How Manipulators Vilify the Real Victim

Manipulators Like to Vilify their Victims

Manipulative abusers are covert-aggressors. (For more on this read: In Sheep’s Clothing.) They have their way with you by fighting cleverly and underhandedly. And they use a variety of tactics to con you. (See also, for example:  Rationalizing Away Wrongdoings.) However, they particularly enjoy playing the victim game.

The aim of this game is simple: create confusion about who the real victim is. And manipulators do that in two ways. They can try to convince the true victim that they’re the one actually hurt. Or, they can make the victim out to be the villain and aggressor. Moreover, they can put the two tactics together. That way, they deliver a powerful one-two manipulative punch. “I’m the injured one and you’re the cause, ” the aggressor asserts. It’s how they play the victim and vilify the real victim. And, unfortunately, the strategy often works.

I’ve seen some pretty egregious examples of aggressors who vilify their victims. I’ve witnessed many a domestic batterer convince a spouse they brought their injuries upon themselves. And I have even interviewed murderers who wanted me to feel sorry for the injustice they suffered that “made” them lash out. Manipulators can go to great lengths to cast themselves as victims and vilify others.

Do They Really Believe What They Say?

Folks who rationalize, blame others, and play the victim will make you scratch your head. You may wonder if they actually believe the ridiculous things they spout. And you may even tempted to try and get them to see things differently. But most of the time, you’d only be wasting your time. That’s because they actually know better. But they want you to believe what they say. And if you buy into their arguments, they succeed in manipulating you. (See also: Manipulators: Do They Really Believe What They’re Saying?)

A Matter of Responsibility

All the tactics we’ve been talking about the past few weeks represent ways to shirk responsibility. And perhaps there’s no greater evil besides not being accountable oneself than to falsely blame others. As I discuss in all my books, professionals have long had it wrong about these responsibility-avoidance behaviors. And, unfortunately, some still think that rationalizers, minimizers, etc. are just trying to assuage guilt pangs. Moreover, they assume such folks do so unconsciously. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Whenever someone is engaged in the tactics we’ve been talking about, they’re not unconsciously defending anything. Primarily, they’re fighting. Fighting what? Fighting accountability. They’re actively resisting taking to heart important values and standards of conduct. And they’re doing so knowingly and stubbornly. Secondarily, they may want to maintain a positive social image. We call that the game of “impression management.” And it’s a conscious and deliberate game, too. All this keeps a person from forging good character.

Traditional psychology principles have disadvantaged many abuse victims. These principles taught us that inner wounds and emotional conflicts drive most behavior. And they also taught us that most people aren’t very aware of these things. And that’s precisely what prompts abuse victims to try way too hard to understand the actions of their oppressors. I’ll have a lot to say about the folly of this in next week’s post.


As always, my sincere thanks for recommending my books and this blog to others.

More information on upcoming workshops will soon appear on the Seminars page.

Character Matters will air live Sunday April 29, so I can take phone calls.

65 thoughts on “How Manipulators Vilify the Real Victim

  1. Dr. Simon,
    Your recent series and other work has taught me so much about the character disordered.
    Recently I answered the phone to someone I had not spoken to in a while. I answered the phone(I do not normally take this persons calls) because I had heard that her son was missing. I have known him since he was a baby, he is now in his thirties.
    I was not taking her calls because three years ago this person and another decades-long friend had become close and in their closeness had come after me. They plotted behind my back and because we knew each other so well and I had confided my vulnerabilities to them they used what they knew about me to hurt me. They violated boundaries even calling people that are strangers to them to tell them what a horrible person I am. They lied, they manipulated, they plotted, they used deceit and tried to gaslight. I stopped having anything to do with them.
    I want to say here that even though I stopped interacting with them I do care about these women. I feel love in my heart for them they were a part of my life for decades and I had called them friend.
    I took the call out of care and concern.
    Everything went all right for a bit in the conversation, she told me about all her woes but did not mention her son until I asked. At one point she suggested that we call the other “friend”. I said no. She became upset and accused me of being unforgiving, she told me that I needed to get over it, that this other person is one of my best friends. I told her no she is not. She argued that both she and the other person are my best friend. I took a breath and told her no you are not. I told her this is what you did to me. You plotted, manipulated etc… and it was done premeditated and intentionally.
    She continued to argue this time trying to blame me for the way they had treated me.
    I told her that our relationship had been destroyed by her intentionally trying to bring harm to me and that our relationship had no chance of ever mending as long as she continued to shirk accountability for what she had done. She argued asking what accountability I had……because I am not perfect and I should take a good long look at myself. I told her I have and that I am certain that I have no accountability for the way that her and the other person chose to behave. I even went on to say that as I know I am not perfect, please tell me what accountability she felt I had. The line went silent I waited and counted to thirty, I was angry by then and so I told her that no matter how she tried to heap it on me, I would not carry any of the dirt she had brought on to her own soul through her intentional actions against me. She said fine I guess we won’t speak again. She has shown up on my phone a couple times since then……..Maybe just a but dial.
    Funny thing about souls, the dirtier a soul gets the less it cares about being clean.
    Thank you Dr Simon for helping me to learn to separate truth from fiction and understand what is behind the manipulation.

    1. E

      An excellent post, thank you. It helps all of us to know you and also learn from the experiences you share. Your always so quiet, you have followed the blog for a long time, I remember you now. I hope you are well and have checked out the Facial Pain Association in Gainsville FL. You will find immense camaraderie and support for the TN condition .

      You did the right thing in protecting your boundaries, also not accepting others to lay their misconduct and guilt on you. The woman who called from your description did not care about a missing person, they were calling to draw you into their web of deception and scapegoat you. You seen through their trap of laying guilt and you and their tricks, you stood your ground with truth of what really happened, you refused to own their behavior and accept as yours. Truly, ones of a rational mind, shake their heads at the insanity of it all.

