It’s NOT EASY using the V word.
Personally, I don’t LIKE it. It’s not a word I’ve used to describe myself through very many situations in my life, because I am the kind of person who takes responsibility for things that happen to me. While, I certainly had choices and consequences (thus responsibility) in my relationship with a narcissist as an adult – it is the only experience I think the V label accurately describes and depicts.
I was caught unaware. I was told things that weren’t true. By relying on those things, I made decisions that put me in harms way. I was sold a bill of goods and promises by a person who was well aware that they had no intention of ever delivering on those promises nor being capable of being a good person towards me, so that he could use me for things that benefited one person in the “relationship”: THE NARCISSIST.
This being said, I don’t throw this word “Victim” around LIGHTLY. I think that the topic of FALSE VICTIM claims by narcissists should be evaluated with a more discerning eye when considering the damage and injustice done by a narcissist to the lives that their false allegations destroy.
Let’s examine the traits of a well-trained pathological liar, a narcissist; with a history of duping others and manipulating to avoid responsibility vs a credible, honest, albeit “emotional” target of the narcissist.
FALSE VICTIM vs. TRUE VICTIM
1. FLAT AFFECT
A FALSE VICTIM isn’t emotionally vibrant and attached to the events which they are sharing that were abusive. They appear as if they’ve just gotten back from a calming vacation. Very smooth. Cool. Detached.
Whereas, a TRUE VICTIM will appear FRAZZLED, RUFFLED and SPENT. They’ll cry hysterically, appear jumpy, nervous and afraid. They’ll space out then come back to the conversation with shocking emotion. They have an urgency with their speech and inflection and it will be PEPPERED with emotions that are all over the place. There are instances of true victims of narcissists who are completely detached and disengaged; hopelessly depressed with a flat affect from the abuse. There will still be evidence of victimization in that “spaced out” appearance not like the cold, cool demeanor of a lying narcissist.
TRUE VICTIMS experience the grieving process. Shock. Denial. Anger. moving all the way through acceptance. Whereas a FALSE VICTIM will appear to get over the emotions of the experience rather quickly. They don’t appear to dwell, (ruminate / obsess) over the “abusive” experiences.
2. BRILLIANT USE OF WORDS, DESCRIPTIONS and PHRASES. Suspiciouly Articulate.
Though the words they’re using say, “I’m afraid. Stalker. Scared for my life.” Their behavior says something else. They’ve studied their true victim long enough and know the dark deeds they’ve committed to be able to twist history to use a convincing choice of dialogue, placing themselves in the position of the “Poor person who had to deal with YOUR shenanigans.” They’re able to take conversations you’ve had previously and articulately add / detract from them just enough to appear as if you were behaving as a crazy person.
Cutting and pasting parts of an email conversation (when you forward conversations, you can change the language) and present those, in their EDITED form as “Evidence”.
That’s not really “evidence” of course, it’s actually a CRIME called falsifying evidence. But the narcissist with their belief they’re above the law and backing by accomplices is given the opportunity to present their lies to people just dumb enough to believe them.
NOW ASK A TRUE VICTIM WHAT HAPPENED: Foggy. Forgetful. Inarticulate. Shows confusion. Their words and thoughts are ALL over the place. Chaotic. Disjointed. You can even see them stop and question the absurdity and validity of THEIR OWN STORY, MID SENTENCE.
It may appear that we’re trying to think of an answer, but we’re realizing based on the “surreal” details and the fact that the person were telling has changed their demeanor (eye rolls, doubtful looks) to them our story sounds artificial or we’re being accused of being “hysterical”, we feel defeated – we want to defend our honesty. Suddenly our credibility waivers – even though we’re the ones telling the honest to God’s truth; it’s very isolating.
The stuff that is done to us by narcissists, is SO INSIDIOUS; it literally baffles us into muddled brain fog. On the surface to others and even ourselves – the narcissist TRIES to appear “nice”. They can’t be openly ugly – their images mean EVERYTHING to them. Unless they’re in a profession where being a big, ugly, bad ass is how they’re paid, they more often than not, present as YOUR BEST FRIEND.
