Going against a narcissist (i.e. cutting ties with them, setting a boundary with them, rejecting them, etc.) can be a traumatizing experience. We wish that we could sit here and tell you everything is going to go smoothly, but that would be a lie.

If a narcissist believes that you have wronged them, they will seek revenge to punish and reestablish control over you. Narcissists need to inflict tangible damage on those they feel wronged by to feel emotionally stable because their emotional immaturity prevents them from expressing themselves any other way.

In this article we are going to guide you through the vengeful nature of a narcissist and highlight the signs that you can be on the lookout for that indicate the narcissist in your life is seeking revenge. We’ve also invited our friend Karina Ramdath, a Registered Social Worker and Therapist, to speak with you about creating a safety plan.

Karina Ramdath, a Registered Social Worker and Therapist, Speaks About Creating a Safety Plan

For the best experience, please rotate your mobile device sideways.

Narcissists Seek Revenge to Punish and Reestablish Control Over You

The reason that narcissists are so vengeful when they feel wronged is because of their emotional immaturity. This is a really important topic to understand because it reveals the reason that narcissistic relationships of any kind (i.e. romantic relationships, family relationships, friendships, and professional relationships) can never be healthy.

A man teaching about a narcissist's need for revenge.

It is the belief of many mental health professionals that a narcissist’s emotional immaturity originates from their childhood upbringing. You see, narcissism is believed to be created by an abusive/unhealthy childhood upbringing with emotionally unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers.

This is problematic because when someone has these types of primary caregivers, their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs don’t get properly mirrored.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term mirroring when speaking about parenting, it means the way that parents consciously or subconsciously reflect or “mirror” the emotions and feelings or aspirations of the child, which has the effect of validating, accepting, or showing love toward that child.

A mom mirroring her child's thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

When a child doesn’t have their thoughts, feelings, and emotions mirrored by their primary caregiver, they don’t get the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need to develop a realistic sense of self and have a healthy cognitive development.

Ok. We can clearly see that the unhealthy cognitive development is to blame for a narcissist’s emotional immaturity. But where does their need for vengeance come from?

Well, the emotional neglect that the narcissists experienced during their childhood upbringing caused them to develop many painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions such as a belief that they’ve unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, weak, and worthless.

Someone teaching about a narcissist's ability to suppress their thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

When narcissists feel wronged, all of the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions get triggered and compromise their emotional stability. When this happens, narcissists use a defense mechanism called projection to protect themselves.

Projection is a defense mechanism that occurs when someone takes the parts of their identity that they find unacceptable (for narcissists this is their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions) and projects them onto someone else.

A simple example of this would be a man who feels insecure about his masculinity, but instead of addressing that, he mocks other men for acting feminine. For narcissists, projection gives them an opportunity to figuratively point their finger at someone and think to themselves, “I am not the unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak one, they are.”

A narcissist thinking about all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

You see, when a narcissist invalidates, devalues, degrades, and humiliates you, they are projecting all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto you by making you feel as badly as they feel on the inside.

Suggested Readings:

Two of the most common manipulation tactics that narcissists use to project their thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto others are narcissistic rage and scapegoating. Our articles Why Do Narcissists Go Into a Rage? and Why Do Narcissists Need a Scapegoat? have a lot of helpful information about this.

To sum up everything that has been stated so far, when narcissists feel wronged, all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions get triggered. When they seek revenge, they are trying to invalidate, devalue, and degrade you to protect their emotional stability by projecting all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto you.

5 Signs That a Narcissist Is Seeking Revenge

In this section of the article we are going to go over some of the signs that a narcissist is seeking revenge. We will speak about baiting, breaking restraining orders, financial abuse, stalking, and flying monkeys.

Baiting

Baiting is a manipulation tactic that occurs when an abusive/toxic person says or does something manipulative to trick you into engaging in a negative interaction with them.

A narcissist could seek revenge through baiting because if you were to engage in a negative interaction with them (i.e. yelling, screaming, pushing, shoving, etc.) they could use your negative response to portray you in a negative light to others.

For example, if you were having a private meeting with your narcissistic boss and said, “Hey, I am just letting you know that I quit. I can’t take your abuse anymore. Everyone is too scared of you to say anything. This is ridiculous and I am done.” they would likely feel like you wronged them.

Someone speaking to their narcissistic boss

They could attempt to seek revenge by baiting you into a negative interaction by saying something like, “You are a piece of sh*t who is never going to go anywhere in life. The whole office knows how much of a pu**y you are. Get the f*ck out of here you coward.”

