Ways Narcissists Silence Their Victims

Silence is one of any narcissist’s best weapons.  They do NOT want their victims to talk to anyone about what the narcissist is doing, nor do they want their victim to feel safe enough to confront them on their abusive behavior.  To prevent those things from happening, they use various ways to silence victims.


An extremely common tactic narcissists use is gaslighting.  If a narcissist can convince a victim that something happened differently than they remember or it didn’t even happen in the first place, the victim won’t discuss the event.  Why would they?  Convincing victims that they don’t remember things right or are making up some wild stories will keep them quiet.  They feel crazy enough- why should they say things that would make them look crazy too?


Shaming is an effective weapon to create silence as well.  If a narcissist can convince a victim that the victim is a terrible person, that victim will be quiet.  That person feels as if she or he is stupid or crazy or even unworthy to “burden” other people.  A person who carries shame is a quiet person.  I know- I have been there.  Granted, I’m quiet by nature but prior to learning about shame, it was much worse.  For example, I felt there was something deeply wrong with me for being upset about the terrible things my ex did to me, so I kept most things to myself.  As a result, when we separated, no one cared to hear my side- everyone took his side with only a couple of exceptions.  They never heard me complain before, so they figured everything must have been OK between us.


Another facet of shaming is when a narcissist is confronted about their behavior & states that behavior wouldn’t upset her.  She has no idea why you’re upset. My mother did this one to me regarding her nastiness about one of my cats.  Chester is a big cat, but he’s very muscular  My mother called him fat more times than I can count.  I’d told her to stop being so mean repeatedly with no results.  Eventually I complained about it to my father, who told her what I said.  She called me & said she had no idea why I’d be upset.  She actually said, “If someone called me fat, I’d just tell them they were right.  I certainly wouldn’t be angry about it!”  I knew immediately that statement was supposed to make me feel shame for being angry with her.  It didn’t work.  It just made me angry she would try such a ridiculous tactic.


Projection is also effective for silencing a victim.  When a narcissist accuses a victim of some terrible behavior, it usually stuns a person.  Most people will assume the narcissist is right, examine their behavior & try to make improvements, at least until they learn about projection & understand what is being done to them.


Triangulation is another effective way narcissists silence victims.  If a narcissist can convince their victim that other people would think, feel or respond as the narcissist, that makes the victim feel isolated.  The victim may think he or she is crazy, stupid, oversensitive & a host of other awful things.  Who would want to talk when they feel that way?


Invalidation is another excellent way to silence a victim.  Invalidation basically says that every single thing about you is wrong, flawed & even crazy.  It makes a person feel as if they cannot trust their own thoughts, feelings or perceptions.  No one who feels that messed up is going to feel able to confront a narcissist or tell others that they are being abused.  In fact, invalidation makes people feel as if they are NOT being abused, & they are completely wrong & crazy for thinking such a thing in the first place.


Creating anxiety & fear in a victim also makes the person quiet.  If a victim is afraid of another, that victim isn’t going to want to do anything that may provoke that person’s anger.  In fact, they will do anything to avoid that anger.  That often includes refusing to confront their abuser or tell anyone about the abuse.  After all, what if the person they tell confronts the abuser?  It’s much safer to keep the abuse a secret.


Narcissists also love to wear a person down to make them easier to force into silence.  They can do this by sleep deprivation if they live with a victim or by harassment if not.  They constantly call, email or text.  The sheer volume of calls, emails & texts can wear a person down.  It takes a great deal of strength to ignore your phone’s constant ringing or alerts to receiving new emails & texts.  It probably doesn’t sound so bad, but I can tell you, being on the receiving end of it, it really is stressful & exhausting!


No one can forget a narcissistic rage.   These happen when a narcissist receives a narcissistic injury of some sort, which basically is a blow to their self-esteem.  Talking to others about the narcissist’s abusive ways or confronting a narcissist about them is definitely a narcissistic injury & will result in a rage.  The rage of an overt narcissist is usually loud & vicious.  Name calling & cursing aren’t above them.  The rage of a covert narcissist is much quieter, & it involves the silent treatment & scathing criticisms to make you feel intense guilt.  A person would do about anything to avoid this rage, & that includes suffering in silence, not telling anyone about the abuse they endure or confronting the narcissist about it.


