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!!!

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

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I see it’s helping many many people.
    After reading your article, I have a question in my mind.

    How do you differentiate between a narcissist and a person with severe temper issues and inflated ego? What are the things to look out for?

    I’m not sure if my husband(of 8 months) is a narcissist or just another egomaniac abuser.

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  2. Kanika, welcome! and you are welcome, I am happy I can help people by sharing my story.
    There is a page at the top of the blog that gives the list of narcissistic traits. But, does it matter what label you put on it, abuse is abuse and no one should tolerate being abused.
    There are many reasons why a person is abusive but there is never an excuse for being abusive and there is never a reason that a victim should take the abuse.

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  3. Hi,

    I love your advice. It’s seems so simple but is anything really “so simple”? I have a relative in a relationship with someone who, by self admission, is BPD. However, based on her actions and behaviors I have come to realize that cannot be the only PD she has. She has set her vision on me a few times but I have not responded to her tactics so she took it elsewhere.

    I do not know how to help him and it is driving me crazy! He has been in the relationship now for a few years and I can see how beat down he is. He is not himself anymore. Everything his does, thinks, plans, feels, etc is based on her and how she might react. He has even let go of all his friends and family (including parents and siblings) because according to her, he had to choose. According to her, he cannot have his family and her at the same time. I am trying to get him to understand this is abuse and he is better than the abuse she dishes. She is constantly telling him how he is a loser and she is wasting her time. That statement is not even the tip of the iceberg! Then she comes back like nothing ever happened. I tell him to GET OUT but I am afraid it is too late. Is it ever too late for the victim? I feel I need to “fight” for him but I also feel I am losing ground.

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    • Too late, thank you for being such a good friend to your friend, unfortunately there isn;’t much you can do except be there to give him a reality check once in a while. The narcissist is so good at manipulation and the victim is so good at seeing only what they want to see and doubting themselves it is very hard for the victim to break away.
      Usually the narcissist is done with them first and leaves them for someone else, then you have a hope of intervening before she does her curtain call, because they never walk away for good. If the victim doesn’t cut them out of their life they will pop in and out of the victims life forever more.

      Sorry I can’t offer anything more positive than that. Aside from abducting the victim and deprogramming them (like they used to do with cult victims) there is little that can be done besides listening and reinforcing that they deserve better and they are not to blame or crazy.

      Good luck
      HUgs
      Carrie

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  4. Brain washing is a big part of it. Most people enter relationships in good faith and are then sucked in. It is not that they lack common sense or reasoning but, unless they have experienced these crazy people before, they take things at face value and are trusting. Most people are nice and those nice people are so attractive to crazies. It is a great pity they don’t go for their own kind and leave the rest of us alone.

    People are usually sucked in by a whirlwind of romance, excitement and feeling they have met, ‘the one’ – and oh what a right one they’ve met!

    Suddenly the criticisms start, they let it ride thinking things will be okay in the morning. They start to walk on egg shells and life becomes all about not upsetting the crazy. They loose themselves and their own opinions and happiness trying to appease the crazy.

    It doesn’t usually take long to start and if they have children, a business or whatever that tie them to the crazy then they try all the harder to weather the storm. They think you can cope, but in reality they are drowning.

    Their brains becomes addled, so despite friends trying to help it often feels like those friends looks of sympathy and badgering are just extra pressure to bear and they can’t cope with any more strain. They are not rejecting your help, they manage to log it somewhere in the brain for later. As long as they know you are there for them when they are ready.

    I would say you don’t have to hold back with your true feeling about the crazy, even to the crazy. If you do keep totally quiet about it all then the crazy just smirks and thinks they have got you where they want you, totally under their control. Obviously you need to be wary of going too far with a crazy, just the occasional tut and raised eye brows may suffice. As long as you don’t overdo it and cause your friend to worry it is just making the situation worse for them and send them fleeing.

    Eventually your friend will process all that is going on, or at least usually they do. Then it will take them years and years to fully understand what the hell happened to them. Hopefully they will then meet somebody else they can trust.

    Read all you can about narcisists and brain washing, so many things will jump out at you. Also, most people with PD’s have various crossovers into other types.

    Good luck with it.

    Barbara

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    • Barbara,

      Thank you so much for your encouragement. I have been “studying” NPD for many months, yes months, now. I did not mention this earlier but this person I want to help is my older brother. I have struggled with the idea of washing my hands of the mess but I can’t! Part of me felt like I was interfering too much, mind you I do not speak to him often because his N GF hates me. I mean really hates me. She has done her classic smear campaign to all of my extended family and has even tried it with my mom. My mom defended me so she then turned her smear campaign on my mother. My family has written her off but we are not giving up on my brother. We can’t. Like you stated, we see him drowning and we want to pull him to safety.

      When he is able to spend time with us, which is rare, we let him speak freely. We just listen to all of the horrible things she has said and done. What scares me the most is, he is a walking corpse. I am seeing the life disappear each time I see him. I want to cuff him and not let him leave us! To not let him go back to the abuse! All the while he with us trying to gain a little bit of sanity, she is blowing up his phone making him feel bad about it. She has tried to make him choose us or her. In her mind, he can’t have both. It has gotten to the point that when his does speak to one of us, he has to hide it just to avoid the rage from her. It’s so sad and maddening!

