When a narcissist runs a smear campaign
What is a smear campaign?
If you’ve ever had someone close to you with narcissistic personality disorder in your life, then you will likely be very familiar with smear campaigns.
A smear campaign is when a narcissist creates a false reality about you through lies and deception.
I read a great quote from Greg Zaffuto in “From Charm to Harm and Everything in Between With a Narcissist” that sums it up well:
“Narcissists fear exposure or the truth of what they are, ESPECIALLY when they feel threatened.
They will malign someone’s character, credibility, and reputation based on lies, half-truths, and malicious rumors.
Narcissists exploit the listener’s emotions and sentiments with a story plausible enough that the listener cannot verify the EXACT allegations, but they will be powerful and damaging enough to inflict horrendous damage that the listener cannot ignore concerning the target of the narcissist’s attack.
Narcissists completely distort situations with twisted conclusions ALWAYS perceiving themselves as victims. They use this to justify the poison they spread to destroy a person they have perceived as slighting them in ANY situation or when they feel threatened as in being exposed for the REAL truth of what they are or what they have done that has essentially abused an undeserving and good person.
The ‘smear campaign’ and backstabbing is really a strong-armed defense to silence the target/victim, instill fear, damage them, and used primarily to protect the narcissist’s facade of goodness.”
Reasons for a smear campaign?
A few common reasons for a smear campaign are:
You made them look bad, so they will do whatever it takes to rebuild their reputation and make you look bad instead.
The narcissist subconsciously knows you’ve started to figure them out so they start smearing your name and reputation so if you ever came out about who they are no one would believe you.
They are losing control of you and trying to gain it back.
What’s it include?
They will ultimately make up things about you, or things you’ve done/said.
Frequently this is done a way that communicates “concern” about you when in reality it’s just a tool to gossip and spread lies about you.
This might play out in a few different ways. The NPD may claim they got this information from a “source” yet never actually give any specifics. Other times they claim God has communicated this information to them. Or they just bald-faced lie and ultimately make something up.
At other times they may mix in half-truths. i.e., the NPD may tell a story of how they are so upset because you threw something at them, all while leaving out the fact that they verbally attacked you and physically threatened you beforehand.
Narcissists will stop at nothing. They will attempt to destroy your relationship and reputation with your family, friends, coworkers, even people who don’t know you.
The saddest part of this is that most people will have no idea it’s a smear campaign. The narcissist is so manipulative and cautious in the way he/she delivers this information that others don’t even realize what’s happening.
It’s not unlikely that the narcissist can turn people against you that know you well and have known you for a very long time, too.
What to do about it?
You either choose to stay trapped in a toxic relationship or distance yourself and have your name smeared.
The hard truth is freedom from a narcissist will always come at a cost.
To try and defend yourself is, unfortunately, a waste of time. Likely, no one will believe you anyway. Narcissist anticipates what you might say about them, so they prepare for this by planting very credible sounding renditions of the truth in peoples minds long before you’re ever able to defend yourself.
And, honestly, there’s no peace in continually trying to defend yourself.
We weren’t created to live a life defending our name. God created us to live loved by Him, not to try and prove ourselves to other human beings.
Don’t get me wrong - having a smear campaign run against you is HARD.
But to give up fighting for freedom means you forfeit your thoughts, feelings, opinions, and personhood. You are giving up all that makes you, you.
You can live soullessly and connected to the narcissist - or you can “surrender your rights” to the reputation you’d like (and likely deserve), trusting that God sees evil and he doesn’t sit idly by doing nothing about it.