Diversion is another excellent way to silence victims.  Anyone who has confronted a narcissist has no doubt seen this in action.  The conversation starts out with a victim stating that they have a problem with the narcissist’s behavior, & it ends up discussing something entirely different.  Often, it ends up with the narcissist accusing the victim of some awful or even abusive behavior, & the victim apologizing.  The original topic was abandoned, & no resolution was made.  Sometimes diversion isn’t so obvious though.  Sometimes, the narcissist simply changes the subject & continues to ramble on & on, leaving the victim so frustrated that they give up.


Lastly smear campaigns are very commonly used. If a narcissist can’t stop you from confronting them or telling others what they have done to you, they will not hesitate to tell everyone they meet what a terrible person you are. They’ll have plenty of evidence to prove their point, too, even if they have to lie about it. If they can discredit you, they know others won’t believe what you say. It also is revenge. You made them look bad, so they are returning the favor.

When these things happen, remember that these are simply tactics that are supposed to silence you.  Don’t give in!  You have every right to talk to whoever about whatever you want.  It’s your life, the narcissist is only a part of it.  If that person wanted you to speak kinder about or to her, she should behave better.


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

32 responses to “Ways Narcissists Silence Their Victims

  1. Yyyyyyyyaaaaaasssssss THANK YOU!!!! I so needed to read this today as it’s all the things my mothers been doing for the last 5 months or so and today being Mother’s Day I needed to read that! X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow..well, I’m glad this post helped you but so very sorry to hear your mother does such things to you! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • I would re-blog but don’t know how to!

        I went no contact in October so it’s helpful to remember the tactics and see them for what they are x

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s OK, twinkletoes2017! You can either copy the link to this page in your browser & paste it into a new blog post or hit the “reblog” button after the post.

          It is helpful to remember these things! It’s always helpful to understand what’s going on with a narcissist! It helps you not to take on the blame (a challenge since they blame victims for every single thing!) & keep a good perspective on the situation!

          Liked by 2 people

  2. ibikenyc

    He’s been cycling through every single one of these with increasing frequency over the past, oh, month or so.

    (Well, maybe except for the smear campaign, since he doesn’t know anyone else, either.)

    GOSH do I look forward to being able to think about ANYTHING else.

    I thank God there is still that part of me that can stand aside and watch him with a kind of clinical detachment and interest.

    He really is the poster child for N Syndrome.

    She called your cat fat?! Good grief! Bored much? Talk about grasping at straws! Whaddaya, running out of material?

    I don’t at ALL mean to sound like I am minimizing your pain, Cynthia and dearly hope I don’t. It’s just effing AMAZING what they’ll find to pick at / on! Again, in another context, that might be hilarious! How do they come UP with this stuff?

    She must think YOU look REALLY GOOD!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Humph… so why is he increasing this nonsense over the last month? Any idea what that’s about? At least he can’t do the smear campaign.. one small, baby, itty bitty silver lining. Even when you don’t care about what others think, that is tough! People constantly telling you what a piece of garbage you are while simultaneously praising your abuser is tough to take!

      LOL I know you aren’t minimizing anything! It is amazing my mother called Chester fat so much. But, it’s not so much as her being bored as finding ways to hurt me the most- picking on my furbabies that she knows perfectly well mean the world to me. She also knows “fat” is a tough one for me since she spent my entire life telling me how fat & gross I am.

      LOL She must think I look amazing! It’s the only thing I can figure to make her act so damn crazy!

      Liked by 2 people

      • ibikenyc

        I know EXACTLY why he’s been rampin’ it up.

        Decades ago he was medically-diagnosed as kleptomaniac. As far as I know (and I am pretty confident I’ve got the whole story), the manifestation of the thing has always been limited to shoplifting low-value stuff (snacks; jars of instant coffee; the like) from big stores; the thrill, apparently, was from the outsmarting of all the security measures and the getting over.

        Many times he freely admitted that it was, for him, a HUGE tension reliever. He would actually SAY that it “breaks that tension.”

        Without getting into the whole story, what happened just about that same month ago is that it all finally caught up with him, and if he is so much as ticketed for jaywalking, there WILL be unpleasant legal consequences.

        My very first thought was “Oh, shit; now he’s gonna take it all out on me.”

        Meantime, about six months ago I got really serious about taking control of my finances. Of course I have told and do tell him as little as possible about that, but some things just can’t be kept hidden.

        Again without getting into a saga, I have recently made some obvious changes in how I manage my money, so now I’m being called cheap. A few nights ago he screamed at me, “YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT WHAT THIS PLACE LOOKS LIKE!”

        “Nope,” I answered, quite cheerfully.

        What I meant by my comment about your mother’s being bored is that she’s SO out of “real” stuff to pick on that she’s gotta talk about your cat? Even if he were overweight, that’s the “best” she can come up with?

