The following letter, written by a young woman who we’ll call Chloe, is one of the most complete stories of psychological manipulation that I’ve ever seen yet. Chloe wrote this letter secretly while the sociopath she is living with was at the gym.
I met my boyfriend two years ago. I was 18; he was 33. He’s a photographer; we live on an island that is very small. He has lived here forever (10 years) and I had only been here a few months when I met him. Everybody, especially women on the island, adore him, he is THE BIGGEST charmer.
He told me that he had moved here with his fiancÃ©e, that she had said she was going home for a week, and then never came back. He said she’d gone to therapy back home and been “mindf*cked” and never returned, breaking their engagement. I felt for him. He was so normal and sweet. He was living with his parents (because they were taking over his place) and he was moving out. He/we lived with them for a year, he’s still in it to this day, though his parents left a long time ago.
Always telling me what I should and shouldn’t eat. I’m 5’7” and 115 pounds, and I’m size DD and he’s always showing me plastic surgeons that do the best boob jobs so I can make them bigger. He was normal for four months, then told me he didn’t want me hanging out with or speaking to other guys. He even would get annoyed when I’d talk to my mom or dad.
Long story short, when I started moving out, which has happened a million times, he became violent. Touching me, I’d ask him to stop, gently pushing him off me but he wouldn’t and that’s when he started strangling me. I’ve told people about him and they take his side, because he’s such an upstanding member of the community.
He says guilt is a useless emotion and therefore feels none. He’s broken six cell phones, and in turn I’ve broken things of his. He uses this as a way to twist it and say it’s all my fault. He has every symptom on the sociopath checklist; I could go on and on. He got me a dog for my birthday and has started to use her as a tool to keep me home.
I’ve lost all my friends, rarely see family, but I’m so scared of life without him. I hate him, but every time I think about not having HIM in my life my chest hurts and it’s hard to breathe. I’ve gone to the hospital because he choked me too long, and spit in my face and held me down and rubbed it in, and I can’t or won’t leave. Isn’t that sick?
Initially I stayed because of the sex. Now I stay because I’m scared to be without him but also, I don’t want him to be with someone else, although I think he might have cheated on me once. When I tell him all these things, he calls me insane and “such a victim” and that I’m “sandbagging him and that’s all in the past.”
I’ve called Women Helping Women, but your site was the most helpful so far and I don’t know what to do. Everyone loves him; even the cops are his “braddahs.” He’s an SMU graduate; I only have high school (although I’ve gone to private schools my whole life) so he says no one would believe me, and they don’t!
His ex told me he stalked her until she moved back to the mainland, and no one believed her either… I used to be really strong and confident, but now I can’t leave the house without his approval of my outfit. I don’t want him to be with someone else, I don’t want to be with him, but I don’t want to be without him. He’s becoming more and more negative and aggressive towards me, but I’m scared to leave and scared to stay.
I feel dumb, ugly, depressed, anxious, and trapped. He’s drilled into my head for almost the whole two years that no other guys will date me or love me, and that they would only cheat on me. I know that’s not true because I get asked out all the time, but now I’m terrified of being cheated on! What should I do? Oh also he has naked pics and video of me that he’s threatened to release, even make money on.
This guy is a classic sociopath, employing every trick in the sociopath toolbox. He used the pity play to snag Chloe, with the story about his previous fiancÃ© being “mindf*cked” in therapy to leave him. Yeah, right—she probably fled because it was the only way to get rid of him.
Then the guy used sex to get his hooks into Chloe. As Dr. Liane Leedom explains, in normal people, intimate relations creates bonds between them, and it worked with Chloe. These bonds, which are both psychological and hormonal, are Nature’s way of holding the human race together for our own survival.
