The Hidden Language Of Narcissists: How They Manipulate And Traumatize Their Victims

narcissist-language-702x336To those who still believe Timothy S. Williams and Malcolm Fraser are men of God, consider this with an open mind…

BY A CONSCIOUS RETHINK ON 29TH APRIL, 2016

Narcissists are masters of language who use words to deceive, coerce, seduce, and mislead. They have the forked tongue of a viper and have no misgivings when it comes to spouting poisonous, vitriolic abuse at their victims.

Verbal trickery is their preferred method of manipulation and they have a talent for saying the right thing at the right time to confuse, belittle and degrade the other person.

They devalue their victims, purposefully seeking to make them feel worthless so that they may subjugate them to their will. The unrelenting mind games of the narcissist are incredibly damaging to those on the receiving end; they can lead to anxiety, depression, and a whole host of other psychological effects.

Victims are left traumatized by the bombardment, with emotional pain that seems to have no end. They become mentally crippled by the onslaught, not understanding what is happening or how to escape from it.

That’s why it is so important to educate yourself regarding the sadistic language of narcissists; only then will you be able to recognize it when you encounter it. Knowledge of their ways will help you to form a shield against their attacks and prepare you for a quick escape should you ever get lured in by one.

If you have already suffered abuse at the hands of a narcissist, a better understanding of how they operate might aid in your recovery process. It might help to persuade you that you were a victim and not merely a participant in the whole episode. Whatever role you think you played, chances are you were only acting out the narcissist’s will.

So, here are just some of the ways in which a narcissist will exploit language to control his (or her) victim.

Low-level Stealth Abuse

This is an umbrella for the almost ceaseless stream of small, almost insignificant comments that form the foundation of a narcissist’s verbal abuse.

This is how they will usually begin to exert control over their victims, starting early on in the relationship when it might seem nothing more than a small flaw in their otherwise charming demeanor.

Often with a friendly smile on their face, they will say things like “you’re a very sensitive thing aren’t you?” or “no, you have misunderstood what I was saying.” These are the beginnings of a much longer process to wear the victim down, but they are rarely seen for what they are because of their seeming insignificance.

This sort of hidden abuse will continue throughout a relationship as an accompaniment to further, more insidious attacks.

The “Special Relationship” Myth

Another thing that narcissists will do, particularly at the beginnings of a relationship, is to convince their victim of the unique and special bond they have. They may use phrases such as “I’ve never felt this kind of love for anyone before” or “what I feel for you is so much more than what most people think love is.”

This is a form of grooming that begins to sow the seeds for the victim’s future tolerance of more hurtful abuse. They are lulled into a sense that what they and their narcissist partner have is unlike anything they have experienced before.

They are misled into thinking that all the best relationships are explosive and passionate and that this is a sign that theirs is something very precious. The victim becomes convinced of this “fact” and, thus, finds it more difficult to break things off with every passing day.

I Didn’t Mean It / I Was Only Joking

Another way that a narcissist will inflict their spitefulness on their victims is to constantly dismiss insults or criticisms by claiming that they didn’t really mean them.

They know full well that their prey will have been wounded by the initial comment, but make their excuses to cover up their malicious intent. They say they were joking, but, in reality, they were craftily going on the offensive to maneuver themselves into a dominant position.

This sort of language further conditions the victim to accept the narcissist’s behavior. It confuses them and makes them unsure as to whether or not they should be offended. Not knowing when to view a comment as an insult and when to take it as a joke simply hands power over to the narcissist to say what he likes.

Targeting Flaws And Insecurities

A narcissist has an uncanny ability to tease a person’s insecurities out of them and to identify all of the things that the other person considers as flaws. They also have a brilliant memory for such things and almost perfect timing when it comes to using them against their victims.

They may even be blunt in their questioning, using the cover of intimacy and vulnerability to pull down any defenses that they may encounter. To the victim, it feels like a way to build and strengthen the bond that has so far been built, but for the narcissist, it is a way to build up their stores of ammunition for use at a later date.

When the time comes, they will launch an offensive, using the information you handed over in trust to reopen old wounds and make you feel the same trauma and pain you have associated with for all of your life.

The narcissist thrives on the power they hold over you and are not afraid to use it in any situation where they feel it would advance their cause.