Imagine having a best friend who does and says SO MANY wonderful things to you – suddenly throwing in jabs at you when no ones around. Who calls a woman the love of their lives in one breath, then in the next conversation calls her a slut and tells her that no one will really ever love her for who she is, just that she’s only ever wanted by people for sex? A perpetrating narcissist, that’s who.
Where does a loving person go with this kind of conversation? Most targets question themselves. We became accustomed to explaining the inexplicable by assuming responsibility. We try harder. We try to understand and empathize with the feelings of a narcissist, because we think that if they are that extreme, they MUST be genuine.
3. LACK OF CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR, PERSONALITY OR LIFESTYLE
Narcissists as FALSE VICTIMS don’t change a damn thing about their behavior. They don’t seek help. They don’t look over their shoulders. (Unless they’re paranoid about karma catching up with them) They don’t have trouble sleeping at night or difficulty breathing at times. They aren’t afraid of you in the ways they’ve claimed to be afraid. They aren’t as afraid of you as you are of them. They don’t hang out in support groups. They don’t share their stories with other survivors. They don’t endure the traumatic symptoms of PTSD.
TRUE VICTIMS can’t survive by any other way than REACHING OUT for support. Seeking validation, seeking therapy, GOD, or other “SAVING” modalities is a revelation of our TRUE, inner state. We’re shocked, scared and hurt, we feel broken by the abuse. We reach out, give back and share our stories with others. We try to warn the next victim out of fear that the narcissist will victimize others.
We have the ability and show true empathy for other survivors because we KNOW what the abuse from a narcissist feels like. We KNOW how confusing it is. We don’t take the experience lightly, nor the feelings of those who’ve suffered this lightly.
TRUE VICTIMS become very involved in our own therapy. We are motivated by hurt, anger, fear and determination to never be made a victim again, and thus pour ourselves into learning about our own behavior, vulnerabilities and areas in need of improvement. A narcissist believes it’s everyone ELSE that needs to change.
Where is the narcissist in their protestation that THEY were victimized?
(This is like OJ saying he’s going to devote the rest of his life to finding the “Real killers” of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. YEA RIGHT. He spent his time searching golf courses because in his narcissistic fashion, the killer looked just like HIM, and that’s where you’d find Him; on a golf course)
The narcissist isn’t at home tending to their self-care and reading every tidbit of information regarding recovery they can get their hands on. They’re out meeting new dating partners, out selling themselves on websites for dating, flirting, laughing and gayly enjoying a life not fettered by consequences. They post pictures of where they’re located or broadcast to social media that they’re at such and such location.
TRUE VICTIMS are AFRAID of announcing those things because we KNOW the true danger of someone who uses that information to track us down. We show FEAR and take ACTION to change our previous lifestyles, one that’s more PROTECTED because WE’VE KNOWN VIOLATION.
5. FALSE VICTIMS DON’T QUESTION THEMSELVES, THEY PROJECT ARROGANCE
True victims are FULL of self-doubt. If a person was very self-assured, they would instantly recognize abuse and walk away. They’d be confident that they could handle the situation and feel very comfortable labeling their former partner as “abusive”.
TRUE VICTIMS are not QUICK to use the word abuse – we’re not even looking outside ourselves for answers. We’re busy looking within; carrying tons of borrowed shame and guilt. We don’t throw the term around because of the far-reaching consequences and implications of the words, “Abuse” and “Victim”.
5. TRUE VICTIMS GET PTSD
I don’t recall one narcissistic person I’ve met who showed any signs of PTSD. They’re well described by that quote that says, “Some people don’t GET ulcers, they GIVE them”. Same with narcissists; they GIVE others PTSD. Narcissists are cool cucumbers emotionally, I don’t think events can overwhelm them from the vantage point of feelings and trauma. Cruel and cool, they’re pretty emotionally unaffected by things.
