Ask any survivor about the smear campaign and they will tell you how intensely frustrating it is to endure it, and how they feel that conventional wisdom ties their hands. It’s high time we challenged the bulk of advice peddled on this…..
All too many commentators on this point will propose the following clichés by way of conventional wisdom:
- Turn the other cheek.
- Don’t sweat it – it’s a waste of energy.
- Don’t stoop to their level.
- Turn the page and move on with your life.
- You don’t need to do anything – karma will catch up with them in the end.
- Forget about them and concentrate on your own happiness.
Think about the above list. Who would this advice benefit the most? The stark reality is that recommendations such as these are an abuser’s charter – perfectly worded to allow the perpetrator to get away scot-free and continue to abuse others undetected. In fact you can imagine that the is the precise advice peddled by key influencers, who are themselves closet abusers (from teachers to parents, corporate bosses to religious leaders), seeking to remain in the shadows undetected. We need to wake up to what is really going on, see who is proposing what and why, and rather than follow conventional wisdom, now move to reinvent how we deal with narcissistic abuse.
No Smoke with Fire
When a narcissist embarks on a smear campaign, it is unlikely that they will do it alone. On the contrary, in many instances they will employ Flying Monkeys to do their dirty work for them, seeding lies and gossip amongst a core group of allies that run alongside their victim narrative, inspiring others to do what they are led to believe is “the decent thing”.
Sadly many onlookers will be swayed by the argument that there is no smoke without fire, and as you keep the truth locked up tight, there is a small army out there fanning the flames of lie and gossip with unfettered abandon. If you think that your reputation will survive intact, that your stiff upper lip will win the day, that karma will somehow deal with the perpetrators of such evil soon enough, I’m afraid that you are kidding yourself.
What you allow, will continue
Whilst conventional wisdom may con you into believing that narc will become bored with smearing you soon enough, actually the opposite is true. The more resilient you are to the abuse, the harder they will try, and the more extensive the lies become. Chinese whispers will carry the rumours far and wide, embellished further every step of the way.
Before you know it, you will be isolated and betrayed – facing a mountain to climb to regain your reputation and self-respect. Sadly for many it is a challenge too far – and all too frequently survivors buckle under the pressure, seeking the only way out that they can find – that of suicide.
Fighting Lies with the Truth
There are numerous reasons why should expose the smear campaign for precisely what it is:
- To preserve your own reputation
- To protect others for who you advocate (such as kids in common, other targets of the smear).
- To stop, or at least limit the extent of, the abuse.
- To fight for your life – literally
- To lift the veil of secrecy that the narcs need in which to operate.
- To forewarn future potential targets.
- To allow bystanders to make informed and balanced judgements and decide for themselves who they wish to believe, and therefore support, based on fact and more comprehensive arguments.
- To provide the sort of rallying cry that your supporters and other decent folk need to hear in order to provide yourself and other victims the protection and care required.
- To expose not just the narcopaths, but also their flying monkeys and enablers for the lies they are touting.
- To raise awareness and educate the general public about NPD in general so that they can be better forewarned of the danger that narcissists pose in all walks of life.
Manage by Consequence
The only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them, and taking issue with the smear campaign is one of the more public and visible ways in which you need to hold a narcopath to account for their behaviour. It is imperative to reward each and every breach of decency, every lie, every smear etc with swift and significant consequences that hurt the narcopath. Until you do, it is very likely that the smear will continue unabated.
How to Deal with the Smear
Sadly there is no one-size-fits-all solution – so much will depend on a complex blend of criteria, not least:
- Your physical safety
- Your emotional robustness
- The extent of the lies, and who is spreading them
- The evidence you have to counter them
- The allies you can mobilise
- The channels you have to get your message out
Putting together campaigns to counter such lies are part of the work that I do with clients, and invariably take considerable planning. Be wise as to how you structure your campaign and enlist as much help and support as you can muster.
Please understand that taking a narcissist on can be dangerous and risky, and should not be undertaken lightly. Whilst it often amazes me how readily a narcissist can cave in to the pressure, it is my no means guaranteed. It is prudent to expect resistance to your counter-measures, and wise to protect yourself fully from blowback, Your physical safety, as well as that of any other targets that could be caught out as collateral damage, needs to be paramount in any decision-making process.