But it’s possible for the bonds to become pathological. That can happen when someone—such as a sociopath—deliberately tries to bring another person under his or her control. Here’s how this guy did it to Chloe:
- Telling Chloe what she should eat and wear
- Telling Chloe to get breast implants, even though it sounds like she has a fabulous figure
- Isolating Chloe from her family and friends
- Refusing to comply when she asks him not to touch her, then strangling her
- Breaking cell phones—her way of contacting other people
- Telling Chloe she is insane
- Telling Chloe that no other man will have her
- Twisting everything around so that all problems are Chloe’s fault
Cycle of fear, anxiety, intimacy
Make no mistake—this is abuse. So what happens as a result? The guy creates fear and anxiety in Chloe. Fear and anxiety strengthen those attachment bonds, which started out being normal. What usually happens in these situations is that the victim turns to the abuser for relief from the fear and anxiety. The abuser then “forgives” the victim for “making him” act abusively. Then they have sex.
This cycle of fear-anxiety-intimacy keeps strengthening the psychological and hormonal attachment bond, actually rewiring the victim’s brain. So now, even though Chloe knows the guy is bad news, it is almost impossible for her to get out of the relationship. This is apparent in the physical symptoms Chloe is showing just by thinking about leaving—her chest hurts and it’s difficult to breathe.
Off the island
Yet Chloe must leave. She must find the strength to get away from the guy, even if it means voting herself off the island.
Leaving this sociopath will be much like breaking an addiction. This, too, is normal. As Dr. Leedom explains, the bonds created in these relationships use the same pathways in the brain as drug addictions. That’s why Chloe has to go cold turkey with this guy, and why it will feel like withdrawal. The secret, as they say in recovery programs, it to take it one day at a time.
Chloe, do whatever you have to do to get out. Be prepared for the guy to pursue you, perhaps to the point of stalking, as he did with the previous woman. He may plead, beg, and even threaten. It’s not because he loves you. It’s because he doesn’t want to lose his property. Because that’s all you are to him—property.
I might be-keep reading, then you will know the problem, whatever it is, whoever it is.
I might be,
if you are worried about it then you might be a borderline PD.
There are different types of borderlines too.
You’ll need to research more to be able to get an idea. A therapist who works with borderline PD might be able to diagnose you.
I think that understanding personality disorders is probably the most important task anyone can set for themselves. They ARE EVERYWHERE and being able to know what you’re dealing with, especially if you are dealing with your OWN PD, will help you tremendously in life.
Maybe there should be a section on LF where Red Flag vocabulary is listed! I can’t believe how the same words and lines are used by Spaths to reel their victims in.
You are ‘The One’
You are my ‘Perfect Match’
There is such Chemistry between us
You are my Soulmate
I know you better than you know yourself (variation: I know what you need better than you know yourself)
You are the Perfect Woman (Man/etc)
I am just so lucky to know you and to have you in my life
You are so Special
You are all that I want, and all I need
I’ve never felt anything as strong as this feeling of attraction before
etc etc Ad Nauseam!
Ash, there are dozens of articles that list the typical glib remarks and false assertions.
Donna also has listed a number of “red flags” on the “What’s A Sociopath?” and the subcategory, “Key Symptoms.” I would imagine that her recent publication also has a list of SpathSpeak.
Yeah…..they nearly ALL use the same lines with nearly the same words, verbatim.
I was involved with a sociopath for three years, in fact she was one of my best friends or so I thought. The thing I wanted to ask you people is, did your sociopath bf/gf start their slandering campaign against you even before they finished with you? When my friend realised she could no longer manipulate and control me (she used to try and break up my other friendships and even my relationships) she simply turned on me and eventually dropped me altogether. She first orchestrated a bullying campaign against me by playing the victim and when that didn’t work she simply stopped talking to me. But I swear to God it happened so suddenly that actually I felt like someone who is shell shocked. It was like overnight she became a completely different person not the person I knew for almost three years. At the flick of a switch. And then later I found out that in fact she had been conducting a smear campaign against me for over a year!!!Meanwhile she was still meeting me regularly and was nice to me to my face. So obviously these creatures plan ahead. Has something like this happened to some of you?
Zizi, in all experiences that I’ve had with spaths, especially significant others, they take great pains to set up their targets LONG before any hint of an end of the relationship. In their minds, they’re setting the board to make themselves appear “normal,” and their targets appear “crazy,” or “mentally unstable,” from almost the outset. This, IMHO, is specifically intended to divide and conquer and, ultimately, isolate the target from any and all sources of support or encouragement.
