It’s very difficult to prove psychological abuse of any kind since it’s a very subjective topic. What seems abusive to you may not seem abusive to other people. But people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) tend to exhibit distinct patterns of behavior. That’s something that you can use if you need to prove narcissistic abuse to other people.
There are several things you can do to prove narcissistic abuse. You need to record every interaction, tell other people about the abuse, and have people witness it if possible. You can also use the narcissist’s history against them and even trigger their narcissistic behavior to show other people.
It’s important to realize that it may be difficult to prove narcissistic abuse if you need to. There are many situations, like custody battles, for example, where you might need to prove that someone is a narcissist. That’s why it’s vital to understand the following tactics you can use to show a judge, jury, or other interested parties that a narcissist is abusing you or someone you love.
1. Document Every Interaction
One of the most important things you can do when you’re dealing with any situation where you might have to prove narcissistic abuse is to document every single interaction you have with them. The documentation doesn’t have to be anything formal, though if you can get written confirmation of what they said to you, that can help.
Even if you can’t get written confirmation of abusive demands, contemporaneous notes go a long way toward providing proof of the abuse. This is even true in legal contexts. Of course, if you can get written confirmation of the narcissist’s abusive behavior, it’s even better.
If you’re working with a narcissist, for example, and they give you oral instructions on a project, you’ll want to get written confirmation of what they said. One easy way to do that is to follow up with an email that asks for clarification.
You might write, for example, “You told me that I need to rewrite the white paper by Oct. 1, but I wanted to ask you for a little clarification on how you want that done. Can you give me a few examples of what you’re thinking? I know you have certain expectations, and I want to make sure I can do exactly what you want.”
This is also a good technique if you suggest something and they reject your suggestion. You can let them know that you understand why they rejected your suggestion, but you’re looking for clarification on what they would prefer instead.
That both documents what they said and what you suggested if you later need to file a complaint with HR. If the narcissist isn’t someone you work with and written confirmation isn’t possible, your contemporaneous notes are still good evidence of your side of the story.
2. If Legal, Record Conversations
In some states and countries, it is legal to record a conversation between two people as long as one person (you) knows it’s being recorded. In other states or countries, however, this is not legal. Before you record a narcissist without their knowledge, you need to check on the legality in your area.
If it is legal, it can help prove your case if you record your conversations to reveal their outrageous narcissistic behavior. Narcissists tend to lie, project, gaslight, and use other manipulation techniques in a blatant manner, but it can sound unbelievable when you’re telling someone about what they said.
If they can hear the narcissist in their own words, however, that can be very persuasive evidence. If it’s not legal to record them without their knowledge, however, you might not be able to get that type of evidence.
If that’s the case, you might try to get their permission for the recording. If the narcissist abusing you is a coworker or boss, you can ask to record the conversation so that you don’t miss any important details you need to know about a work-related project. That appeals to their delusion of superiority and can help you get the permission you need.
If the narcissist in question is a spouse or other family member or friend, you can ask to record their conversation because you want to be sure you understand their point. You can even say, “I’m going to record this conversation so that you can’t later say something different.”
In most cases where surreptitiously recording someone is illegal, you can record them as long as they know they are being recorded. They don’t necessarily have to give permission; they just have to be aware you’re doing it.
3. Tell Loving Friends and Family About the Narcissistic Abuse
You’ve probably heard stories of victims of other types of abuse being asked whether they told anyone about it at the time. Of course, there are several reasons why a victim of any kind of abuse might not want to tell people about it.
You might be embarrassed that you’ve let this happen (you didn’t, but that’s how many victims feel), or you might have been isolated from family and friends, as many victims of narcissistic abuse are. Whatever the reasons you might have for not wanting to tell someone, it can really help you prove narcissistic abuse if you do.
If you can find one close friend that you tell about the abuse in real-time, that can help your case. It’s similar to contemporaneous notes as a form of proof. It’s an important way to shore up your side of the story.
If you really can’t find anyone, you might even just video yourself talking about what’s happening. Be sure to include specifics like dates, the context of the situation, and exactly what was said or done.
This can go a long way toward helping you prove narcissistic abuse when you’re ready to do so. A big plus, of course, is the emotional support you’ll get from those loving family and friends.
