We need to talk about toxic people who are acting like victims to manipulate actual survivors.
This blog is for educational and awareness purposes only. The terms narcissist, sociopath, and psychopath are used as descriptors to identify types and levels of toxic behavior. The said terms are not intended to diagnose anyone with any disorder.
I’ve seen toxic people disguised as victims going after real survivors of abuse. Sometimes these people can be survivors but it is never an excuse to manipulate, harm, attack, or attempt to destroy someone else’s reputation just because they have different experiences, because they are different ages, because they refuse to accept accountability for their actions, they’re jealous, or just want supply.
We are real here. I don’t care what has happened in the past, it is not okay or acceptable to take out your rage on others. What happened to someone does matter but when someone chooses to exploit, abuse, and smear others just because they get a kick out of it, all of that experience they had will not change the fact that they choose to do these things and repeat cycles by turning into the exact person who hurt them.
Always remember that an abuser's trauma does not ever give a free pass to abuse others.
We have to be very careful about some people who are claiming to be a victim or a survivor. As a survivor myself, I’ve encountered this too. It typically starts out similar to this. The person has similarities to your trauma. You connect, and you think it’s an amazing friendship. You can talk to them for hours, they seem like they’re the only person who truly understands you. They end up liking the same things as you. They are practically a mirror!
Wrong. They’re literally your parents or ex in disguise. They just didn’t let their mask slip yet.
A lot of us will know that narcissism is on a spectrum. If someone has a lot of narcissism- enough to have the actual personality disorder - even their behavior is a choice. Having no empathy for others isn’t.
We have to look closely at these relationships because notice that the abuser only targets you in narcissistic abuse. The narcissist treats others differently but you know how they really are. You notice their eyes change, their voice change, and their entire demeanor change when they’re alone with you. It is terrifying but we need to know how to begin to identify these types of people early on. I want to help you create an alarm in your brain that helps you determine what’s okay and what isn’t. We often don’t have that and still find ourselves meeting different people with the same mind.
Narcissistic Fleas vs True Toxicity
I don’t want to confuse people with a truly toxic person and a person who just has narcissistic fleas and is trying to unlearn and make changes in their life to make sure they can move forward. Someone with narcissistic fleas will listen when you tell them they’re wrong, that their action is wrong, or they have hurt you. Someone who has narcissistic fleas isn’t intentionally trying to harm others. They have trauma and they are trying to unlearn the behaviors that they picked up from living with abusers for years. Their normal was full of toxicity but the key thing here is that they have empathy and normally a lot of it.
What are the signs of a narcissist pretending to be a victim?
These toxic individuals who lurk in support groups and other areas that are intended to support victims to become survivors and then thrivers can be very hard to detect but there are a few signs to indicate if someone is giving you that off feeling that we sometimes ignore. This goes for both people online and in person.
1) Any comments they have will be used to "outdo" your trauma.
Do you know that person who you confide in and they always go and turn it into a competition that they have it worse than you? Maybe it’s because they’re older or they are just suffering so much worse than you are? Does that sound familiar? Sadly narcissistic people will often compete with other Individuals they find a threat. We are often targeted because we have strong personalities and speak out against injustice - even when we are attacked for doing so. This is a cycle that will not stop unless we pay attention to how people are communicating.
Yes, it’s okay to share your traumatic experiences with a trusted friend but when that “friend” is using a comeback like “Well, I had XYZ happen to me and I’m completely disregarding everything you said because I have it so much harder than you.” is a giant red flag.
2) They seem to never have a good experience with anyone in their life.
These individuals are constantly negative. Every single person in the entire world has been out to get them. There was not one person in the world who was nice to them. I know for a fact that survivors will have repeat experiences with toxic people until they realize that this is not what love is and that their experiences were filled with abuse, but a narcissist who is always playing the victim will degrade the abuser, they will be very gossip like, and they often say there were never good times. A trademark of an abuser is that there are good times sprinkled within the relationship to keep the victim from leaving the relationship. This is love bombing. Love bombing is required in a toxic relationship to continue as love bombing is needed to guilt trip the victim into staying in the toxic situation because of their strong emotions and empathy.
3) They want you to do all of the talking.
