Smear Campaign

By Dana Morningstar

A smear campaign is an unwarranted attack on the target’s reputation, character and intent by making false accusations that are often believed by others. Narcissists are notorious for launching smear campaigns after the ending of a relationship, regardless of who ends it. It’s their way of maintaining their public image, gathering the attention and sympathy from their enablers, and trying to destroy their target all at the same time. It’s also how their level of denial and lack of self-awareness about their behavior shows itself, as a smear campaign lets others know (and reassures the narcissist) that they are not the problem.


Example: Kathy and Todd had been dating for about nine months. It has been an emotional roller coaster the whole time, but Todd had never felt this way about a woman before. On his birthday Kathy dumped him out of the blue for another man that she swore was just a friend, and Todd was devastated. He wondered what on earth happened and what he did that could have been so bad to make her leave. He couldn’t wrap his mind around how things could go from being so great to nothing at all in the blink of an eye. He began texting and calling Kathy, begging her to talk to him, thinking that if he could just talk to her, they could work through whatever happened.


Unbeknownst to Todd, Kathy was showing other people all of his frantic texts as proof that he was obsessive and crazy. She twisted every text and email out of context and used them against him. Other people who had known Todd for years began to believe Kathy. Kathy also told people that she loved Todd, and she was very worried about him because he was just so unstable…and abusive, which Todd was not. He soon found that many of his friends, family, and co-workers were stand-offish or outright ignoring him. He had no idea why or what was happening. It never occurred to him that Kathy would break up with him, let alone launch a smear campaign against him and try to destroy his life. He couldn’t figure out what happened or why she was being so cruel.

Dana Morningstar is a former psychiatric nurse turned domestic violence educator who specializes in abuse awareness and prevention. Her passion is working with survivors of abuse to reclaim and rebuild their self-esteem, boundaries, confidence, and identity. She is an author of multiple books on the subject, and also has a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel, as well as several online support groups, all of which you can find under the name “Thrive After Abuse.”

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