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How to Avoid Becoming a Narcissist's Victim

Updated on June 16, 2016

Malignant Narcissism is Dangerous

This term "malignant narcissist" was first created in 1964 by Erich Fromm. Dr. Otto Kernberg expounded upon this in the 1980s. By his definition, a malignant narcissist is someone who is grandiose and self-absorbed, and has the other characteristics of the clinically defined narcissistic personality disorder.

However, a malignant narcissist also has a sadistic side. He or she enjoys playing cruel games, and watching people suffer. The disorder is also characterized by an appalling lack of empathy.

Your Encounter With a Toxic Person

If you've ever had your life turned upside down by a malignant narcissist, then this article is just for you.

No doubt, it's been a horrendous experience. If only you could have seen it coming. Then you might have avoided the pain, drama, suffering and self doubt.

People who work above board naturally assume others do the same. But a significant minority do not. They toy with targets much like a cat plays with a mouse before killing it. They are devious and manipulative. They are insanely jealous. They want whatever you possess, and will stop at nothing to get it.

It's estimated 1 out of every 25 people is a malignant narcissist. This means they are deeply disturbed and thoroughly miserable. In order to ease their internal strife, and to boost their self esteem, they feel a need to bring others down. Unfortunately, this is where you entered the picture.

How a Narcissist Chooses Victims

Going forward, it helps to understand how narcissists work.

Why were you chosen as a target? Basically, because you had something the narcissist wanted. Or, she noticed a vulnerability in your life and seized upon it.

Malignant narcissists are good at reading social situations. Before striking, she calculated the risk. (In order not to get caught, and called out on her behavior.) She decided she could get away with it. That's because she sensed a weak link in your armor.

For instance, if you're new to a job, you haven't had a chance to build relationships. This leaves you virtually defenseless.The narcissist knows this.

So she gathers information to disable you. Often, this occurs during the "sizing up" stage when she pretends to be your friend. (Be aware of pushy people you don't know well pumping you for highly personal information.)

Armed with these details, she destroys your reputation. She does this by throwing in a few real facts, combined with outrageous lies. This is very effective.

Narcissists are highly manipulative.
Narcissists are highly manipulative. | Source

Or, They'll Erode a Target's Support System

A narcissist also looks for cracks in an existing support system. Here is another example.

You live in a neighborhood filled with young families. You enjoy your neighbors, whom have children the same age as yours.

Then, a new couple moves in.

You like to welcome people. So you introduce them to everyone else. They fit right in.

Soon, they're part of the crowd. Within a month, they have parties at their house. You're invited, but it's uncomfortable. You can't put your finger on it, but the group dynamics have shifted.

Fast forward six months. The newcomers organize all neighborhood events. Everyone is included, except for your family.

It bothers you that your children are hurt. Now, it's Christmas vacation. Just this morning, your eight-year-old daughter watched all her friends pile into two mini-vans parked across the street. Everybody was headed to a skating rink, followed by a pizza party.

This, unfortunately, has become a pattern. Right now, your daughter is upstairs in her room, wailing because she can't go skating.

Group-Based Support is Often Fragile

Your neighborhood support system was weak. It was based upon geographical proximity, as well as the fact everyone had young children. These friendships often don't run deep.

Also, you are your neighbors share a common goal. You want your children to grow into decent human beings. You want them to have good companions. That's why you moved into this nice neighborhood in the first place.

When a situation arose, in which the children could attend a fun event, organized by a neighbor, everybody jumped at the chance, despite the fact everyone wasn't invited. Maybe they didn't see it this way. Perhaps they didn't know.

But, even if they did, very few people have the gumption risk their own social standing, and, more importantly, their children's, to insist one family isn't marginalized.


Narcissists and Relational Aggression

In this case, the new female on your block has strong narcissistic tendencies. She wants to dominate the social scene. But, first, she needs to push you out of the way. This was accomplished by taking control of all activities.

Female bullies employ something known as relational aggression, as a way of excluding a target. Everyone else wanted their children to participate, so they went along with it. Very few people have the integrity to do the right thing, when a master manipulator is in their orbit.

Spotting a Disordered Personality

Overt narcissists are easy characters to spot. However, some people with this disorder are incredibly good at hiding behind a mask. What you see on the outside are learned behaviors, designed to mimic real emotions. Underneath lurks an emotional vampire.

However, a dead giveaway is poor emotional regulation. You might just see passing glimpses of this. An individual may show inappropriate rage, or blow up over trial matters. Even if this is short-lived, and it's quickly followed by an apology, proceed cautiously.

So, What Could You Have Done Differently?

One of the best ways to protect yourself from being hurt by a narcissist is to learn about this condition. That way, you can spot the signs. (Forewarned is forearmed.)

The keyword is boundaries. For instance, if you ask somebody over for coffee, they may stay six hours rather than for two. Or, they might ask you to watch their children for a weekend, right after meeting you. (Narcissistic mothers aren't noted for their maternal skills.)

If you sense something is off, go with that feeling. Give this new relationship some distance and perspective, before becoming entangled.

