About Ignorance vs Malice

“You can’t get mad. He just doesn’t know any better.” I think all of us who have been victimized by a narcissist have heard this statement at some point. It’s said by those who either have absolutely no understanding of Narcissistic Personality Disorder or those flying monkeys who enthusiastically enable narcissists to abuse.

This statement can be very unsettling. You can feel so angry by the abuse but then you stop in your tracks. Maybe the person who said this is right, & the narcissist truly doesn’t know any better.  You feel badly for being angry with someone for doing something they don’t know is wrong.

Long before I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I was in this situation.  I had problems with my now deceased mother in-law from about the moment we met.  Obviously I didn’t know what to do since I knew nothing of narcissism.  I decided to talk to my husband in the hopes he would have ideas on how to help me get along with his mother.  When I first told my husband about the problems I had with his mother, he said that she didn’t know any better.  He truly believed it, & I thought maybe he was right.  His mother gave the impression of being very naïve, after all.  I also knew her mother in-law never liked her.  Maybe the problem was that she had no other experience beyond the negativity between her & her mother in-law, & being naïve, she didn’t know how to act better towards me.  Logically, it made sense, & I felt terrible for being so upset with my mother in-law for quite some time & silently tolerated her abuse.  Yet, “she doesn’t know any better” didn’t sit right with me.

Eventually I realized why the ignorance plea felt wrong.  I realized she wasn’t ignorant, she was malicious.  I thought I’d share those realizations with you today so if someone tells you that the narcissist in your life doesn’t know any better, you won’t suffer needlessly as I did.

If someone is truly ignorant of their actions, they won’t hide their behavior.  Why would they?  If they aren’t aware that what they’re doing is wrong, there’s no need to hide it.  Someone who is knowingly doing something wrong is going to hide their actions.  My husband never once saw his mother say or do anything inappropriate to me.  Not once in the eight years she was in my life before I walked away.  We saw her often, too, but she never slipped up.  If she truly didn’t know that she was treating me badly, why would she have hidden her behavior towards me?  She would have treated me the same no matter who was around.

A malicious person doesn’t listen.  A person who is told that their actions are hurting someone yet repeats the actions over & over is malicious.  By continuing to hurt someone, they are proving by their actions that they either don’t care that their actions cause someone else pain or that they enjoy deliberately causing pain.  However, if you confront someone who is truly unaware of the pain their actions cause, they will change their behavior, apologize & even try to make it up to the person they hurt if at all possible.  They also won’t repeat the hurtful behavior again.

An ignorant person doesn’t change their actions just because another person enters the room, but a malicious person does.  A malicious person will change their behavior if someone whose opinion they value comes along so that person continues to think well of them.  Ignorant people won’t think that way because they don’t think their behavior is something that can be construed as bad or wrong.

When in a situation where you are told the person mistreating you simply doesn’t know any better, please consider these three scenarios.  They should help you to realize quickly if the person in question truly is ignorant of the pain their actions cause or if they are deliberately mistreating you.

12 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

12 responses to “About Ignorance vs Malice

  1. “They enjoy deliberately causing pain”

    It’s so hard to accept that there are simply people in the world that are malicious. We want to excuse their bad behavior, because we would want our bad behavior excused. It’s a weird loophole they know about us “kind people” and they exploit it. On purpose. Intentionaly. With no regret. They think they are smarter than us. They view us as weak, worthless and stupid.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Brandy Martin

    Oh my goodness. This is spot on and exactly what I needed to hear today-as I have been feeling sorry for my elderly father. I’ve not really spoken out about the abuses. My mother was the number one narcissist (and I think there was some other mental issues-as she slaughtered my pet bunny in front of me and forced me to eat it as a child). He just let it all happen (from sexual, physical and the most challenging emotional abuse)-and would chime in over the years as to what a disappointment I was (even though he was in the school system, had a relationship with a student that resulted in a baby we don’t speak of). No one really knows what I’ve gone through-as we moved around like we were in the army, and their behavior in front of others was impeccable. Mother died around my birthday a year ago. Lately, I’ve been feeling upset about my father living alone. But, this post has helped me to understand that he did know. They both knew better. They hid it. I have been terrified to tell what they’ve done. I’m afraid no one will believe me. Maybe it’s time to speak up and let the skeletons come out of the closet. And for once, I will choose me. I can choose to help myself instead of hiding and feeling like I need to be there for everyone else…Feeling sad or sorry for the people who knew better.
    Thank you as always, Cynthia.

