Why Do Narcissists Use Abuse by Proxy?
When victims of narcissistic abuse begin to gain clarity on the type of person they have been dealing with, the relationship moving forward can follow several paths. The narcissist's ultimate goal is to maintain the image of perfection that he has so carefully crafted while, punishing their victims in various ways. He will use several methods for what he feels caused him a slight, better known as a narcissistic injury. A method that is frequently used by narcissists after experiencing an injury is called abuse by proxy. Once this is executed, the smear campaign is more likely to follow, in addition to a fake apology. So, you may be asking, what is abuse by proxy?
Abuse by proxy is the use of third parties, whether it's friends, family, or general associates, that join in on the abuse of a narcissist's victim. The narcissist will convince the other individuals that the treatment they are enacting upon the victim is for a legitimate reason. It can also be considered another means of control over the victim because he is essentially removing the victim's support system. Abuse by proxy is a carefully constructed form of mistreatment based on the lies that the narcissist created. The third parties involved can implement the silent treatment, harass, threaten, bully, devalue, humiliate, or provoke rage in the narcissist's victim to gain some control. This is all done to cause chaos in the victim’s life, especially if they are living well after leaving the narcissist.
Experience With Abuse by Proxy
I personally have experienced abuse by proxy orchestrated by my narcissist. In the beginning, it was devastating to see the people that you once had a good relationship with just turn on you in an instant. None of them even inquired or attempted to obtain my side of the story. In a couple circumstances, he even had my own family joined in on the mistreatment. My narcissist had built such a huge rapport with people, they were just taking any word that came out of his mouth as fact.
It was no secret to anyone that I wanted nothing to do with my narcissist. So, he conspired with some of his own family members to try to befriend me, just to infiltrate my personal space. His family members would come over to me all smiles, of course, while asking a lot of questions. They put forth every effort to seem genuinely concerned about my well-being. I made sure that I was courteous and kind to them so that the narcissist would have no ammunition to use later. When I did reply the multitude of questions from the abusers, it was very bland. I didn't carry on the conversation in any way. I was straight to the point, provided a basic answer and that was it. I kept doing this until their questions dried up and the conversation went stale. Fortunately for me, I was able to think quickly enough to divert the narcissist's tactics and they gave up.
Another form of abuse by proxy that my narcissist used was the silent treatment. There were several instances where I walked up to mutual colleagues of ours that I had no prior issues with.
The Smear Campaign
Narcissists, again, are known to be vivid story tellers. They are so convinced with their own lies that they are able to pass a lie detector test with ease. So, the smear campaign is truly not surprising. It's defined as the premeditated effort to spread false rumors for the purpose of damaging one’s reputation. Due to the fact that the narcissist has vigorously built up a "good" reputation with so many people, any person that he relays the information to is going to believe it without question.
Many people often wonder why the narcissist uses the smear campaign. There are a few reasons. One reason is that they have to maintain their perfect image at all costs. Even if the means fabricating very convincing stories about you. The second is that they want to discredit you before you are able to explain your version of the events that took place. Before you can even defend yourself, you are not believed. The third is because they want to punish you. They know that if they destroy your reputation, it's going to be harder for you to engage at certain social events. If any of your co-workers are involved, you could be overlooked for a promotion or any form of advancement based on this person’s lies. Yes. Narcissists will stoop so low as to prevent you from making a living for yourself. Or even worse, calling up your boss to tell them lies in order to get you fired.
Over time, the abuse by proxy can begin to lift. This can happen when the abusers see that you are not engaging them or retaliating in any form. The narcissist is going to then seize the opportunity to draw you back into a relationship. This attempt to shower you with kind words and kind treatment is known and Hoovering, named after the Hoover vacuum. Now you would think that any normal human being would just move on because they have caused so much damage. But not the narcissist. He feels that since he did not directly abuse you, he will still be able to get back into your life as if nothing ever happened. That is how illogical their thinking is.
During the Hoovering process, the narcissist will try every avenue to get back in your good graces just so they can abuse you again. They will even come up with the sincerest apology that has ever been composed. They will even tell you that they know that they have something wrong with them, and they would like to work on getting better. Empathic people have the normal tendency to give people multiple chances and forgive. The narcissist counts on that act of graciousness to get him back into your life and uses it as another means of control. If you do not forgive the narcissist, he will attempt to make you feel guilty for not being a forgiving person and accepting his apology when offered. However, he has no intentions of keeping his word. When they have gained your forgiveness, life will carry on as normal. Then later on during the relationship, the narcissist will take something that you have done as a slight and the process of abuse will continue all over. It’s a never ending cycle of abuse unless the victims put it to an end. Based on the narcissist's actions, you will able to perceive that he never meant the apology. He will go right back to his previous routine of abuse without hesitation.
So, why do narcissists use abuse by proxy? They use it to punish, gain control of the relationship, and destroy the reputation of their victims. Over time, the cycle of abuse keeps repeating itself and the emotional manipulation only intensifies. It begins to wear on the psyche. So, it’s important to remove yourself from the relationship to protect yourself and your overall general mental health.
Author: Ph.D. Athena StaikArticle
Title:Narcissistic Abuse and the Symptoms of Narcissist Victim Syndrome