        THIS is what she spends her time and energy on?

        Sometimes I tell Mr. Happy, “You need some new material, son,” or “You need to get out more.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • That makes a LOT of sense if you think of things from the warped perspective of a narcissist. He’s in major danger of losing supply- you & getting away with his “tension reliever”. Best to step up the abuse so you’ll turn into a good little victim & provide that supply. Excuse me while I gag…

          LOL Yep, my mother got to the point of being like Mr Happy- ran out of stuff to pick on so suddenly Chester here is morbidly obese, Poo Kitty was “so skinny she couldn’t stand to touch her” (her thyroid was overactive & she lost a lot of weight quickly), Fluffy was too “mouthy”, Magic walked funny, etc.. At least the funny part with her is when she insulted any of my cats (& she found something to pick on with every single one she met), that they would give her the stink eye in return & extract their own kitty revenge.. Chester for example would lay near her & wait quietly until she got nasty with me & then scratch or bite. Magic attacked her the day she met him in 1990. I so love cats.. lol

          Liked by 2 people

      • My NM criticized my children, her grandchildren, to my face and behind my back. And she repeated what she’d said about them to my siblings, her enablers. At the time I was so deep in the FOG of abuse that I didn’t immediately cut her off and tell her never to speak an unkind, critical word about any of them ever again. That is part of my deepest regret, that I didn’t go NC before my kids were born, and insulate them from my mothers verbal and emotional abuse. She used my children to get N supply, and that makes her unworthy to be called their grandmother.


  3. tandkgro@aol.com

    Omg Cynthia, you hit the nail on the head with this one, Lady! Described my boss to a tee… I do feel completely beaten down, crazy, shamed and doubting my every thought, breath and move. It is painful and maddening. This dark cloud over my head has resulted in a very deep depression and it has completely engulfed my life. Doing my best to find a new job but it’s tough out there right now. Hope you are well. Thanks for being you! Love ya


    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad to help! Now you know what’s going on, so you can keep in mind you aren’t crazy, shamed, etc etc. It’s not you, it’s your boss! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • ibikenyc

      I worked for someone like this. I think back now and just cannot believe the crap he dumped on all of us.

      “Painful and maddening” is an excellent way to put it.

      Who the HE**, seriously, do they think they are?!

      For what it’s worth, I feel your pain. Know that IT’S. NOT. YOU.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As always your posts are very informative. You know what you are talking about. It’s difficult though to remember during the incident as I get paralyzed

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Maria! You’re so kind!

      I understand! They say people have a fight or flight response, but I learned there’s actually also a freeze & faun (try to please the abuser) response. I tend to freeze (used to faun as a kid) & when you freeze, it’s very hard to remember things. :/

      Liked by 2 people

      • For me it’s like I have experienced it on repeat though my life. First my father had this impact on me then my ex husband and now sometimes my daughter make me feel all faults are on me for everything in her life. In between the latest a boss humiliated me over and over. What I have learnt is somehow to have neutral questions back to them instead of being afraid or sad.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m sorry.. that’s too many people treating you that way!

          Good for you.. asking questions back is a good way to handle narcissists. They don’t know what to do when they are questioned. It stops the behavior at least for a little while.

          Liked by 3 people

        • ibikenyc

          Sometimes I just agree with him: “Oh, I know, right?! I’m such an idiot that sometimes I can’t believe I manage to tie my own shoes!”

          He used to call me a “Dumb Cu** From (name of my hometown),” so I would answer his shaming attempts sometimes by saying, “Well, what else can you expect? It’s my geographic fate!” or “What else would you expect from a Dumb Cu** From Hometown?”

          Now that I’m writing this, I realize it’s been months since he’s thrown that particular one at me.


    • ibikenyc

      I am all too familiar with that paralysis.

      The worst part of it, for me, is the choking RAGE I’m feeling but cannot express.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. empoweredmaverick

    I’ve gone through all of those with my ex-husband. Since I left him, I’m left with him only realky able to do the smear campaign on me and it is terribly exhausting.


  6. Do you mind if I copied this to my site? I was almost destroyed by the man I thought him to be my soulmate, he tried to get me fired, he tried destroying my reputation and still does.
    Sometimes I feel going to him and asking “why is he doing all this?”


    • Not at all.. feel free to share the link to this post if you like. 🙂

      I understand… when you aren’t a narcissist, it’s impossible to understand why they do the things they do. I’ve felt the same way, wanting to ask them why?!

      Liked by 1 person

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