The second exspath went to great trouble to force a dialogue that would absolve him of his actions by asking me if I believed that he was BiPolar. I didn’t respond in the manner that he wished, and it was unsettling for him as I was no longer playing the game with him. “I’m not qualified to render such an assessment, and, from what I see, you don’t really meet the criteria. If you’re concerned, get some counseling.”
They not only “plan ahead,” but they often do extensive research to lay their plans.
Zizi, when the end happens, sometimes it’s almost like standing in a line at an ice-cream stand and being soundly slapped in the face by someone that you’ve never met who’s just walking past – no warning, no previous history, no hesitancy. One minute, you’re anticipating a delightful treat, and in the literal blink of an eye, the whole world falls apart.
In my recent experience, I was simply searching for something in our closet and came across a bag full of items that were so vile and disturbing that I was unable to process what I’d found. On one level, I recognized that the articles clearly indicated that a long betrayal had been perpetrated and that my spouse was engaging in sexual interests that were so alarming that I actually feared for my life until after he had exited the home, forever. On another level, I was suspended in a soup of absolute disbelief – that I hadn’t been aware of his activities for the entire time that we had been together.
Yeah….it’s VERY much like being slapped for no reason by a person that’s just walking by and continues walking without a single indication that anything had happened.
Yes it was very much like a slap in the face, very f…ing sudden. And she definitely ganged up on me big time and even got people to be rude to me on her behalf, so for a while I felt not only shocked but also very isolated. I also made the mistake of turning on the people she turned against me (not knowing she set me up) and confinding in her about their behaviour towards me. And she just sat there pretending like she had nothing to do with it and then running to those very people and telling them all my complaints about them. It all got very messed up and there are at least four previous friends who want nothing to do with me now and evn blocked me on facebook. I also have the nagging feeling that she had reversed events and accused me of all the things that she was guilty of so people will think I am nuts.
And you are right about the extensive research. I am convinced that this girl stalked me through facebook constantly and one by one found something wrong with every single person I was on a picture with and tried to stop me from associating with them. In hindsight this is all very obvious but I can honestly tell you that at the time I didn’t have a clue. I trusted her one hundred percent. I think no normal person can anticipate that someone close to them is up to such bizarre things.
Zizi, I’m so sorry that you lost so many friends because of this person. If they made the choice to believe her, then they’re simply gone and they weren’t your “friends,” to begin with.
FaceBook, MySpace, and other social networks can be a great thing, but it can also be a horribly effective source of stalking, harassment, and permanent damages. There is NOT ONE WORD on my FB page about my divorce, the events that led up to it, or anything that remotely could be construed as an effort to smear the exspath. I do not automatically “friend” someone that is a mutual friend of someone that I know. Having said that, it behooves people to remember that posting personal feelings on ANY social network or website that identifies them by their own name is a very, very dangerous and foolish practice.
Additionally, BEWARE of people that you “know” who “friend” people on YOUR list!!!! When I had my business, the female ex-con “friended” every one of my students and she had no business doing this – there was NO connection to these people, emotionally, physically, or in any business relationship. This should have been an ENORMOUS Red Flag to me! Consequently, that includes “friending” the people on a significant other’s list of “friends.” It simply becomes a seething, stinking cesspool of gossip, drama, and “who gives a shit?”
Truthspeak, I actually never post my personal feelings on Facebook the only thing I do is have photos on there with my friends. The really bizarre thing is that the sociopath I was dealing with was forever paranoid about other people and hardly revealed any information about herself. She even gave people in her past strange nicknames and never used their real names. I guess she thought everyone was just like her. Come to think of it all the sociopaths I have ever met have been incredibly paranoid and secretive.
And I think you are right not to put anything on your FB that could remotely be construed as an effort to smear the exspath, as they are very vengeful and will stop at nothing to prevent information leaking out about them.
Regarding your last paragraph above…that is why I don’t show my friends list on Facebook. Not even my “friends” can see who my other friends are. You should set yours up that way, too.