When healthy people feel upset about something, they may get angry. But toxic people don’t just get mad – they seethe – and wage a devious smear campaign. One of the clearest indicators you’ve got a mentally unstable person on your hands is smear campaigning. Smear campaigners carefully and strategically use lies, exaggerations, suspicions and false accusations to try destroying your credibility. Narcissists and sociopaths are among the most virulent smear campaigners.
A smear campaign involves lies, exaggerations, and cultivation of mistrust toward the victim. Smear campaigners insinuate that the victim is mentally ill, unreasonable, incompetent, untrustworthy, or abusive. Smear campaigners try to ostracize their victims and make them feel alone, unpopular, and unsupported by others. Smear campaigners enjoy the feeling of having “gotten back at” their victims, and believe it is completely justifiable – even fun – to mistreat someone for having an opinion that is different from theirs.
Most smear campaigners are highly narcissistic, and narcissists cannot ever be expected to apologize, come clean or admit any wrongdoing, even if caught red-handed in their lies. They truly believe, in their own way, that a smear campaign is the right thing to do to you, because you have opposed them, and you should have known better than to do such an unthinkable thing, so it’s simply all your fault they’re smearing you anyhow. They’re teaching you a lesson — agree with whatever they want, or else. You “asked for it”, and they’re teaching you better.
I was sitting at my desk and work and an internal call came through; I picked it up, and a woman asked, “Is this Alex XXXXXXX? Yes? My name is XXXX. I need you to come to Building XX right and speak to me about something significant… it’s to your advantage that you come right away.”
“Okay, the way you’re saying this is slightly… freaking me out… can you give me a hint as to what this about?”
“We received communication from Mr.XX XXX (my ex)… it’s rather urgent that we speak to you now,” was her response. FUCK. What in the fuck was happening?!?!?!?!?!
My heart at this point might as well be on the ground, it’s beating well out of my chest; he’d already done way too much already – and now my work was receiving communication from that psycho? Shaking yet again I walked to building XX and met with the woman. He’d written a 2 page letter and emailed it to the top 30 officials throughout my place of my employment; he’d looked up all these emails related to my employment online.
When I asked if I was in trouble, she replied:
No, not really in trouble per se, but embarrassed, and… you should be aware and very concerned. He wrote a letter stating that you and a Mr. XX have been having an affair behind his back and…
I interrupted, I couldn’t help it: “That’s not true at all, I don’t know this guy. My ex is making this all up because he infected me with HIV, and wants to blame me for it.”
Suddenly her jaw dropped; she looked at me, visibly confused: “I was about to say it’s obvious this individual is completely delusional from the start of the 3rd sentence. Completely delusional. It’s obvious, so you aren’t in any trouble. But I thought this HIV fiasco was part of that delusion. I had no idea it was true… I’m… I don’t think sorry is even a word to express how sorry I am to hear this…”
“No, thank you, I appreciate it.”
“That part – I didn’t know. Oh my. So this letter is 2 pages long. It’s gibberish at times, but he claims that you and this man are in a domestic partnership, and the two of you set out to infect him with HIV, and he asks that we fire you. That’s not happening, by the way, do not worry about that. In fact, we’ve looked into the facts regardless, and it’s quite obvious you’re not married or in any sort of domestic partnership at all. He gives an address where you two reside, that’s not even where you live. When you read his rantings, it doesn’t even make sense – the reason why you two did this – it’s like he keeps writing these run-on sentences that don’t lead anywhere. Do not worry about that,” she said, and gave me a hug.
“But this is the problem you’re facing. This individual is waging a smear campaign against you. This is domestic violence and they’re out to ruin your reputation in any way they can, that’s apparent from reading this. This is someone with narcissistic or sociopathic tendencies, they always carry out a smear campaign, and you’re dealing with a predator. We see this frequently here, given we employ XX,XXX people here. It’s common. But what’s embarrassing and rather bad for you is that he sent this to 30+ people from XX to YY, to the Director of the XXX to your bosses, your branch chief, everyone. And he also included 10 pages of email communication that do not paint a pretty picture of either of you.”
“Can I read this letter?” I asked.
“I don’t have it for you to read, I’m sorry,” she answered.
This was even more worrisome. “Can you summarize?”
