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.


I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    3 years ago

    Under this heading:

    Spotting a Disordered Personality

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

  • ologsinquito profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years 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.

  • ologsinquito profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years 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.

  • ologsinquito profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years 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.

  • ologsinquito profile imageAUTHOR


    5 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.

  • ologsinquito profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from USA

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

  • ologsinquito profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from USA

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

  • ologsinquito profile imageAUTHOR


    6 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.

  • Writer Fox profile image

    Writer Fox 

    6 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 imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from USA

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

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 

    6 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 imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from USA

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

  • ologsinquito profile imageAUTHOR


    6 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.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    6 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!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)