Tag Archives: victim
In my experience as well as speaking with others who also have survived narcissistic abuse, I’ve noticed a very common phenomenon. Society’s invalidation & even gaslighting of victims.
Possibly the most clear example of this came from my high school guidance counselor. I went to her, trying to find some way to get along with my narcissistic mother, & not only wasn’t helped, I was hurt in the process. One day, I told her about what I called my mother’s “lectures”, where she would scream at me, telling me how terrible I was, how other people talked about me behind my back because of how terrible I was & even accusing me of things I hadn’t done. The counselor’s response? “Well, that doesn’t sound so bad.”
Dear Reader, if you have experienced something similar to someone you told about your history of abuse, you know how painful this experience is. It can catch you off guard, especially when it comes from someone you care about or expect to care, such as a therapist.
If you haven’t had the “pleasure” of this experience, chances are you will at some point. Either way, when someone acts as described below, you need to remember, they clearly have a problem.
Some people blame victims for making the abuser act as they have. Common sense should dictate that anyone who does this has their own issues. No one can make someone abuse them! Don’t accept this person’s blame for your abuser hurting you! All blame for the abuse lies squarely on the shoulders of the abuser, period!
Some people also blame the victim for not getting away from their abuser sooner. Many people don’t understand the concept of the trauma bond, how a victim can form a strong bond to their abuser. They also don’t understand how abusers can financially abuse victims, leaving them with no money or means to earn money so they can escape. Further more, they also fail to understand how many abusers have beaten their victims down so badly that the victims don’t think they can survive without the abuser.
Some people make the victim feel to blame for not being able to get along with the abuser. I think it was about 5 ago, one of my aunts told me that I needed to get into therapy & figure out how to get along with my parents, & “don’t dare tell her it won’t work!” I told her I did that when I was only 17 & what I learned is no relationship can work if only one person is willing to work on it. I stand by that today. No relationship can be healthy if only one person works on it. People who don’t realize that are foolish.
Some people assume they know best what the abuser’s intentions are, & assume they have good intentions but misguided actions. If someone defends your abuser by saying things like, “He didn’t mean to hurt you…” “She just doesn’t know any better”, or “That’s just how he is,” this person is invalidating & gaslighting you. No truly innocent person hurts people repeatedly after being called out on their behavior.
Some people push victims to heal. Only the most toxic person would dare to trivialize a victim’s horrific experiences, tell a victim of abuse to “get over it”, accuse a victim of being codependent or fail to understand why that person hasn’t “forgiven & forgotten.” Healing is a very individual path. Everyone’s path is very different. Also, every narcissist is different, so naturally how they abuse their victims is different. It’s only natural to assume that no two victims will heal the same way & many victims will have to work on their healing for a long time, most likely a lifetime.
People who treat victims like I described in this post are further abusing victims rather than helping them. If you come across people like this, stay away from them. Instead, deal with people who possess empathy, kindness & aren’t judgmental know it alls who assume they know your situation better than you do.
Many narcissists, in particular covert ones, love to portray themselves as victims no matter how badly they have abused someone. They prefer to hide behind the mask of innocent victim than to show people the ugly truth, that they are evil & abusive. Unfortunately countless people fall for their victim act. Real victims act very differently, & those who have bought a narcissist’s victim act think this means the real victim is the one faking it, not the narcissist.
People need to be able to identify a genuine victim from a narcissist’s victim act in order to avoid being pulled into a narcissist’s abusive web. I think this can be especially beneficial when applied to people met online. So many victims join support groups & forums looking to meet others who share their experiences only to learn someone they met in one of those places is actually a narcissist.
There are some behaviors narcissists do that give away the fact that they aren’t real victims. One thing they do is only tell their side of the story. What I mean is narcissists will talk about how the other person yelled at them or called the police on them, yet not share any information on what led up to that scenario. They make it sound like the other person just snapped suddenly for no good reason, & attacked them. A real victim doesn’t do that. They tell the entire story, not leaving out selected parts that might make them look bad.
Along those lines, if a narcissist feels they must mention some bad behavior they have done, they make excuses for it. For example, say they hit their victim in a fit of rage. They will find ways to blame the other person for making them hit them. Or, they will excuse it away, maybe saying the other person hit them first. A real victim doesn’t make excuses or blame others for their bad actions. They admit their bad behavior & accept responsibility for what they have done, no matter how ashamed of it they are.
Narcissists also turn any conversation back to their situation, even when speaking with victims such as in an online group. Real victims support each other. Sure, they share examples from their own life some, but they keep the focus on the person doing the talking.
Narcissists talk about the situation over & over. They tell their story to anyone who will listen, even if the listener isn’t interested. They seem to want to tell everyone how badly they were treated. Real victims don’t talk to anyone & everyone about their story. They are selective with whom they discuss their situation. Even if they are like me & write publicly about it, when it comes to discussing it, they still are selective.
Narcissists want pity. They want to be seen as a completely innocent victim who did nothing to deserve what was done to them, so people will pity them. Real victims don’t look for pity. Empathy is great as is support, but pity isn’t something real victims want.
Narcissists expect everyone to understand their plight & offer them validation. Real victims aren’t like that. They know not everyone can relate to their situation. They know not everyone will care that they were abused. They don’t need external validation. They know what they have been through, & that is enough for them.