“Well, he cuts and pastes parts of emails. They basically show two ex-lovers fighting after a break-up. Some is of a sexual nature, too. Nothing you say in these emails is illegal mind you – and honestly, nothing any worse than anyone even close to your situation might say – but they just aren’t flattering.”
“But you say he cut and pasted these – how do you know the writing is even me? And I can’t even read it to confirm or refute it?”
“That’s a very good point. I can’t prove anything. And I’m glad I can’t. And I’m glad you didn’t use your work computer or email to communicate because then my hands might be tied. But… did you also know he had a rather lengthy criminal past?”
“What do you mean,” I asked.
She picked up several inches of paper: “This past,” she says, pointing at it and then dropping it back onto the table, the thump of an inches worth of criminal past echoing: “Domestic violence, protective orders, restraining orders, really bad financial decisions, totaled cars out the wazoo, more domestic violence, drug charges…”
“What drugs? And no, I didn’t know about any of it except that he had a restraining order put against him by his ex, who then went on to be his best friend; the man he claims I’m having this affair with. ”
“Well, I’m not sure if anything he’s told you is true, but he’s a… mess to use kinda words. I’m sorry Alex, I cannot believe he’s done this to you. But it could be worse – nobody can read this and actually believe it holds any merit. The next time you date someone – please call me, and I can help you research this person beforehand and save you this type of heartache, I’ll get campus police to run a background check. But I fear you’re dealing with a personality disordered individual here. This is a smear campaign. You cannot have any communication with him, do you understand that? I myself am worried about your own safety and your life. You may want to really consider some sort of restraining order. He’s sick. You don’t know if you’ll come home and he’s waiting for you with a gun, and he kills you.”
She went on to inform me that it was the policy of my employer to reply to everyone that writes in regarding a complaint. She said she’d speak to our legal department, but she said she hoped they could send a “cease and desist” letter. They were able to have him barred from campus, but what they really wanted was a physical threat. She also advised me to see a therapist and they arranged it free of charge. She was the first to make me realize me that everything he’d done – including writing this letter – was a form a domestic abuse. I’d never thought of it that way at all. But as I think back on the physical altercations, the emotional abuse, the mind-fucking, the lying, the HIV transmission which, to me, is akin to sexual abuse… I can’t believe just how much worse I had been duped than I originally thought. And not knowing the contents of this letter really had me on edge… I left work petrified about what exactly it said. And I wish they’d just let me read it then and then, because it would have alleviated a lot of my anxiety.
I later found out that I could have read the letter then and there by invoking my rights by the Freedom of Information Act, but nobody informed me. Instead, I waited months to read it – it wasn’t until another ordeal occurred, and I needed the letter as evidence – that I finally was given a copy. When I read it, rather than fall to the ground with embarrassment and shame, I began laughing. It was ridiculous. It was not only untrue – but the level of detail of the delusion, it’s really really detailed, I was blown away by just how intricate this thing is, and the ridiculousness of his statements is beyond my wildest imagination.
So my ex took the time out of his life, knowing full well (and while he denied this initially, he admitted that winter of his mis-doings, although who knows if he was telling the truth then, but at least he admitted he did something for once) that he was very likely the one that infected himself and me with HIV… and still put in the effort to make up this bullshit and try to get me fired. I still had little knowledge on psychopathy and narcissism at this time, but little did I know that following a break-up, they always wage a smear campaign on their ex. And as I’d come to find out – he would stop at nothing, nothing at all, to try and ruin my life, my future, my ability to date going forward, my ability to work – as he says in the letter to my employer, he has “nothing” now all because of me and Steve – he thinks justice won’t be served until I lose everything I have worked for also.
The difference though is that I have legitimately worked for what I have – he has not. Unless you consider taking off your clothing and having sex to get what you want real work. But last time I checked, being a whore was against the law, so it wasn’t considered actual work. The letter he wrote is a prime example of libel -written (published) defamation. Note that every word he writes he doesn’t even attempt to say “he suspects” or “he thinks” – no – the dumb ass writes everything as fact. THAT IS LIBEL. What a fucking idiot. This would have been a cut and dry case in court, too – except that I’d be spending thousands in legal fees to recoup what – nothing – my ex doesn’t have a dime to his name.
