How To Help Someone Involved With A Narcissist

What to do if you suspect someone you know is involved with a narcissist

First of all let’s cover the don’t:

* Do not underestimate how dangerous, manipulative and conniving a narcissist can be.

Too many times people confuse narcissism with ordinary abusive behaviour or someone with an inflated ego. A true narcissist is cruel beyond comprehension and can cause immeasurable emotional and physical damage. They will stop at nothing to control their victim and that could include death.

* Never make the victim feel they are responsible for their own abuse.

By saying things like: I would never have stayed, I would have seen he was an asshole a mile off, he was attracted to your co-dependency, etc
No one knows what it is like to be manipulated by a narcissist unless they have been there.

-Narcissists are attracted to strong, competent, self sufficient women with a strong sense of responsibility and moral fiber. What woman wouldn’t want to be described in those terms? The last thing a narcissist wants is someone needy or someone any one could have, she has to be a “trophy” and confident enough to keep his narcissistic supply coming. Plus the more self sufficient and confident she is the more determined the narcissist will be to “break” her, if he can make her totally dependent on him it is the ultimate in NS.

* Do not withdraw your support in an effort to make them choose between you and the narcissist, or in anger because they won’t leave or went back.

Withdrawing your support is giving the narcissist exactly what they want – total control over their victim and makes the victim dependent on the narcissist and reinforces what the narcissist is telling them; that they (the narcissist) is the only one they can rely on, the only one who truly loves them and that they are flawed in some way, why else would someone they cared about turn their back on them?

* Do not expect the victim to return to their “old self” immediately after leaving the narcissist.

The longer a person is involved with a narcissist the more damage is done to the person’s self confidence, their esteem and even their perception of reality. That does not heal quickly, sometimes never. The victim has been abused at a soul level, comparable to a prisoner of war, a rape victim, a hostage; they can probably not even adequately describe what they have been through. In many cases they have blocked much of the abuse or minimized it; which is typical of a person in highly dangerous situation and was part of their attempts at survival.

– Many people leaving a relationship with a narcissist suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and should get help from a professional for that, someone who is familiar with Narcissism and the effect on the victims.

*Do not believe anything the narcissist tells you, he will try anything to discredit the victim and make them appear to be the crazy one and it is the narcissist who is the victim.

You can almost guarantee that whatever the narcissist is saying is the exact opposite of the truth. If he is saying she was unfaithful; it was him cheating. If he says she spent all the money; it was he who spent money.

Remember the narcissist is an award winning actor, he’s been doing it his whole life, if he does admit to any wrong doing it will be part of his plans to manipulate the situation in his favor.

*Do not show the narcissist any sympathy!

One of the tactics often used by a narcissist (especially when he feels he is losing ground) is to use other people as pawns in his efforts to control his victim.
The victim needs no reasons to feel sorry for the narcissist, if they see you are sympathetic to his cause they will doubt they are doing the right thing by leaving.

*Do not be overly critical of the narcissist to the point of the victim feeling they must defend him; remember the narcissist uses guilt as a means of manipulation. You don’t want the victim to feel she has done anything wrong by confiding in you.

The To-Do List:

*Research Narcissism

There are hundreds of support groups, forums, advice sites and sites giving professional opinions.

No one can understand the power a narcissist has over his victim or how
he gained that control or why a victim finds it so hard to leave. Unless you have been there it is impossible, but by reading other people’s accounts of their experiences you will come to realize it is very common and perhaps develop some compassion for the loved one you are trying to help.

*Reinforce that the victim is NOT responsible for the abuse, it is the narcissist that is sick and they can not save him.

-You will have to do this often, once out of your company and back home with the narcissist the narcissist will work over time to extinguish any confidence the victim might have acquired while with you. It is a constant roller coaster ride in emotional hell and you might be the only person who can counter the insanity of living with a narcissist.


When the victim tells you of abuse, infidelity or any other mistreatment by the narcissist make note of it; if there is any physical abuse try to take pictures even if she refuses to press charges. It is actually best if she doesn’t keep records herself because the narcissist IS going through her stuff whether she realizes it or not and if he finds it he will destroy it and “punish” her in some way. But this information will come in handy in the future as:
Proof there was abuse should she have to go to court or get a restraining order.
A reminder for the victim of what she had to live with when her resolve weakens.
Proof of the truth in defense of the lies the narcissist will inevitably tell anyone who will listen.

*Be There!!!

I know it is frustrating to hear the victim cry about the abuse and then they don’t leave or they leave and go back, but you need to be her voice of reason and sanity. You must understand that narcissists are experts at making someone feel crazy.

A woman in an abusive relationship leaves an average of 7 times before leaving for good. As long as he can make her feel that she has some power to change things she will go back, she needs to be reinforced that she has indeed done all she or any woman could do and no one deserves to be abused.

* Believe them!

Once they opening up and start sharing some of the things the narcissist did, believe them, no matter how bizarre it may sound and reiterate it is the narcissist that is sick, not them!


If they are still with the narcissist all you can do is be there to listen and reinforce that: They are NOT crazy
They are strong
They are not alone
They CAN leave and when they do you will be there to help

* If they have left they will need to rehash the relationship trying to make sense of it, trying to find answers to why something so wonderful turned so ugly.

Quite often while in “survival mode” the victim will block or minimize a lot of the abuse because they are overwhelmed or simply can not accept how horrible the situation is. Once they are away from the narcissist and the danger emotions and memories will come flooding back and the brain needs to acknowledge and accept what happened in order to start the healing process. It might be necessary for the victim to relive some events over and over again.

*Allow the victim time to grieve the loss.