False Praise And Real Criticism

Coming across as nice, charming, and even complimentary is a skill that most narcissists have. They can lavish praise on other people when it suits them, but not a single word of it is heartfelt and honest.

Instead, they use false praise to manipulate others, to get them onside, and to make the criticisms that follow more palatable. They may say things like “I like your dress, but it really doesn’t flatter your figure” as a means of softening the blow while still having a dig.

It might seem like honesty, but it is anything but. The compliment is nothing short of a lie – something that they themselves don’t believe, but that serves their purpose.

This is another example of implicit abuse; something that might not always seem so bad to the victim and onlookers alike, but that has a cumulative and damaging effect on the self-esteem of those being targeted.

Projection

Undesirable, vile, and malicious thoughts and actions stemming from a narcissist aren’t things that they wish to see in themselves. To overcome this, these are projected onto their victim as a way of shifting the problem to someone else.

They unleash a barrage of words designed to convince the other person of their wrongdoing, to bamboozle them into believing they have done wrong even when they haven’t.

They make accusations such as “you’re paranoid” or “you’re a control freak” to mirror their own problems and transplant them into the beliefs of their victims.

They repeat this again and again, with such conviction that the other person ends up thinking that they actually embody these traits or that they have actually perpetrated some wrongdoing.

The more a narcissist can confuse their victim, the easier it becomes to make them bend to their will. They will set out upon a campaign of trickery and deceit that will slowly persuade their prey that they are losing their mind. By blurring the other person’s perception of reality, the narcissist can effectively write their own script and know that it will be accepted as truth.

They will constantly question their victim’s memory and insist that events were different to what is being recalled. They will withhold information or manipulate the truth to create doubt and confusion in the other person. The aim is to make the victim feel ever more dependent on them and ever less likely to leave.

They might say something along the lines of “thanks for taking the trash out this morning” even though they are fully aware that they did it themselves. When the other person responds by saying they didn’t take it out, the narcissist will insist that they must have done because they certainly didn’t do it, and it didn’t move by itself.

A small thing, perhaps, but when this scene is repeated over and over, it can be incredibly disorientating for the victim.

Singling Out The Victim

To maintain an air of normality, and to lay all of the blame squarely at the feet of the other person, a narcissist will insist that they never have any issues with people outside of the relationship.

They will claim things such as “you’re the only person I have this problem with” or “nobody else ever seems to misunderstand me like you do” in order to make the victim believe that the issue lies with them.

This further weakens the self-belief and self-confidence of the other party and makes them more vulnerable to future manipulation.

Silence, Volume, And Tone

Sometimes the most powerful use of language that a narcissist can employ is to pursue a silent approach. During a confrontation, they might simply choose to glare, frown, shake their head, or turn away.

Alternatively, they might alter the volume of their voice to change the way they get their message across. They might get louder or quieter; either change is a demonstration of the malice bubbling away under the surface,

They may also switch the tone in which they are speaking to convey a different meaning to their words. They may speak slightly higher when on the defensive or put particular emphasis on certain words to push their agenda.

These manipulations of language – and others like them – are designed to exert influence and control over the victim. A narcissist will adopt whichever approach is required to continue their war of attrition, wearing the other person down in a non-stop assault on the mind. Identifying these tactics is only the first step to overcoming them and to freeing yourself from the hold a narcissistic abuser has on you.

Have you suffered at the tongue of a narcissist? Can you relate to the language described above? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with others.

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The Power of Stillness

I continue to receive comments on this blog from those who still believe the false doctrine and lies of Tim Williams.

These messages are so hateful and profanity-filled that I would be remiss to allow them to defile my readers. Instead, I choose to join with Jesus in the power of stillness.

From Streams in the Desert

March 18
He answered nothing. (Mark 15:3 KJV)

There is no scene in all the Bible more majestic than our Savior remaining silent before the men who were reviling Him. With one quick burst of divine power, or one fiery word of rebuke, He could have caused His accusers to be laid prostrate at His feet. Yet He answered not one word, allowing them to say and do their very worst. He stood in THE POWER OF STILLNESS—God’s holy silent Lamb.

There is a place of stillness that allows God the opportunity to work for us and gives us peace. It is a stillness that ceases our scheming, self-vindication, and the search for a temporary means to an end through our own wisdom and judgment. Instead, it lets God provide an answer, through His unfailing and faithful love, to the cruel blow we have suffered.