4. Have People Witness the Narcissist’s Behavior
Aside from telling family and friends about the abuse you’re suffering, it’s helpful if any of them can witness the abuse. It can be difficult because narcissists will often behave well and can even be very charming in front of other people.
When they get you alone, that’s when their attitude changes dramatically. Still, if they are triggered, they can sometimes lose it in front of other people. If that happens, those people are witnesses on your behalf.
Perhaps one of the best ways to arrange for witnesses to see their behavior is to have a friend come and stay with you for a week or two. It’s very challenging for a narcissist to keep their cool for that length of time, particularly when they’re used to not having to keep their behavior under control for that long.
If you really need a witness to their abuse, you can attempt to trigger them, but be careful that you don’t come off as looking like you’re provoking them. That could garner sympathy on their behalf.
5. Prepare Yourself for Their Patterns
If you’re getting ready to face a narcissist in court, you’ll want to prepare yourself for their patterns of abuse. It’s vital that you remember they know what triggers you as well as you know what triggers them. They will use your emotional triggers against you.
You have to be well-prepared for what they might do so that you can avoid reacting in a negative way that looks like you’re the unhinged person in the relationship. This is critical if you’re trying to prove that they are the abusive individual.
It’s probably a good idea to work with someone to anticipate exactly what your narcissistic abuser might do in court. Narcissists are veritable experts at skewing an argument to make it look as though they are this wonderful, supportive friend or romantic partner and you’re unpredictable.
They will paint their side of the story as something completely reasonable, and of course, they won’t represent your side of the story accurately. My friend who is married to a narcissist talks about this all the time. Her narcissistic husband has no problem talking about their latest argument in front of friends and family.
Of course, he presents the argument from his side alone and leaves out critical details that explain her response. This is a small example of what a narcissist will try to do in a courtroom setting. You have to be prepared for this if you’re going to prove your side of the story.
6. Trigger the Narcissist
Another thing you can do to prove narcissistic abuse is to trigger the narcissist in the setting where you need other people to see their behavior. As the Nurturing Coach points out, “When they don’t get what they need from you, they lash out. They can’t help it.”
This is a great way to get other people to see their abusive tendencies. You probably know what you can do to trigger them, but one of the best ways is to simply refuse to give them what you know they’re looking for. They might be trying to manipulate you into praising them or into responding emotionally to what they have said or done.
If you don’t give them the response they’re looking for, it can easily cause them to erupt in narcissistic rage or begin devaluing you. All it takes is one episode of anger or criticism to show other people what the narcissist is really like.
Additionally, once they have been triggered, they frequently find it difficult to wind down. They will often make matters worse by letting their rage flow. They believe they are absolutely right and entitled to what they are saying or doing, so it’s hard for them to stop. They can put the nail in their own coffin if you just give them enough rope to hang themselves.
7. Expose Any History of Abuse
If you’re being abused by a narcissist, you’re probably not the first person who’s experienced that with this individual. If possible, you might also find other people who have been abused by them. Perhaps a past romantic partner or a coworker who left the company or moved to another department.
If you can show that their abusive patterns have a more extensive history, that goes a long way toward proving your side of the story. Other people who can back up the claims of abuse you’re making add weight to your argument.
These people may agree to be witnesses on your behalf or you may have your lawyer subpoena them. In either case, exposing a history of abuse on the part of the narcissist can benefit you enormously.
8. Insist on Psychological Examination
Depending on the context of why you need to prove narcissistic abuse, you might be able to insist on a psychological evaluation. If you’re fighting for custody of your children, for example, it might be helpful to request a psychological evaluation of both the narcissist and yourself.
If you have been abused by a narcissist for any length of time, you’re likely suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or C-PTSD. Having a psychological evaluation can reveal your condition, which can help prove your side of the story.
Likewise, insisting that the narcissist be evaluated by a psychologist can be extremely helpful for your case. The narcissist will usually believe they can hide their condition from a psychologist, and you might believe that too.
There are, however, a number of tests that can show if the narcissist is trying to hide their condition. A trained psychologist who specializes in personality disorders can usually see through any attempt to hide the truth or distort the facts.
With both of you getting evaluated, this can really bolster your case. It shows the effects of that psychological and emotional abuse and reveals the type of narcissistic abuse to which you’ve been exposed. Though you can expect the narcissist to counter your expert with one of their own, it can still go a long way toward proving your point.
