Enablers are the chorus of supporters watching Narcissistic Abuse from the sidelines, who at best turn a blind eye, and at worst facilitate and provide the Abuser with tacit approval.
All predators carrying out campaigns of abuse need accomplices. These co-conspirators may not actually undertake the hub of the maltreatment, but they facilitate none-the-less. Think of the Matrons on the wards of Stoke Mandeville hospital who gave Jimmy Savile the keys to the bedrooms and then turned a blind eye to what they knew must have been happening. Consider the roles of the nurses who told the young boys not to mention anything – it was nothing, who did they think they were, suck it up, you can’t go accusing such a celebrity. Contemplate the legions of PAs, of managers, of talent scouts, of Big Names who kept the Weinsteins of this world fed with young women, who hushed up what was going on, and who silenced his victims from coming forward with allegations. The choir masters, priests and bishops who facilitated the stream of young boys towards the rings of abusers, and the knew what was going on in the church, and who hushed it up.
Are their hands guilty of abuse directly? No, not technically. Are they stained with that abuse none-the-less? Yes, by association.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. Desmond Tutu
Giving Credence and Tacit Approval
In the make-believe world of the Narcopath, they are constantly on the look-out for validation and approval. Given their position on the sidelines, able to see the tip of the iceberg of abuse (but rarely all), Narcs will take the tacit approval of their actions and the situation by the Enablers as all the endorsement and support they need, that they conveniently extend to the remaining, hidden mistreatment. The Narc’s mindset is very different from normal-range people, they do not have the same emotional regulators, and as a result they will twist and manipulate people’s reactions to them to self-justify and self-approve in ways that normal people just cannot comprehend.
When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth, just like you did”. Jill Blakeway
Isolating the Victim
Core the Narcopath’s campaign of abuse is the isolation of the victim. Once again, the enablers play a vital role – not just in moving their own centre of gravity towards the Narc and away from the victim, but their friends and contacts too. Much of this is achieved through first-mover advantage – generally the smear campaign was underway well before any discard (in the case of romantic partner relationship) or heightened campaign of abuse in all others. The Narc will have been swaying peoples’ opinion of you a long time ago, invariably projecting their own faults of crazy and abusive on their victims, with a bundle of lies mixed in with the odd truth. Many people are like sheep, incapable of critical thought, and feeling comforted in the pack mentality, contribute to the victims sense of isolation.
In the cases of Children of Narcissists, being alienated from siblings, parents and the rest of the family, and of Romantic Partners of narcissists, this isolation can become overwhelming and it is this, rather than the original narcissist abuse, that sadly leads to suicide.
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Martin Luther King
How Biased are you?
To be fair to them, many enablers don’t realise that they have been recruited as such. Narcopaths are masters of manipulation, of smear campaigns, and of triangulation. Their false selves are entirely believable, they hide their real selves extremely well, the vast majority of their abuse is carried out covertly and they are adept at mixing their lies with enough truths to give them credibility. To compound it all, they are expert at playing the victim – in fact the victim narrative is there go-to default when on shaky ground, as indeed they are on break-up or when smearing a co-worker or alienating their own child.
Let’s face it, their victims can go for years without realising that they themselves are the target of narcissistic abuse.
Nevertheless, there are invariably clues that give the game away – for those with the courage and conviction to be able to exercise critical thinking.
The following are all giveaways that a smear campaign is underway, and that you have been recruited to act for the abuser to the detriment of the real victim:
- Have you ever encouraged a victim not to come forward?
- Have you ever avoided contact with a victim because an awkward truth would make you feel uncomfortable?
- Have you spoken ill about a potential victim using information passed to you by a third party about which you have not verified first hand yourself?
- Have you persuaded someone to change their opinion of a target, or dissuaded them from talking to that person, without good grounds that you yourself have verified?
In the case of divorce / breakup
- Was the breakup sudden and unexpected to you?
- Was the potential abuser in unusually high spirits given the sudden demise of their relationship?
- Was there overlap between the potential abuser finding a new love interest and discarding the victim?
- Was triangulation between the potential abuser and new love interest in evidence, whereby the victim and new partner were played off against each other?
- Was the potential abuser unduly public with the new love interest, even to the extent of being overtly show-offy?
- As a general rule, when a couple split, one should be as impartial as possible, without taking sides. But could it be said that your support and contact has been one-sided?
- Have you ever sensed that you should not be seen fraternising with the victim – with something that has been either stated or implied? Would you feel uncomfortable being seen by one party talking to the other and vice versa?
- Have you ever been dissuaded from talking to a particular side, or discouraged someone else from doing the same, either in so many words or be more general adverse comment?
- Are the unfavourable opinions that you might hold of one party been gained first-hand by you personally, based on verifiable facts and held reasonably, or are these based on what the potential abuser, or indeed a third party, has said? Could you have been manipulated?
- Has the split caused division in wider society?
- Is the divorce hostile / high conflict?
- Is Parental Alienation happening?
- Was there any evidence of others forms of abuse underway?
- Is one side of the story given precedent over the other’s, and if you have been party to one, have you actively sought balance in hearing the other?
- Are both sides really as bad as each other – or with careful consideration, is it more like one is being abusive and the victim is simply defending their position and imposing boundaries?
- Is there any financial impropriety going on?
- Is the divorce unusually drawn-out and characterised by plenty of legal battles?
- Is one party very high profile in maintaining the appearance of calm, confident, perfect parent, taking it all in their stride?
- Is the other rather more withdrawn, and taking time in their healing?
- Are the words of the potential abuser entirely consistent with their actions?
- Is the potential abuser dismissive of allegations of abuse?
- Is the potential victim of the abuse intent on imposing a policy of No Contact or Grey Rock?
If a reasonable proportion of these questions are answered honestly in the affirmative, or point away from the likelihood of two people sadly but respectively falling out of love but point more towards the likelihood of the split being uneven and hostile, then it is very likely that you are witnessing an NPD-discard. And that it is abusive.
Who’s really who behind the smoke and mirrors?
To identify the real abuser and victims, you might give yourself a reality check by accurately getting to the bottom of the following questions (as opposed to believing the hearsay as reality):
- Who was it that discarded who?
- Which parent is being alienated, and which is the one originating the alienation and which is being targeted?
- If there is financial impropriety going on, who is the beneficiary?
- Who is respectful of who’s space and privacy, and who is routinely attempting to cross boundaries?
- Who is breaching court orders?
- Who is keen to submit themselves for a psychiatric diagnosis, and who refuses?
You can bet your bottom dollar that with a Narcissist, things are never as they seem.
Trail of Destruction
Narcopaths generally leave a trail of destruction in their wake – financial ruin, reputations blackened, relationships in tatters from their tactics of divide and conquer, embezzlement, psychologically damaged victims (including their own kids) to name a few. If you have not taken a stand against a narc but have instead enabled their poor behaviour, consider yourself an Apath. Don’t count on escaping unscathed yourself.
Types of Narcissistic Abuse – insidious and toxic
Differentiating Abused from Abuser – where appearances are deceiving
Flying Monkeys – the toxic henchmen of the Narcopath
Exposing Narcopaths – taking down the Flying Monkeys and Enablers too
The Role of Enablers | Parental Alienation PAS
Psychological Murder: Death by Covert Abuse | Owlcation