      I had a similar scenario, the call was to draw in, you played your hand well. I agree, I too, have learned immensely from participating in this blog. We are seeing behind the mask of insanity and in return we take back ourselves and regain all of our integrity. Indeed we have come a long way.

      E, it is painful to see the ones we care about and love, choose to be CD and choose to be lost. Many times I have referred to the CD’s in my life who I have had to go NC with, as “Having Lost There Way.

      I admire the way you held your ground, you called out bad behavior in a mature and firm way. At the same time you commanded truth and protected your sovereign boundaries. You kept your dignity and demanded respect in a positive light, you did not take the bait, you did not fall into the web of deceit.

      Touche E

  2. In a nutshell people without feeling for others, manipulate those who have feelings for others.

    When you realize some people have no feelings for others it really informs the interactions.

  3. It’s strange why such type of people exists, and why they feel in this satisfaction? It is so weird, spider at least can eat their victims, what manipulator will do with them? The best situation,when I don’t need to care what psychopath thinks, he is aggressive,but his abuse comes in a less primitive way. It’s enough to notice the sign of wrong behaviour and it needs to be stopped.Dont think about that person, that’s the best revenge.

    1. Tera,

      The CDNSP do eat their victims the same way a spider does. The CDNSP lulls the victim/prey into their web. Once the CD spider latches on it begins to to slowly entomb their victim/prey. Never, forget the CDN spider, as they have a method as to how they spin their web and and will draw you in.

      The CDNSP will spin a different web of lies and use different tactics and calculated means of manipulation, all the while pushing critical sensitive buttons to make you dance to their tune all the while, slowly sucking you dry of life.

      Be assured if you don’t make it out of the web or outlive the CDNSP/ life sucking spider, you will either be completely drained of life energy or you will be suffering extreme emotional sickness, a poison that will ultimately kill you. These life sucking spiders, replicate a lifelike kind of human to lure you in., they come in all shapes, sizes, colors and will become whatever it is to attract you, look closely, observe and you will see “The Ultimate Chameleon.”

      I believe in most cases it is not wise to interact or to continue to obsess or think about the CDNSp. However, it depends how disordered and where the CDNSP is on the continuum. I do not mean to frighten anyone, however, situations with the CDNSP can become deadly. It is vitally important to know who the adversary is..

      Never underestimate, always know your CD opponent. I agree to ignore the CD and not to unnecessarily concentrate your precious time on the CD. This is why it is so important to educate yourself with as much knowledge on the CD as possible. Once we know what we are dealing with, we can apply the corrective measures to improve or protect the sanctity of lives including ours..

      Truly, Dr. Simons work is superior and is presented in a way for all to understand. I personally believe forgiveness is the answer, it sets one free. It does not mean you have a relationship with the CD, it means you let go where the CD would otherwise consume your life. Therefore, the 12 Step saying “Let Go and Let God.”

      I also think it is therapeutic to pray for the CD, pray the CD has their Come to Jesus Moment. I mean this in the sense of an application or in the literal “religious view” use whatever is healing and for the good of mankind.

  4. By: Walter Watzpatzkowski

    Why would I choose to always be a victim?
    Constantly acting a victim can actually have a lot of perks. These can look like the following:
    • you don’t have take responsibility for things
    • you have the ‘right’ to complain and receive attention
    • others feel sorry for you and give you attention
    • people are less likely to criticise or upset you
    • others feel compelled to help you and do what you ask for
    • you can tell stories about the things that happened to you and seem interesting
    • there is no time to be bored because there is so much drama in your life
    • you can avoid ever feeling anger as you are too busy being sad and upset.

    what the true benefits of being a victim can be. They are:
    1. attention,
    2. feeling valued,
    3. power.
    The Secret Power Behind Being a Victim

  5. E,
    You handled that situation perfectly. Now you remember why you previously wouldn’t answer the phone, more drama, more lies, more toxic waste. Who needs that? Life can sure be pleasant with the removal of this type of person in one’s life.
    I am proud (can I say that without being blasted as being about me –) that you handled it, called her out on it, did not divert the topic at hand, handled it gracefully at the same time to the point.
    Your post was inspirational to me.

  6. This was an excellent article and topic.
    The X was into “impression management”. He would never own up to any of his misdeeds. When his wrong doings made the local paper he had a breakdown, sobbing, sobbing not at his wrong doings but sobbing for himself of the embarrassment now and public shame he’d have to face.

    1. Lucy,

      Do you mean the X was sobbing because he got caught or was it he actually became human for a few moments in time and felt a little remorse?

      I know I insisted my X remove all the items he was awarded from the house. I did this in order to reinforce the message that in fact everything was over, I wanted to end every connection. I kept hoping the X would have an eye opening “Come to Jesus Moment.”

      For a brief moment while the movers were moving the furniture out of the house my X broke down and wept too. I know this as I was on the telephone with one of the movers. I asked the mover to tell my X I was on the telephone and to ask my X if he would see a therapist, with tears running down the X’s face he said: “I’ll think about it.” So what was he crying about?

      Was he crying because he was feeling remorse for what had happened? Was he crying for what he lost? Was he crying for all the memories ? Was he crying because he was embarrassed? Was he crying because his future looked a lot bleaker? Lots of questions.

      Truthfully, when I add everything up, all the events that transpired to “How did we End up Here?” it all adds up to one thought in my mind. I will allow a margin of error of no more than 5%. On the 95% I conclude my X cried for no other reason than, he knew the jig was up. My X could had cared less how ignorant he looked, there was no embarrassment, he cried for no other reason except it was because he got caught.

      On the 5% my X may have had a brief window of realization, that being he knew what he had done was wrong and was being held accountable. However, that moment of raw reality closed as fast as it had opened. To me during this brief period of time my X may have felt a true emotion, only God knows. I can only by past behaviors and again, the indicator tells me his tears were for himself, himself getting caught.