Keep in mind, nobody else hears this because you are in a private meeting. If you were to explode with anger, they could twist the narrative and portray you in a negative light (i.e. “I don’t know what happened. I was trying to fire him/her and he/she just went crazy.”)

Suggested Reading:

Our article How to Respond to Narcissistic Baiting has a bunch of helpful information that you can use to manage a baiting narcissist.

Breaking a Restraining Order

A restraining order (also called a “protective order”) is a court order that can protect someone from being physically or sexually abused, threatened, stalked, or harassed. Restraining orders are designed to keep aggressors away from their victims or would-be victims.

A man speaking about a narcissist's tendency to disobey restraining orders

A narcissist’s excessive need for admiration, sense of entitlement, belief that they are special and unique, and lack of empathy cause them to blatantly disregard any firm boundaries such as restraining orders.

If you have set a restraining order with the narcissist in your life and they begin to break it, you should consider that a very strong sign that they are seeking revenge, or at the very least, they are an unsafe person to be around.

Suggested Reading:

Our article Will a Narcissist Obey a Restraining Order? has a lot of helpful important information that you should go over if you have, or are planning on getting, a restraining order on the narcissist in your life.

Financial Abuse

If you didn’t know already, narcissists need a constant flow of narcissistic supply to feel emotionally stable. Narcissistic supply is the validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control that narcissists receive from their surrounding environment. One of the most consistent ways that narcissists can get narcissistic supply is through money.

A woman speaking about financial abuse in narcissistic relationships

In romantic relationships and family settings a narcissist often controls others with money through employment sabotage, economic exploitation, and controlling the finances. In work environments, narcissists will create power imbalances to keep people trapped. 

If the narcissist in your life is starting to abuse you financially, you should take it as a sign that they are seeking revenge. If you aren’t sure whether or not you are being financially abused by a narcissist, here are some resources (see below) that you can use to find out.

Suggested Readings:

Our articles The Three Types of Financial Abuse That Abusers Use to Control Others and 34 Signs of Financial Abuse That You Need to Know! have really important information that you can use to determine whether or not the narcissist in your life is financially abusing you.

Stalking and Cyberstalking

Stalking is the act or crime of willfully and repeatedly following or harassing another person in circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear injury or death especially because of express or implied threats broadly.

Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, group, or organization. It may include false accusations, defamation, slander and libel. It may also include monitoring, identity theft, threats, vandalism, solicitation for sex, doxing, or blackmail.

A narcissist cyberstalking his ex.

We will provide a resource for you down below but stalking and cyberstalking are signs that a narcissist is capable of killing you. If you are experiencing this, please contact the proper authorities as quickly as possible.

Suggested Reading:

Our article How to Know if a Narcissist Will Kill You (16 Signs to Keep You Safe) has a lot of helpful information that you can use to stay as safe as possible. Please go visit the article if you are experiencing stalking/cyberstalking or if you believe that your life is in danger.

Flying Monkeys

A flying monkey is a person that a narcissist manipulates into helping them abuse another person. A narcissist will use a flying monkey to discredit, isolate, and silence the person that they are abusing.

A woman being abused by flying monkeys

You can almost guarantee that if you wrong a narcissist, they will seek revenge by attempting to turn your friends, families, or colleagues into flying monkeys to punish you. If you are experiencing flying monkeys, here is a resource (see below) that you can use to manage the situation in a way that protects your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Suggested Readings:

Our articles How to Spot a Flying Monkey and How to Deal With Flying Monkeys are packed with helpful information that you can use to safely manage the flying monkeys in your life!

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

If you think that the narcissist in your life believes that you have wronged them, you should be prepared for them to try to seek revenge. Remember, narcissists need a tangible representation of the damage that they cause to feel emotionally stable. Be prepared for them to attempt to punish and control you any way that they can.

Get a Free Healing Bundle Every Week!


  • 1 Educational Video From a Mental Health Professional
  • 1 Informative PDF About Narcissistic Abuse
  • 1 Journaling Exercise With Multiple Prompts
  • 7 Affirmations for the Upcoming Week
  • Lifetime Access to Our Private Online Community

Get a Free Healing Bundle Every Week!

  • 1 Educational Video From a Mental Health Professional
  • 1 Informative PDF About Narcissistic Abuse
  • 1 Journaling Exercise With Multiple Prompts
  • 7 Affirmations for the Upcoming Week
  • Lifetime Access to Our Private Online Community

All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

Parental Mirroring

Brown, Ryan P. “Vengeance is mine: Narcissism, vengeance, and the tendency to forgive.” Journal of research in Personality 38.6 (2004): 576-584.