Everyone needs to be aware of these behaviors in others, in particular victims of narcissistic abuse. Not everyone who says they were abused by a narcissist is truly a victim. There are plenty of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there, who look for true victims to meet the sick needs they have. Consider a person’s behavior rather than blindly believing someone who tells you they are a victim of abuse.
I’ve done something for so long, I didn’t even realize I did it until recently. When I drive past a building with big glass windows or some sort of reflective surface, I look at myself driving.
Recently I caught myself doing this & thought, ok, I’m weird. I’ve known this for years & accepted my weirdness. This looking at myself driving thing though.. wow. I don’t even like looking at myself in a mirror when I put on makeup or looking at pictures of myself. Making my YouTubes is a big struggle for me, so why am I doing this?!
Suddenly it hit me… because when I was a teenager, I had to fight my mother terribly to get a driver’s license. My friends were driving at 16, & their parents often bought them their first car. Their parents put everything in their name to keep insurance costs down. Meanwhile I had to fight my mother badly to get a license. She wouldn’t even let me see my birth certificate. She showed it to the employee at the Motor Vehicles Administration after shielding me from seeing it. When I failed the first test, she told me she knew I would because I wasn’t ready to drive. When I got my permit & wanted to get myself a car, she told me she’d take me shopping one day so I could see how stupid I was for thinking I could afford a car. She picked a car out for me that I absolutely HATED. It was ugly & over priced.
A month or so later, I picked out my first car & got my license.. here is a picture that my mother took of me with that special & I still think absolutely adorable little car..
This is me in 1989 with Baby, my 1978 Buick Skyhawk that I hope to restore one day.
I realized something recently…
The reason I still ogle myself driving when I can isn’t just because I like my pretty cars. It’s because I never take driving for granted. I had to fight hard to get my license. I paid for my first car, insurance, maintenance & everything by myself. I worked hard & accomplished what I wanted to. No one can take that away from me. My first car in particular is a symbol of that which is why she’s special to me & I hope to restore her. Driving any car reminds me of what I managed to accomplish on my own though, no thanks to my parents. I’m proud of that, & seeing myself behind the wheel of a car, in particular my own, is a reminder of that.
I mentioned this to my husband recently & was rather nervous about admitting it. He shocked me by understanding completely & said “You should be proud of that! Celebrate it! Enjoy driving! Take pictures of yourself behind the wheel!” That helped me to see that maybe I’m not as weird as I thought I was..
Is there anything “strange” you do that is like what I do? If so, I want to encourage you to embrace that. Don’t think of it as weird like I have done with looking at myself when driving. Instead, celebrate it! Be proud of whatever it is you have accomplished in spite of your narcissistic parent. You did something on your own without the help of a narcissistic parent. That isn’t an easy feat when you consider you have had a narcissistic parent or two trying to keep you down your whole life. Be proud that you overcame that & still did whatever it is that you did. It’s ok to be proud of yourself! You deserve to feel that way! xoxo
Victim shaming is a big problem in society these days. It happens when someone says something that makes a victim feel shame for whatever abuse was perpetrated against them or makes the victim feel to blame for what happened.
Some statements are especially common, & those will be addressed in this post.
“I know someone who had that happen to them, but it was way worse.” Trauma isn’t a contest. Trauma hurts, period, & there is no reason to compare one person’s traumatic experience to another’s. This sort of statement does nothing good. It only minimizes & invalidates the victim’s pain.
“Your abuser has had a rough life! You should help him/her.” A history of being abused or through trauma is NOT an excuse to abuse other people. Yes, people who have been abused & traumatized don’t always act like functional people. However, the vast majority also aren’t abusive. I think this is because they know how badly it hurts to be abused, & they won’t want to inflict that kind of pain on others.
“You know what the problem is? You weren’t nice enough. You didn’t kill him/her with kindness.” Killing someone with kindness can help in some situations. It can help a person see that their behavior is wrong. They feel convicted & change. When dealing with a narcissist or other personality disordered individual though? Being overly kind is seen as a green light to abuse & take advantage of a victim more & more.
“I don’t know why you two just couldn’t get along.” This phrase puts the blame for the abuse on both people in the relationship, which makes a victim feel at least partly responsible for the abuser’s behavior. This is totally unfair! The only person responsible for the abuser’s behavior is the abuser, period, end of story!
“Stop being a victim!” While this may sound empowering at first, it’s also a way to stop a victim from discussing their experience & try to get the victim to get over their experience. There is absolutely no shame in being the victim of abuse. None! There is also no shame in the fact it takes time to heal from abuse. In many cases, it takes a lifetime. That doesn’t make a person weak or a failure!
“You need to forgive/let this go. You’ve been holding onto this for too long!” I am a huge proponent of forgiveness. Holding onto anger isn’t good for your physical or mental health. That being said, you can’t let go of all anger just because someone tells you to! Doing so is a process. I firmly believe in forgiving immediately in the sense you don’t expect your abuser to try to make it up to you for what they have done. In that sense, it’s easy to forgive because you know an abuser can’t truly make everything ok for what they have done. Letting go of your anger, however, isn’t so easy. That takes a lot of time & actually feeling the anger as a way to get it out of you. There is no time limit on that.