      It is years later and I will stand firm in my observation, to many factors and incidents point to the fact, He knew what he was doing, he just got caught…..

      1. BTOV,

        I guess, people on death row will quite often go out crying. At that point, it is irrelevant except maybe as bit of “false” consolation to the victims’ relatives. Most likely that crying is nothing more than the realization that convicts gig is up. If someone halts the proceeding and ask him “How did he end up that way”, he will stop crying, think of a moment, and most likely blame lawyers, the system, his parents, his harsh upbringing, basically anything except himself.
        And, if by any chance he manages to escape death as well as prison sentence, he will likely be found boasting about it after a year.

        Most of the time, victim of manipulative relationship has not entirely given up on character disturbed person, and holds a hope that maybe he will see. So, few tears, few apologies, few days of good behaviour is all that is needed to lure the victim back in to relationship.

        Instead of figuring out what a person may be thinking, probably best thing is to say, “I watched your bad behaviour for 20 years, I will watch you behave good for at least 2 years before giving you any chance. Now, stop crying, I just want to get away from you”.

        1. Andy,

          So true, everything you said. When I decided to leave I went NC from the beginning. I already knew what he would do in advance and to make sure I would not buckle. I heard X whine about poor him and heard about how he had everyone thinking I was the Villain.

          In my heart of hearts I knew, I saw all the red flags in the back round, it was all a sham to get others to feel sorry for him. In the end he did show his true colors and individuals said I did the right thing. You see, when I was no longer available to dump on he had to find a replacement and it happened to be them.

          What would eat at his warped ego is that me, a mere idiot in his eyes could had done this to him. He never saw it coming, that was the beauty of it. I had read Dr. Simons book and it spelled everything out in complete simplicity. The book covered everything I needed to do know and what I shouldn’t do. I read the blog which gave many good examples of what questions I needed answered and also gave me support when I questioned myself. It truly is all there in that one book.

          Andy, CDN is not an exact science at least not by medical standards. However, everything the X did was in line and true of what Dr. Simon said in Sheeps Clothing. In truth, I think a fairly accurate road map that has continued to ring true in how other CDN would present in my life.

          What it boiled down to in the end was, yes, the X was the victim and had been all his life, still is. Secondly, the X was and is aware of his actions, in fact contemplates his next course of action. Third, the X is sorry for himself and that he got caught. Even the fact he is exposed is someone else’s fault.

          I was never lulled in by a shallow “I am sorry or I made a mistake” though I never heard those words. I have heard them by some of the lesser and the ” I am sorry” is cunningly built around shape shifting blame and a false apology when broken down and realized for what it really is. None of them but the X could had lasted the 2 years, my eyes were wide open and that alone is key, regardless of proper actions by a CDN true sincerity is always a missing component, false words, false actions, are inherently clear when we are awake to truth.

          1. BOTV
            You’re right. It’s all laid out simple and clear in Dr. Simon’s book. Like you, I never got an apology. Now I’m glad I didn’t, because it would have been a manipulative, false apology that could have weakened me. He stuck the course, not his fault, ever.

          2. Lucy, Andy, Joel,

            As much as I would like to think otherwise, to believe, even at times delude myself of the the truth. The truth is CRYSTAL CLEAR, is truly is like Dr. Simon says: They Know What they are Doing………

            The CDN cries because others have seen the false self. The Mask at the point of tears was to heavy for them to hold onto. As soon as the the CDN has their strength via sympathy from bystanders, on with the mask. You see even the tears were a ruse. The tears were used to gain supply, even the tears were false.

            Heed this lesson and understand it well ” The TEARS ARE A LIE and PART OF THE MASK.

            It is sad to say the CDNSP, is lost at this point, wondering around in that vast wilderness of nothing. It would take a miracle for the CDNSP to change and only them alone can ask for it, in most cases the CDN won’t, their false pride won’t allow it.

            The key to all this is Control and Pride. False Pride.

            I don’t care how many books, You Tubes, ramblings of legal and medical terms someone can spew, its all so simple if we just look it in the face for what it truly is, it is all so simple…. we all have heard the saying: ” KEEP IT SIMPLE” it is this simple……

            It is sin, it is wrong, it is transgression against oneself and another.
            It is just as simple as what Dr. Simon writes about, the truth is:

            “They know What They are Doing and they Don’t care. …….

            Everything the CDN does is suspect and has an anterior motive attached, look for it, you will see it. The answer and the question of the day, the gold standard is: Is the CDN “CONTRITE.”

            You will know them by their actions and the fruit they produce.

            In all its simplicity, never forget this simple test.

      2. BOTV
        Yes, those tears, for who? Sorry to you for what he did? If there was no apology or actions to show it then, no, not cries of sorrow for you. I’d say crying for the life he lost, the home, the wife, the life, the stuff maybe but probably not, crying for himself that he did so much wrong that he lost a good thing. Crying for himself. Because see what they do after they cry? In my case, more wrong doings, to me.
        My X cried because he said he’d hoped the paper wouldn’t print what it did. It was the public humiliation that broke him. He’d already been caught. He sobbed hard. It hurt me to see him like that. I’m still human, thank goodness.

  7. Michelle, Jean, LisaO, Joey

    where is everyone? And are you all? It’s been a while since we’ve heard from you.

  8. JC,

    Isn’t it interesting how well you have done since you left the crazy making clutches of your family. Today, look at how clearly you see the obvious truth when before your life was an obfuscated reality. Time and place far removed from the CDN with healthy nurturing relationships helps to clear the foggy reality we had been living. We see truth and light and happiness, we see all the wrongs, we also see the path to deliverance.

    It makes me smile when you say you have nothing to report. To me that says you are doing well and life is good. When is the concert?

      1. LisaO, I am jealous, I want to go too. Have a wonderful time and for us too. Will be waiting to hear all about it…. Glad to hear from you

        Its windy where I am, I do have a water view and it is beautiful. I am getting my fishing license as the fish are starting to bite.

