How Do You Get Other People to See the Truth?

05 Dec 2018

Anyone who ever leaves an emotionally abusive relationship, faces a shedload of problems. Not least among these is how you get other people to see the truth. That usually turns out to be far harder than it should be. In this article, we shall look at why that is and what you can do to make it easier for yourself.

What makes leaving so hard

Nobody leaves a Narcissistic abuser without first doing a great deal of agonizing and soul-searching.  You stay and tolerate vast, ever increasing amounts of abuse before you finally throw in the towel.  Rather than leaving once you see the early signs of malignancy, you stick around until the relationship is totally beyond resuscitation.  

You have a number of perfectly justifiable reasons for that, of course.  These normally include love, children, finances – and the dream that Mr Nasty will suddenly embrace his potential so he two of you can mosey on down the Happily Ever After road together.

Abuse sufferers always want to leave the door to that Happily Ever After open, for the longest time.  So, what do we do?  We hide the reality – as best we can from the people around us. (The lies I used to tell to ‘cover’ for  the wasband’s no-shows at social events!)

What makes stating the truth so hard?

When you finally come to leave, all of that denial and pretence makes it much harder to explain to Other People.  Other People have after all, bought into the fantasy of your happy relationship, to some degree.  When you tell them that they have had the wool pulled over their eyes – by you – they may not like it for various reasons including:

  • It is an inconvenience in terms of the way they live their social lives.  (For some people, you become instantly invisible if you are not one half of a couple.)
  • Your decision does not fit comfortably with their faith, community or values.
  • They feel personally destabilized.  (In reality, they may be living the same lie that you were.)
  • Your decision would suggest that they got it wrong and that cannot be. 
  • They are side-takers.  They automatically jump onto the side of the strong.  By definition, that is not you if you are coming to them with a tale of victimhood and woe.

The net result is that you soon the sobering truth that people that you trusted and gave a lot to would rather run away from the plate than step up to it.  

Equally, you learn that other people will walk beside you with a rare generosity of spirit.  These people may not always be the people that you had imagined being there for you. But they are a true gift.

Flying Monkeys

In the world where Narcissism is constantly discussed, there is a great deal of talk about Flying Monkeys.  The term comes, originally from “The Wizard of Oz” and describes those who, whether consciously or unconsciously, do the work of a toxic partner for that partner. 

Flying Monkeys may do their part to paint you, the victim, as the guilty party in the situation. Or else they may aid and abet the Narcissist more or less deliberately.

My lovely friend who is in the process of divorcing her toxic, Narcissistic husband has had to deal with an archetypal Flying Monkey.  Marcello (for that is his name) was – allegedly –  a good friend to both parties.  

Marcello was always a tad in love with my friend but in a kind of cute way – if that is what you like.  (I didn’t.  I thought he was underpowered intellectually and dull, dull, DULL. Plus, if he were the last man in the Last Chance Saloon and he showed an interest in me, I would blithely head off to a nunnery, without a backward glance.)

After the break-up, Marcello supported my friend, took her to a concert to cheer her up, possibly paid for a pizza and then hit on her.  When she  said ”No”, with all her customary sweetness, the gloves came off.  He started strategising with the Narcissistic husband about how best to bring my friend down.  That is a true Flying Monkey.

Those who love to kick

Then there are the people who, as far as I am concerned, just have a nasty side to them, the people who love to kick a person when they are down. 

These people have an abusive streak in them. They don’t necessarily do it because they are on the side of your toxic partner.  They do it because they enjoy making some kind of weird emotional capital out of stabbing you in the front, when you are already wounded.  The may be friends, family or acquaintances.  Whoever they are, they are giving you the message that you can rely on them totally…to take potshots at you  a la Shakira (i.e. Whenever, Wherever).

Then are the people who may well believe that their intentions are honorable.  However they are at best insensitive, at worst arrogant and obtuse.  They assume that they know better what is right for you than you do.  

One such woman went to great pains to tell me that she could see how much my Mr Nasty still loved me and I really should give the relationship another chance.  (It turned out that her husband really loved her, too. But he was a womanising creep who had been physically violent, at times.)

Things they say

All of these differently tiresome people will put you on the spot one way or another. Things that they may come up with include,

  • “But why?  I always thought you were so happy together!”
  •  “Surely not!  He’s such a lovely man!”
  • “I don’t get it.  If it was so bad why did you stay for so long?  Why did you never say anything?”
  • “There is conflict in every relationship.  Couldn’t you just work through it together?”
  • “It takes two to tangle.  What do you think you did to help create the situation?”
  • “Aren’t you worried about the effect on the children?  Have you thought about how they’ll feel?”
  • Couldn’t you just stay for the sake of the children?”
  • “But marriage is meant to be forever.”

 All of these remarks are unfair and unkind because they are not in any way sensitive to your reality and your feelings. All seem to require some kind of answer from you.  

Actually no answer that you give will ever be good enough because these people are not interested in your side of the story.  By sharing your story with them you have – in their eyes – invited them to pass comment on your life.  Worse still, they expect you to endorse their “wisdom”.

So, how do  you deal with these pesky people?

 Dealing with other people 

If you already this far down the road and they are sharing their – unsolicited -brickbats, I would suggest one of two stock responses.

  1. “Really!!!! Gosh, thank you so much for telling me that.  Do you know, I would never have thought of that for myself.”
  2. “I didn’t expect you would be able to really grasp what I was telling you.”

Both responses are best followed by, “Must dash.” plus a reason, no matter how laughable, why you must dash.

Both responses will land like a lead balloon.  Yes, that other person will take offence.  But that is more than okay.  They have not just given offence, they have totally disregarded you.  

If you have gone to all the trouble of freeing yourself from a toxic partner, the last thing that you need are toxic substitutes stepping into the breach.

Pre-emption is better than rancour

Ideally, you do not even want to have those conversations.  Your healing is all about learning who to trust and who not to trust.  The way that you do that is impose high standards on the people around you.  You listen and observe so that you have a good idea, ahead of time, how decently these people really behave.  

If you are not 100% sure, then you simply shut down their line of enquiry with a sweet, sad smile and these few words, “I guess we just wanted different things.  You know how it is.” 

If, by chance, they are crass enough to admit that they do not know how it is, you smile that sad, sweet smile again and say, “You really don’t know how lucky you are. I wouldn’t know where to begin.” 

Then, depending on their response, you either talk about some aspect of their lives, or proceed to, “Must dash.”

You can’t do what you can’t do

You can’t make other people see your truth if they do not want to.  Equally, you can’t afford to continue to live in this reactive world where you have to constantly make yourself vulnerable.  You don’t have spare energy to deal with whatever cr*p other people dish out. You have more important challenges to face.

Instead, you need to take the reins of conversational control and hold onto them.  There may well be no convincing other people.  They are emotion-deaf.  How long do you want to go on shouting your truth at then when they will never hear it. 

Forget about their feelings.  The only thing that matters is that you know and totally believe your own truth.  If you don’t, then that is something that you seriously need to work on. 

You cannot afford to live, beset by self-doubt.  Mostly, that is the thing that cripples my clients when we start working together. Your self-doubt is far more important than other people’s opinions.  If you are struggling alone and need help, then drop me an email.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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