“That happened in the past.. why are you still holding onto this?” This statement is beyond foolish. When something extreme happens to a person, either good or bad, they can’t just “shake it off”! Not to mention, when a person is traumatized, there is an excellent chance of that person developing PTSD or C-PTSD if the trauma is ongoing. A hallmark of both disorders is not being able to let go of trauma, because it returns often as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks & nightmares.
When people say statements like these to you (& they will at some point), please remember, these statements are not about you. They are about someone who truly has no concept of surviving abuse & trauma in a healthy way. That person may have been through abuse too, but lacks the strength to face their pain. If they can make others not face theirs as well, it makes them feel more normal.
Many people also like to pretend that there is no ugliness in the world. If they can stop you from discussing your traumatic experiences, they can resume thinking that the world is a happy place at all times.
Rarely when people are insensitive & invalidating is the behavior about the person on the receiving end of their comments, but instead is about the person saying such things. If you can remember that, it will help you not to be devastated by their cruel comments.
Most people who hear of someone being abused think of someone weak. A small child, an adult with low or no self esteem who isn’t very intelligent or even mentally or emotionally stunted. Maybe someone who has a very gentle nature, lacking the strength & courage to stand up to an abusive person or thinks that tolerating abuse is the Godly thing to do.
While it’s certainly true that people like this are sought out by abusers, they aren’t the only ones. Highly intelligent, strong & confident people are also sought out by abusers.
Have you ever heard a story about a wealthy person being charmed by someone who stole most if not all of that person’s money? Or, maybe a strong person ended up abused, & turned into an empty shell of their former self not long after marrying their abuser. That person isn’t someone you would consider weak, but even so, they clearly were abused.
The natural response most people have is to wonder how this sort of thing happened? They think that person was too smart or too strong to be in this situation, & it doesn’t make sense. Their opinion of that person often drops because they feel that person must have been weak or stupid, in spite of how they appeared to be.
Such thinking couldn’t be further from the truth!
Abusers are often like prey hunting animals. Sure, they’ll hunt the wounded, young & easy prey sometimes. It’s there & they need a meal/victim so why pass that up?! But, that doesn’t mean they have an aversion to the more challenging prey. If a lion is hungry enough, he’ll hunt that healthy & strong antelope even though getting that antelope is a lot of work.
The same thing goes for narcissists. They don’t have an aversion to abusing a victim that is more of a challenge. In fact, they enjoy it. Easy victims are good, but conquering someone who is strong, confident & successful is big time narcissistic supply. That challenge makes them feel very powerful. It makes sense in its own dysfunctional way. It shows the abuser they are able to destroy the un-destroyable. They must be powerful to accomplish that, right?!
If you are someone who has suffered abuse, that doesn’t mean you are weak. It means the person is an abuser, & often abusers seek out a challenging victim. If you were sought out, that means there is something about you that appealed to the abuser. Your strength, success, intelligence, kindness, faith… whatever it was, it was a good thing to make such a horrible person want to destroy you.
And, if you know someone who has been abused, this also applies to them. That person must possess some very good qualities if that awful person worked so hard to destroy them. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the victim. Quite the opposite – there is something very right with that person!
Victim blaming is a common phenomenon in society today. The woman who was abused by her husband is to blame for not leaving him sooner. The victim of rape is blamed for being drunk or high. The victim of theft is blamed for not locking his door.
This awful phenomenon invalidates the pain of the victim. It can make a victim feel as if she wouldn’t have done what she did, then the traumatic event wouldn’t have happened. How could she possibly have the right to be upset? It’s an absolutely awful thing to do to someone, making them feel this way! No one deserves traumatic, terrible things to happen to them. What victims do deserve is kindness, understanding & support.
Whether the person blaming the victim is the cause for the victim’s pain or not, blaming her also enables that person to distance himself from the victim & her pain. If the victim is the cause of her own suffering, then he need not feel sorry for her or try to help her. If the victim caused her own suffering, then the abuser need not feel bad for doing whatever it was he did to her.
Narcissists love victim blaming. It serves them very well. I lost track of how many times my mother told me I was the reason she “had” to abuse me. She even called it “tough love” instead of what it really was, abuse. She claimed if I didn’t do whatever it was I had done (or she thought I had done in most cases), she wouldn’t have been forced to scream at me, destroy my things, etc. etc.
If you have been on the receiving end of victim blaming, please do not allow that trash to get inside you! You did NOT deserve what was done to you! You are not to blame, the abuser is! You have every right to be angry, hurt, & yes, even traumatized! Don’t believe those fools who tell you that you deserved it. Anyone who blames an innocent victim has serious emotional problems.
When a person has been abused, they tend to see the world differently than other folks. People like this aren’t as trusting as the average person, & with good reason. They have survived some pretty terrible stuff! This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering how many untrustworthy people there are in the world. However, it can become a bad thing. A good friend of mine once called it “seeing things through the lens of victim-hood.” I thought the term made perfect sense.
When a person sees others as out to hurt them with little or no evidence to prove this is happening, it’s a bad thing.
Or when a person reads so much into every small comment or action that they see others as out to get them, this is a bad thing.
Unfortunately, it can be very easy to turn out this way after surviving abuse. It can be especially easy to see problems online over face to face contact. Once you’ve been badly hurt, you obviously want to avoid it again. It’s very easy to become hyper-vigilant, seeing abusive behavior everywhere. A person looks at you a bit odd or cracks a joke that isn’t like your sense of humor & suddenly you think they’re out to hurt you when nothing could be further from the truth. This is no way to live!
