The smear campaign is a regular weapon in our arsenal. Deployed in order to maintain our façade and ensure that everybody thinks that you are the abuser, you are the trouble maker and that you are the Crazy One. A method of getting our retaliation in first. The smear campaigns are such that you have no idea they are being carried out until the damage is done. You may find out through a third party tipping you off about what is being said about you. You may find out because we have instructed a lieutenant to tip you off in order to allow us to draw fuel from your horrified reaction and frantic attempts to repair the damage. Naturally, we only allow the tip off to take place once we are satisfied that our smears have sunk in and taken effect. The first you may know about these smear campaigns is when you try to tell other people about our behaviour, either during the relationship or when you have sought to escape or have been discarded. You find that you are met with shaking heads, blank looks and declarations of disbelief as your protestations are regarded with scepticism and whispered comments about you having lost the plot. To come up against this wall, especially when you are often in the greatest need, is distressing. This distress is magnified when it occurs with people you thought that you could rely on. Our poison seeps everywhere.
The smear campaign is almost always used at some point when you have become entangled with our kind. There are many different kinds, but here are six which are regularly used.
- The Abuser
We like to trot out tales about how cruel and unpleasant you have been to us. Whether it is preventing us from seeing our friends, not letting us have our say, making decisions for us, hitting us, failing to attend to household chores whilst we are out working to support the household, not showing us any affection, questioning us about our movements, calling us names and so on, it will be used against you. Much of the smear campaign is based on projection as we tell everybody that you have been doing the very things that we have been doing. That way we can provide sufficient detail about the form of abuse, because we have done it ourselves, so that it is given the mantle of believability. If we furnish such detail and avoid vagueness, our lies are made all the more believable. All types of smear campaign operate on the basis of making you out to be abusive in some way. Some are specific, as you will see below, whereas this form of smear campaign is predicated on an avalanche of plausible behaviours which cover a vast spectrum of abusive actions towards us from locking us out of our own home at night because we went out with friends to tipping freezing cold water over us when sat in the bath and pretending it was a joke, from making us sleep on the floor to hiding our car keys when we needed to be somewhere. A long list of awful abuses will be detailed along with how much of a martyr we have been in trying to put up with them and make things better.
- The Philanderer/The Slut
We play the card that we are not given any affection, love or sexual gratification by the abuser but more than that you are busy engaging in frequent affairs and one night stands with other people. We have given you chances after discovering what you have been doing, because we want to get things back on track. We have given you everything and this is how we are repaid. We are heart-broken by these repeated infidelities. We will identify people of the opposite sex that you are close to and pedal lies that “there is something going on” between you and them. Those people we know who enjoy some tittle tattle will be approached first in order to give the lies some “legs” so that they will not only believe what they have been told about you and the neighbour, you and your colleague and you and the gardener, but they will spread the smear even further. Add in some casual sexual encounters we have learned about, linked to the fact you work away/work in a bar/ are friendly and out-going then the lies gain more traction.
- The Spender
We work hard each day to provide for you and all you do is sit around ordering things off the internet, going out to lunch, organising another home improvement and frittering away our hard-earned money. We make out that you are squandering the fruits of our labour by pointing to the recent purchase of some expensive shoes, conveniently leaving out that this is the first pair you have bought in two years and you saved up for them. The joint credit card which bears the hammering of our profligate spending will be attributed to you. Words such as fraud, leech and gold digger will be bandied around as we make you out to be a free loader who has taken considerable advantage of our hard-working nature and generosity.
- The Lunatic
This smear campaign will involve heart-felt explanations to medical professionals about your behaviour in order to have them say that there could be something wrong but they would need to undertake a proper diagnosis. We will take from this informal consultation the part we want to hear and then spread this around to other people.
“Yes I was concerned about her behaviour and because I care, I mentioned it to Dr Whitecoat and he told me that it would appear that she has a mental health issue. I know, it is terrible but it explains so much of her erratic behaviour. The thing is, I don’t know if she will allow herself to be treated. Of course she will insist that there is nothing wrong with her, but apparently that is what these people do, they have no insight that there is anything wrong with them.”
Sound familiar at all? We will pick on entirely innocuous behaviours of yours and magnify them so they become regarded as problematic. Idiosyncrasies will be portrayed as aberrations from normal behaviour and of course the more you try to point out that it is us and not you, the crazier you appear.
