Overcoming the Disbelief

 It’s Narcissist Friday!

Last week I wrote about the difficulty many have in explaining the actions and abuse of the narcissist.  Some find that they simply are not believed when they begin to describe the kind of attacks and manipulation they have suffered.

I wanted to suggest some ways to prepare for telling your story.  Please understand that there is no magic incantation to make someone believe you.  As I explained last week, there are times when the recipients of your story feel that they cannot support you, even if they do believe you.  And, at other times, the narcissist simply wields his super ability to persuade others and you lose.  I wish it were some other way.

But there may be a few things that could help.

  1. Keep records.  Contemporaneous notes, records written very near the time of the event, are considered to be stronger evidence than just a story later.  If you can write down, within an hour or so, the exact words used or the particular times of the event or some very specific information, you will find that people receive your words with greater trust.  This is a well-respected technique in negotiations, probably because it seems more difficult to fabricate.  Use different writing tools from time to time to accent the fact that you are not writing this all at once.
  2. Report abuse.  Seriously, if you have been physically abused or if your children have suffered in this way, take pictures and go to the police.  I know it is hard and it will have consequences.  If you do not, they will ask later why you didn’t.  You will try to tell people about the abuse and they will doubt your story because you didn’t make a big deal at the time.  If you are afraid of the narcissist, tell the authorities.  Yes, sometimes this backfires and there is a risk, but most of the time you simply have to do it anyway.
  3. Tell the right people.  Can your pastor really do anything?  Will the narcissist’s mother even listen to you?  Maybe these are not the right people.  This is a time to build support for yourself, rather than find a solution to your problem.  Do both if you can, but don’t forget that the day will come when you will need someone to stand beside you.  A close family friend who will listen, a neighbor who has maybe heard his abuse, a teacher who sees the effect on your kids—someone who will listen.  Find a shelter and talk to the people there about how to build a support structure.  Maybe there is someone who warned you about the narcissist.  Find that person and talk.  Don’t expect the ones who listen to your story to do much more than give support and prayer.  Those things are important.
  4. Don’t mention narcissism.  There is something about an unprofessional diagnosis that makes people reject the story.  Perhaps too many people have claimed diseases or disorders just to get attention.  Someone once told me that she was bipolar.  When I asked her what she was doing about it, she said nothing.  She hadn’t been to a doctor, but she was pretty sure that’s what she had.  It is easy to dismiss something like that.  You don’t want your story to sound that way.  Instead, be very specific about words and actions.  Tell what he or she does.  Describe the narcissism without diagnosing it.
  5. Don’t tell your life story.  The more you tell, the more they will dismiss you.  Sorry, but that’s usually the way it is.  You may need someone to listen, but they hear stories all the time.  Every divorce has two victims/perps, according to the judge’s perspective.  Don’t make your story longer; make it more specific and factual.  Make it clear and have something reasonable that you expect him to do.  There are few people out there who will champion your cause.  You have to know what you need and tell only what will move your listener to that action.
  6. Report crimes.  Often the narcissist is willing to bend the rules because he or she feels they should not apply.  If you know of a crime that your narcissist has committed, seriously consider revealing that information to authorities.  There is certainly a risk in this and you have to be wise, but too many have waited until the divorce proceedings and then it looks phony and self-serving.  If your narcissist is a co-worker, you may discover over time that he has made it look like you did the deed.  Waiting or avoiding may not be your best choice.
  7. Play the game.  If he says you are stupid, then stupidly say the things that need to be said—in the company of others.  Use his accusations and criticisms against him.  Let him underestimate you while you build your support structure.  If he thinks you can’t handle money, he may not expect you to be tucking some away for the day of reckoning.  I don’t know what this might mean in your relationship, but I know that there are ways to play his game that will give you the advantage.
  8. Get healthy anyway.  Ultimately it won’t matter whether others believe you or not.  Yes, you may lose a great deal, but you must find the way to health.  No matter what it takes, build yourself back to what you should be.  Perhaps people will listen at a later time.  You will have suffered, but you may still have the last word.