Rather than succumb to this miserable lifestyle, change yourself! It is possible! I was this way & managed to change. If I can do it, so can you.
As always, I recommend prayer as the place to start. God can & will help you to make whatever changes you need. He also will show you what you need to do. Why not let Him?
Also slow down when a situation happens. Respond, don’t react. Responding isn’t instantaneous. It requires time to consider the situation. Reacting is instantaneous & done in the heat of emotions. Reacting often happens when seeing situations through the lens of victim-hood. Give yourself time to consider the situation before you respond.
Don’t automatically assume that your knee-jerk reaction is correct. Consider it. Question it. Slow your thoughts down for some time & ask yourself why you think the way you’re thinking. Is there evidence to back up what you believe is happening? What is that evidence? Are there red flags that show you this person isn’t safe, such as a lack of empathy for example? Write it down if it helps. Writing can help you to see things clearly, often more clearly than speaking or thinking about things.
Think too about the person in question. If this is someone you know well, you will know what this person is & is not capable of. You know if this person is safe or not. Ask yourself, is it likely this person is out to hurt me or not?
If you want advice, don’t talk to someone else about the situation in a way that will get them assuming the worst about this person. If they believe you, they will only feed your fear. They’ll automatically respond to your fear with fear, especially if this is someone you’re close to. If you want to talk about your situation with someone safe, that’s totally fine. An objective opinion can be a truly great thing! Just make sure you say things in such a way that the person who you’re speaking with can form their own opinion. Say things like, “I think this person is looking to hurt me in some way.. what do you think?” then state the facts without emotion. Let this person form their own opinion if you want their best advice.
Just remember, Dear Reader, not everyone is abusive. Not everyone wants to cause you pain & suffering. Pray & seriously consider the situation so you can respond to it appropriately, rather than reacting because you’re seeing it through the lens of victim-hood.
Some covert narcissists are what I think of as the consummate victim. They are the ones who are always wronged, always the victim, & never at fault for anything. Some examples of their behavior are as follows.
The narcissist says something cruel. You get angry, & rightfully so. She claims she never meant to hurt your feelings. She was just trying to help & had no idea what she said would upset you. She then stops speaking to you for weeks, even if you apologized.
The narcissist tries to manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do. Naturally, you refuse to do it. She claims you don’t love her. How could you refuse to do this one little thing for her, especially after all she’s done for you?!
The narcissist is your elderly parent who expects you to come at their beck & call. You tell your parent you only are available one day a week to do what she needs. She tells your family how you refused to help her, & they attack you for being a bad daughter, ungrateful, a spoiled brat & more.
Narcissists who claim life is so unfair to them or that they are mistreated when people confront them on their abusive behavior are also consummate victims. There are also those who blame their victims for their abusive behavior. They are also consummate victims, as are those who complain about their problems, yet refuse to do something to change the situation.
Dealing with these people is incredibly frustrating, I know. My late father & late mother in-law were both covert narcissists & consummate victims. I repeatedly asked my father not to call after 9 at night. When I refused to take his call when he called at 10 one evening, he called my in-laws & a cousin who lives almost 500 miles away. He told both he was so concerned about me for not answering the phone, & asked them to have me call him immediately. Another time, I was angry with my mother in-law because she had snooped through my purse yet again. She asked my husband why I was angry, & he told her. I overheard the conversation. She claimed not to know what she did would be upsetting to me.
Both situations were similar. As a result of my father’s & mother in-law’s actions, my husband & I got into an argument about his mother & my cousin & I argued about my father. Being the typical consummate victims, their obnoxious behavior caused problems for the real victim while making themselves look good.
There are some things that you can do that can help you if you must deal with this behavior in covert narcissists.
Always rely on God to help you in this situation. He will be glad to help you discern the truth & strengthen you to do whatever you need to do!
Remember the type of person that you’re dealing with. No matter what you do, this person will twist the situation around to make you look bad & them look like the innocent victim of your cruelty. Expect nothing else because this person has no desire to behave any other way.
Also remember that there is nothing wrong with you setting boundaries or confronting this person on their abusive behavior. Both of those are good things to do. They are healthy & show you have self respect.
Consummate victims are very skilled at recruiting flying monkeys. When you set those boundaries or confront the narcissist about her behavior, no matter how gently & reasonably you do so, it’s a safe bet someone will tell you how cruel, unreasonable, wrong, etc. you are. When this happens, ignore whatever these flying monkeys have to say. They don’t know the truth, only what the narcissist has told them. Also, it’s best to refuse to discuss the narcissist with them.
Lastly, it’s also important to remember that consummate victims may project their status on their real victims. It can be easy to believe their lies since narcissists are talented actors who give very convincing performances. To avoid believing their lies, remember that you are NOT a consummate victim if you are angry about being abused, setting healthy boundaries or refusing to be manipulated.
If you are faced with a covert narcissist who portrays herself as a consummate victim, you can cope. You have the knowledge & strength to handle this ugly situation.
Growing up with a narcissistic mother is incredibly painful. It causes a great deal of damage too, not only to one’s mental health but sometimes physical as well due to the intense, incredible stress of living with such a cruel person.
