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.

*Document!!

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!

*Listen!!

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!!!

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

  1. desperate-to-help-a-friend

    I am desperate to help a friend in a relationship with a narcissist. She is broken and tired and giving up trying. It has been 10 years, 3 kids, and she is financially dependant on him. I don’t know how to help, and not push her away. please help me help her!

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    1. pat c

      focus on the children and whats best for them and get a good attorney. wheather he wants to or not he has to financially support the children. what state is this in?

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    2. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Desperate-to-help-a-friend, bless you for standing by your friend and wanting to help her. So many victims have no one. Have you given her the link to this site? Does she accept that she is involved with a narcissist and he will never change? Have you talked openly with her about how you feel?
      If she refuses to see it or accept it, there is little you can do, except keep reinforcing that she is not the crazy one and he is sick and she can not change him or save him. it is a very tough spot to be in because you don’t want her to stop telling you what is going on or feel like she has to defend him.
      The most you can do is keep telling her she deserves better, that you will help her and be there if she wants to leave and give her options for leaving. The victim gets so overwhelmed that they don’t see any way out. Encourage her to sneak a bit of money away, look into shelters for her, or some other option of a place she can go until she is back on her feet. If she would come in here and read about other women who have left and made it she might see that it is possible.
      If you feel she is in danger you could down load the free safety plan at the top of the blog and try to get her to start using some of the precautions.
      Does she journal? try to encourage her to journal, daily; that way she can really see what she is going through and look back and see that nothing ever changes, also a lot of times the victim is so overwhelmed they forget a lot of the abuse or are so confused they can’t think straight, journaling will help her keep her sanity. It also will provide valuable evidence for court and the divorce should she decide to leave. \
      The victim feels powerless and needs to find ways to take back their power, to know they are capable. The abuser has them believing they can’t make it on their own and it is all a lie.
      If you can come back with some more information, like what exactly she is afraid of if she left, and if she admits what he is; maybe i can be of more help.
      Right now, just being there and being her voice of reason and enforcing she is not crazy or the sick one is the best you can do.
      Good luck
      hugs
      Carrie

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  2. desperate-to-help-a-friend

    yes we have tried to switch the focus to the kids, they are suffering too. They have just split, she just found about another affair. He has complete financial control and she is feeling like she can’t make decisions out of fear of what he’ll do financially. As far as we know it has never been physical but I do feel the reactions and situations are escalating. She still loves him, believes his words and i am terrified for her to get sucked back in. Need advice on what to say, how to gently push her forward.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Desperate, I answered you before reading this comment of yours. So she has left. That is a good thing.
      Once again I think it would help her to come in here and see that other women have done it and to see how similar everyone’s story is, and that they never change.
      She probably has PTSD after 10 years and should see a therapist (one who knows about narcissists) as should the children.
      By law he has to pay child support and spousal support, so I am guessing she is using the financial concerns as an excuse to keep an ongoing relationship with him. It is much easier to say “I have to stay in touch because I need the money than to say, I can’t let my abuser go and still love him”.
      If you could get through to her that she doesn’t have to stop loving him or can’t ever go back to him; all she has to do is give him time to prove his love and her time to get herself straight. nothing has to be permanent. The whole idea being she has to stay away long enough for the brainwashing he has done to wear off, long enough for him to stop influencing the way she thinks and for her to build up some confidence and self esteem. Mathew Hussey is a dating expert, look up any of his videos, he does not deal with narcissists or abuse in any way BUT he says if you want your ex back you have to go no contact, that being someone’s door mat never works. That men want a woman who is self aware and sets boundaries etc.
      Now, the plan is NOT for her to get him back, but let her think it is, if that is what is going to keep her away from him for a while. once she has nothing to do with him for a few weeks, the addiction to his approval will start the die. The more self aware she becomes the less attractive he will be, AND he will never last that long, he needs supply and he will not wait around for her, he doesn’t want to have to work that hard. N’s come on strong because they know they can’t sustain it, he will push her to come back immediately, promise anything, be the sweetest guy on the planet; until she goes back and then the abuse will be even worse.
      Tell her that (and this is the truth) if he really loves her and means what he says, he will get into counseling alone; because it is not their problem, or her problem, it is HIS problem. She can get into counseling herself to work on her problems. Try to get her to realize that back and forth is horribly hard on the kids and she needs to focus on what is best for her and the kids at this time and let him sort his own shit out.
      A normal man who is truly in love with a woman will respect her need for space and will want to work on his problems, even if it takes months. If a man is insisting on immediately being forgiven and everything to go back to the way they were; he is controlling and unhealthy.
      I am sure that if she stayed no contact for even a month she would notice that she is not always nervous any more, the kids are happier and the house is so much more relaxed, she will feel more confident, attractive and get some joy back in her life. Right now the black cloud of narcissism is hanging so heavy around her she can’t see the light.
      Do any thing you can to convince her to take her time and to go no contact for at least a month and then be there for her at those times she feels she HAS to talk to him. It is an addiction, she craves that feeling she had when she first met him, she wants that approval, to feel like she is the sexiest, most attractive woman in the world, but it was not real, it was all a ploy, an act to hook her; that spell has to be broken.
      Good luck and let us know how it goes
      Hugs
      Carrie

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  3. pat c

    If you think the kids are suffering now, wait til you see what he does next. Need an attorney to get into court and start getting child support and maintenence. Obviously knowledge is power and she has been brainwashed into beleiving she has none. She needs to know this is not her fault and she can’t change or fix him. And that is why she has to focus on taking care of the children and herself. Needs to be done without him knowing or all the money will be gone. Make sure health insurance stays in place also.

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