The Role of the Enablers
There’d be no such thing as narcissistic abuse if it weren’t for the enablers. These are the folks who sit on the sidelines and watch someone else being whipped. They could step in, and demand that it stop. They have the power to do so. All it takes is for one or two courageous souls to say “no, this is not okay.” But, for various reasons, enablers elect to remain “neutral.”
The narcissist depends upon these weak-willed comrades. Abusing someone isn’t any fun if it’s only a party of two. With a crowd, there’s unlimited potential for drama. The narcissist can pull a lot more strings that way.
If it were just the abuser, and her target, it wouldn’t be worth it to carry out a full-fledged hate campaign.
So, the narcissist works to get others to turn on the target. The collective betrayal, which comes from the camp of these enablers, is even more devastating than the primary source of abuse.
Targets, especially if this happens at work, or in a social setting, watch as, one by one, the people they thought were their friends, slink away as the battle intensifies.
Not taking a stand to stop someone from being hurt doesn’t absolve you of guilt. On the contrary, you become an active participant, whether you consider yourself one or not.
Some enablers even take it a step beyond, and switch from idling in neutral to all-out support of the morally disordered person. They may even turn into “flying monkeys” who carry out small attacks, in order to stay on the bully’s good side.
Enablers are Not Innocent
Why People Become Enablers
It’s probably a safe bet that most enablers act out of weakness rather than malice. However, this doesn’t excuse them.
That’s because enablers have a lot of power. The abuser relies upon them not to back up the target. Before any attacks begin, a morally disordered person will carefully plan the battle. This can take months, or even longer, before direct hits are launched.
Only if it’s clear that there’s an excellent chance of decimating a target, does the warfare begin. If there’s a solid support system, the abuser won’t make a move.
This means the enablers are the variable, which can either make or break a plan, and the narcissist knows this. That’s why so much effort is put into creating chaos and confusion. This makes it easier for the enablers to rationalize their position. They may even begin to believe the target is getting the treatment she deserves, and that she did something to warrant the narcissist’s extreme reaction.
Enablers and Self Interest
Enablers are guided by self interest. So, they choose not to help the victim.
In a social setting, such as in a neighborhood full of young mothers, a woman might worry about her own social standing. She doesn’t want to be the next victim. She also wants to ensure her children aren’t ostracized.
Narcissists are serial abusers. Once they eliminate one person, they find someone else to kick around. This is the unspoken threat that keeps enablers in line. The fear of ending up as a target is palpable and overriding.
Onlookers are Afraid of the Bully
Why People Fall for the Lies
Some enablers don’t help because they have swallowed the stories concocted by the narcissist. But this doesn’t entirely let them off the hook.
That’s because we’re not supposed to listen to gossip in the first place. If someone is painted in an unflattering light, we should stop the conversation dead in its tracks and then insert a kind word on that person’s behalf. It appears as if an enabler neglects this important step. Instead, they listen to the lies being spread.
The fact that some people believe these tales says little about your character, but volumes about theirs. First, because they listen to gossip, they encourage this vice. They provide a comfortable ear for the tale-bearer. They also suspend their ability to think critically, and to form their own opinions about someone. This is whyenablers are not so innocent. They’ve made a choice to support the abuse, even if they don’t see it that way.