  9. I’ve been reading Dr. Simon’s books and articles and participated with the blog for a couple of years now. I came here in a highly emotional, confused state, having discovered dealings that the X husband had engaged in, dealings that are unethical, criminal, twisted, disgusting, and alarming. Then when I filed for the divorce I was still discovering misdeeds and at the same time being constantly abused via email, lawyers, nefarious court filings, reputation blasting, monetary abuses, stealing, the whole gamit.

    The posters on this blog have been a tremendous help to me along with Dr. Simon’s weekly articles. It all helped me understand this person, the X, that I was dealing with, an overt, grandiose manipulator, the likes of which this man could take a person down. The whole ordeal from start to finish, from finding out the tip of the iceberg to divorcing, settling out of court, selling the house and payouts to the final documents took almost four years. Four years of hell I must say. Pure hell. So this is what I’ve learned:
    It’s all about, first of all and of upmost learning of the character disorder, dealing with it, coming to terms with the truths, deciding where to go with it, and moving on, redirecting, refocusing and expending energy on the good in life. That’s what I’m trying to do now. I’ve come full circle! And I thank all of you who helped get me there.

  10. A thought about rationalizing.

    Can it be people believe what they need to, for a CDN, but also for the rest of us too?

    1. JC
      I’ve probably forced myself to believe things (erroneously) rather than to dig and find and deal with truths. Dealing with truths can be a lot of work.

  11. I recently saw a quote that seems appropriate here: The Villain plays the Victim quite well.

  12. Joel,

    This absolutely an accurate statement. Villains play the role so well. What is sad is how well they can play the role, the perpetrator is now the victim. Many Villains have the Victim role so down pat they can fool some of the most knowledgeable people in the field. The reason the Villain is so credible is they truly believe they are the victim and have the victim role for themselves down to a science.

    I believe this happens so much in our society today it becomes difficult where to draw the line. We have so many Villains/Wolves everywhere it becomes hard to sort out them out and we end up accepting the lesser of two evils, we hope. We have a country being run by Villains/Wolves. Its actually so perverse the Victim is now the Villain.

  13. Will a neurotypical take on the opinions of a covert aggressive narcissist spouse?

    For example:
    To manipulate someone who is an important part of the non-narcissists life, will the covert aggressor start twisting the truth, intercept messages, insinuate wrongdoings on the part of the important person until the important person either conforms or leaves the friendship? Even if it’s a friendship over decades and has never been challenged before?

    1. Pam
      Is this happening in your life and you’re questioning whether you’re imagining it or if it’s really happening? I’d say if you think it’s happening, it is.

    2. Pam.

      These are good insightful questions. I welcome you to continue to explore what questions you may have.

      Lucy gave you an answer to what you are asking, there is much more you should be aware of, you have apparently eluded the rabbit hole for now.

    3. Pam,

      Not sure if I understood your questions. Here is my take…

      A covert aggressor has strong need to control others. As part of control, he/she will isolate the target. So, yes, alienating friends and relatives (i.e. support system) to weaken the target is very much on agenda of aggressor.

      Tactics like twisting the truth, interrupting communication lines, insinuating wrongdoings are precisely the tactics that will be used to create the wedge between target and its support system.

      Why is it being done after decades? Maybe aggressor saw no need before. Maybe aggressor had bigger fish to fry before. Maybe target changed a bit and resisting. Maybe you started to see aggressor for what he/she is.
      It is not important what triggered it. What is important that some 3rd party is trying to break apart a long friendship.

      1. Pam and AndyD,

        AndyD, spot on, there are many variables involved like you pointed out. I agree with everything you said. Thanks, I have learned much from your post.

      2. Their relationship is nine years, my friendship with neurotypical decades old.
        I have gone no contact with both because of the changes in the neurotypicals opinions. These are opinions I can’t reconcile with the person I knew.
        Do you think my friend will somehow come to realize he is being covertly manipulated?
        The covert aggressor has been eroding our friendship chip by chip since we met. Fortunately I came out whole but I will miss my friend.

        1. Pam,

          >> Do you think my friend will somehow come to realize he is being covertly manipulated?
          People do tend to realize when they are constantly under covert attack. But, if it was one off trick, then cannot really say: maybe, or maybe not. Since you have gone No Contact, it does not really matter.

          1. No it’s not “a one off trick”.
            I’ve been watching the alienation since they met. Nothing I can do about but hope he will “wake up”
            He is my son.

          2. Pam,

            I understand, it is hard to practice No Contact with a son. 🙂
            I was wondering, if you had gone No Contact with a friend, then why would you worry about that friend.

            What I meant with “one off trick” is just one alienation project. It did last several years, but it was still a single project with one aim, i.e. removing mother from picture to get better control. I did not mean “one off trick” as just one incident.
            If your daughter in law is covert aggressor, then she won’t stop with just your alienation. She will continue her games as and when she wants something that she believes she cannot obtain easily with direct honest request. And, if she continues, then maybe hopefully your son will realize something is off, otherwise it is not likely that he will just simply “wake up”.

            Unless you take action, nothing may really change.

            If you believe that your son is being manipulated, then maybe you should get in touch with him and maintain relationship. No one has perfect set of relatives and relations. So, you just may have to bear this one relationship (son) with all its warts (DIL).

  14. The post above should also include ulterior motives. The anterior motive is always in place to protect the false self. The ulterior motive adapts to different situations that arise and works to protect that which the CDN covets and needs to veil.

    I have to say the inner workings of the CDNS are simplistic, at the same time complex. It is best for all to stay in the simplistic realm. To look outside or inside of the CDNSP instead of the simplicity can draw one into the a world of crazy making drama itself ,which can consume one if not careful.