What has helped to move people to believe your story?


Filed under Narcissism

8 responses to “Overcoming the Disbelief

  1. noel6119

    Surprisingly, the xnh has made my story believable by who he married and the mess he has gotten himself into. Even his family have seen some peculiar behavior on his part. He has put his own children and grandchildren on the back burner while he acts as the hero for her family.

  2. My ex-husband and I went to marriage counseling near the end of our marriage. He suggested it, and I eventually figured out that his goal was to gain a negative advocate who would tell me to do a better job of obeying him.

    The counselor was so confused by the conflicting stories (and frankly I was a mess at that point) that he asked to speak to the children without us present. At that point the oldest was 19 or 20 and the youngest was 10 or 11. After speaking to the kids, the marriage counselor realized that I was telling the truth and my husband was lying and manipulative. The counselor did not believe me without some kind of outside verification. You MUST have someone who sees the abuse. It’s best to have someone who is not a family member.

    The biggest regret in my life is that I did not call the police the night he came home drunk and verbally abusive. I thought he was going to rape me and I ended up behind a locked door in my daughter’s bedroom. If I’d had a police report about that incident, my divorce would have been much easier.

    For anyone who is reading this, PLEASE call the police when the narcissist in your life commits a crime. It might be a wake-up call for him to get help. And if it’s not, at least you have a record of the incident from an independent witness.

  3. Fellow Survivor

    One way you can document the abuse against you is to send yourself an email or Texts message outlining what was said and any abusive actions. An email or texts will have a date and time stamp on the message so its proof of “when” it happened. Oddly enough I did that at the very beginning of the overt verbal and emotional abuse just as therapy for myself. I still have the very first email I sent myself when this thing blew up in my face because I stood up for myself and did not back down. I’ll never forget the day she came into my home office and let off a steaming rage where she told me there would be a smoldering boil in her private area unless I agree to her demands. Fire could have come out of her nose that day if it was possible. We made a deal for me to agree to her demands. She would read one chapter of the bible a day for a year and I would agree. Well, I agreed, she read a chapter a day for a week and that was it. Anyway, right after the N rage I turned around and wrote myself a detailed description of events as they just happened. I still have it. I also printed out several copies in case she ever tried to delete the messages.

  4. Sunflower

    With my first N husband, I kept careful records. We flew a long way to see one of ‘the best’ counselors in the country. I showed him my journal. He said, “If this is true, we have a big problem.” Then he called my h in by himself and when I got back in, I was crazy and the journal was all lies. About a year later my h checked me into the psych ward, and that was what saved me. The nurses quickly noticed that I was fine, so the doctor interviewed both of us and told me that he wouldn’t release me until I had made arrangements to separate (although the resident psychiatrist still believed the N). Our pastor told my h to “Just go along with it, she’ll let you back in in a few days”. I didn’t, to everyone’s shock.

    Eight years later when my first h asked to meet my new fiance (because of the children, yea right!) I did get smarter but it was too late of course. I had a voice-activated tape recorder in the room. There is no arguing with that, and you can have it in your pocket, too. The tape was only an hour long, and he blasted me for 2 hours, but one hour is enough to prove a point. I’ve never had reason to use the tape, but it’s good to have, and if I would have known to buy a player many years earlier, it would have saved me a lot of heartache.

    On the other hand, my current Nh is much more clever. Of course he was there when I used the tape player, so he knows I have it, too. Most of his abuse is silent, sneaky, or so random that it’s hard to be prepared for it, so the journal has so far been the better option. But. living in a very small town far away from resources, only two pastors anywhere near who are both Ns, and no real friends in the area, it’s hard to get a support system. Which is why I am here. Getting healthy anyway has been the biggest thing, and maybe that’s why I’m in this situation, so I have to get alone with Jesus and get healed. I’m so thankful for the resources on the internet and library, and for the counseling we’ve already had. Jesus really truly is enough, but it takes diligent pressing in to find that out. “…..when you seek Me with all your heart, you will find Me…..” The pearl of great price!!!!

