Hello, everyone – thank you for joining me. With Parts I, II, and III, we’ve covered some common tactics, tools if you will, that most (if not all) narcissists (narcs) use against their victims. It is my hope that with education and awareness, you’ll be able to better identify these behaviors when you experience them and further, to make decisions to eliminate from your life anyone who behaves in such ways. The tactics of ignoring, projection, deflection, gaslighting, etc., are very real forms of abuse, and are suffused all throughout a narc relationship. The only way to eliminate the affects of this abuse, is to eliminate the person who acts in such ways. Even afterward, healing can take years. The healing process is not to be rushed; it is too important to your future mental and emotional health. This type of abuse over time, erodes our very sense of self; we question who we are, what part (if any) we play in the dynamic, wonder how and why we are targets of such abuse, and work so so hard at understanding why this behavior happens in the first place. The behavior happens because narcissists are mentally disordered individuals who experience the world, and everyone in it differently.
“Simply stated, it is OUR mistake to continue to expect respectful, genuine, and caring behavior from someone not equipped to give it. The longer we continue expecting ‘better’ behavior from a narcissist, the longer WE live in turmoil. They are unable to be, or act, ‘better’.” L.A. Gilliam
So, let’s take a look at yet another tool the narcissist will use against victims. We’ve covered projection, deflection, word salad, ignoring, blaming, shaming, and gaslighting in previous articles. Today, we’ll take a look at the abuse phenomenon of ‘using information as ammunition’.
In a normal relationship, we share pieces of our history, our dreams, what we enjoy, what we dislike, our fears, our wants, needs, and desires. We may even share lofty dreams such as a wonderful vacation somewhere exotic, or the fantasy of meeting a certain celebrity. When we enter what we think is a normal and healthy relationship – which most relationships seem at first, this type of conversation is how we get to know someone. It is typically a most enjoyable time spent with someone just chatting, getting to know each other, sharing information and stories, and seeing what you may have in common, or even spark an interest in something new. In normal circumstances this conversational give-and-take comes with a feeling of welcoming the other person into your life, your heart, your ideals, ideas, and your dreams as they too, welcome you into theirs. There is reciprocity here; two people share information willingly, and comment back and forth while listening to what the other person is sharing. Fun conversations to be had for sure, with a ‘normal’ and emotionally healthy person. Be it friend, potential romantic partner, or even a co-worker, sharing ideally would equal safety in what is being discussed, for both parties.
This is not the case with a narcissist.
From the very outset, the narcissist (narc) will target their victim, listening to not only what words are being said, but watching body language, tone of voice, facial expressions and other non-verbal ques very carefully. The reason for this is that in opposition to what normal and healthy conversation looks and feels like, the narc is mining for information. The narc has no interest in truly getting to know you. Oh yes they pretend, and they pretend well. Their intent is not to get to know YOU as a separate and wonderful human being, but to get to know what YOU CAN DO FOR THEM, as well as assessing if you will fit the obedient and compliant servant for which they are looking. Remember, narcs don’t have loving and reciprocal relationships; they have servants who are to bow to every demand. They will be assessing your qualifications for this role while you are ‘getting to know each other’ – all the while, the ‘data mining’ is happening without your awareness. At some point in the relationship however, you will hear the narc repeat back to you (or to others) some secret you have shared, the parroting back of information from your past, in order to hurt you. Enter: ‘Data Mining’.
From the narcissist’s perspective, what you have told them about your past, your history, hopes, dreams, fears – all of it – is information they can use against you at some point in the future. They have not tried to get to know you; they have tried to UNCOVER YOU – more specifically – your weaknesses or things of which, they are in fact, jealous. A narcissist will take anything and everything you have ever told them and hold it secreted and tight in the back of their minds, for the moment a ‘retort’, or punishment is needed. Let’s say you have upset the narc somehow, most likely by either standing up for yourself, setting a boundary, or calling them on their bad behavior. Enter: ‘Information as Ammunition’. You will now likely be PUNISHED for upsetting them, and a narc will pull out the most remote, non-related item they have stored against you – to USE against you. Narcs just cannot wait to punish YOU for upsetting them, and what they choose to punish you with doesn’t even have to be related to the topic at hand. In fact, it likely won’t be related at all. Remember, narcissists do not process the world and people in it NORMALLY. Always, always remember this!