    Simplicity equals cut as many ties as possible with the CDN, Let go and Let God, don’t try to figure it all out about the CDN, live your life and be free, be yourself, love and be kind to all and most of all Restore that which was taken from you and that which you gave. All, if willing, can and will live a fuller life.

    1. “Simplicity equals cut as many ties as possible with the CDN, Let go and Let God, don’t try to figure it all out about the CDN, live your life and be free, be yourself, love and be kind to all and most of all Restore that which was taken from you and that which you gave. All, if willing, can and will live a fuller life.”

      Now that is some brilliant advice.

      1. Lucy, JC, E, Andy, Joey, Jean, Lisa and others

        I forget, somewhere in all this many empaths lost themselves, many times to busy fulfilling the needs of others we didn’t nurture and grow into who we truly, are. It actually is exciting finding out who we are inside minus the drain of the CDN. Lucy, look how you have grown, regardless of all that was piled on you.

        You are an amazing woman, Lucy, look where JC came from and where she is at, “HI Jean and E” look where you are at. Somewhere, is my and “Yes” I said my Joey, My dear Joey, you will always be in my heart for all the kind and gracious complements you have given me and I pray you are well. Joey, you are so deserving of happiness, know you are dearly missed from Dr. Simons cyber family, you touched my heart and I will never forget you, I will never forget many on this blog who have come and gone. ( Joey, in my mind I picture you as a English Gentleman, cane and all).

        I realize in so many ways how lost I was and to a degree still am. Finding myself is rewarding and still, realizing I have room for others. Embracing others and empowering others is a life force that lives in me as a light. Goodness and mercy will always guide one through the most difficult journeys of ones life. I can say this, and hopefully, other Empaths will understand, selfish CD’s will only shake their heads, again, only concerning themselves with only themselves.

        Lucy, I have to credit you, the word RESTORE, came from one of your posts, for me a life moving post. For me, it is now about Restoration of Self, a self that was selfless in many ways, always serving others and didn’t realize my real potential was just waiting in the wings to be free. I accept who I am and am glad, I am at peace, I can only imagine the agonizing shattering of self the CDN experience.

        Truly, after all this, discreet discernment is a must, so is kindness to the deserving. For the CD, it is a vital judgement call.

    1. Lucy,
      Things are moving on divorce, but no formal end in sight. It is bit of ongoing hassle, and at same time the end won’t probably be more than mildly relieving day… probably acceptance of end has settled in, and uncertainties of journey doesn’t bother me much.
      I do get to see my daughter once in a while, but it has been bit difficult with different cities. Still it is good to have something, rather than nothing at all.

      I guess, the important thing is that I no longer feel conflicted about past, whether I was more wrong in marriage, whether I did right things over past few years.

      1. AndyD
        I’m glad you’ve reconciled those issues with yourself. Yes we do question ourselves, what happened, why, what could have been should have been different. And to finally come to peace with it, whatever happened, sure is a relief.
        With children it is an ongoing hassle because you’ll always have that connection with the X. I’m sure you’re cherishing the times you are able to be with her.
        Are you finding peace now that you live under your own roof, without the spouse? I sure am. What a difference. The air is lighter. No more tension in the home. It’s nice.

        1. Lucy,

          >> Are you finding peace now that you live under your own roof, without the spouse? I sure am. What a difference. The air is lighter. No more tension in the home. It’s nice.

          Precisely! 🙂
          I have been separated for now more than 3 years. I still remember the light feeling that I got while leaving the city 3 years back. I guess, even if rational brain cannot articulate the exact reason, the body and mind knows what is good for self preservation. The gut feeling thing works!

          1. AndyD, Lucy,

            I am sorry you haven’t had some closure in the court system yet. I still have a few unresolved issues I have to deal with too. I don’t like it that it all still hangs over my head. However, I have the resolve and stamina to finish it. In this regard time has been on my side.

            I am glad you have found the peace, so have I. I had to take back the marital home we had together, which I did not want. I have made peace with that, I have told myself it is just a home to reside in and its a nice home that needs work. It is nice like you say to sit back and one doesn’t feel the tension. All is calm and I make the environment I want and it is good.

            It has been 7 years for me, looking back it is like I had a disturbing dream, although, we had many good times though. I feel as though the person I loved died and whatever is left of him is some pitiful deranged person, it truly is sad when someone loses their way, it is such a waste of life and talents that could have benefited society and themselves. It didn’t have to be…

            it was all a choice and he DID know what he was and is doing. When one lets the dark side (our sinful nature) take control and run our lives we see the example of what destruction it can do to person. I do pray for his soul and that he would wake up.

            Otherwise life is good, still has lots of challenges.. I have been dating some nice fellas, two who are in the of field of what we discuss and always learn a lot from them. Besides the challenges of home care by myself and the TN, I am fine. Its peaceful and I like it that way. Drama, crazy making, selfishness are something I don’t want in my life and try to avoid.

  15. I am glad you guys feel at peace minus the CD’s effects. I was just reminded today of the vilifying the victim mentality. Old memories that come up now and then. And as BTOV states, mixed in with the good memories. I would almost rather have all bad memories, it would be easier.

    1. Kat,

      I know it is difficult at times looking back. I see it so clearly, how good it could have been. I see such a waste of life and it is sad. One can get stuck living in the past of what could had been and never forward.

      Kat it is like loving Dr. Jekyl’s memories who is long gone, in their place remains a Mr. Hyde whom we reject. A split mind can’t live in harmony always divided, ultimately one side will consume the other. I have made peace with the two, with time it gets easier to deal with. Being who we are with our Empath personalities, we grieve, it is a good trait to have in its proper perspective.