  5. Tammy

    Pastor Dave – as always great advice, mirrored by these comments. Many people on this blog have bared their souls by sharing their very personal experiences. My reply is long, but just like the above comments, it is filled with hope that it will help someone suffering at the hands of a narcissist.

    Those of us who benefit from Pastor Dave’s blog know that he shares his wisdom from the Love in his heart. Please remember that Love does not pay the bills. 🙂 https://graceformyheart.wordpress.com/donations/

    The common experiences that I share with Elizabeth Lee, Fellow Survivor and Sunflower is uncanny. We all have suffered similar experiences and I have read enough blogs and forums to know that there are thousands more just like us.

    I think Satan has a School of Narcissism and some of our N’s have a Masters or PhD! They can fool marriage counselors, so of course they can fool your friends, family and co-workers.

    I have been there, so I know it is VERY difficult to get others to believe you when your N is so good at creating the image of him or herself.

    I can only make suggestions based on how I got people to believe me:

    You have to come to terms with it for yourself first. As my rose-colored-smoky-glasses started becoming more clear, I was also growing in the Lord. I became more confident and pulled my head out of the sand.

    Do everything in this list. I didn’t know what narcissism was. I ran my mouth too much. I did not have this level of wise counsel. I urge you to read and heed Pastor Dave’s advice on this and other posts about protecting yourself.

    As Sunflower advises, Seek the Lord. Get Healthy Anyway. Hear us that have been there in your shoes. Commit today to do these things. Be persistent. Accept Christ as your Savior. He loves you and will give you strength.

    Do plenty of Research!

    Even if you don’t plan on getting a divorce, Google books on the subject and read the ones with the best reviews. The more insight you have into what your N is potentially doing, the more likely you are to be able to uncover truths that will help you get others to believe you!

    I never feared that my N would physically harm me. Actually, it was more likely that I would have harmed him! So I did a LOT more snooping than some of you should ever do. If you fear any physical harm WHATSOEVER, then I cannot recommend what I did.

    I decided that I would be more likely to be believed if I had hard evidence. I ordered copies of phone records, I snooped while he was gone, sleeping or even when he was in the shower.

    I am not suggesting anything illegal, but in some states it is not illegal to record a conversation held in a public place that could be overheard anyway… Even a recording of YOUR side of the conversation on a phone call might be helpful enough to get a family member or friend to believe YOU instead of your N.

    I recorded some conversations for ME. Listening to the tapes validated ME. Listening to conversations between me and my N was surreal.

    I heard my own voice responding calm and rationally to my N’s lies and manipulation. I became the person that said “He is so MEAN! Why would you let him treat you that way! You deserve better!” I stepped outside of our false relationship, removed the emotion and looked into the grim reality of the way it REALLY was and not how I WANTED it to be. The truth hurt, but it set me free and gave me the strength to stand up for myself and end the abuse.

    All of Pastor Dave’s advice here is spot on. A few comments from me:
    Keep records. SO important. A cheap spiral notebook written in date order is even admissible in court in my state.

    Pastor Dave’s advice to tell the right people is SO important. Your N is VERY likely to tell everyone you know lies about you. His goal is to separate you from everyone that cares about you.

    Fight lies with TRUTH. Before those people in your life won’t talk to you any longer, pick the ones that matter and do your best to reveal the truth to them.

    I’ll be honest, all the proof in the world did not help me much in court. My legal issues were and continue to be a thorn in my side. It is too long of a story to relay but please TRUST ME when I tell you this:

    I laid it in God’s hands and He took over. Fourteen years have passed and now I can see clearly what He was doing.

    I had been hiding the deep gashes in my heart with a Band-Aid. The proof I found ripped that Band-Aid right off. It hurt like heck, but then Jesus came and healed me from the inside out.