The letter says a great deal, and finally gives an explanation as to why we would do this to him, which is something I’d been waiting to find out forever. Finally the answer I’d longed to discover:
They have destroyed my life in multiple ways with the sole purpose to protect their present career positions, financial and medical obligations, and hoping I would just forget about it and move on with no means of justification being granted to me.
WAIT – COME AGAIN?!?! Lots of big words used there that don’t mean a thing – what is the fucking REASON you dumb fuck?!?! He claims Steve gave me HIV, so that I could give him HIV… because that is going to protect our jobs (I work in HIV!!! That would ruin my job to do something like that), protect our (nonexistent) finances and medical stability, and the rest seems like the writings of a 5 year old. Jesus… I waited soooo long to find out what his reasoning behind these claims were – and finally I got the opportunity to read them – and it said this?!?!?!? It’s not even a reason. It makes no goddamn sense. But the best line is as follows:
I have made sure my entire life to reframe (not my transcription error) from getting infected – at least until I have a child.
What the fuck did he write?1?1?1? Ok, so HIV infection once you’re a father is no problem, just not before? How about my goal which was to never get HIV in my life? While I can laugh at this now, I wasn’t laughing then. I didn’t get to read this until some 2 months after it was sent – so I had no idea what it really said, who actually read it, and I had to go to my supervisors and those above me to advise of what happened. And while a few people at work did know about my HIV status – now a whole lot more knew. And given that I work in a HIV clinic devoted to ending the HIV epidemic – this didn’t look very good for me. In fact, my reputation and character in the eyes of many became forever tainted. So regardless of the fact that what he did was illegal, libel and a pure delusion – my professional reputation was basically killed at this point. When I went to one higher up, as I was advised to do, to inform him about this matter, he told me:
Do not tell anyone you have HIV. You can talk to XX (an employee who has HIV, long-term, it was known to staff)… he’ll let you know why you don’t want to do that.
So even my bosses – HIV doctors – that knew what happened to me – they were worried that that everyone will assume me getting HIV means I’m some drug-addict, slut, whore, drunk, bad-decision-making fool. The same worry I had they shared, and at a place where we work to end the stigma surrounding HIV. That goddamn stigma is the one thing that proved to be the worst part of having this disease. HIV, health-wise, for me was a piece of cake. But the stigma, how others view you, how others avoid you, what they think / say about you behind your back, is what’s deadly in this day and age. HIV is one of a handful of diseases that, unlike most illnesses, a lot of people have no problem saying, “It’s your fault for getting HIV – I don’t feel sorry for you at all, you reap what you sew.” I don’t want anyone’s pity – but I think I deserve respect. I think everyone with HIV deserves respect. Almost all humans are sexual beings, nearly all have had sex, they’ve done the same exact things as I did, only most fared better with their luck than me.
Finally, in all its glory, here’s the letter sent to my place of employment:
I was beyond clueless at this point as to why someone would do this. He knew he was responsible for cheating and the HIV and I’d not gone after him for revenge either; I’d forgiven him. This made no sense – was he a total sell out? Was he that much of a bad egg to see that he was the epitome or hypocrisy? He knew that losing my job meant me losing everything: my health insurance, condo, car, my whole life basically. Why would he do this, why would he stoop to a level so low as my job?!?!?!?
Regardless, he couldn’t find it in himself to assume any responsibility for what getting HIV. My ex found a way to blame me for anything and everything, even if it was the most ridiculous, delusional story ever invented. It made absolutely no sense at all to me.
Don’t blame me, don’t blame us, blame the guy below!
But making matters worse, I came home from work weeks later to find a police officer’s card wedged in my door, requesting I call her. When I called, I was beyond shocked with what she said: she was trying to locate me – to serve me in person – apparently my ex was suing me for a restraining order. I asked her to
His writing is the scrawling of an insane child, but his premise: Steve and I hacked into his computer and stole all the evidence he had collecting to sue us. So – dog chasing it’s tail basically – he was suing us because he didn’t have any (non-existent) evidence to sue us over. This created so much stress in m life you have NO IDEA. But ultimately – they allowed me to serve him by EMAIL, I’ve never heard of this happening before. He failed to show. And I was awarded a CPO (protective order) against my ex to a standing ovation in the courtroom. I wouldn’t say justice was served given I was stuck with HIV for life – but finally, finally, some small piece of justice was recognized.
First song written by me.