Understanding a Narcissist's Smear Campaign

Jennifer March, MS

My experience with a narcissist’s smear campaign, what you need to know, and how you can survive a smear campaign.



Narcissists are known for their lies. So it’s no surprise that a narcissist will go to any length necessary to spread those lies. A way that a narcissist can truly make their mark on people — and feed them lies about you first — is a smear campaign.

To maintain their superiority and good grace, they will lie or create a smear campaign to uphold that image. A narcissist will use a smear campaign to gain more power and control over you and others!

I suffered narcissistic abuse for over 20 years, so I went through numerous bouts of psychological torture over that time. It wasn’t until the past year that I realized just who this person was.

The narcissist in my life chose to lie and spread rumors about me to family — close and distant.

The narcissist is kind, helpful, and just so lovely to the people around me. But behind closed doors, they were pure evil to me. In order to keep the truth a secret, the narcissist had to make sure that I wasn’t credible.

The narcissist will tell lies about you — they’ll say anything to get people to believe their lies. Over time, the lies snowball into a complete distortion of reality.

Eventually, these lies become so big that they feel like reality. With everyone around you saying that you’re the problem, you start to feel out of touch with reality.

There is a lot of time put into a narcissist taking and maintaining control. That means reaching other people about your failures is the quickest way to get someone on their side.

What is a smear campaign?

Before having a smear campaign set against you by a narcissist, everyone should understand that gaslighting and manipulation are common strategies for narcissists. Through gaslighting and manipulation, narcissists will also display intrusive and dominant behaviors.

Every single thing that the narcissist said about me was a complete lie. In fact, the lies the narcissist told were a reflection of their own behaviors.

I once witnessed the narcissist in my life forcing a sick family member to sign financial documents.

I saw what they forced them to sign — it was an important financial document that handled a considerable amount of money.

I spoke up about what I saw and was promptly accused of lying. In fact, my narcissist told me that I was the one trying to steal from the family.

In order to keep me quiet, I need to be invalidated. To make sure that I was deemed a liar, I needed to have a laundry list of everything I had ever done wrong.

And then comes the smear campaign.

A smear campaign is designed to make the narcissist look better and for you to look like trash. The narcissist had to lie about me to make people think badly of me.

The lies are a manipulation tactic that helps their overall plan or goal become easier. When narcissists are pressed against the wall with no defense, they will make anything up to get what they want.

A lie is a simple connection to what they truly want.

A lie can take a meer second for a narcissist but will last a lifetime for their victim.

Remember: narcissists spread lies to modify reality to fit their narrative.

How does a smear campaign work?

Through my experience with smear campaigns from a narcissist, I noticed a specific pattern of behavior.

There are 4 stages of the smear campaign that I experienced that show the narcissist’s actions and intent.

1. Inciting incident

Before the smear campaign can even begin, there needs to be a reason why. The narcissist needs fuel to properly discharge their wrath onto you.

Obviously, if you are face to face narcissist running a smear campaign about you, you have pissed them off somehow. It doesn’t matter how you made them angry.

The smear campaign I had against me started all because I spoke up. A small, 1-minute conversation was all it took to start a war.

2. Silent treatment

After the inciting incident with a narcissist, they will be scarce. Or they may give you some form of silent treatment. For me? I got the silent treatment mixed with cheap gifts they decided to stop generously giving me.

I was nothing more than a stranger to them.

At first, it honestly felt great. I didn’t need to talk to them, and they clearly wanted nothing to do with me.

3. Confronted with lies

Slowly, I began to notice family were making odd statements to me. I was being treated differently. I was shown no respect and was belittled.

My family wanted me to fix the mistake I had made of trying to steal money. (Isn’t it obvious how the tables turned?)

During this silent treatment, the narcissist was manipulating all of your friendships and relationships to work against you.

This way, you are silenced and forced to live in the reality that the narcissist has painted.

4. Isolation

During this time you may find yourself struggling with the past. How did I get myself in this position? What made the narcissist hate me so much? During this time, it is important to understand the signs of narcissistic abuse.

Over time, the narcissist’s antics will grow stronger and more fierce. They will have people turning on you — leaving you isolated.

In these moments of isolation, you begin to question your own reality.

What is real?

Who is really there for me?

Am I wrong?

When I had the smear campaign against me, I was left so alone. No one around me believed me — I was the villain.

But through it all, I never let go of the truth.

Surviving the smear campaign

At this point, you may be feeling so alone that it hurts. This hole you are in feels like forever. The narcissist set the stage, and now you’re left to suffer the consequences.

It’s difficult, but know that it will always end — it can’t go on forever.

Don’t focus on them

No matter how hard it is or how destructive their behavior has become, don’t try to make amends with them — the behavior will only get worse and increase.

The lies a narcissist spews about you are only their imperfections shining through.

Stay true to who you are.

Don’t stoop to their level

A narcissist will only make you feel bad if you let them. A narcissist’s image is based on lies and an illusion to seem bigger and stronger than everyone else.

You might want to reach out to people that the narcissist won’t know. I had friends in college that I was able to draw support from.

Take their words with a grain of salt

From the narcissist or the people they turned against you: don’t listen to them.

Your family and friends’ feelings and opinions on the matter are not valid. They are only receiving one side of the story — there’s a massive gap between the truth and what they were told.

Take care of yourself

Don’t focus on the narcissist or anyone else. Listen to yourself, and follow your gut. Don’t allow them to sway you from your truth.

Participate in hobbies that you like. I was so saturated in my narcissist’s lies that I felt out of touch with reality. I was afraid that my perception of reality was wrong.

Be sure to protect your peace from this narcissist.



Stay strong and remember that this will pass. A narcissist’s rain of terror may be awful, but you are stronger than this. Like everything in life, this too shall pass.

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Psych nerd turned freelance writer | MS in Psychology | Mom of two cats and some house plants | #MentalHealthAdvocate #BeKind


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