specialized clinicians.
Disclaimer: If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
Cover image source: Vanessa Reiser | Photo by George Pejoves