Unfortunately, the damage done is still with the child moving out of his or her mother’s home. While some of that damage is obvious, such as a person having C-PTSD, not all of it is so easily identified. There are many behaviors that tend to stick with a person even years after the abuse has ended.
Many victims accept the blame for everything. Growing up with a narcissist, you learn early in life that everything is your fault. If you had any doubts about that, your narcissistic mother would remind you of it. By adulthood, victims have lost all doubts & know everything is their fault.
Closely related is apologizing for everything. Children aren’t allowed to stand up for themselves, especially to their narcissistic mother. In fact, we don’t even have any clue how to stand up for ourselves. Instead, we learn to apologize, whether the problem is our fault or not. This behavior carries over into adulthood.
Narcissistic parents often compare their children unfavorably to their siblings or cousins. Those children grow up comparing themselves unfavorably to others just as their parent did rather than appreciating the differences in each person.
Children of narcissistic parents learned early in life that their purpose was to do for their parent. Children aren’t even thought of as human to their narcissistic parents, but instead they are merely tools to be used as needed by that parent. Knowing this means these children believe they aren’t important. They prioritize everyone else over themselves.
Along these lines, children of narcissistic parents also refuse to ask for help. They believe they are unworthy of help from anyone. Many are also perfectionists & think they should be able to do things by themselves, without any assistance.
Chronic self doubt is another problem narcissistic mothers create in their children. When you grow up hearing how you can’t do anything right, you’re a failure, you’re stupid or other cruel things, self doubt is normal. It can make you doubt every single thing about yourself, even into adulthood. Often it’s like there is a recording in the back of your mind when you try to do something that says those same awful things Mom used to say, & when you hear the recording, it transports you back to childhood, when you felt you were all of those things Mom said you were.
Difficulty making decisions happens often with adult children of narcissistic parents, too. When you suffer with self doubt, decisions can be really difficult to make! Even simple decisions like when your spouse asks where you want to go for dinner can be very challenging, because you feel like whatever you say will be wrong.
Over thinking is another common sign of having grown up with a narcissistic mother. It stems from having to be “on alert” at all times, needing to know what Mom wanted or how to please her or what exactly she needed at any time in order to avoid a narcissistic rage.
The lack of ability to express emotions is common with adult children of narcissistic mothers. So many narcissistic mothers did their best to stop their child from expressing any emotions, negative or positive. My mother used to scold me for having “that Bailey temper” that I learned never to show any anger or even simple frustration. It felt easier to stuff that emotion deep down than to be shamed. My mother also complained that I didn’t look happy, yet if I was happy, if it had nothing to do with her, she would shame me for being happy. Many narcissistic mothers behave in a similar way with their children.
Do you behave in any of these ways, Dear Reader? If so, please know you are NOT alone & you are NOT crazy. I’ve experienced them all, & still do experience some of them. I have found that praying really helps a great deal. I ask God for help or to show me what I can do to change my behavior. Simple? Sure, but also very effective.
I also question things. “Am I really to blame for this? Why?” “Should I apologize for that? Why or why not?” “Why am I comparing myself to that person instead of appreciating our uniqueness?” “Am I really not smart enough/talented enough/etc. to do that? What evidence do I have that shows me I’m not?” “Is it really unreasonable of me to ask my husband for help when I don’t feel good? Why?” These simple questions make me think about the situation at hand more objectively & I can see that sometimes what I’m thinking is nothing more than some old, dysfunctional mindset. Upon seeing that, I am able to act in a more appropriate way. If you have trouble doing this, another approach could be to imagine a friend came to you with the problem you’re facing now. What would you tell that friend? Imagining a friend is confiding in you rather than thinking about yourself facing the problem can give you a very different perspective.
Although these issues are challenging, they can be dealt with with time & work. Do it- you deserve to be rid of these dysfunctional habits!
Since my last post was about red flags in those who write about narcissism, I thought I’d make today’s post about fellow survivors.
Most people who have survived narcissistic abuse are good people who are trying hard to recover. Naturally they have issues, but at least they’re working on them & working on getting healthier. They also are willing to share what they learn to help others in similar situations, & do so without any arrogance. They’re also open to input from other people, because they realize they don’t know it all- there is always more to learn on this topic.
Not every victim is this way, however. Some turn abusive.
I don’t know why some victims try to heal & why some become abusive but it does happen sometimes. If you’re going to interact with other victims through online support groups, reading blogs or on social media, you need to be aware of some red flags.
The biggest red flag to watch out for is narcissism. Many of you know the signs already so I won’t repeat them here. I’ll just share a link to the page on my website where I wrote about it if you care to check it out: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Narcissistic-Personality-Disorder.php
There are other red flags, too. If a person gives advice too freely, for example. While most victims want to help others, they also realize how rude it is to give unasked for advice. They also realize sometimes a person just needs to speak things out loud to help them work through a situation, & that doesn’t mean they’re looking for advice.
If a person is bossy or demanding with their advice, that’s another red flag. Most people realize that all people are individuals. What worked for them may not work for another. They realize it’s not a good idea to try to force someone to follow their advice & let the other person decide for themselves whether or not to follow it.
Your average victim of narcissistic abuse also isn’t judgmental or critical. They know all too well what it feels like to be judged & criticized so harshly, so they don’t inflict that on anyone else. Some victims turned abusers, however, can be extremely judgmental & critical.