      1. My DD is going to visit the town we were last in where we all lived. It reminds me of all the horrors he put us thru while we were there. He was an addict and a pycho. Double whammy. I couldn’t get away-no car, no money. He stole my car, and all the money I had saved up to get out of there – it was in a bank and their computers were down so being the small town it was, they were trusting – his name wasn’t even on the account. He even stole the DD’s girl scout cookie money. These are the things addicts do. I had a job I could walk to and he used to show up demanding money from me until I told my boss about it and they escorted him out. What a nightmare. Living with the enemy. This is a small sample of my memories. The kids had different memories, they weren’t aware of things that happend – I kept it from them. My DD loved that town and hated to move out. Shes staying in the same hotel I worked in – good people who really helped me out when they didn’t have to.

        1. Kat,

          What do you mean by DDaughter. Many times children cover up and don’t want to see the true reality of what a loved ones, its called denial.
          I came from a home like that except it was alcoholism, in this case and my dad did the same thing. I wanted so much to be like others I would deny the reality, but knew the truth. Somewhat like what a CDN does in regards to themselves.

          I always sided with my mother who is a very shy introverted person. My Mom was the giving one, there were 8 of us so it was difficult for her to be there for most of children and then have to deal with my drunken father and his stinking thinking, and a narc to boot. In fact my father fits perfect into the topic Dr. Simon posted. It was all my mothers fault for having so many children, yup, it was immaculate conception, he was the innocent bystander.

          Kat, I understand how you feel. My siblings still go past the house of horrors, for what reason? I believe the reason is they are still living in that house. All my siblings still act the same way they did when they were young, their reasoning is the same. They are all very immature and all of them are alcoholics except 3 of us. My mother now 85 says, “good grief, cant they talk about something different.” My mother doesn’t want to go there either. I try to think of the good things, they harp on the bad.

          1. If my DD admitted the truth about her Dad I think she would have to admit the truth about herself because she has many of his attributes. At least that’s how it seems to me. Sometimes she likes to rub stuff in my face – he did that to her-turned her against me from the start. Rewarded her for like behavior. All this under my nose and I didn’t see it, it was covert. I feel for your siblings-I understand the haunting thoughts. Its too bad. Its a real blessing you saw your way out of it. Good for your mother, she deserves the best.

  16. Lying seems to be a big part of the behavior package of CD individuals. I wonder if anyone knows of such a person in their life who has admitted to lying as a problem for them and decided to get professional help to stop their lying. Anyone? As long as the lying serves them and they get away with it what is the incentive for them to stop. They are not ashamed of the lying as far as I can tell. Pointing out the lie, proving the lie, doesn’t shame them or stop them.
    One of the liars in my life who I can’t just get rid of because she is the daughter of my husband, is a terrible liar. She tells lies that anyone with a brain can see through. She is a guidance counselor at a school. Go figure. She recently wrote her dad and told her how much she loved him but was too busy with work she had to do for school to do anything more than write a short note. This was the morning right after her school had spring break. Confirmed later that not only was she on vacation that week but that she spent it at the beach with friends. While her dad tends to trust and believe her, by now she should know I don’t and that I know how to search the internet for things like a school district’s vacation schedule.
    I am given to wonder why she even sent that email. If she hadn’t I would have known that she had a vacation and didn’t contact her dad during that time, but I would have ignored it. Instead I let her know I knew about the vacation. Whatever her reason for the lie (maybe she was feeling guilty about the vacation) doesn’t matter. She lies all the time and lies badly and I think it gives her problems with people other than me, but although she has done counseling I doubt that she has ever once asked for help with her apparently compulsive lying problem. I think she has done counseling only to get a therapist to agree with her about her complaints about others, never once to deal with her behavior problems. Therapists can be conned just as some of us are initially if the CD person turns on the charm.

    1. KC,

      One problem I struggle with still, is trusting therapists-one, I have had more than one violate my confidentiality. One by going directly to my abuser (I was a teenager). When they say stuff about HIPAA, and no, didn’t happen, that violates confidentiality laws?

      Problem lies when people toss that aside.

      And do so with someone who’s been a victim of gaslighting.

      Was lying a problem for me at one point, yes, it was. I also do a 12 step program, as well, as I finally asked for help voluntarily-knowing where I learned it from, and though I make no excuses, I also can accept the consequences that may come my way as a result. What do you have when you sober up a horse thief? You still have a horse thief. Asking for that help wasn’t easy-not because of any other consequences I may take on as a result, but because of the aforementioned issues.

      The difference between us, is that I am able to accept consequences, attractive or not.

      1. Acknowledging that you were lying was an important first step. A 12 step program may be better for you than a therapist. I have had a bunch of bad ones and only a few helpful ones. And many have their own problems that they may be covering up by being a therapist. Not all 12 step groups are good, but the concept is good and you can often get better advice from an ex alcoholic than a therapist (Dr. Simon excluded).
        Accepting consequences is so important. Good for you!
        The people in my life that lie I doubt would ever even admit they lie (except when caught in one) and think it makes for a better life. And yet I have seen them suffer consequences for it and seemingly don’t make the connection. Sad.

  17. “Be still and know I am God” Psalm 46:10. I am a newbie to this blog… with a life long history of believing the lie, about myself and those around me. I am not a victim. I am a victor, overcoming the deep emotional wounds that come with this time on earth. For way too many years I suffered and played my own role in the ‘greatest lie’ told… you are not worthy! The ‘greatest lie’ told is ancient in origin. Evil opposes life at every turn. Constant, badgering it sifts our very souls for an opening to plant its foul root. In our unsuspecting hearts, we receive the microscopic seed that no eye can see. Our fleshly hearts are fertile ground for deception and our souls have no choice but to bear the wound. Layer upon layer, event after event we patch the wound with accepting deeper and more lethal wounds until the festering foul smell reaches our own nostrils. NO MORE is our cry! Light seeps in and the pain is overwhelming. Some will retreat and some will break out of this dark, evil place. The choice is ours. It is a journey back to life, liberty, peace and justice. It begins with loving one’s self as our holy righteous Father loves us. “We love because he first loved us”… 1 John 4:19. I have fought this glorious battle for over 60 years and remain on my knees in my prayer closet before the King of Righteousness, Jesus Christ! Much love to all those who are in the fight for their soul.

