Have you ever wondered what happens when someone pulls back the curtain on a narcissist to show everyone their true colors?

If so, you’re not alone. A member of our healing community recently asked: “What happens when you expose a narcissist to others?” 

I looked into it, and here’s what I found.

If you expose a narcissist to others, they will try to invalidate you by denying everything, turning the situation around on you, manipulating you, shifting the focus to your mistakes, launching a smear campaign, or becoming aggressive to intimidate you into submission.

In this post, I will explain each of these possible reactions to help you understand what could happen if you expose a narcissist to others.

If you have or currently are experiencing narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse for help.

They Try to Deny Everything

Imagine you catch the narcissist in your life lying about something important and decide to expose them to others.

The first thing they might do is completely deny it.1 

They could say, “That never happened,” or, “You misunderstood me.” 

A narcissist trying to deny their actions.

This denial isn’t just about protecting themselves. It’s also a form of gaslighting designed to make you doubt yourself.

If done successfully, you could question whether you got it right, even though you’re sure you know what you saw or heard. 

This tactic is a powerful tactic narcissists often turn to because it keeps their image clean and portrays you as the one causing trouble.

They Try to Turn the Situation Around On You

Now, let’s say the denial doesn’t work, and people start asking questions.

The narcissist might switch tactics and turn the situation around to make it look like they’re the victim. 

For example, they might say something like, “I only did that because I was under a lot of pressure,” or, “You’re attacking me because you’re jealous.” 

It’s like a magician’s trick where they distract you with one hand so you don’t see what the other is doing. 

By playing the victim, they not only dodge the blame but also gain sympathy from others.2 

This move can be super frustrating because it shifts the focus away from what they did wrong. 

Now, the conversation is all about how hard they have it, making it challenging for others to see the real issue. 

It’s a clever way for them to stay in everyone’s good graces, leaving you feeling like you’re the one causing problems.

They Try to Manipulate You with Charm

Narcissists have a toolbox full of skills, and one of the sharpest tools is their charm. 

When you expose them, they might turn up the charm to win over anyone who’s listening. 

It’s like they’re a chameleon, changing their colors to fit what they think people want to see. 

They can be incredibly persuasive, using compliments, promises, or flattery to make others see them in a positive light.3 

This charm isn’t just about being nice; it’s a calculated move to make you doubt what you know. 

You might start to think, “Maybe they’re not so bad after all,” or, “Did I overreact?” 

A person doubting themselves.

This confusion works in their favor because it shifts the focus away from their actions and onto their personality. 

It’s a smart way to keep people on their side, even when there’s evidence pointing to their abusive and manipulative behavior.

They Try to Shift the Focus to Your Mistakes

When a narcissist is exposed, they might try a different angle: focusing on your mistakes instead of their own actions.4

Imagine you’re pointing out something wrong they did. 

But instead of addressing the issue, they bring up a mistake you made weeks or months ago. 

It’s like they have a mental list of everything anyone has ever done wrong, just waiting to use it at the right moment. 

This tactic is clever because it shifts everyone’s attention away from them and puts others on the defensive, explaining their actions or apologizing for past mistakes. 

This redirection is a classic move to take the heat off themselves and make others question your credibility or intentions. 

It’s not just about deflecting blame; it’s about undermining your position so that they can regain control of the narrative.

If you need help with anything related to narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

They Launch a Smear Campaign

After you’ve exposed a narcissist, they might start a smear campaign against you. 

This means they begin spreading rumors, lies, or half-truths about you to damage your reputation.5 

It’s like they’re painting a picture where they’re the victim and you’re the villain, using any means necessary—social media, conversations with friends, or messages to colleagues. 

A narcissist launching a smear campaign.

This campaign isn’t just about getting back at you; it’s about discrediting you so thoroughly that others doubt your side of the story.

The narcissist’s goal is to isolate you, making it less likely for others to believe what you say in the future. 

This tactic can be particularly harmful because it attacks your character and integrity, often in very, very public ways. 

By portraying you negatively, they regain control and shift the focus away from their own actions.

They Become Aggressive

When a narcissist feels their image is threatened by exposure, they might become aggressive.6 

This aggression can manifest in different ways: verbal attacks, threatening behavior, or even attempts to intimidate you into silence. 

It’s as if the mask they’ve been wearing slips, and you see a glimpse of their true nature. 

This aggression is a reaction to feeling cornered; it’s their way of fighting back to regain control. 

They might insult you, question your intelligence, or undermine your achievements. 

In some cases, they could threaten to reveal personal information about you or use their influence to turn others against you. 

This shift towards aggression is a clear sign that the narcissist is willing to escalate the situation to protect their self-image. 

It’s important to recognize this behavior for what it is: a tactic of intimidation designed to silence criticism and maintain their facade.

Suggested Reading: What Is Narcissistic Rage (A Complete Guide)

If you are ready to be more than a victim of narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.


Thank you so much for reading.

I hope you found this post informative.

Now, I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had to deal with a narcissist’s attempts to discredit or manipulate you after exposing their behavior?

How did you navigate these challenges, and what insights can you share about maintaining your integrity and sanity in the face of such tactics?

Or perhaps you’re currently grappling with how to handle a narcissist in your life and are seeking advice on effective strategies to protect yourself and your relationships.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Darius Cikanavicius. (2020. April, 18). How Narcissists Try to Avoid Responsibility. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/blog/psychology-self/2020/04/narcissists-responsibility#1 ↩︎
  2. Julie L. Hall. (2023. March, 5). The Narcissist’s Airtight Victim Narrative. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-narcissist-in-your-life/202303/the-narcissists-airtight-victim-narrative ↩︎
  3. Samuel López De Victoria. (2011. November, 7). The Incredibly Seductive Pull of a Very Skilled Narcissist. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-incredibly-seductive-pull-of-a-very-skilled-narcissist#1 ↩︎
  4. Power of Positivity. (2020. June, 14). 13 Sneaky Ways Narcissists Get Away With Blame Shifting. Power of Positivity. https://www.powerofpositivity.com/blame-shifting-to-others-narcissists/ ↩︎
  5. Kaytee Gillis. (2023. March, 22). Narcissistic Smear Campaign: What It Is, Tactics, & How to Deal With It. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/narcissist-smear-campaign/ ↩︎
  6. Arlin Cuncic. (2023. December, 6). What Is Narcissistic Rage? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-narcissistic-rage-5183744 ↩︎

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