Oh, how often we thwart God’s intervention on our behalf by taking up our own cause or by striking a blow in our own defense! May God grant each of us this silent power and submissive spirit. Then once our earthly battles and strife are over, others will remember us as we now remember the morning dew, the soft light of sunrise, a peaceful evening breeze, the Lamb of Calvary, and the gentle and holy heavenly Dove. A. B. Simpson

The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew He came but to atone—
That day “He held His peace.”
They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?
Your Savior “held His peace.” L. S. P.

I remember hearing Bishop Whipple of Minnesota, who was well known as “The Apostle of the Indians,” voice these beautiful words: “For the last thirty years, I have looked for the face of Christ in the people with whom I have disagreed.” When this spirit drives us, we will be immediately protected from a feeble tolerance of others, narrow-mindedness, harsh vindictiveness, and everything else that would damage  our testimony for Him who came not to destroy lives but to save them.  W. H. Griffith-Thomas

Freedom in the New Year

Tonight marks the 5th New Year’s Eve I’ve celebrated since God opened my eyes to the deception I believed was truth for 12 years.

It must be difficult for the handful still left in Sound Doctrine to ask themselves the question…could it be true…that what you’ve believed is a lie? That someone you trusted and believed in could actually be guilty of the crime he was convicted of? That it really is a destructive cult? That the leader you follow does not speak for God? That you’ve been led astray?

Being willing to ask those hard questions takes courage, and a humble heart.

I commit this New Year to continue praying for those still blinded by the enemy’s lies.

At the same time I rejoice in my growing ability to ignore those who, as a result of believing those lies, call evil good and good evil.

I choose healthy boundaries, and I say “no” to:

  • The bullying.
  • The name calling.
  • The fury.
  • The intimidation.

Here’s the deal…those tactics don’t work on me anymore.

And that’s healthy.

And I praise God for that.

To all who’ve been led astray and to those who’ve found true freedom in Christ outside of the cult of Sound Doctrine, I pray that He continues to draw you to Himself and heal every wound caused by the enemy of our souls.

Happy New Year!

Discovering More About the Enemy’s Strategies

On the anniversary of my fourth year out of the cult of Sound Doctrine, I am praising God to be able to connect even more dots as to the why’s and how’s of my 12 year detour into deception.

As I taught this last weekend at a ladies’ retreat, I covered areas of vulnerability that can leave anyone open to deception. I used some quotes from a book we developed for ministry back in the late 90s and as I read this one section to the ladies, it took my breath away how precisely the enemy of my soul used these tactics through the leadership of the wolf in sheep’s clothing, Tim Williams.

This is the section of the book, Behind Enemy Lines, where the guerrilla warfare tactics are compared to the way Satan operates, and any comments I add will be italicized:

The following list of ways the enemy fought is by no means compete, but it will serve to show you some of the tactics used by the Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese soldiers to kill, maim, harass, and disrupt our war strategies. You will see how these methods match Satan’s ways in fighting us in the spirit realm.

  • The VC attempted to look as much like the civilian population as possible. (Satan disguises himself and can even look like a friend – an angel of light.)

Tim Williams used his wife, Carla, to draw people into his initiative. She found her way into positions of credibility so that she would be seen as friend, not foe. That was a very effective strategy…it sucked me in, and in the end, gained him a publishing company to further his agenda and doctrine.

  • The VC did not fight for physical territory…they fought to win the hearts and minds of people. (If Satan can shift our attention, our zeal, our time, our hearts and our minds onto something other than Jesus and the Great Commission, he has won. We have fallen into idolatry without even knowing it. He has captured our heart and mind leaving us unfruitful and ineffective in the Kingdom of God.)

The enemy used Tim Williams to shift our attention off winning souls and onto promoting his agenda, his doctrine, his message that ultimately divided families and destroyed lives. His twisting of scripture rendered the hearts and minds of his followers ineffective to discern the truth from a lie.