- The Turncoat
In this smear campaign we actually place the focus of your horrible behaviour on not just us but other people as well. We spend our time telling other people the horrible things you have said about them behind their backs. Of course, since we are in a relationship with you, it stands to reason that what we are saying must be true, otherwise why would we make it up about the person we love. We maintain that we are telling the “victim” of your scurrilous comments so they can keep an eye out for it happening again and to be a little wiser in their engagements with you. This will be based on oral recollection, so difficult to prove, but often we will engage a lieutenant in corroborating our lies so that the recipient believes us and is too busy basking in their own indignant and annoyed reaction to test the veracity of what they are being told.
- The Addict
You have a serious problem and the time has come to tell other people about it. You enjoy the occasional flutter on the horses. You actually have a huge gambling issue which incorporates the casino, slot machines, betting on line, frequent trips to the bookmakers and even betting on which of two rain drops will trickle down the pane the fastest. You may like a drink now and again and we will turn this into full blown alcoholism, showing off pictures of the empties in the over flowing recycling bin. Those empties are ours or are the product of a weekend party but we are not going to let that get in the way of our smear. You are addicted to sex, watching porn, trying to make us do things in the bedroom that we do not want to do, demanding sex on tap and demeaning us. Your recent weight gain, although nothing significant is used against you as evidence of addiction to food, the money you waste on take away food is really starting to stack up now and the salad section in the fridge only ever stocks cream cakes these days.
How might you deal with these smear campaigns and wipe them clean from your reputation? You are never in a position to stop them before they begin because you will not know about them until they are at least up and running and unfortunately to you heartfelt and emotional protestations just work against you, give us fuel and encourage us to up the pressure against you.
- Avoid reacting to them in an emotional fashion. This starves us of fuel and may cause us to drop the campaign because it is no longer having the desired effect. Some damage has been done from it already, but you will limit that damage.
- Consider carefully who you feel the need to disavow of our lies. If you need support in the context of your escape, save your energies for addressing the lies with those that matter in terms of providing you with support. You may lose some friends, but were they really good friends to have if they were taken in by the smear campaign?
- Use any independent evidence you may have to show to people – documents, video recordings, independent witnesses and just provide this to the relevant recipient of the smear campaign for them to make up their own mind. State your side of the story, refer to the evidence and let them make their own mind up. People don’t like to be told what to do. By allowing them to reach their own conclusion as to who is telling the truth you are more likely to gain an ally again and one who will also expound your truth to others on your behalf.
- If people approach you concerning the lies and want to discuss it with you, more out of a desire to engage in salacious gossiping than know the truth, there is no point engaging in a lengthy discussion in order to persuade this person. They are not interested in the truth, only the buzz which comes from having some gossip. Raise your hand as they begin and tell them, “He has told lies and I do not want to hear any more or discuss them.” That will stop it in its tracks. You may also wish to add that the matter is in the hands of lawyers which often causes people to back off as they do not want to become embroiled in legal action.
- Don’t engage in a reverse smear campaign by talking about what we have done. This creates fuel from us and because we have got in first, it makes you look like you are only saying this because of what we have said. Concentrate on protecting your own reputation. Don’t be concerned with blackening ours.
- Adopting the above points will turn the tide so that we are left with a choice of having to expend more time and energy to maintain the smear campaign in light of your non-fuel provision and calculated approach or more likely we will see it is not working and look to concentrate on someone else rather than you.
- If the smear campaign is having adverse effects in terms of your job, your professional standing and interaction with the authorities, engage a lawyer to set the record straight. A well-drafted letter to the relevant decision-maker is often sufficient to address the matter. Don’t engage in sending threatening letters to us (unless the smear campaign is especially bad and having serious repercussions on your life and livelihood) as this provides us with fuel and also provides us with an arena for us to continue the allegations and to look to gain further traction.
- Sometimes the most appropriate way is to ignore what is being said and get on with your own life. This demonstrates you have not taken the bait which will infuriate us. You may find it uncomfortable having lies said about you, but if it is having no visible effect on you, we will move on. Third parties are usually too caught up in their own lives to have much regard for such tittle tattle for long.
Smear campaigns are usually rolled out at when you are at your lowest ebb, feeling frazzled and emotional and this is why they become so effective, but you are able to wipe the mud away and move forwards. You can learn more about dealing with this manipulation and many others in Escape: How to Beat the Narcissist available on Amazon.