    Liked by 4 people

    • God loves you. God is your father. Even when no one else does. I can’t even imagine the pain of watching a pet rabbit being killed in front of me. And then being forced to eat it. But I do KNOW it is all true. I am your friend if you need one.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Brandy Martin

        Doug, Thank you. Your comment means more than a great deal to me. God has lead me to a wonderful place where I can truly see Him daily. Sunsets, peace, quiet and healing..I live on a farm with filled with sweet animals and lots of bunnies to love. I am now understanding that a part of my healing requires me to speak out. I thank you so much for understanding and believing me. I needed that. I appreciate your words and would be honored to have a friend like you. ❤️

        Liked by 2 people

    • annealcroft

      If this at all helps, part of the gig of a narcissistic father is to make us feel responsible for his well being after the loss of our mother. My father did that to me. He wanted me to give up my life to go and live with him. I realize now he is completely incapable of taking care of himself spiritually and emotionally. He’s an invalid though on the outside he has no trouble making everything look neat and tidy. Anything that presents his persona as respectable though there is nothing else about him worthy of respect.

      What you’ve experienced is beyond sadistic, the story of what your mother did with your bunny. The evils of our mothers can add to the indemnity of the responsibility we feel to make our father’s feel better. And they seem to find a way to keep us hooked in somehow, making it difficult for us to extricate ourselves from their hideous abuses.

      Here is something from this morning’s reading that helps put the cross we are given to carry in proper perspective. God carries us through.

      Luke 14:25-30
      (25) Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, (26) "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. (27) And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (28) For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— (29) lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, (30) saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish"?

      Luke 9:57-62
      (57) Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, "Lord, I will follow You wherever You go." (58) And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (59) Then He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." (60) Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God." (61) And another also said, "Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house." (62) But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
      New King James Version Change Bible versions

      In the warnings of possible costs in Luke 9:57-62; 14:25-30, He says we must expect the loss of the respect and association with those we feel the most affection for, family members. They are not going to appreciate the changes we have made in our lives. They are yet blinded because God has not removed the veil covering their spiritual perceptions. This happens to many of us. It occurred in my relationship with my parents.

      Jesus warns that our lives may become seriously unstable, as outsiders might judge it. He suggests that the convert may become somewhat itinerant, seeming to have an unsettled existence. He also suggests that following Him would put demands on our lives and time that might cut close family members to the quick, perhaps even turning them into enemies. Christ makes plain that, despite God's well-known mercy, He wants our wholehearted, unreserved loyalty with no yearning ever to turn back to our former lives. It is in meeting challenges like these that the potential costs become realities.

      Though not mentioned directly here, Hebrews 11 reminds us of those who were tortured by mocking and scourging, by imprisonment, by stoning, and even by being sawn in two. Others were forced to flee for their lives, wandering destitute and tormented, barely able to clothe themselves. This may not happen to many of us now, but as matters intensify, Jesus warns that people will eventually kill Christians, thinking that they are glorifying God.

      — John W. Ritenbaugh

      https://www.theberean.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Home.showBerean/BereanID/8247/bblver/NKJV/Luke-14-25-30.htm

      Liked by 2 people

      • Brandy Martin

        I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your response. I don’t ever want to go back. God saved me and continues to do so daily. He brought me out of it all, and He brought your words and care to me today.

        The truth in your words about the responsibility we feel for our fathers hit home. That feeling of responsibility for my father is not my feeling at all is it? It’s something I learned. I can now work on really letting it go now.

        I have learned from my family..they’ve shown me who I don’t want to be. I grew up in such hatred..and how I learned to continue to love (or even know what love is) is a recognition of how much God was always by my side.

        If I continue to give my love to the wrong people, I cannot give love to the people who need it (and that includes myself). If I don’t tell my story, God can’t use it for healing.

        Thank you again for sharing. You have given me more to think about, and you have helped me tremendously. ❤️

        Liked by 3 people

        • annealcroft

          Brandy,

          I can’t tell you how dear your message is and how grateful I am for your consideration.

