Playing the victim is an extremely common weapon narcissists use. Covert narcissists in particular are a fan of this abusive tactic, but overts will use it as well. It is a very effective weapon, after all. When a narcissist tells others about the awful way you have treated him or her, chances are, they will be believed, and you will be labeled the real abuser in the relationship. The narcissist is able to maintain that “good guy/girl” image while throwing you under the bus. As a result, often times, those who believe the narcissist’s act will try to get you to change, and stop being so mean to the narcissist. If you say the narcissist is lying or are (understandably) upset about what is being said about and to you, it only serves to prove to these people that the narcissist is right. You ARE abusive, unreasonable, mean, etc. etc.
There are various things a narcissist does to look like the innocent victim of your abuse…
- They lie. Whatever really happened is not what the narcissist will tell other people happened. He or she may change the situation around so much that even you do not recognize their tale of woe.
- They tell half truths. Sometimes instead of blatantly reinventing the situation, narcissists only tell half the story. They tell others that you yelled at them, but not what they did that pushed you to lose your temper.
- They project. In other words, they accuse you of doing the same abusive behavior that they have done to you, even though you never did it.
- They claim that they had no idea that what they said or did would upset you. I have yet to know one narcissist who possessed anything less than above average intelligence. Even ones without a great deal of formal education were quite smart. Yet, these same people also will claim that they had no idea that doing or saying something obviously hurtful would help you.
- They claim all they were trying to do was help you. Narcissists possess this uncanny ability to twist things around so even the most abusive thing they say is disguised as help. Telling you that you are fat is not an insult because it shows the narcissist cares about your physical health, for example.
This type of behavior can become more common at certain times, too. When the narcissistic parent’s adult child starts to set boundaries with said narcissistic parent, suddenly that parent tells everyone how terribly that the adult child treats him or her. Or, when a narcissist has gone too far in their abuse, and the victim tells other people about it, the victim act helps them to convince others that the victim is the real problem, the real abuser.
Portraying themselves as the victim also is a very effective way to make the real victim feel so bad, that he or she doubts their own knowledge of the truth of the situation. If you do not know about this weapon, it can be easy to be pulled in by the narcissist’s lies, and even end up apologizing to the narcissist for whatever it is they say that you did! You need to be fully aware of the truth, and do not let yourself be swayed by it! This tactic is nothing more than gaslighting, an attempt to make you doubt your views, memories, perceptions, and even sanity. DO NOT FALL FOR IT! If you have doubts about what really happened, begin to document everything. Keep a journal and write it in often. That way, when the narcissist accuses you of abusive behavior, you can review your documentation and see the truth in writing.
Some people are going to believe the narcissist over you, no matter what. Sadly, this is a fact of life with a narcissist. Also sadly, you are most likely going to need to end those relationships. People in that position cannot maintain a neutral position for long, because the narcissist continues to try to poison them against the victim. There is also the fact that by not choosing a side, this person has chosen the narcissist’s side. By saying or doing nothing, that enables bad behavior. (By choosing the victim’s side, the person would be saying that this is wrong, and standing up for what is right.) This type of person also usually keeps no secrets from the narcissist. He or she will tell the narcissist all about you, whether or not you want the narcissist to know it. So yes, this relationship may very well need to be severed.. another casualty of narcissistic abuse.