It's always a good idea to slowly get to know people. At work, don't readily divulge personal details. In the wrong hands, this information can derail your career goals.

Narcissists have long memories. If you've ever offended one, watch your back. Never engage in a head-to-head battle with a character disordered person. They will retaliate, even if it takes a year or more.

How to Spot a Narcissist on Facebook

But, Why Did the Narcissist Choose You?

Some experts believe narcissists are drawn toward highly empathetic types, who don't mind helping others. This meshes will with the narcissist's goals.

Here is an example.

Narcissistic mothers need someone to watch their children. Despite a carefully crafted appearance of being a "supermom," they don't like the work it involves.

So they need someone to shuttle their children to soccer practice and piano lessons. They'll show up for the games and the recitals.

Since the day-to-day routine of raising a family bores the heck out of them, they depend upon others to do the heavy lifting.

That's why she chose you, her nice non-complaining "friend." But if you step back and take a look, this is a very one-side "friendship." Cut the cord. You deserve much better.

You Come from a Family Background of Narcissism

Some people are raised in a family where one or both parents, or perhaps an older sibling, had strong narcissistic tendencies. Disordered behaviors were considered normal. So, as they mature, they don't readily recognize the warning signs. They have too much patience with inappropriate behavior. And they dismiss bizarre actions as personality quirks.

We're all drawn to what is familiar. Unfortunately, for many targets, bad behavior is what feels comfortable.

So learn all you can about malignant narcissism. Then, when you see it, run fast in the other direction.


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  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    This is so on target it's scary. It's like you know her. (Probably you have known one.) I've personally worked with two such crazy wenches and one man who fit this bill. The first one prepared me for the others. Fool me once ... you know the rest. I found that narcissists absolutely hated being treated with apathy/being ignored, being denied information, and when you keep your cool in the face of their hateful tricks. Voted WAY UP and shared, pinning right now. This should be in every new employee's welcome packet at certain companies!

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi FlourishAnyway, the example was a compilation of people I've met. Although I have run into narcissists on the job, most of my first-hand experience has been at church. Religious and volunteer groups provide the perfect environment for a narcissist to operate. The experience hasn't destroyed my faith in God, who is all good. So I'm not recommending that people stop going to church. All I suggest is that if they try to get involved in church-based activities and ministries, to do so with open eyes.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    HI Bishop55, I'll be happy to offer any feedback. Thank you so much for reading my hubs.

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

    What an excellent article on narcissists. You seem to have experienced a number of them. I have too and your assessments are spot on! Thanks for an engaging and informative read!

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Thanks suzettenaples, they are quite a bunch. Once you've experienced this, you definitely know what to look for.

  • Writer Fox profile image

    Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

    I've never understood why so many employers tolerate this kind of employee, but they seem to! Enjoyed reading your take on this subject. Voted up.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    WriterFox, I don't either. It costs the company so much money to hire and to train new people, when the targets eventually leave. Plus, it creates a very toxic environment. Thank you for reading.

  • WriterJanis profile image

    Janis 3 years ago from California

    I couldn't even imagine asking someone I barely knew to watch my children.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    I couldn't either. That's passing off what should be your most precious possessions to a stranger.

  • profile image

    Jøkul Ptro 3 years ago

    I had a friend who was a narcissist, and predictably he exploded when i noticed what he was and kept my distance...

    He would treat me nicely until he couldconfirm that i was 'ignoring' him and then he exploded in a flurry of lies and emotional projection, even projected identity (using a lot provokation until i reacted then accusing me of provoking him and appearing as if he was the victim)

  • profile image

    Jøkul Ptro 3 years ago

    WriterFox, tolerating it happening to others is a very good way of 'keeping it off yourself'...

    Sortlike you see someone getting mugged, but if you just keep walking you'll be safe..

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi Jokul, unfortunately, this is how morally disordered people behave. Sorry you had to experience that.

  • erorantes profile image

    Ana Maria Orantes 2 years ago from Miami Florida

    I was reading your hub. Some people are definitely evil in this world. I believe. They are all over around us. We need to be alert. I see some of those behavior every day what ever I go to do my daily things. I like your hub. Thank you for making us aware of possible problems with some people.

  • profile image

    Mr. John 2 years ago

    Excellent analysis. I have a few questions though:

    1. You mentioned religious and volunteer groups as being " perfect environments for narcissists to operate." Do you think the educational system/teaching service attracts a lot of these types of individuals as well?

    2. I get the impression that this sort of thing is more widespread in certain cultures than in others. Do you think that the cultural, social, political, economical structure of a particular nation can allow narcissism to thrive? What prominent occurrences ( cultural, social, etc.) within a society will allow this?

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

    Hi Mr. John, I'm not a trained professional, so all I can give is an uneducated opinion. There is a huge problem with bullying in schools, among teachers, and this has been documented. Normal, healthy people do not try to make life difficult for others. Nor do they try to drive them out of a job. These are traits of someone with what psychologists call a personality disorder.

