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After escaping abuse at the hands of a narcissist, many victims find their narcissist has created a smear campaign against them. In other words, they trash the victim’s reputation to anyone & everyone who will listen. They also turn friends & family against the victim, including people the victim never expected could be turned against them. This on top of all of the horrors of the abuse can be utterly devastating.
When a narcissist creates a smear campaign, you first need to remember what it is. It’s an abusive tactic designed to isolate you, to leave you without support & love by making people think terribly of you.
A smear campaign is also done to remove your credibility, so if you tell others what the narcissist did to you, you won’t be believed. It is a way for a narcissist to protect his or her reputation by removing the believability of the claims of their abusive ways & focus from their behavior while making a victim look bad at the same time.
This may be the hardest part of a smear campaign, but it is also very true. People who blindly believe the lies don’t truly love you. If they did, they would know you well enough to recognize the lies rather than believe them. They also would defend you to the person spreading such lies. As painful as this realization is, it’s also very important. You need to know who truly loves you & who doesn’t. This is the one good thing about a smear campaign, how it shows you who loves you & who doesn’t.
You also need to remember that ultimately, this smear campaign isn’t about you. It’s about the narcissist who started it. The narcissist wouldn’t have started it if you wouldn’t have seen the ugliness behind the mask. Because you did though, he or she has determined it’s best to destroy your reputation & your credibility so their secret will remain safe. As an added bonus, the narcissist gets narcissistic supply by hurting you & feeling powerful by destroying your reputation.
Those who support & help to spread the lies of the smear campaign aren’t innocent either. They are also gaining something from what they are doing. Maybe they have gained favor with the narcissist, maybe the narcissist is giving them money or gifts, or maybe they’re just getting narcissistic supply by looking like they care while they’re abusing you by slandering your good name. There is also the possibility that they are in denial about what the narcissist is, so they are trying to shut you down so their denial won’t be threatened.
When a smear campaign happens, the best thing you can do is to ignore it. Ignore everything that is being said about you & don’t defend yourself. Anything you say to defend yourself may be taken as proof that the narcissist is right about you, that you really are crazy, angry or whatever other nonsense the narcissist says. The best thing you can do is to live your life. Let your good character shine & it will prove the smear campaign to be wrong. Anyone who cares about the truth will see that your behavior doesn’t line up with what is being said about you, & question what they have heard.
If anyone tries to tell you what the narcissist is saying about you, if at all possible, end the conversation. Change the subject. Walk away. Do not engage in it. You don’t need to hear the lies that are being spread about you.
And never ever forget that this smear campaign isn’t about you nor is it a reflection on who you are. It’s about the narcissist who started it & the mindless minions who help to spread it.
One of the main things all narcissists, be they overt or covert, have in common is that they discredit their victims to anyone who will listen.
Discrediting may be done under the guise of concern. A narcissist may claim to be worried about their daughter because she has serious mental problems- she’s depressed, anxious, or bipolar. Or, it may be more direct, a smear campaign, where a narcissist claims the victim is a drug addict, juvenile delinquent, promiscuous or other awful things.
Discrediting often starts early with narcissistic parents, sowing seeds of disdain & discord among family members & friends, who come to believe this innocent child to be anything but. Instead, they believe the child to be whatever the parent said, & the parent to be completely innocent when nothing could be further from the truth. My mother did this to me in my childhood. When her abuse peaked in my late teens, her friends, who once liked me, suddenly wouldn’t even speak to me.
Discrediting also may be done as a preemptive strike. Narcissists know sometimes when they go too far with a victim, & reach out to others before the victim can. This is an attempt to look like the good guy, so others won’t believe the victim when she shares what happened. My father has done this. Once when I wouldn’t take his call because he called too late (he repeatedly called late, in spite of repeatedly telling him I won’t answer the phone after 9pm), he called my in-laws & one of my cousins. He told them he was extremely worried about me because I didn’t answer the phone when he called at 10 that night. He even asked them to tell me to call him immediately. Both were concerned, & somewhat angry with me for being so “mean” to my father.
It also may be done as revenge. If a narcissist thinks that she has a chance of someone the victim knows well believing her, she may reach out in an attempt to hurt the victim. Again, my mother has done this. Many years ago, my husband’s work downsized, so he lost his job. My father took money from his & my mother’s savings account, & gave it to me, even though I didn’t ask him to. My mother was extremely angry with me about this. She called my in-laws. A few days later, my husband visited his parents, & his father told him about the call. He said my mother said I was doing something terrible, so he told her never to call back. Whatever it was, it was so terrible, he refused to repeat it to my husband.
If these types of things are happening to you, it’s typical narcissist behavior. Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything you can do about it. If you defend yourself, chances are, people will see you as the crazy, irrational, awful person the narcissist said you are, no matter how calm & collected you are when you speak. People in these situations often look for any tiny piece of evidence that the narcissist is right, so no matter how justified your anger or upset, it will be taken as the narcissist being right.
Rather than actively defend yourself when these situations arise, it’s best to let your character shine. The truth has a way of coming out no matter what, so if you are consistently a good, caring, loving, rational person, sooner or later, people will realize that. I know it can be frustrating doing nothing to defend yourself, but truly, it’s your best course of action. Pray- ask God to help you through this hard time & for the truth to be made clear. You will need God’s help during this hard time, so never hesitate to ask for it. He’ll be more than glad to help you!