  • The VC deployed booby-traps along trails to destroy our confidence. By blowing off the arms and legs of our buddies along the march, our purpose and confidence was weakened. We were taking casualties, but never saw the enemy because after the explosives were detonated the enemy could watch the destruction from afar—out of harm’s way (Satan knows he cannot win the war, but if he can set enough traps along our walk to make us hurt and be unsure of our faith then he can keep us from being effective witnesses for Christ. He usually wreaks enough misery from a distance that we sometimes forget who the real foe is. Many times we target each other as the enemy because he (the devil) is not an obvious player in the scenario).

Tim was a master manipulator and using shame based theology he set traps to beat us down and make us question our ability to hear God and discern His will.

  • The VC used innocent civilians, even to the point of destroying them, as decoys to undermine our security and confidence. It was a common practice to strap explosive charges on small children and send them into groups of G.I.s to make friends and win their affection. When the child would get close enough, the communist soldier would detonate the charge with a remote switch—taking out the G.I.s and the child. (Often Satan will use even good things to win our affections. Once he has accomplished this, he ambushes us and attempts to destroy us.)

Tim effectively used children as pawns in his game of deception. He and his wife openly shamed the parents, telling them they were unfit to lead their children in the Lord, and then turned the children against their parents, building into them complete loyalty to their new “granny and grandpappy.” That inevitably made the parents more dedicated to the wolf’s doctrine and agenda because they didn’t want to lose their kids or grandkids.

  • The VC tried to get us to mistakenly kill our fellow warriors. One particular tactic he used was what we called “cutting the pie.” At night, when we would stop daylight operations in the jungle, we would dig into night-defensive positions. The entire unit formed into a large circle (pie) for protection. Normally, there were two men to a hole, and one slept while the other kept watch for enemy activity. The VC would probe a point in the perimeter circle, making a lot of noise to attract attention, and would try to take a slick out of the “pie.” After making the noise, they would pull back into the jungle and hope we would fire our weapons in the direction of the noise—which would be at our own men on the other side of the circle. (Satan deploys the same strategy against us. He creeps into our midst and causes disruptive “noise,” and then pulls back into his jungle and waits for us to kill each other. He tries his best to cause fights, quarrels, dissatisfaction and dissention in our midst. All the while he has distanced himself and remains the undetected source of trouble. This tactic is evident in almost every church or fellowship in Christendom. Most pastors can attest to this.)

This was common in the cult. No one was safe, people were used against each other in order to further the wolf’s agenda and provide information to be used against them in the future to his advantage.

  • The VC attempted to stay close to U.S. military units. They knew that the closer they could be to us—especially in a firefight—the less likely it was that we would call in artillery or air support, in fear of directing the incoming fire on ourselves. (Satan sends his forces against us in the same manner. He gets as close to us as possible so that we cannot determine which direction to call in “air support” to take him out. Many times he is so close that we completely overlook him when he is in our midst.)

There was always lots of talk and preaching of Satan and his strategies, when the reality was he was in the midst of this group and calling all the shots, in the Name of Jesus.

WOW. Reading this book again after all these years, with 20/20 hindsight, it’s amazing to see how the enemy worked to steal, kill and destroy our family, business, and faith.

Today is, however, a victory day. Four years ago I escaped the mind-control and evil deception of Sound Doctrine and Tim Williams, and am connecting new dots as I review the schemes of the evil one and more clearly see how he worked in my life and the life of my family.

Let me be clear. I am not one who sees a demon behind every doorknob. But I have to say, the church had better wake up and realize how the enemy works. There is just too much at stake and there are too many opportunities for him to come in and deceive. I am living proof of that, and I praise God He rescued me from that deception. There continue to be too many others caught in the enemy’s grip through Tim Williams and Sound Doctrine, and other spiritually abusive leaders out there. Oh God, please open their eyes, in Jesus’ Name!

God Can Even Redeem a Cruise!

One thing I’ve come to learn. God is in the business of redeeming the life and losses of Athena Dean Holtz. In fact, He is in the business of redeeming the losses in all our lives!

I simply thought I was being a good wife, deciding to take my pastor husband away on a cruise so that he could get a full week of total relaxation. After all, spending time on our 30 year old sailboat isn’t the most relaxing thing to do… something is always breaking!

We’d also just spent a month in the middle of a family storm that caused some major emotional stress and the thought of going on a cruise to decompress and allow the Lord some space to do His thing in our hearts felt like the right thing to do.