Psychopaths give PTSD because it is THEIR behavior (which they are completely unaware of and how it impacts others) that is so far outside the range of normal human behavior, they have no concept of it’s oddity – but those on the outside looking in, DO. We don’t expect one of our own to regard us as objects of prey. The expectation, although naive is to believe that there are proper rules of contact. Not so with a personality disorder.
As a TRUE VICTIM, let me share the thoughts that went through my mind while the narcissist was insidiously abusing me and why I stayed:
1. Was it me?
I was reminded by the narcissist over a 3 year period that everyone else seemed to get, understand and love him in ways that I just “couldn’t”. Yet, at other times he told me that I did that better than anyone he’d ever known.
2. Everything that went wrong seemed to be MY fault.
With his assistance, I blamed myself relentlessly. Typically, you’ll see a victim apologizing to their abuser, simply because we feel so guilty for provoking their feelings of anger, rage or violence. Yet conversely, you will NOT see an abuser apologizing to their victim – which causes onlookers to think the culpable person is the victim.
3. He told me ad nauseam how GREAT he was.
There was NO WAY the bad feelings, I was experiencing were coming from HIM. They had to be something I was doing or causing; because HE was “perfect” – just ask him!
4. I began to feel that instead of DOING something WRONG, I was BEING something WRONG.
There’s the inexplicable kicker to narcissistic abuse; it really boils down to a person with no true identity, breaking a person with a loving, true identity. I was barraged with so many put downs and unrealistic expectations – that in the end, I felt just as UNWORTHY about myself as a narcissist feels about themselves. Plain and simple in words, yet to go THROUGH the experience of having your soul shattered to arrive at this state of NO IDENTITY, is pretty damn dark & scary; like an inner earthquake. A 9 on the emotional richter scale.
5. I made excuses.
He made them to justify and explain things he did to me, so I did the same. I accepted the ones he gave me – with minor questioning but for the most part, we were a duo of defenders against his true character. God that must have made him feel so good. A perfect scape goat. Unaware of my future slaughter. The things that make some people happy.
6. I was blinded by “Love” . In hindsight, I realize that it wasn’t loving at all; anything that would have me bend myself into a pretzel to satisfy their own deep insecurities to feel loved, wasn’t love they were getting from me. It was sad to let that love go until I accepted the fact that it just wasn’t real.
I had “warning bells” from the very beginning, that he was unhinged. Frequently, in the throes of passion, he would say “if you ever leave me I’ll kill you.” It really frightened me. But then I decided it wasn’t a problem, as I wouldn’t ever leave him. Those threats stopped after we married, along with the passion.
Thank you for sharing your story. I was with my narcissist husband for 29 years, before he left me for a younger model, but continued to try to destroy me. I too was blinded by love.
THIS on every level. Thank you for this article. I am finding my way back to the loving, mindful person I was, before 5 years of every kind of covert and insidious abuse possible in a marriage. I never stopped reality checks when his story contradicted my truth. I was accustomed to using logic and I frantically searched for some, when it felt like my brain was being flushed down a toilet. Which was pretty much all the time. And my inner consolation, that I was not the abuser, as he claimed, but the victim, was my blinding confusion over what was happening to me and around me. I would say to myself…”He is lying. Look how confused you feel. Look at how sure of himself and calm he is. You are begging him for answers and he hasnt asked you one. He is in full control. He is not confused. This is his world. If you were in control of him, would this be the man you’d mold for yourself?? Hell no!” This affirmation worked in most situations and kept me silently logging my reality clues. When I would lose it, these stored up clues showed me my way back to sanity. And it’s true…If you are actually the controlling abuser, wouldn’t YOU be the one getting everything your way and sleeping like an angel in your perfect fantasy world every night? Not the sloppy mess of confusion and pile of rags that gets tossed around by your spouse and left to cry in the corner while they sleep? The hardest part has been keeping my clues to myself and for my use only. My love for him demanded that I keep nothing, that I felt could help his painful perception of his world, from him. But every lesson I tried to teach him, in good faith to understand the truth, would be used to hurt me. And that’s another reality check … which one of us is excitedly telling the other about an article we just read, and how hope still exists for our marriage?.. And which of us says things such as “my therapist said something really helpful today. But since all you ever do is tell me that I’m wrong, I will keep it to myself.” Hmmmm…
What an ELOQUENT way you’ve described such a perplexing, insidious and covert phenomena!