A lot of these manipulative victim players will want you to spill all of your secrets so they will have ammunition for later. A lot of survivors are easily susceptible to this as we often overshare as soon as someone gives us our attention. If we grew up in a dysfunctional household, we didn’t get this undivided attention consistently and we were not heard.
The victim player knows this and they’re going to use it to their advantage. Notice that they do not say much about themselves and only about things that have happened (or maybe didn’t happen) to them. They are shielding themselves from anything that could be used against them that could make them look bad. Talking about being abused and having bad experiences only makes people on the outside give out sympathy for those horrible experiences that may or may not exist for this person.
4) They mirror you.
Many manipulators use mirroring. They will find out what you like and in a way they are grooming you to be their perfect victim. They want you to feel seen and heard and also have someone who can not only relate but have everything in common with you.
They want you to think “Wow, this is the best friendship I’ve ever had! We have so much in common and we never disagree.”
Of course, you don’t disagree with someone who’s trying to make you feel like this is the best relationship you’ve ever had. This mirroring is typically used only for the first few months to try to manipulate your perception of the manipulator so you are more likely to stay in contact with them. You have built an emotional connection and a mostly good experience. This is also connected to love bombing.
5) Their story changes over time.
When someone is playing the victim, their story may change. The details may get blurred when they confide in you. These people typically layer their lies with some truth to try to make it as believable as possible. They listen and observe survivors and take bits and pieces of other peoples’ pain. When you ask a question about the details, they will most likely get offended and say you’ve invalidated their experience and will maybe even call you toxic. Does that sound familiar? They will gaslight and blame shift until they are the ultimate victim. It is their pattern so you will return with guilt and feel the need to continue the relationship.
In the end, their lies will unravel.
6) Their personality suddenly shifts
So you’ve been talking to this person for a few months or even years and then suddenly you have no idea who you’re talking to. It’s like you’ve gotten whiplash. You’re so taken aback by their different personality and the passive-aggressive behaviors they’re exhibiting. How they’re seemingly annoyed with your existence, they are very short with you, and they may begin the smear campaign behind your back or give you the silent treatment. This leaves you so confused. You didn’t do anything, but then you start self-gaslighting because it must be you because you were the scapegoat your entire life.
7) If something good happens in your life, they shame you for it.
If something good happens to you and you share it with this person, they will be very negative about it and use more passive-aggressive remarks, “Well, good luck with that,” or “Good for you.” They can even put you down and shame you by saying they wouldn’t have made that choice. While you’re confused because your friend should be happy for you, right? Maybe you got a new job or finally got something you needed and were excited about it. You are not allowed to be excited because the hidden narcissist who’s playing the victim simply cannot have anyone have joy. If they can’t be happy, you can’t either. They need to take your joy from you so they can have their supply and sleep at night.
8) They try to force unsolicited advice and then shut you down.
This one is annoyingly tough. Maybe you’re going through something and you just wanted to vent out your feelings and they’re constantly trying to shove their thoughts over yours and they selfishly tell you to just write about it or do XYZ because that’s what worked for them and they brush over your problems and continue to talk about what’s going on with them. You feel really unheard and unimportant.
Toxic people commonly do this. Not only are they testing your loyalty to them but they are also judging your response to see how far they can push you out of your comfort zone. What are your boundaries and what supply can they take from you?
Some of these behaviors are obviously toxic but the fact is that these narcissists or toxic individuals who are playing the victim will use these behaviors very discreetly. They may only do it once in a while and slowly become more toxic until bam, they show their true self and you’re very taken back by it. You feel betrayed and you often start blaming yourself.
If this has happened to you, you don’t have to blame yourself. I know we do because we miss signs. We were or still are the scapegoat from our family of origin or from our partners and blaming ourselves becomes our nature. We miss those red flags, but we have to take these experiences as a learning situation. We have to use these toxic victim-playing people as a form of growth and self-improvement for our boundaries and what we accept into our lives. We have to trust our intuition and trust our gut.
Your body knows.
The victim playing narcissist will be hard to spot and they can manipulate and fool a lot of people. You are not responsible for someone else’s evil.
Remember to stay kind to yourself and I hope that this blog post helps you notice these toxic behaviors so you can avoid entering toxic relationships with survivor impersonators.