  18. “The aim of this game is simple: create confusion about who the real victim is.”

    Not only between you and them but also among other people–it’s really a disguised form of smear campaign.
    They try to make others feel sorry for them and have them hold negative opinions about you. If they directly talk negatively about you, they would look bad for doing it, so they instead use this tactic.

    “They’re actively resisting taking to heart important values and standards of conduct. And they’re doing so knowingly and stubbornly. Secondarily, they may want to maintain a positive social image. We call that the game of “impression management.””


  19. You’re speaking in absolutes. It doesn’t hold up.

    Let me tell you a story.

    For the last almost-4-years my wife and I have been fighting anywhere between once a week and once a month. We’ve never gone longer than that and the severity of the fights has been escalating from mild in the beginning to earth-shattering more recently. The entire time the occurances have followed this format: She says something or asks a question about something that i have overlooked and failed to address in a particular tone and I feel as though she’s berating me.

    It’s important to note at this point that I really am my own worst critic. When I screw something up my self talk is NOT nice.

    At this point we launch into a full scale argument because I feel like she’s attacking me.

    Very few times in the last several years have we managed to avoid an argument in such a situation and I have always felt as though she were starting fights with me.

    Recently, however, we had an argument because I found something that I felt like she was hiding from me. Looking back at it, it’s clear that she wasn’t hiding anything because the thing in question was sitting in plain sight in a location that I had access to at all times.

    A couple of weeks later she received a package that she wouldn’t open in front of me (she has ALWAYS opened her packages right away because she gets super excited about the things she buys and wants to show me).

    I won’t get into specifics but she wouldn’t talk to me about it either. She kept deflecting questions and at one point she told me something I thought was a lie. So I went through the garbage, read the shipping label, and looked up the seller on google to find out what the package was.

    Looking back, the conversation that followed could NEVER have turned into anything but a fight. And I KNEW it would start a fight at the time because I started the conversation with “I don’t want to start a fight, but…”

    But that’s not what was on my mind at the time. I thought if I confronted her about it calmly we could talk it out and be better for it. But looking back at it, I violated her trust and her privacy, which she values intensely, and I called her a liar, which she hates, and I started a fight about it. And though I didn’t think I was doing so at the time, when viewed rationally and calmly, the specifics of the situation leave no question that I did so intentionally.

    At this point I realized that I -AM- to blame for all of the fights we’ve had. I AM to blame for the damage that’s been done to our marriage. I have been unconsciously starting fights and sabotaging our marriage for literally years and we are right on the edge. I am literally sobbing as I write this because my wife has not told me she loves me in more than a year. She has not let me hug her in months. There is a body pillow acting as a wall between us in our bed. And it’s all my fault. I have to own that I have destroyed my marriage and you’re sitting here writing with absolute conviction that this is NOT an unconscious behavior and that ALL people that fall into this category are malicious manipulators. Bite me.

    You have a degree in clinical psychology and portray yourself as a “character development coach.” You should be looking for ways to HELP people like myself who truly want to fix the damage that they HAVE done without realizing it instead of overgeneralizing (hey that’s a cognitive distortion. interesting) and speaking in absolutes, mr character development coach.

    I have to learn how to recognize my thought patterns in the middle of a stressful situation, reframe my narrative and find positives during what to me already feels like an argument, and modify my reflexive emotional responses so that I don’t further alienate my wife and i have to do it IMMEDIATELY or my marriage is DONE FOR.

    I’m DESPERATELY seeking a way to rewire my brain, repair the damage I’ve done to my marriage, and heal the pain that I’ve caused my wife and you’re sitting on your high horse telling the world that I couldn’t possibly have done it without knowing what I was doing.

    Time to reexamine some assumptions, sir. You’re dehumanizing an entire segment of the population as monsters when at least SOME of them have legitimate mental health hurdles to overcome. Perhaps you’re in the wrong line of work.

    1. I so agree with you, Paul, about speaking in abolutes. So, please re-visit your comments with that very advice in mind. Also, consider that perhaps you actually know little about how I coach individuals to better character health. And as to the gray area between somone knowing what they’re doing and being somewhat unaware, you might want to avail yourself of the almost 50 articles that deal with that, as well as the explanations in all 4 books about the character disturbance spectrum. Many times, in the intensity of our own pain we lash out. But often, if we sit with our pain and examine it with open heart, we can transform both it and ourselves in a most magnificent way.

      1. You are absolutely right, and I apologize. I feel lost right now and I was absolutely lashing out because of how your article made me feel. Emotional Reasoning is one of the cognitive distortions that I have determined I exhibit. Also disqualifying positives, jumping to conclusions, all or nothing thinking, and mental filtering each to varying degrees.

        I suffer from a victim mentality which I’ve only been aware of for 2 months on Tuesday (yes, I’m tracking the time that has passed since the argument that made me aware of my issue). A large part of the stress I’m under is because I’m trying to do all of this by myself. I can’t afford help and I have broken my relationship with my wife to such a degree that the most loving and supportive person I have ever met, bar none, is no longer invested at all in whether or not I can turn this around and has absolutely no interest in participating. I’m alone. I’m keeping a positive frame of mind but it’s hard. Hard like I’ve never known before.

        I’ve been using online resources to find and define my issues and guide myself toward improvement but it’s slow and it’s difficult to find detailed resources that I don’t need to spend money for.

        A large part of my attitude today, and again I’m sorry, is due to the fact that my wedding anniversary IS today. And she doesn’t want to celebrate it. It’s understandable after everything I’ve put her through but it’s impossibly painful. I have managed to stop crying every time she enters the room, however, so I BELIEVE I’ve managed to shield her from my emotions for the most part. She finds them extremely draining after everything that has passed between us and I don’t blame her.