Some victims also become very arrogant. They seem to think because they found success in doing something that helped them, that everyone should follow in their footsteps & if they don’t, they’re foolish.
These same people are also usually the first ones to shame people who, “don’t just go no contact.” They make it clear they don’t believe there is any reason not to go no contact, & they offer no compassion to anyone who wants to but it unable to or is trying to find another option.
Abusive victims also make excuses. If they are short with someone, it’s always for a reason like they’re having a bad da, as one example. They don’t apologize or accept responsibility for the hurtful things they do.
And, if you call a person like this out on their actions, they WILL be furious. They may offer a non apology. They may offer lame excuses for their behavior. They also may get mad at you. That in particular is a big red flag, because most victims of narcissistic abuse apologize easily & often. They don’t get mad when called out on their bad behavior. They usually get mad only when someone is accusing them of something they didn’t do.
One other red flag is a smear campaign. This is very common on social media. If someone feels the online support group they participated in wasn’t a good environment for example, social media is an easy way to let the world know how you feel about it. That is pretty normal behavior, I think, but if a person posts about that group in a way that really trashes it, that is a red flag.
The last red flag is stalking or harassing another person online. With your average victim of narcissistic abuse, they may have a dispute with someone then either stop speaking with them or even block them entirely. A victim who is also abusive however, may harass or stalk someone who disagreed with them. They may leave nasty comments on their page or join groups the other person is in & harass them in the group. This nonsense can go on for a very long time, especially with narcissists.
The best advice I can give in these situations is the Gray Rock method. Don’t react to their outrageous behavior or show them that what they do bothers you. Remain calm & ignore their behavior. Don’t defend yourself to their smear campaigns. Instead, simply block them wherever you can. Most people like this will get bored easily & leave you alone at this point. Narcissists may not be so simple to get rid of however. They may bother you for a long time. Never, ever respond to them- instead keep blocking them & their flying monkeys.
As anyone with experience with a narcissist knows, they accept no blame for anything they have done. Ever. You can confront them about something terrible they have done, then later walk away wondering why you just apologized to them instead of them apologizing to you. This post will help you identify some of the common blame shifting behaviors so you won’t fall for them in the future.
Probably the most common thing that narcissists do to shift the blame is to play the victim. This is especially common with covert narcissists, but overt ones will do it as well. The narcissist will turn your legitimate concern around in such a way that you feel as if you’re being too hard on that person, overreacting or being too sensitive. After all, they never had any idea that what they said or did would hurt you, they say. Or, they may bring up some (probably imaginary) thing you did in the past, claiming that is abusive, & turning the topic of the conversation to that incident rather than your topic.
Closely related to playing the victim is the guilt trip done to shift blame. They may tell you about something painful that they experienced in their childhood or say things like, “Why are you yelling at me? I didn’t mean to hurt you!” Before you know it, you’re comforting them even though they hurt you!
They often accuse their victims of bad or even abusive behavior, but especially during the times when they are confronted. This is an effective way to shift the blame from the narcissist to the victim. My mother did this to me when I was growing up. She said I made her do something bad to me because of how terrible I was acting. On my seventeenth birthday, she destroyed my gifts that my now ex husband gave me, then made me clean up the mess she made. She said because I was “acting so snotty”, which is what made her destroy those gifts. The truth was when I took the gifts from school to her car at the end of my day, I was terrified what she was going to do to me because she hated my ex, & was quiet. I wasn’t “acting snotty”- I was acting terrified!
Narcissists also minimize the feelings of their victims to shift blame to the victim. Basically, this shifts the blame to the victim for how they responded to the abuse rather than the abuse itself. They may say things like “You’re too sensitive,” “You’re crazy,” or “I was just joking!”
When you’re talking with a narcissist & these things happen, then you can be certain they are attempting to shift the blame off of themselves. The best thing you can do is to redirect the conversation back to the original topic, as calmly as you can. Wait on the narcissist to finish whatever she is saying, then calmly say something, “Ok, but that isn’t what we were talking about. We will address that later. We’re discussing ____ at the moment.” You may have to do that a few times, but keep doing it. If that doesn’t work, try saying, “We’ll talk about this another time when you are ready to talk,” then leave or hang up the phone, & approach her another time in the very near future.
Unfortunately with narcissists, there is never an easy answer. Doing what I suggested may not work at all for you in the sense of being able to hash out the problem at hand. However, the good thing is it will let that narcissist know that you aren’t going to be fooled by the blame shifting nor will you be pushed around.
Narcissists have a way of making their victims feel like we are the problem. This is awful for the victims, because as a result, we end up tolerating their abuse for years. We think they’re good to put up with us, & we try harder & harder to be good enough for them. Meanwhile, as we’re losing ourselves in trying to please the narcissists, the narcissists are gaining tons of supply.
So how does this happen? How can a person honestly believe they’re the problem when the narcissist clearly is? Narcissists accomplish this in several ways.
Projection. Narcissist always accuse others of their own flaws. This makes a person feel inadequate. A person may even become angry but feels they don’t have the right to be angry since they are the flawed one.
Narcissists don’t examine their behavior, only yours. If you’re angry with a narcissist, all that narcissist sees is how you’re acting. They don’t ask themselves why you’re angry or is it something they’ve done. They see you acting in a way they consider irrational, & make you feel crazy for your behavior.
