For those who don’t know this term, “flying monkeys” are people that a narcissist uses to do their bidding. Sometimes, a narcissist will not attack you publicly in any way–which makes them look good–but they are privately telling carefully chosen people how evil and awful you are. They select these people the same way they chose you. They are experts at reading people and realizing who will make an easy target and a puppet. They also know who won’t, so they avoid the people they can’t easily use. Narcissists usually choose other, lesser, narcissists who will enjoy attacking you, or they choose very empathetic people who believe their stories and honestly believe they are supporting an innocent person. These flying monkeys then proceed to stalk you and report back to the narcissist–again, either to be mean or because they think they are helping the wronged party. Or, the worst flying monkeys will spread the lies the narcissist tells them privately by taking them public. The lies don’t come from the narcissist’s mouth, so they can claim they are “taking the high road,” but the words the flying monkeys spread are *exactly* what they heard from the narc. They do the narcissist’s evil, but make it seem like the narcissist isn’t really involved. They have no idea they are being used. The term comes from the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz since the wicked witch sends them to carry out her attacks. Most of the time, the narcissist has convinced the monkeys that the narcissist is the victim and the real victim is the abuser, so the monkeys go after the real victim and treat the real victim like the abuser. Although, I have seen some cases where the monkeys know who is the real abuser and who is the real victim, but just want to jump in on the attack on the victim. (Scary.)
Some of my ex narcopath’s flying monkeys include: an extreme busy-body gossip who sends private messages telling other women how bad I am. In turn, some of those other women are horrified by the lies they hear and either avoid me or abuse me with the stories they think are true. (And wow, I have heard some invented stories about myself!) There is another woman who has very poor boundaries and is nasty to nearly everyone because she is so insecure with herself. She tries to build herself up by beating others down. Another is a woman who had a narcissistic mother and fully believes every word the narcopath tells her. She attacks me to defend his “innocence.” There are others, but anyone who is paying attention can easily tell why these women were chosen. The gossip has spread his story with great determination. She is infamous for not minding her own business–a perfect tool for spreading lies! The nasty woman makes an easy target because she has no self-esteem. When I was with the narc, he tried to convince me that I was a horrible person and no one else liked me. He told me I needed him because he could help me be more popular. He’s probably playing her the same way. The third woman, I don’t know about. She’s gone so far as to spread hateful lies about me. She might truly be an empathetic person. But, since she’s a survivor of narcissistic abuse, she’s sensitive to others who claim to be the same. It’s not unusual for predators to tell their invented sob stories to other survivors to get support.
Two things these women have in common:
They believe in their cause and are extremely devoted to tearing down the target.
They are often willing to viciously abuse and stalk someone they have NEVER met because a man they don’t really know told them stories.
Some flying monkeys are more passive. They believe what they are told and secretly think the target is a horrible person. They might avoid or shun the target, but they don’t aggressively bully.
I have been used as a flying monkey twice that I know of. Once I dated a man who was not allowed to see his daughter because his ex-wife claimed he had raped his daughter. Of course, he told me this was a complete lie. Of course I beleived it. I dated him for years and while I did not stalk and abuse his ex-wife, I certainly thought she was a horrible person. But get this: I learned after I broke up with him that the reason he didn’t see his daughter was because he CONFESSED and agreed to give up his rights to avoid jail. Wow. I had hated his ex-wife on his behalf and I was wrong.
The second time I was used as a flying monkey was by my ex- narcopath. When I first started dating him, multiple women warned me to avoid him. He convinced me they were just mean women who were out to get him. I believed it! I didn’t go attacking these women, but I did start avoiding them socially because I thought they were bad news. I was mislead and I was wrong.
So, how do you know if you are being used by a narcissist to be a flying monkey?
I have a few clues I’ve observed while going through my ex narcopath’s flying monkey attacks!
1. You find yourself very angry on behalf of someone else who has told you a very emotional and convincing story…even though you really don’t have proof the story is true.
2. You find yourself overly invested in this person’s problems, and their enemies become your enemies…again, without real proof. (In my opinion, if you have obvious proof, it’s only natural to be angry about an abuser. But then again, if there is proof, then you aren’t being mislead to be a flying monkey. You are just being a normal, empathetic person.)
3. You find yourself using the same words and terms the alleged victim said to you. You are repeating what you are told but not really analyzing if it makes sense.
4. You are so caught up in the story and how awful it is, that you don’t question it.
So how do you avoid being used as a flying monkey?
It’s normal for a nice, thoughtful person to be upset at an accused abuser. That’s exactly what a narcissist is counting on! They want to take advantage of your feelings and your empathy so they can use you as a tool to destroy the real victim. I have a feeling many of us have been used in this way; however, I hope that most of us would not take it to the point where we are outright stalking and attacking people. That’s getting into crazy land! So all we can do is our best, but consider the following:
1. Unless you are absolutely sure that the person telling you stories is telling the truth, (such as, they have police reports or other proof,) don’t take a side.
2. Think critically. Do the stories you are hearing match up? Do they match the alleged victim’s behavior? For example, if the person tells you they have been abused and are having a hard time, but they are out having a good time every Friday night, something isn’t adding up!
3. Consider if the “victim” has a story that sounds realistic and doesn’t change. Or, are they just telling you the other person is “bad” and “crazy” without having any real reason why? (This step isn’t fool-proof because narcissists often tell very convincing stories, but it is one to think about because often the narcissist doesn’t really have a story.)
4. And quite frankly, mind your own business if you don’t have cold, hard proof.
Too many victims have been further abused by flying monkeys–some of whom are nasty narcissists themselves, but some of whom are just normal people who were fooled. Do you really want to be the person who picks the wrong story and further traumatizes a victim? I know I don’t!