Dealing with abuse from a narcissist is difficult enough for a victim, but it often feels much more overwhelming after the emotionally abused soul shares their situation with someone that they feel they can trust—only to discover that they are not believed. Why does this happen?
In my experience, these are the five most common reasons that victims of narcissistic abuse are not believed:
1. Narcissists Defend Narcissists
Narcissists are on guard and prepared to defend their innocence, and they typically defend the behavior of others who have narcissistic tendencies.
You have likely heard the adage it takes one to know one. Narcissists do not always tolerate self-centered behavior in others, but in defense and support of their behavior, they are more tolerant.
It is human nature to seek peers who possess like-minded behaviors, beliefs, and values—narcissistic or not!
2. Double Character of a Narcissist
Narcissists are skilled at playing cool. To the outside world, they appear as charming and loving people, yet they are classically an entirely different character behind closed doors. The world sees the good person but seldom sees the abuser, leaving victims of emotional abuse misunderstood and doubted.
Narcissists thrive on feeling special, as this is their driving force in life. To protect this model of life, they lie, cheat, and they steal their victim’s innocence to use as their own.
Twisting the story is a way of life for a narcissist. They are good at it. They perfect this skill to the degree that people have difficultly believing the victim because the narcissist appears to be a person of good character.
3. Emotional Victim
The mental strain that people experience when they are under the duress of manipulative abuse is monumental. When victims are in these relationships for a length of time, especially years and decades, it can play havoc on their sense of reality and emotions. As a result, some victims can appear to be emotional, meaning, their feelings are easily stirred up and displayed.
Sadly, these emotional victims are often confused, and yes, heartbroken. They have spent much of their time trying to hold their relationship, family, and themselves together, and sometimes they have no idea what they are dealing with (narcissism). Depression, anxiety, trauma, and grief play a toll on the victim, and this is often misunderstood and becomes the point of blame of the narcissist and/or others.
4. Two Sides to Every Story Belief
Have you heard the popular saying that there are two sides to every story? In many relationships, this may ring true, but not so much in a relationship involving a narcissist.
The two sides to every story mindset leads people to blame the victim for the abuse. Love relationships require give and take, mostly give and forgive, but, a narcissist sees life as one-way only, with the arrow pointing to themselves. This situation often holds the victim back from seeking help, or from exposing abusive behavior for fear that they will not be believed.
5. Narcissists Blame the Victim
Narcissists often blame their target for the abusive behavior, “They had to have done something wrong,” or, “They brought that upon themselves.” They often accuse the victim of lying, “They are the abuser, not me!” or, “I am the one being mistreated/neglected!”
Blame-shifting is a common tool used by a controlling person to dodge responsibility for their behavior.
Unfortunately, gaslighting is also a significant tool used by manipulative people to shift blame and to cause the target to question their judgment or reality, and this can lead the victim to feel as if nobody will believe their story if they should tell it.
Some common gaslighting terms:
- You are crazy
- You are too sensitive
- You made that up
- Are you losing your mind?
- I never said/did that
- Nobody will ever believe you
- Everybody knows that you have a problem
Our Role in This
Only .5 to 1 percent of the general population, and 50-75 percent are men, is diagnosed with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). With this being said, people with narcissistic traits and behaviors are much more common than those diagnosed with the disorder.
Our role in this is to spread the word about emotional abuse. We must define what it looks it, so victims understand that it has a name and that they are not alone in the world with someone acting the part of a narcissist.
It isn’t about finger-pointing, “They are a narcissist!” That does not work. It is about helping others (the targets) know what the markers are, and what they can do to heal. In three short words – we must educate!
Action Step: Prayer Time for Women: For the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 NIV) Heavenly Father, In my eyes, wisdom is greater than a gift of gold and silver. With wisdom, I am empowered to make good use of my knowledge, my mind, and the actions that I take. So many are suffering in this world from abusive behavior, and it only seems to be growing worse. Today, I ask for a helping of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding so that I can help others who are facing difficulties in life. In Jesus' Name, Amen To help others - pray for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. If you are in an abusive situation - pray for clarity, and for God to show you his desires for your life. Pray for safety. Pray for steadfastness, in his name. Seek, knock, believe and find!
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