They gaslight. All narcissists love gaslighting their victims. Gaslighting is basically when you say the sky is blue, & the narcissist says it’s clearly green & something is wrong with you for thinking otherwise. Granted, that is an extremely obvious example, but that’s pretty much how gaslighting works. Narcissists see the same thing you see (that blue sky) but don’t want you to see it that way. Rather than agreeing that the sky is blue, they’ll tell you it’s green & try to make you feel crazy for thinking it’s blue. Narcissists do this often with abusive things they have done. They may deny the events happened entirely, or try to convince you that they happened in a very different way.
Narcissists provoke their victims to rage while maintaining their cool. One primary feature of narcissism is their complete lack of empathy. This enables narcissists to feel no guilt or remorse for abusing a victim. This also means they can maintain their calm demeanor while simultaneously driving a victim to the brink of madness. When this happens, a victim feels insane. After all, the victim is the one screaming & crying while the narcissist is cool & collected. The victim looks crazy to herself & anyone else who may be witnessing this phenomenon.
If you’re in a relationship of any sort with a narcissist, these things are most likely happening. When they do, please remember this post & remind yourself that you are NOT the problem! The narcissist is only trying to make you think you are!
Why is it when someone has either set boundaries in or ended an abusive relationship, people try to convince that person to “forgive & forget” or “be the bigger person” & fix the relationship? Have you noticed how commonplace this is? Think about it…
If a daughter in-law is constantly belittled by her mother in-law, she is told to be the bigger person. Let it go. She is only trying to help by criticizing everything about you!
If your abusive parents have been out of your life for some time, then they become ill or worse are dying, chances are someone is going to tell you that you need to make things right with your parents. You need to be there for them & take care of them! You owe your parents that much!
A wife whose husband has beaten or raped her is told to forgive him since he was drunk. He didn’t know what he was doing. Stop making a mountain out of a molehill!
This is a major pet peeve of mine. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to expect an innocent victim to repair an abusive relationship. Why don’t people tell abusers to fix the relationship instead? Why not tell them to stop abusing?!
I think some people simply don’t want to face the fact that there is a lot of ugliness in the world. They prefer to think everything is unicorns & rainbows, when nothing could be further from the truth. Anything that interrupts their ignorance is met with denial or even hostility.
Some people, flying monkeys in particular, don’t want to believe that a person could be so bad. Maybe they know the abuser & have seen the “good person” show that he or she puts on. They would prefer to believe that facade is the real person, not the vicious, devious, abusive monster who has hurt you.
When this happens to you (& sadly it will at some point), it’s going to hurt. It’s going to make you angry. This is only natural since this type of thing is triggering & painful. You can cope, however.
If you see the conversation you’re in is taking this turn, then end it. Change the subject. Say you won’t discuss this topic with this person. Walk away if you must or hang up the phone.
Don’t buy into that “you need to be the bigger person” nonsense. You didn’t cause the damage, you don’t need to fix the damage. Fix only what you broke & apologize if you hurt people. Take responsibility for things you have done wrong only.
And really.. how is it a good thing to stay in an abusive relationship anyway?! Not only does that take a toll on your physical & mental health, but it encourages the abusive person to be abusive! While no one can make an abuser become a kind, Godly person, setting boundaries sets the stage for that person to change their abusive behavior. That is truly loving, Godly behavior! Tolerating abuse from anyone is NOT!
Rather than listening to that drivel about being the bigger person, do what you know God wants you to do. Stick to your boundaries. Don’t be bullied or manipulated into allowing an abusive person back into your life. Surround yourself with good, loving, Godly people who understand, love & support you.
Periodically, I like to post about the signs of a covert narcissist. Everyone knows about overt narcissists, but there just isn’t much information on their covert counterparts. Today, I want to share some warning signs of covert narcissists.
They are terrible listeners. When having a conversation with a covert narcissist, it is painfully obvious they want you to shut up so they can resume talking. They look bored. They pretend they’re going to talk as you start to talk, then obviously stop talking, acting as if you interrupted them. They try to hurry your conversation up.
They create a false image of themselves. Covert narcissists are not as obvious in their delusions of grandeur like overt narcissists. They may even say depreciating things about themselves such as “I can’t do that.. I’m not talented.” “I’m not very smart.” This false image of modesty often makes people complement them & provide narcissistic supply when they make such comments. Some pretend to be stupid, when in fact they are quite intelligent, so people will take care of them & protect them. Others do for the people in their life to create the image of the self-sacrificing martyr who never thinks of herself.
They are smug. Narcissists look down on other people, whether they are covert or overt, but coverts are quieter about it. They may not tell a person flat out that they are better than the victim, but the victim knows this is how that person feels anyway. Covert narcissists have a look that conveys the message well. Or, they compare you unfavorably to someone else. My mother in-law told me how disappointed she was my husband married me instead of someone he used to date, which left me feeling not good enough to be a part of her family.
Covert narcissists have no empathy. Like their overt counterparts, covert narcissists have zero empathy. They don’t care about your pain unless it directly affects them. If you cry in their presence, they will look at you blankly. If there is a witness, the covert narcissist might offer you a hug or some kind words, but that is only to make the witness think well of them. They really don’t feel any empathy for you whatsoever.
Always the victim. Covert narcissists are always the victim. If they hurt you, & you confront them, you are mean/unreasonable/abusive/etc. They’ll even bring out the fake tears to attempt to make you feel guilty.
