Both overt & covert narcissists share a fondness for portraying themselves as victims, although often covert narcissists are much quicker to use this tactic. Overt narcissists prefer other people to see them as superior, but in a pinch, they will pull this victim act if necessary.
Narcissists use the victim act as a way to convince people that their victim is the real problem in the relationship. It takes the focus off of the narcissist & places it on the victim. This scenario is especially common when an overt narcissist marries a covert narcissist. The covert calls attention to the overt narcissist’s behavior, which allows the covert narcissist to continue being abusive in the background. The victim act also can be used when a narcissist is losing control of their victim as a way to manipulate other people into telling the victim they need to treat the narcissist better or to abandon the victim so he or she has no support. Portraying themselves as a victim also can be a way for a narcissist to manipulate their victim. The goal is to convince the victim that he or she is being cruel & needs to change their behavior to whatever the narcissist wants. If the narcissist is convincing enough & the victim lacks knowledge of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the victim may believe that they are being unreasonable for wanting the narcissist to treat them with respect or that having boundaries with the narcissist are cruel.
The victim act also gets narcissists plenty of attention, which is something they all crave. They are seen in a good way, certainly much better than the person that they claim is their abuser. They also have control over how other people see them by lying & creating a story to show them in their best possible light, the victim in the worst.. People who are unaware of the victim act often fall for it, & blindly support the narcissist while shunning whoever they claim to be their abuser.
Covertly narcissistic parents also portray themselves as victims to their children. Often, they are able to convince their child that they need protection & coddling, so this draws the child into a sick emotionally incestuous relationship. The child’s focus is so much on taking care of their parent, that often even as adults, they don’t recognize or acknowledge that this behavior is sick & abusive.
Victimized narcissists also have extreme double standards. They are allowed to say & do anything to you, no matter how hurtful. Yet, if you say or do the same thing to them, they claim you are abusive, bad, & the real problem in the relationship.
There are ways to differentiate someone who is playing the victim compared to someone who is a true victim. True victims don’t talk badly about other people non stop. They talk some about their abuser & what they did, but primarily they focus on their healing. They also are guarded, not talking very openly with just anyone about their experience. Narcissistic victims will tell anyone who will listen all about their pain. And, narcissistic victims don’t take any responsibility in their situation. A true victim will admit anything they did wrong, sometimes even accepting blame for the abuser’s behavior, especially in the early days of their healing.
If you have been on the receiving end of a narcissist’s victim act, my heart goes out to you. I have many times & I know it’s not an easy place to be. I learned from the experiences though. I learned there always will be people who believe the narcissist’s outrageous lies over the truth, & nothing will convince them otherwise. Let them go. Their dysfunction is way more important to them than the truth, & nothing you can say or do will change their mind. In fact, the more you try to change their minds, the more convinced they become that the narcissist is right about you. Leave them & the narcissist to their toxicity & get away from it as fast as you can. What people like that think about you isn’t important. Your sanity is.
I also learned that this experience is great for teaching you who is safe & who isn’t. Unsafe people blindly believe the lies. Safe people don’t, they defend you & they abandon anyone who speaks or believes the lies. Unsafe people will abandon you over the lies, & this is a good thing even when it hurts at first.
I also learned just how much God loves His children. During such times in my life, He comforted me, helped me to heal & let me know He would deal with these toxic people on my behalf. These painful times brought me closer to Him, & that made it all worth it.