Narcissists often target people who have been abused before or people who have a poor support system. They know that people who have a lot of concerned friends and family members are more likely to be protected and supported, as well as helped and advised during an abusive relationship. For example, a lot of people–women in particular–feel like they can’t leave an abusive relationship because they have nowhere to turn and no way to support themselves and their children. They fear being left alone and sometimes think the abusive narcissist is better than nothing. This is exactly what the narcissist or abuser wants! A woman with a strong support system is not going to feel as trapped if she knows she has loving friends and family to turn to.
Even if the target does have caring friends or family, the narcissist will work to isolate the target. Narcissists might talk their victims into moving far from home, or giving up their jobs. I have had had this happen with both narcissists I married. The first wanted me to move 2500 miles from my home, and didn’t want me to have a job. He said I shouldn’t have to work and he wanted to be the breadwinner. Well, I’d been supporting myself since I was 14 and had missed out on a lot of the fun things people get to do, so that actually sounded pretty nice! It turns out, it was not nice. It meant that he held the finances over my head and belittled me for not contributing. It also meant that if I wanted to leave, I had no way out. I couldn’t just pack up and walk out the door when I didn’t have money or know anyone within a couple thousand miles! The second narcissist I married wanted me to move to another state where neither of us knew anyone, because he said my family was a bad influence. He also wanted me to give up all of my male friends and many of my female friends. Any friend who tried to tell me how dangerous he was, was deemed trouble and I was ordered to cut them out of my life. I was forced to delete most of my Facebook friends and change my phone number, so a couple of the men who were trying to convince me I was with an abuser wouldn’t be able to contact me. The narcissist told me those friends were dangerous to our marriage and just trying to break us up.
Sometimes, he really did convince me that a friend was bad news and that it was my friend who was dangerous and not the narcissist. For example, one of my friends used to interact with me a lot on Facebook and join a lot of conversations with me. My narcissist ex convinced me that the friend was stalking me and was a threat. The narcissist was able to use real “proof” to make me believe he was right. (I wrote a few days ago about how the narcissist can frame innocent behaviors and make them look malicious.) Even when I knew I was with an abusive person, I still fell for some of his manipulation!
The narcissist wants to turn you against, or at least separate you from anyone who can help you or see that something is wrong. It is easier for a narcissist to brainwash you, abuse you and control you when there is no one looking out for you and you have nowhere to turn. They like to poison relationships in general so they can have all of your attention and use all of their power over you.