        I just wish I could find a way to show her how much I love her. I may not have been capable of loving her the way that she DESERVES to be loved. I may have been terrible at showing her my love. That doesn’t make it false. I could try to express to you how much I love my wife but it would be fruitless because there just aren’t words.

        I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t read. I can’t play video games. ALL I can focus on is fixing what I’ve broken. I’m at war with myself and there’s nobody that believes in me and no rest in sight. Every night I fall apart and every morning I put myself back together.

        I don’t say this to garner sympathy. I have not been a person that deserves sympathy. I have not been a person that deserves kindness or compassion. I say this so that you will understand where I’m at right now and why your article triggered that emotional response in me. I am sorry, again, for allowing that emotional response to dictate my reaction. I have only just learned within the last 12 hours what my distortions are and started working on possible counters to them.

        Wish me luck. I need it more than you could ever understand.

  20. May I suggest, Paul, Guide for Men Who Are Serious About Change by Bancroft, available online.

    We need more men like you, Paul. And women like your spouse, since she’s still there.

    Final thanks are for you, Dr Simon, obviously.


    1. Thank you. I’ve bookmarked the first article to read tonight. I appreciate the input more than I can tell you.

      I’ve spent about 30 hours out of the last week taking notes on the articles that I’ve read concerning cognitive distortions, victim mentality, cognitive restructuring, love languages, etc.

      I think I actually understand my wife a little better after that last. And while I’m still in the dark about the mechanics of why my thoughts and emotions take the paths they do, I at least understand what’s going on and have begun outlining and implementing solutions. (today, in fact)

      Thank you again

    2. I just wanted to come back and say thank you again. I read that article. Both parts. Then I used capture software to make an image of the whole thing and made notes in the margins. Then i wrote a plan and revised it 3 times. Then I enlisted my mother, uncle, and therapist in an accountability/support group. I told my wife everything I’d read and explained the plan and my understanding of how each part functions within the framework to keep the legitimate reformee focused, active, and engaged while ensuring that active participants have access to relevant information and all parties can remain appropriately informed of both progress and problems. I am happy to report that not only is my wife actively participating and providing sporadic feedback, but that last night during my therapy session for the week I happened to read a particular affirmation on my phone while discussing one of my triggers and had a spark of intuition that exposed the cause of every one of my destructive behaviors.

      The affirmation was “I am willing to be vulnerable.”

      I don’t yet know exactly how to use the knowledge I gained in that moment but at least I have a greater understanding than I did and a written framework to keep me active and accountable and working to curb the emotional backlash until I can get the cognitive distortions causing the problem under control.

      Thank you both. So much. I’ve done so much digging and it was coming here, miserable and angry and lonely on my anniversary, after being thrown out of my bedroom because of an argument a few days before, to get put in my place for my bad attitude that finally led to the path I was seeking.

      It has been since November 19th 2019 without my wife telling me that she loves me. I have forgotten the sound. I have forgotten what it felt like to have her fingers laced in mine. The butterflies when she used to look at me and smile. The weight of her head on my shoulder or lap. One by one, all of the memories I cherish have been fading away. You cannot know how hopeless and close to the edge I have felt.

      I woke up this morning with hope. I woke up certain that someday I will get to remake those memories. I woke up willing to be vulnerable.

      Thank you both.

  21. Wait till the legal abuse starts, they don’t want you but want to keep some teather to you so you can’t move on. The revenge restraining orders after they ghost and emotionally manipulate you it’s disgusting how people like this exist and live with themselves.

  22. MacLeigh,
    I was drug into the legal hell hole for nearly three years, by my disbarred attorney X. Between the abuses from the X, the stress of enormous legal fees along with driven in debt by the callous X, watching your future economic plans and securities be driven purposefully into a place where I’ll have to work much longer than anticipated, the dealings with my attorney who did not do a good job with my case and her demanding of payments when I was barely getting by, all tolled these stressors together can put one in a very dark place. I had so much distress I had thoughts of the unthinkable. I was tormented daily and could not sleep. Hated the thought of even going to bed at night knowing my mind would just not stop. Legal abuse is an extremely distressing situation to be in, and it’s like you’re on a merry go round that just won’t stop.

    1. Lucy,

      So glad you’ve worked your way out of that situation and are on to much better things. It’s amazing what we are capable of when push comes to shove. But it’s really painful and such a betrayal to be put in that poistion.

      Finally gathered the strength to go back through the documentation and file a bar complaint against the attorney who stole our inheritance from our irrevocable trust. What a nightmare. Used all the psychopathic tricks, including trying to convince us that it was Medicaid that was coming after the trust and He was saving us! When that didn’t work, he had the trustee, who had late stage Alzheimers sign the paperwork! She also, in signing the document, breached about 15 terms of the trust. It wasn’t even her money.

      I battled him while I was dealing with my cancer diagnosis/ treatment. Super traumitizing. Like you, my attorney didn’t do a good job. I did most of the work. But, the lessons I’ve learned from being here helped immensly. I knew image management was very important to him, so that’s what I targeted. I was relentless. I let everyone know what he’d done, including the police, Medicaid, other attorneys, Yelp, you name it. I focused my fury into that energy and got it out that way. He sorely underestimated me. When he realized I wasn’t going to stop, and learned I started interviewing attorney’s who dealt with attorney misconduct, (one of them knew him) he had his client, my stepbrother, the trustees son, write us a check.

      There was so much paperwork and it stirred all those feelings back up that I didn’t want to feel it again. But I knew I had to to properly document what he’d done for the Bar. Thankfully I had fully documented everything…and I mean everything along the way. It was a matter of organizing it and condensing it to 25 pages. No small task!

      Feel better having faced it and finished it. Sent it off on November 9th. It’s out of my hands now.

      It’s a terrible way to learn just how strong you really are and who has your back!

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