    It seems as if it's very widespread in the United States, unfortunately. I don't know what it's like anywhere else.

  • profile image

    Emilia 23 months ago

    I come from a family loaded with narcissists. A few years ago when I started finding all about these personality disorders, I was volunteer at a senior center, and had to leave because one of the cooks was always giving me the silent treatment and so abusive I finally just left. I have always cared about the hurting and the lost and have a sincere heart, but I am also not docile and do stand up for myself, but have learned through the years better coping skills and how to pick my battles. I have worth and value, and I won't tolerate abuse, predators or crazymaking behavior. I suffer through great deal of physical pain, but by the grace of God I am still here and I am going to be alright. I have found the most wonderful doctors now that are working with me. I am a Christian, and I cry right now as I write this because I just don't understand why I have been shunned and deliberately ignored by a few churches I have called and sent messages through FB for prayer or attend their church, and then they've denied themselves. For example, I met one who almost immediately I got a bad feeling about. He quoted all the right scriptures, and was saying all the right things, but vibes don't lie and Satan masquerades as an angel of light and quotes scripture too. I found him copying and pasting a lot what I was writing and posting then putting it on his wall, which was fine. Then all of sudden he began to attack my attack my character and virtues to all his flying monkeys. I sent him a few messages, and he blew them all off and never answered one. I asked for prayer due to my upcoming surgery, and he never said he'd pray for me. It was as if I was unworthy if it. I said God Bless you to him, and he told me. "same back to you", it was as if I didn't even deserve to hear. "God Bless you" in return. The day of my back surgery (which he knew) he sent me a text asking for a picture to go with my number, but never bothered to ask if I was alright or ever texted or called afterwards to find out how I was, and that's when I recognized a Covert Narcissist. I have been terribly hurt by these so-called Christian individuals, and by them the most, and I do know for a fact a lot of them are narcissist and sociopathic. It seems as the days pass, people become more evil and more cruel, but I have the Lord and so I am never alone or ever unloved.

  • profile image

    Love God 22 months ago

    Unfortunately free will has allowed so many to operate on the dark side. When we look to human acceptance we are sorely let down...God is awake ... He knows the hearts of all men!!! Be as meek as lambs n wise as serpents... Pray for good honest friends...if situation doesnt feel right ...dont react...Pray!!...n God will reveal all. He is the director of our lives..armour yourself with his love his acceptance n watch urself no longer fall prey to a very sick part of society. Love God with ur whole mind heart n soul!!

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 21 months ago from USA

    I Love God, I couldn't agree more, except to say that if a situation doesn't feel right back away and pray.

  • profile image

    Am in love...With Yahweh 21 months ago

    To all those who mentioned church as a play ground for narcissists, you are spot on! I no longer attend services, I pray at home. Am not advising anyone to do as I do, it's my way of escape. I don't trust anyone these days neither do I want to get close to people. I am an empath and I love and accept myself as I am. Before my encounter with the narcissist, I struggled to accept myself because I felt I was too soft and too loving towards people. At least my feelings were real, I can't regret that. I know how to protect myself now. Thanks to all the narcissists out there for making me strong and helping me find and accept myself. I enjoy my sleep everyday! Nice article.

    With Yahweh ' s love, peace, and light.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 21 months ago from USA

    Hi Am in love, I love God as well. As a Catholic, I still go to Mass because that's where we encounter Jesus. We did change the location of where we worship, which is advisable to do when a narcissist has seized control. I wish you well and God Bless you. Sorry to hear about your terrible experience. It's really difficult to trust new people, especially those you meet at church, where so many of these covert narcissists congregate. Church gives them the perfect cover. But good people far outnumber the bad.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 15 months ago from Nashville Tn.

    Thanks for this well-written, informative hub about the Narcissist. I wish I had read this years ago. Education is so important when living with this type of disorder. The video about recognizing the narcissist on facebook is right on! Sharing.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 15 months ago from USA

    Hi vocalcoach, thank you so much for reading and for sharing. I'm sorry to hear you've also met a malicious narcissistic person.

  • profile image

    Lp. 13 months ago

    I'm really starting to see more and more of this in my situation. Having that "save her" personality. And just having put my life in some order after a long battle with combat ptsd.

    We met and were instantly together moved in within the week

    Things were great for almost 2 years, then things started to get tiring. The whole time I felt like I was going crazy and couldn't seem to get out of a hole of despair. Everything kept getting harder and harder all the problems were on me. Everything was my fault. It started to blur my reality. To the point were I had no control. But she constantly pushed on me, to idk activate my triggers and keep me stuck. Then one morning she upped and left, still deflecting everything at me.

    But at the same time, since I've been alone, I've been at peace in my mind. Still struggling with the ptsd relapse. But this narcissism thing keeps comi g up as I research what I think or thought was wrong. It all eats at me now. Like it was a game. And i fell right in.

  • profile image

    Claudia 11 months ago

    Under this heading:

    Spotting a Disordered Personality

    ....shouldn't it say "trivial matters" instead of "trial matters" ?

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