  6. For legal purposes I agree with keeping notes. However, I think the hardest part is not getting other people to accept or believe your truth, but to accept the truth yourself. To accept that the years you have given to this person were based on a lie, even if you were honest, is very difficult to accept and believe. To then discard the hope of having a ‘normal’ relationship and look at your life and say ‘this is it’… is excruciatingly painful. I’ve spent years defending myself against untrue accusations or critical comments by the narcissist and he does not believe me. If I then try to convince other people about my relationship, it leaves me with the same pattern of behavior as with the narcissist – trying to convince other people and receive validation from them. In convincing other people we are seeking some level of validation for ourselves – that we should really be giving to ourselves but deep down we do not feel empowered to validate/justify ourselves and that is what the narcissist uses to guilt and keep us unsure of ourselves. It’s our own lack of self-esteem and worth.

    I have learned that for those people who love me, no explanation is required, for those people who don’t love me – no explanation is enough. If the narcissist ‘loved’ me – I would not have to defend accusations against my character almost 18 years of being together.

    For those friends who have supported me based on them knowing truly who I am, I am very thankful and I am grateful to have the support of my family. The bottom line for me is as long as God and I know the truth – everyone else can move along – I don’t have the energy.

  7. Penny

    I agree with all of the wisdom and insight here, and am both heartened and dismayed at the similarity of the battles fought here. The enemy isn’t really very creative after all–kind of a “one trick pony”, but effective in a perverse sort of way. “Perverse” is something that resonates when dealing with a N, b/c no matter what, the N will pervert the truth and BAM–you have been disbelieved..nay, betrayed, by those you thought were allies. The late Kathy Krajco had extraordinary insight, skill & grit, and she called this “Betrayal of the Bystanders”. Then Anna Valerious expanded on it with her usual flair. Like Pastor Dave, both women were committed to truth, thus reality. The N lives in fantasy, not reality, they live in falsehood and not truth, and they love to seduce others into their fantasy world by sacrificing you. Learn to see the red flags before you get scapegoated. I have learned painful lessons that when I get “narc attacked” and betrayed by those who should know better (and should have known me better), it is a gift to know who your real friends are…..and who you should never trust again and hold at arm’s length, if at all. Sad, but at least you are now armed with the truth that there are some people who enjoy juicy lies & gossip more than the truth, and you should stay away from them. Even Charles Surgeon said that “they who do not hate the false, do not love the true”. Pastor Dave is so right when he says “tell the right people” and “don’t tell your life story”, b/c there are those who listen for all the wrong reason, and then spread lies and gossip and injure you further. Learn to protect truth like a treasure, don’t throw “pearls before swine, lest they turn around and tear you to pieces”. Sound familiar? I got tired of being torn to pieces buy the N’s perversion of facts and truth; so I changed….and began to hold the truth closely. It was & is a looooong process, but I had to learn it to survive. I wanted to heal…not be stuck forever in survival mode. I had to learn to recognize truth by asking “is this of God? Or, of the enemy?” Surviving and healing from an N takes courage and great commitment to the truth. Living in truth cannot be separated from living in reality, and it is often the first step toward healing.
    Pray that God will affirm your reality in a tangible way–and when He does, write THAT down too! It WILL happen…it will. Be looking for it.
    Anna V says here: “I long ago decided I would embrace truth because the truth is where life resides. Lies may accomplish short term goals, but in the long run, living in lies embrace life-destroying effects. The complicit bystanders who lap up gossip like a cat laps cream are exposing their love of lies. They are dangerous to your life. When they are exposed to you as the result of a narcissist’s attempt to assassinate your character, your best choice is to put as much distance between the credulous bystanders and your self as possible.”
    Here are the links to both posts:

    Even Jesus chose to be silent when His accusers could not accept reality.
    Walk away, and thank God Almighty for showing you reality.

  8. Courtney

    Thank you so much for this.
    God bless

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