Too many times the people close to the victim get frustrated that they are so sad and “taking too long” grieving and should “just get over it”. That they should be happy they are away from the abuse.

Remember this is probably what they thought was the love of their life and not only is the relationship over but they have to accept it was all one sided; the narcissist is incapable of love; they were in love with a sham. The narcissist will never admit to any fault, and over time more and more of the lies he told will surface reopening the wounds.

Nine times out of ten the narcissist will be involved in another relationship very quickly and will be on his best behaviour and doing everything he can to rub his ex victim’s nose in it.

Either that or he will stock his victim, call incessantly, write letters, anything he can think of to get to her and weaken her resolve.

You can’t stop the victim from going back, but it is less likely to happen if they don’t feel alone. The narcissist can be very convincing especially if the victim is alone, depressed and filled with self doubt.

Good Luck!!!

329 thoughts on “How To Help Someone Involved With A Narcissist

  1. Stevie

    I was looking for an article that would give me advice on how to help an in law. My husband and his family are addicted narcissist. No general addiction. For some, it’s whatever they can find, but mostly alcohol. For over 25 years I have watched all of them be the nastiest people you could ever run in to. My husband was a mean nasty drunk at risk of losing everything at any moment all the time. Because of my empathy “problem” I always felt like he could be a better person. 5 years ago he had a breakthrough. He was legally forced in to therapy and has been great ever since. He still has narcissist slips but they are brief and he doesn’t like himself afterwards. When he was sick his family, mother, brothers, cousins, etc. Did everything they could to encourage his alcoholism because they knew how much it was damaging our relationship and our children. They seemed to get off on the stories he would tell that would rip in to my soul. They weren’t true and the more I tried to defend myself the angrier they got. The family treated our children like trash. Once after one of his week long benders, no work, just sitting away from home and swallowing any alcohol he could find, he called me and said he was on his way home and he needs to go to the hospital because he felt like his organs were shutting down. Still oblivious to the families personality disorder I called his mother and asked if she would like to come with for love and support. She said she would be right over. An hour later she called and asked where he was going and when. I told her the psychiatric hospital that he had been to before. She then told me she is going to lunch with a friend first and would be over later. Whence she finally showed she seemed to be badgering him about going. “Are you sure you want to quit drinking!?” The man was crying. As we were driving she seemed nervous about the route we were taking. Asking why are we going this way and where is this place. She was trying to cause fights between him and I.In the intake my husband lied and the woman doing the assessment kept giving me dirty looks and asking him if he really wants to be there. She seemed to have quite an attitude with me. A few days later in a meeting with one of his counselors they had told me his mother had made a visit before we showed up and did not have very nice things to say about me and seemed to be trying to manipulate his care. Fortunately he had been here before and they knew his story.
    Anyway, his brother is what I would call a malignant narcissist. The mothers golden boy. He does whatever she says and he never shows remorse for anything. 15 years ago he met a woman. She was beautiful inside and out. Caring and friendly and all of it. But she was gullible. She had a father that abused her and an alcoholic mother. Of course she didn’t tell the stories. This is the narcissist job. Now they have two children. She doesn’t work even though she is college educated. The only friend she is allowed to have in the family is his mother. Every other relationship is supervised by him or his mother. In the years she has become an intolerable person. They do have a nice life on the outside. She seems to have been trained to flaunt how much better she is than everyone. She gives people dirty looks, even children and her husband watches over her when she does her narcissist bullying type conversations. I have been subjected to this a couple of times. I didn’t even flinch because I took this time to assess her strange behavior. Did her childhood issues cause her to be susceptible to becoming a narcissist under his control? Is it her “job” now to do his dirty work? She is mean and unpleasant these days. The two of them seem to be set out to destroy other families so they can be “the best and the happiest” couple this family has ever produced.
    However, my eldest daughter who is now an adult wants nothing to do with her father’s family. She hasn’t for years. She has always hated the way they make her feel. I agree with her decision. When they finally acknowledged that she doesn’t think they are good people they seemed to be very emotionally upset and tried to stir up drama around my daughters decision. It was bizarre how much they all of a sudden cared. The drama caused me to finally tell these people through the course of a week’s worth of them pleading because they don’t understand why she feels that way,that it is not going to go their way. They are not fooling me or her and they need to stop. No more gifts need to be sent. She doesn’t fall for charm.
    This has caused them to behave with a new “respect” for me and my daughter. I know it’s not real but I can play.
    Back to the sister in law. Since this family blowout and the change in attitude, we had a brief 3-5 minutes alone in the kitchen at a family party a few months ago. She seemed to have taken the opportunity to tell me she wants to leave. He drinks to much. He yells at the children. He can be quite controlling. Then he walked in and stared at her and she shut down. She was quickly able to move back in to her role as better than everyone and couldn’t have found a better person to spend her life with.
    I am wondering if this is a woman that can be helped. It seems dangerous to everyone involved. I feel like if anyone does help her, they will come under a vicious and relentless attack by the family. Also, can she be helped? She seems to exhibit her own narcissist behavior even though I am sure this is part of her survival. She once was a nice person. She cared about people. Now she seems to be number to it. I don’t think the family will ever allow her alone with me again. I don’t think she ever knew what she was dealing with. Him and his mother smothered her in to feeling like she was special. The mother would even move in from time to time and I used to joke that its because she must need an adjustment. Now I feel bad because I think I was right. This girls husband IS the better in the family. Many of the other family members seemed to have been the scapegoats. Charming and manipulative and seems to have it all together. He dresses nice they have a nice home etc. But he cheats. Everyone knows. He encourages other husbands to cheat. He is a closet extremely terrible person. But nobody sees this side.



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