Targets are in constant survival mode, seeking validation that 1) We’re not crazy (Because: We are being told we are and we FEEL like we’re going crazy and 2) We’re not the abuser (Because: we are projected upon and told that we are abusing the #Narcissist )
For People from the outside looking in, wondering why we stay – your words convey how deeply lost we become in the minutiae of our partners disorder and abuse. Every moment of every day is spent SURVIVING and maintaining our sanity.
I posted your comment anonymously on our page – if you’d like to see what kind of dialogue is raised from your post!
I agree with most of this article and I like the way it was worded. The only thing I’d say is that the narc I deal with is not always cool as a cucumber—he has a nasty temper. But I’ve noticed that the more calm I remain the madder he gets. As soon as I start to lose my composure (show any emotion as you described) he does a 180 and becomes calm and collected. There is some kind of weird inverse relationship there.
A thousand rounds of applause my friend! This is so very true and poinient and you have listed it out and described things to a T. The only thing I have left to say is that sometimes it is the female being a narcissist more than the male.
Thanks for sharing!
29 years three wonderful adult girls.
Built a empire. I’m not going to blame him for everything.
I reached out my hand when it all was gone.
I was there riding down the sinking ship.
He was flirting, on porn websites drinking flats of beer, boating but most of all he lies. That’s what I hate, the lies.
He didn’t grab my hand and help.
Now things are basic and he’s like “oh see I got it to
The last thing I want is to split up our family.
He discusts me now, I can’t sleep with him, and I live in the same house. He ignored me for three months. The sad thing is he only understands his own sick behaviour, in return or he just argues about everything. It’s so exhausting.
I’m working on paying off debt so I can leave and live a lonely life. I’m 54 now.
My bad. How to never date or be with someone like this again, I think I’ll just try to be alone.
These are exactly the words I’ve been so desperately searching for. The arrogance & the pattern of changing nothing in him to his sudden on w/ his life. Yet I’m a basket case & dug into research the last 5 yrs I couldn’t image the hours I’ve logged searching for words that don’t make me sound crazier then he’s already made me look.
I’m actually being charged w/ criminal charges that I’m baffled by the fact the courts are hearing this. I report him & the Alternative to Violence people say I have to notify him I’m filling a restraining order, custody & divorce. Against all my best judgement & telling that lady he’d be gone before I got home w/ our daughter. Sure enough he was. Haven’t seen or spoken to her since. She’s 11 & at mediation last week I thought I blew it by my emotional break not being able to sit in same room hearing his lies. But this gives me hope stating I needed them to see his affect on me. He financially ruined me so I live @ my uncles & they serve a notice to appear cause 3 request for restraining order denied. Well before I could read the denied part of the order to appear he called my uncle. Knowing I have 1 family member to turn to he chums up to him & I have to sit listening to uncle side discussing oh I’m ok, he’ll keep an eye on me & how my uncle understand. He had to do what he had to do. I flipping lose & start yelling how their both gonna sit here talking this shit & I’m the one served restraining order. I didn’t realize yet his request was denied, but then at court the S.O.B. comes & sits right beside me. RIGHT!!!!
I moved of course, but my God the confidence of his entire deminer & not a sense at all to his concern he’d ever be seen as the abuser.
I’ve actually read about the narcissist while back, but questioned myself as being one for standing my ground towards his ways.
Thank you so much, 3 days family court then 4 days my criminal court. God willing this article gave words to something I was almost sure I was gonna lose. I even was considering saying letting my daughter go just so I didn’t have to mediate. Because I know he does to her & she’ll need me when she’s old enough to get away.
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