9. Stay Focused on Presenting Your Evidence in a Coherent Manner
Another part of telling your side of the story is presenting a coherent story. Abuse victims often don’t tell their stories in a logical manner. They might skip around when presenting the details or even forget things.
That’s why it’s important to organize your story in a manner that is logical and easily understood. If you don’t present a coherent story, it can appear deceptive on your part. That’s the last thing you need.
If you have trouble with this, have someone help you organize the story in a way that will be compelling as well as easy to understand. Maybe your lawyer or a good friend can help, but it’s imperative that you present your story in the best way possible so that whomever you need to prove the abuse to will find it compelling.
You don’t want your story to be rejected because it was presented in the best way possible. Organize your materials, talk to friends to find out if what you’re saying is understandable, and present the material in a calm, straightforward way. That will give you the best possibility of proving you’re telling the truth.
10. Show, Don’t Tell
Many times, a narcissist will reveal themselves if you just let them talk long enough. They can’t help but try to show people they are superior to other people. They feel entitled to what they have done, and if you let them run on long enough, that will come shining through.
Whether in a deposition, at a trial, or simply in front of family and friends, encourage the narcissist to talk. Have your advocate ask questions in a way that will make the narcissist feel they have to demonstrate their superiority.
Narcissists are compelled to show people how great they are, even vulnerable narcissists will do this. If you question that in any way, they will step up and begin telling you just how great they are and all the evidence that shows that to be true.
When anyone you want to know the truth sees them behaving in such an arrogant way, they won’t be able to deny they’ve got a problem. By just letting them talk, you’re giving the narcissist the opportunity to prove your case for you.
11. Present Just the Facts
It’s also vital that you just stick to the facts when you’re telling your side of the story. If you let yourself get emotional or if you exaggerate, you’ll look deceitful. You want to appear like the rational adult in the relationship.
Stick to the facts, and the narcissist won’t be able to catch you in a lie or claim that you’re overly emotional. You know what has been happening to you, and if you simply present the facts of your case, you’ll be more credible than if you try to exaggerate for effect.
The narcissist will be claiming your version of reality is not true. They will try to gaslight the people you’re attempting to prove the abuse to as well as you and your advocate. They will insist you’re overly sensitive or simply wrong about what happened.
If you stick to the facts, however, and stay calm, you can prove your case. If you exaggerate, you will prove what the narcissist is saying; that you’re not seeing reality as it truly is.
12. Stay Calm and Respond, Don’t React
No matter what else you do, you need to always stay calm. Respond to what the narcissist is saying or doing instead of reacting. Responding is something you do after carefully considering what the narcissist has said or done.
If you take a moment to consider what they’re saying and how you should respond, you’re much more likely to respond in a thoughtful, considerate manner. You want anyone watching to see you as the adult. You want to appear responsible and honest.
If you react emotionally by crying, yelling, or fighting back, you’re proving what the narcissist said is incorrect, you start looking unstable and like you’re not credible. Stay calm no matter what they say, and by doing so, you’ll drive them crazy.
The narcissist will be trying to provoke you. They will use the manipulation techniques they have used successfully in the past to provoke a reaction out of you. They love doing this because it makes them feel powerful.
When you deny them that feeling of power, they experience a narcissistic injury because they feel like their true self is in danger of being exposed. That’s when they are likely to fly off the handle and react emotionally to what you’re doing. That’s exactly what you want.
Remember that when you’re in a situation where you’re trying to prove emotional abuse, the last thing you want is for people to see you as a kind of ‘drama queen.’ You want to seem calm and rational while the narcissist looks like the emotional time bomb.
It can be very difficult to prove narcissistic abuse that is only emotional in nature. People can’t always see your emotional wounds. It is possible, however, if you can stay calm, present contemporaneous details, and provide witnesses. The most important thing there is staying calm. Remember that the narcissist will try to trigger you using your emotional wounds. They know what hurts you, and they will not hesitate to use that to make you look unstable.
To prepare for such confrontations, you need to get your emotional triggers under control. I have developed a 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers that can help you recognize and defuse them so you can stay calm, cool, and collected. If you would like to receive a free copy of this handy guide, just click on this link. I will send it directly to your inbox, and you can start healing today. It’s an invaluable tool to have when you need to prove the narcissist is the abusive one, not you.
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