          Each time I come to this blog I realize there is something profoundly Spiritual happening here for which we all share the same gratitude.

          This is a Church, and how our Lord works to bring us together in His Love for healing and deliverance.

          Everything you say makes perfect sense and I truly relate to what you say about growing up in so much hatred. Right you are about the importance and duty for us to share our story to help others.

          Jesus teaches us to fight the good fight and what is most important is to know that the fight he teaches us to fight is based upon principle. The fight the narcissist fights is based upon their conceit, with clenched fists and teeth, gnashing at those who hold them accountable and their feet to the proverbial fire when their sins and lies damage the lives of anyone in their wake.

          May our Beloved Savior continue to bless you in your healing journey and all of the generous love you give to others.

          You have blessed my day far more generously than winning a ticket.

          Dear God, in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, His Blessed Mother Mary, and all the saints and angels, please pour forth a blessing for each soul who comes together here for healing, having sacrificed so much of their lives for the sins of others who refuse to repent for their evil ways. Amen.

          Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so very sorry for all you’ve been through. ((((hugs)))) Thank God you survived & are doing so well now! Choosing you over a narcissistic parent is a VERY big step!

      Liked by 4 people

  3. annealcroft

    This is a remarkably timely post that comes as a blessing.

    Recently I received an email from my father after calling him out on his having embezzled my inheritance and now trying to demand of me an account of how I spend the money of mine he holds and “administers” to me each month. He’s also trying to coerce me to apply for SSI which is ironic because the only way I would qualify is because of the PTSD that his narcissism has caused. He holds money that belongs to me and is coercing me into applying for SSI so he can keep all of the money and why? Because his married girlfriend is taking him to the cleaners and he is desperate for money.

    At one point several years ago after my mother died and I was severely depressed and in therapy I did receive SSI for a short amount of time. Until, that is, unbeknownst to me my father had put my name on one of his bank accounts that had in excess of $20,000 in it that hit Uncle Sam’s radar and they immediately discontinued the benefits and then persisted in making a living hell out of my life for the next three years.

    When I first read his emails the sweats start pouring out on me and I panic. But then the Peace of God comes over me, and thanks be to God, this blog of yours, Cynthia, is Heaven-sent.

    I sent my father a respectful, heartfelt email stating my case that he chose to ignore completely. He instead started a new email out of context addressing issues from the original email having to do with SSI and the stimulus check which I understand to be for essential workers and businesses. Because my income is way below poverty level for years I have not been required to even file income tax because I have not been employed. Because financial abuse has become a great source of anxiety for me, I do my very best to keep my finances as simple and humble as I possibly can so as to manage my life until such time as I get my “sea legs.” This is unusual for me since my first job was as a bank teller and then later, I was in middle management for almost a decade with a Fortune 500 company. This was in the 1980s.

    Over the past several decades I have lived in exigent poverty barely surviving. Why? It always goes back to square on. Narcissistic abuse. Having to have any contact with my father at all is like poison for me. The pity of all of this is I need access to the money he holds but refuses to allow me access to. I sent him this link about financial abuse of women which is largely why he took the email out of context. https://centerforfinancialsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/adams2011.pdf

    It has been my experience over the past several years as I have battled my father for what is rightfully mine financially, that there is very little help for people like myself who need legal guidance and protection from this kind of evil. I have contacted various organizations, the names of which would take to long to catalogue here, and have learned that 9 out of 10 times these organizations end up siding with the perpetrator, not the victim. You wouldn’t believe what I went through with the local elder abuse agency. It was incredible. The only person who was ever really helpful was a woman who was a police liaison for domestic abuse but she has now retired.

    Even Church has become lame though several priests have advised me to get a lawyer. I can not afford a lawyer and when I tried to find free legal help, even through some women’s organizations, that ended up being another nightmare that backfired when one lawyer gave me a bum-steer and then refused to take responsibility for that and she herself became abusive.

    So that’s our system.

    The anxiety over finances is unbearable. I pray without ceasing to prosper the work of my hands and to extricate myself forever from the abuses of Satan, aka, my father. When I even have to think of him I literally retch.

    Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.

    Like

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