Sometimes, the ‘information as ammunition’ won’t come at you directly; instead the information will be used against you to a third party (this is called the smear campaign and triangulation – topics upcoming). The third party may or may not let you know this has happened, and this can be tricky territory for all involved, as difficult decisions will need to be made. It is likely when you do find out about this smear campaign and triangulation, you would never have imagined such abuse would have occurred. Here is an example.
In my own life, I worked with someone quite closely for nearly 2 years while running an online support group. I have the educational background and career experiences to do such work; it was a great joy to offer support to others who were struggling in their relationships, and starting the recovery and healing processes after leaving toxic relationships. The person in question, who I’ll call Susan L. (not her real name), does not have the education nor the career experiences. As can happen in online support groups unhealthy, even predatory people can find their way into the group. As I uncovered one such person and provided mug shots and details of their arrest record to Susan, I was told that she would do her own investigating. She wanted to talk with him personally, do her own research and in her words, see ‘if I can draw him out’. Why this was necessary I don’t know as I had already shared his very disturbing (and violent) arrest records with her. She allowed the predator to stay on the page. Members of the group alerted me as this person began contacting them – asking for phone calls and such – and I removed the predatory person from the group. I advised Susan of these events, and was told “We can’t just arbitrarily be removing people from the group”. Yes, she went along with his removal, but had to throw in the statement about ‘arbitrarily removing people’. This is a narc’s tactic of word salad (see previous article); the predator was not removed arbitrarily; he was a predator, seeking contact with vulnerable women in the group, asking for phone calls and the like.
So, as the group work relationship became strained over this (and other events), and as the friendship I thought had been developed understandably waned, I found out she went behind my back to another group member, smeared my education and career credentials, and even shared my personal dating information (while twisting the truth) with this person. She called me ‘bat shi* crazy’ and worked very hard to get this third party ‘go to her side’ of the relationship. End result: I no longer work with her in the group, will never speak to her again, and know all too well now who she truly is. She is a dangerous person hiding in plain sight, and while her overtly sexual behavior (while she is supposed to be a ‘leader’ of a support group) and multiple personal friendships with many members on the page (my own professional boundaries do not allow such friendships, nor behavior) go completely against my personal and professional ethics, the bigger lesson here is that she used my personal information against me, when it became clear to her I called her on her allowing the predator to stay on the page. She wanted to punish me, via this third person. By her own admission to this person, she documented and tracked the things I was telling her: ‘data mining’, to use ‘information as ammunition’. See how it works? I called her out on her decision and her remark of ‘arbitrarily’ removing members, she immediately got defensive – which she would not explain (another narc tactic is to deny an explanation; we are supposed to just ‘take it’), and the end result was narcissistic punishment.
So, there you have it folks. When these people are in your life, you will find much chaos, and your information, the very things you’ve shared in confidence (like my dating situation) can and will be used against you. The ONLY way to not have this chaos in your life is to not have the PERSON in your life. It is up to us to ensure the quality of our lives, and the quality of the people IN our lives. The MOMENT you discover such actions by anyone – friend, coworker, acquaintance, family member, etc. – you will have decisions to make. The data mining is complete, and nothing you’ve said previously is off limits. It will be used against you as ‘information as ammunition’ to you, or to another person behind your back. You will have to decide how to handle such events in your life should they happen, and ultimately, secure your own happiness and mental and emotional health. Lessons learned will in fact stand you in good stead in the future. Best, L.A.