Have you ever wondered why narcissists tend to play the victim?

If so, I’ve got an answer for you. A few of our community members were wondering the same thing, so I did some research; here’s what I found.

A narcissist will play the victim when they want to:

  • Avoid taking responsibility.
  • Feel supported.
  • Be the center of attention.
  • Guilt-trip you.
  • Gaslight you.
  • Turn people against you.
  • Isolate you.

In this post, I’ll explain each of these reasons to help you understand why narcissists victimize themselves so much.

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

1) To Avoid Taking Responsibility

Playing the victim also allows narcissists to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.1 

Instead of owning up to their mistakes, they twist the story to make it seem like they’re the ones who have been wronged. 

For instance, if confronted about a lie, a narcissist might respond with:

“I only lied because you were putting so much pressure on me. You expect too much, and I feel trapped.” 

A narcissist playing the victim to avoid taking responsibility.

This response shifts the blame to the other person, implying that the narcissist’s actions were a direct result of being mistreated. 

It’s a deflection technique that not only absolves them of guilt but also puts the accuser on the defensive, effectively diverting attention away from the narcissist’s wrongdoing.

2) To Feel Supported

Narcissists play the victim to surround themselves with people who are willing to offer support and reassurance.2 

They often believe that presenting themselves as vulnerable or wronged can solidify the loyalty of those around them. 

For example, a narcissist might share a story filled with difficulties, saying, “I’ve been dealing with so much. You wouldn’t believe the stress I’m under. It feels like the world is against me.” 

Statements like these are meant to rally support and create a team of defenders ready to stand by them, no matter what. 

This support is not just about having people to lean on; it’s about reinforcing the narcissist’s belief that they are deserving of constant care and attention, further feeding into their sense of entitlement.

Suggested Reading: Who Do Narcissists Surround Themselves With?

3) To Be the Center of Attention

Playing the victim role also ensures that a narcissist becomes the center of attention in any situation. 

They capture and maintain the spotlight by dramatizing their experiences and emphasizing their suffering. 

For instance, they might exaggerate a minor setback, saying:

“You wouldn’t believe the day I had; it was a complete disaster from start to finish. Nothing went right for me!” 

A narcissist playing the victim in order to become the center of attention.

By making such declarations, they ensure that all eyes and sympathies are directed towards them, satisfying their deep-seated need to be the focal point of everyone’s concern and conversation. 

This behavior highlights their craving for admiration and the desire to be perpetually acknowledged and pitied by those in their social circle.3

Suggested Reading: 18 Signs a Narcissist Wants Your Attention

4) To Guilt-Trip You

Narcissists often play the victim as a way to guilt-trip you into doing what they want. 

By making you feel responsible for their happiness or well-being, they manipulate you into conceding to their demands.4

For instance, a narcissist might say:

“After everything I’ve done for you, how could you not do this one thing for me? You know how much I’m suffering right now.” 

This tactic makes you feel like you owe them, turning any refusal into a sign of ingratitude or neglect. 

It’s a strategic move to bind you to their needs and desires, ensuring they can continue to exert control over your actions and decisions.

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

5) To Gaslight You

Playing the victim also serves as a powerful tool for gaslighting. 

Narcissists rewrite the narrative of events, casting themselves as the injured party, to make you question your perception and sanity.5 

For example, they might twist a confrontation by saying:

“I can’t believe you’re accusing me of being selfish. You’re the one who’s always ignoring my needs. You make me feel like I’m losing my mind.” 

By doing this, they deflect criticism and create doubt about your judgments and memories. 

This technique destabilizes your sense of reality, making you more dependent on the narcissist’s version of events and more vulnerable to their manipulation. 

It’s a form of emotional abuse that undermines your confidence and self-trust, leaving the narcissist in a position of power.

Suggested Reading: How to Stop a Narcissist from Gaslighting You

6) To Turn People Against You

Narcissists play the victim to turn others against you, crafting a narrative where you’re the antagonist. 

They share stories that paint themselves as innocent sufferers of your supposed cruelty or neglect.6

For instance, they might tell friends or family, “I support them in everything, and this is how they repay me—by leaving me out and disregarding my feelings. It’s like I don’t matter to them at all.” 

A narcissist playing the victim to turn others against the target.

This manipulation gets them sympathy and sows seeds of doubt about your character among mutual acquaintances. 

The aim is to isolate you socially and ensure that the narcissist is viewed as the aggrieved party, rallying others to their side and against you.

7) To Isolate You

Playing the victim also enables narcissists to isolate you from your support network, making you more dependent on them.7 

By expressing how your actions supposedly hurt them, they manipulate your emotions to control who you interact with and how you spend your time. 

A classic line might be, “If you go on vacation, I’ll be so lonely. But go ahead. Everyone leaves me anyway.” 

This statement is designed to make you feel guilty for pursuing your interests or maintaining other relationships. 

The underlying message is that prioritizing anything over the narcissist’s needs is an act of abandonment. 

This tactic not only limits your freedom but also gradually erodes your external relationships, leaving the narcissist as your primary emotional connection despite the toxicity of their manipulation.

Suggested Resource: How to Rebuild Your Support Network

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 article helpful.

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

Have you ever encountered a narcissist who consistently plays the victim? 

How did it impact your relationship or interaction with them?

What strategies have you found effective in dealing with individuals who victimize themselves to manipulate situations or people?

Or perhaps you have questions about how to navigate relationships with someone who frequently adopts the victim role.

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. WebMD Editorial Contributors. (2024. March, 11). What Is a Victim Mentality? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-a-victim-mentality ↩︎
  3. Kristy Lee Parkin. (2022. February, 12). Narcissistic Obsession with Attention. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-in-the-age-narcissism/202202/narcissistic-obsession-attention ↩︎
  4. Kendra Cherry. (2023. April, 4). What Is Guilt Tripping? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-guilt-trip-5192249 ↩︎
  5. National Domestic Violence Hotline. What is Gaslighting? National Domestic Violence Hotline. https://www.thehotline.org/resources/what-is-gaslighting/ ↩︎
  6. 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/#:~:text=A%20narcissistic%20smear%20campaign%20is,to%20destroy%20the%20individual’s%20reputation. ↩︎
  7. Rachael Pace. (2023. August, 7). Signs and Effects of Domestic Violence Isolation. Marriage.com. https://www.marriage.com/advice/domestic-violence-and-abuse/domestic-violence-isolation/ ↩︎

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