NPD = Narcissistic Personality Disorder
⬅️ NOTE: Bystanding is usually studied in terms of not helping a stranger in trouble (being injured, cyber-bullied) or school bullying.
In the context of this series about Narcissism, bystanding refers to inter-personal relationships – neglecting to help or intervene in parent-child, child-child or adult-adult abuse & neglect situations (NOT as co-dependence)
DEALING WITH NPDs : Un-recovered or naive people who are consistently around Ns fall into 3 ‘supportive’ categories =
1. Bystanders, 2. Enablers & 3. Flying Monkeys (FM), with the understanding that these can overlap.
EXP: You can behave one way at work (bystanding), & another way with your spouse (enabler) or family of origin (as a FM)
When good people look the other way, they’re no longer good.
‘Negative’ (harmful) Bystanders are people who know that N abuse is taking place but are silent. These passive observers are just as guilty of being accomplices as the more direct N-‘helpers’, ignoring the pain & suffering endured by the unfortunate target of a N’s attentions (a mate, the N’s children, a co-worker, medical patient, religious follower….).
It’s an indirect form of approval, which allows the neglect & assaults to continue
🔻Bystanders can include family members, therapists, doctors, lawyers, & court officials, as well as neighbors & casual acquaintances.
They can be any gender, but research indicates (straight?) men are 65-80% less likely to intervene.
💔 Victims can be children, adults or seniors – anyone who can’t protect themselves, &/or can’t escape their situation
🏚 Locations (of abuse) can be in any public space, at work, at social functions…. but most often in home & family settings
• A POSITIVE (‘active’) bystander observing a distressing or traumatic event happening to another person – will find an appropriate, safe way to help.
• A HARMFUL (negative) bystander can be someone who :
⚡️sees a drunk person being taken advantage of
⚡️notices a family member’s bruises
⚡️hears screaming coming from a neighbor’s home
⚡️suspects abuse or assault may be happening to a child
⚡️hears that someone they know was sexually assaulted
⚡️protects someone they know has assaulted or abused another person …. AND says or does nothing to object or help (MORE….)
Bystander Comments – BLAMING the VICTIM :
“Why are you doing this to the family?”
“What did you do to make him attack / leave you”?
“Don’t talk about your mom/dad that way! After all they’ve done for you!”
“It’d be better if you kept that to yourself. We don’t talk about those things.”
“If you’re so unhappy, why don’t you leave?”
“You’re exaggerating – it can’t be that bad. You just want sympathy.”
“That was so long ago & you seem fine now. Can’t you just get over it?”
“But she’s such a good friend…. are you sure she meant it that way?”
“How much did you drink that night? You should have been more careful.”
“What kind of man would let something like that happen to him…. why didn’t you fight back?”
HARM caused by negative Bystanding
Bystander neglect &/or disbelief can add to a victim’s original trauma.
EXP: A victim tells a supposedly trustworthy person (parent, counselor, police….) that they were or are being mentally & emotional abused or physically assaulted.
The insensitive listener :
💥indicates they don’t want to hear about it, don’t believe the victim, or don’t offer the sufferer any practical help
💥tells the victim they’re overreacting, that they asked for it by inviting danger, &/or discourages the victim from telling anyone else
The (perhaps unintentional) damage from passive bystanding can increase feelings of anger, anxiety, depression, resentment & self-consciousness in an abuse survivor who’s being forced to experience an extremely damaging event alone.
Negative Bystanding may PREVENT a VICTIM from :
🤐 reaching out to the authorities for protection & help, which might have provided the sufferer some justice, by bringing the perpetrator to account
😐 seeking out professional help, which inhibits the healing process & adds to the shame & self-blame they already feel.
NEXT: Bystanders (#2)