      I have found a lot of good information about this PD. There are several videos that tell “his story”. I have shown them to him and it seems that he might be coming around to realizing the problem. Just like you stated though, I do not want to make him feel “pressure” from me so I have to choose the right moment to share what I have learned. He has stated he wants to leave, but he feels tons of guilt for it. His self esteem is so low right now. I have noticed though he is calling me more and more lately. I have scaled back my criticism of her and have shifted focus to rebuilding him. I hope that helps some.

      Thanks again!!

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  5. Hi, Thank you so much for telling your story and for this blog it has been very helpful to me. I wanted to get your opinion or advice on my current situation I have been married to my N for 20 years now and its only been in the last 5 years that I have slowly realized what I had thought was normal was anything but and after doing much research finally I was able to put a name to every thing I had been thru and am still going thru NPD. I am also finding just as my research said that standing up to the N or showing any sign of independence is always met with the same N tactics of being told I am acting psychotic or crazy, guilt trips, belittling nasty comments (in front of the our 2 daughter about me or my daughters being told behind my back that your mother is crazy as he rolls his eyes. But the more I have armed myself with facts about NPD it seems to help me realize its not me it is him who has the problem and I am much less likely to get sucked into playing his games I now see it for what it is. I have learned when I start to feel attacked or hurt or the need to defend myself, I stop and try to think of it as he is throwing me a ball and it is up to me to catch it and throw it back or simply allow it to hit the ground and walk away . I know I do not have to play his games with him and that’s what I see everything he does now as a game. Even with all of my newly discovered confidence its very hard or impossible to forget how evil he is capable of being if he feels the need to be. This brings me to my current issue I have been taken advantage of and walked all over for years by his controlling of our finances, we both work always have and until recently had 1 joint account that he controlled. After years of making financial decisions over and over without consulting me and years of always being told we cant afford that we cant do that we cant even take our kids on a vacation EVER, he had gotten us into such debt with credit cards that we had to file bankruptcy. It was at this time that I opened up my own checking acct and my whole pay check is deposited into MY acct. I took over all the utilities and any and everything that our kids need or want I also am responsible for buying ALL the groceries. I was fine with that It was worth it to me just to have my own money even if it seemed he was determined to make sure every penny was spent on bills and that there would be nothing extra left . But then it was the income tax that I began to get frustrated over as he would always have our refund deposited into his account and he would not even tell me when we received nor would he tell me how or when he spent it! I was only told anything if I asked and even then he has lied to me and if I ask any questions I am told he paid bills with it and it is gone now. Last year the lady who does our taxes informed us that due to the way he has his w2 form filled out at work (he is having the least amount possible in taxes cut from his pay check) while I have the max amount cut from my check she suggested we file married & separately she said at least this way we could get some money back the problem was that he would actually owe the IRS and of course I took some of my refund and paid what he owed then he started with bills ( that he had let get behind) and I paid these too which left me and the kids with very little to do anything with which is exactly what he wanted. The thing is its only because of me that we got anything back and she told him specifically he needed to change the way he has his w2 filled out at work he said oh ok I didn’t know(playing dumb) Well this year by the middle of M arch he hadn’t said a word about getting our taxes done so feeling very confident and very tired of being taken advantage off for so long I made the appointment and went without him (which he did the very same to me for years) she filed them the same way she did last married and filing separately, and guess what he hadn’t changed his w2 so the tax lady knowing some of what I am dealing with said to me well he don’t wanna do right so he is again going to owe the IRS and she told me this time DONT pay this for him he made this bed himself he needs to lay in it! At this time he still hasn’t said a word about getting the taxes done but I realize eventually he will I plan to just casually say oh yeah I already got them done (its no different than what he has always done to me) I am keeping paper wk in my office at work and his I put into the file cabinet at home I also should tell you that we almost lost our house last year due to him deciding to stop making any mortgage payments for a year without telling me(mortgage was his responsibility due to he makes more money than I do)I got a modification with the mortgage company the payment was lowered he agreed to start paying it again he paid it for about 4 months and stopped again so we very well may loose our house this year. Due to a home equity line of credit he had that he didn’t make payments on the comp. had closed out the account and there was still a large balance the tax lady said this was going to cause him to owe even more to the IRS . He owes in federal taxes a little over $5000.00 dollars he will get about $600.00 state refund. I am getting a large tax return but have No intention of telling him this I plan to act as if I am also getting barley anything back but I know full well the shit is gonna hit the fan, just the fact that I did this on my on is enough to send him into a rage much less the fact that he is gonna owe such a large amount and I will not be able to pay it for him this time. I have found that any mention of anything that I even think could lead to him bringing up the income taxes throws me straight into panic mode and all of the sudden I feel transformed back to a little girl scared to death of the trouble she is fixing to get into. I have been taking small steps in standing up for myself and letting him know I am no longer going to be taken advantage of by him but this was a huge step and I am frightened at what he may say or do I know I DIDNT DO ANYTHING WRONG but he has been able so many times to make me feel worthless like I wanted to curl up in a ball to make myself as small as I could and just disappear and all of those times it was over nothing any where near this. How do I keep my cool and stand my ground when he finds out? its gonna happen I know that much I just want to be as prepared I as I can ?

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