We had planned to spend 2 more weeks in August on the sail boat, but one day I received a sales call offering me a low cost cruise. I thought, Hey! I’ve been on lots of cruises, but most of them have been work related…this would be a good way for us to really get away and relax!

I didn’t take the offer from the salesperson, but immediately visited the website for “last minute cruises” where you can save up to 80% by booking at the last minute.

I searched and searched…setting my criteria for a few specifics:

  • It had to leave from and return to Seattle (no time to fly to Florida to get on a boat!)
  • The stateroom had to have a balcony
  • It had to be at least 50% off or more
  • Sail date had to be the 2nd or 3rd week of August
  • It had to leave on a Sunday

So search I did and finally nailed down an option with a great price, and all the other aspects were in order. I booked the cruise and went on with my day.

The closer our sail date approached, the more I began thinking about my experiences on cruises.

While I was in the middle of my detour into deception, sparked by a conversation with a fellow conferee at the Write to Publish conference on the Wheaton College campus, I had the idea to do a Writer’s Cruise as a special event for the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association. I think I was probably president at the time, and we were looking for new ideas to add value for our members. So, over the next 6 years, we held 3 NCWA Alaskan Christian Writer’s Cruises, each time bringing in a keynote speaker, editors and other industry professionals. They were wonderful events, but there was always the behind the scenes intimidation, abuse, and shaming by Tim Williams, the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Since his wife was also involved on the NCWA board, he came along as some sort of spiritual authority for the group. <big sigh>

After winding down the last cruise for NCWA, the wolf decided (after getting a taste of the good life) to take the staff of WinePress on a cruise to further exert his authority as management and move his agenda forward. The biggest thing I remember on that cruise was his focus on convincing us all (but most importantly me) that raising the rates for WinePress services was doing God’s will, because this was His business, and any of us who had reservations about the new prices he was setting were “in sin.”

Truth be told, I was always complaining about the inflated prices and the diminishing value provided for the services being sold. That was not the way I built the company and it bothered me that it seemed to me like we were taking advantage of people. I was always getting in trouble with the new management, being told I was in rebellion against God’s will. And all along, the wolf was just lining his pockets… and it really had nothing at all to do with God’s will at all.

So here I am remembering all the undertones on these cruises, all the manipulation, all the word games, all the humiliation when I dared to disagree.

I began to wonder…just when was that cruise?

I called the cruise line and told them I’d been on their ships in the past and had an upcoming trip booked. Could they look me up and tell me when I’d been on the boat last?

I was beginning to put the pieces together. As I looked at the pictures of the ship, I realized that the ship we were booked on was the same ship we sailed on with the WinePress cruise. Hmmmmmm… what’s God up to here?

alaska-ship

And then she said it…

“Yes, I found you. Your roommate was Jan Owens, and you sailed on August 24, 2008 on the Norwegian Pearl.”

I almost dropped the phone.

We are sailing from August 16 to August 23, exactly 7 years later. On the same ship. To the same place.

Oh. My.

My head felt light…

I had to steady myself.

How gracious is the love of God. That He would want to redeem even a cruise where He loves to show off His magnificence in nature and provide rest and relaxation for weary souls.

A cruise that was used by the evil one to destroy my soul and condemn me into silent submission. It was used to do the exact opposite of its true purpose. And at the time, it was effective.

But here I am, on the eve of embarkation on that same ship, with the man of my dreams, free from the chains of spiritual abuse, legalism, and deception. To be refreshed and renewed. To have this experience the way a gracious God would have it, not the counterfeit I’ve experienced in the past.

Redemption!

It really does take my breath away.

WOW. He really is faithful. Always.

My Independence Day

Perspectives-personal-independence

It’s been 44 months since I gained my independence from toxic leadership.

As I thought through the characteristics of this type of destructive leadership and what I am no longer dependent on, I could only praise God for opening my eyes, delivering me from deception, and giving me the courage to warn the rest of the body of Christ.

There are many red flags we MUST be aware of that characterize a toxic church. At the same time, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of us as Bereans understanding scripture IN CONTEXT, being willing to respectfully question and search out the truth, not just believing what someone says because they are a persuasive communicator who quotes a lot of scripture.

Here’s the full post that illustrates what to watch for in leadership, and may we be ever thankful for the independence that Jesus has given us by giving up His life for us.