Covert narcissists fake apologize. On the off chance you get an apology from a covert narcissist, it is obviously fake. They don’t understand why what they did was wrong, but they feel forced to apologize to appease you & keep you providing their narcissistic supply. When there’s no way to get around that apology, it can be either passive/aggressive (“I’m sorry you feel that way”) or by saying things they think you would want to hear. Chances are, they’ll be dead wrong on what they think you want to hear, too.
They are extremely sensitive. Narcissists are all sensitive to any criticism, real or imagined, but covert narcissists are the worst. Any slight from you can have them crying about how cruel you are.
Recently I was inspired to create something to help inspire those who have suffered narcissistic abuse. (Well, ok, I stole the idea but with full blessings of the creator of it. lol)
I started making origami butterflies that I will be glad to give away to anyone wanting one. The premise behind this is to remind victims of narcissistic abuse that they are like the butterfly- they may have entered a dark lonely place (narcissistic abuse) like a caterpillar entering the chrysalis, then like the butterfly, they emerged beautifully. Just because they were once stuck in that place didn’t mean that they would stay that way forever.
My hope is that these little butterflies also will help to raise awareness of narcissistic abuse & the serious damage it causes.
For further information & to learn how to get one, please click the link below.
I have been asked quite a few times how long it takes to recover fully from narcissistic abuse. I believe it to be a lifelong battle, unfortunately. However, I don’t want to discourage you with that, because there is good news. Although it can be a lifelong battle, it does get easier!
You will stumble sometimes, but even so, you are constantly getting stronger as you heal. The more wisdom you gain about NPD & the effects of its abuse, the more strength it gives you. You finally realize it wasn’t your fault, & that you’re suffering the normal effects of abnormal treatment.
The dark times of depression come less frequently & don’t last as long when they come.
There are times you feel stuck, as if you are always going to be depressed, anxious, or feel like you’re going crazy. But, the longer you have been healing, the less frequently those times happen. They, like depression, won’t last as long on the rare occasions when they happen.
Your self-esteem soars. Sure, sometimes you may backslide into feeling like the worthless piece of garbage your narcissistic mother always said you were, but at least that isn’t how you constantly feel anymore. They’re merely fleeting moments. When you realize this dysfunctional thinking is happening, you remind yourself that isn’t true. Healthy self-esteem also stops the dysfunctional people-pleasing at your own expense ways many children of narcissistic parents possess.
You try to practice good self-care rituals- prayer, relaxing activities, participating in fun hobbies. Granted, sometimes you let your schedule get too busy, but the healthier you become, the quicker you are to realize this mistake & make the appropriate changes.
I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to change how you think about your recovery. While it may be a lifelong battle with no definite end, try to focus instead on the good that comes during your healing. Focus on each baby step, every bit of progress you make. Your narcissistic mother tried to destroy you, but she didn’t! You are like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Little by little, you are getting healthier & happier. Maybe right now you aren’t where you want to be, & feel like you have a long way to go. How about instead focusing on how far you have come? You are no longer that wounded, dysfunctional little child, but instead are a grown woman who is getting stronger & healthier each day!
No matter what type of abuse or trauma you have suffered, often discrediting you, the victim, happens. Often by outsiders who say ridiculous statements such as…
“Well if you wouldn’t have worn that short skirt, you wouldn’t have been raped!”
“If you had just been a little nicer to him, your husband wouldn’t have hit you!”
“Your mother did the best she could- you need to understand that she had been abused. She just didn’t know how to raise you, so you have to forgive & forget.”
Even more frequently, the person who perpetrated the abuse works hard to discredit you. Narcissistic parents are especially good at doing this. They tell others they are concerned about you, because you have been acting strangely, you have a vivid imagination, you’ve been making up stories, they did the best they could do by you, but you were always a difficult child & more.
Publicly stating that the victim is not a victim, but instead the problem helps to convince others of that fallacy. The narcissistic abuser has great conviction when lying- people who aren’t extremely close to her rarely doubt her stories, especially if said under the guise of concern for her child.
This works well for the narcissistic mother, as she is able to convince people quite easily that her child is the problem, thus turning people against her child & supporting her. People then will look down on or fail to believe the child if she openly discusses the abuse or tries to stand up to or set boundaries with her narcissistic mother. I experienced this myself in my teen years. My mother’s friends had once liked me, but as the abuse escalated & I tried to protect myself, suddenly those friends no longer liked me. They barely even spoke to me or made eye contact with me.
Discrediting the victim also serves to make the victim question herself rather than the abuse she has come to believe is normal. There were times in my teen years I felt as if I was going crazy. My mother told me I was crazy anyway, even threatening to have me committed many times. That along with acting like & saying I was the problem caused me to doubt my sanity more times than I can count.
Also, another benefit for the abuser of discrediting the victim is that all eyes are on the victim, not the abuser. The abuser can do anything she likes, because no one will notice. They are too focused on how bad, wrong, crazy, etc. the victim is.
If you fall victim to this, please know you are NOT alone! This is a typical tactic of narcissistic abusers. It does NOT mean that you are to blame. Instead, it is just one more sign that this person is the problem, & that this person is evil. After all, only an evil person would blame an innocent victim instead of accepting responsibility for their own actions.