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By January 28, 2016 58 Comments Read More →

After A Relationship With A Sociopath/ Psychopath, Finding The Right Support Can Be Challenging

 

SlippingGetting out of a relationship with a sociopath can be dangerous, draining, and confusing. For me, and I’m guessing for many others, this can be exacerbated by the fact that finding the right support during this vulnerable time can be difficult.

Finding The Right Therapist

There was virtually nothing left of me after almost two decades of being unwittingly married to a sociopath –chronic, subtle criticism; gaslighting; isolation; blaming; triangulating, intermittent love/affection, etc.

To weaken me further so that he could prevail in our divorce, my then husband started using full frontal assaults as well—verbal abuse, financial terrorism (pretending he could no longer draw a salary from his business; draining accounts; cancelling credit cards; etc.);contacting my parents and lying to them about me; threatening me; the list goes on.

I was so devastated by the realization of whom and what my soon-to-be ex-husband must be, not to mention the corrosion I’d been subjected to for years, I sought out a therapist who was knowledgeable about abusive relationships.

Over time, she made a huge difference because she was the right therapist for me and had experience with abusive relationships.  Shockingly, not all therapists have this training or relevant experience.  An earlier therapist I’d seen is an example of a huge missed opportunity.

Beware The Wrong Therapist

Years earlier when I also felt that the smart, strong, accomplished person I’d once been had turned to dust, I turned to a therapist.

Although she helped me regain a bit of my former strength, the question was never broached of whether or not my husband could be a sociopath and perhaps this is the reason I had changed so profoundly. The possibility that I was in an abusive relationship was never considered.

This was a huge lost opportunity. If I had considered and concluded that my husband at the time was a sociopath, I would never have used my new found strength to invest in my marriage, including moving far away from family, friends, job contacts, etc. for the “fresh start” my husband wanted.

Once I was isolated, my husband restarted his corrosive tactics and the separation, divorce and post-divorce from hell quickly ensued. Working with the wrong therapist can not only set you up to make the wrong decisions when you are unwittingly involved with a sociopath, but it can also be crazy making and further eroding.

A friend who was in an emotionally abusive relationship worked with a therapist who did her absolutely no good. He’d often ask her why she let herself be impacted by her husband’s words (abusive words).  Amazing!  I’d like to see that therapist live day after day in an environment in which he is gaslighted, ignored, and when not ignored is verbally abused. All the psychology I’ve ever studied indicates that environment matters. People and environments can be toxic, and getting safely away from them is important.

Sidestep Family/Friends Who “Just Don’t Get It”

As competitive, successful, strong women are favorite targets for sociopathic/psychopathic men, it’s possible when you turn to your family for help, they just don’t get it—they may still see you as the strong, successful, competitive, competent person you were previously, and it’s too incongruous for them to really believe how eroded you are–that you’re not just having a bad day or week; but that you feel your soul has been shredded and that “you” are now no more than shadow and ghost.

Did you know about sociopaths/psychopaths before this happened to you?  I didn’t. Your family may have no relevant experience, either. The lens they apply is likely the one that has served them well to this point—you’re experiencing a normal breakup, breakups are hard, you likely played a role in it as well, you’ll get over it soon enough, just put it behind you and move forward.  Although they may truly love you, they don’t understand, and the framework they apply to the situation may feel hurtful and judgmental—two things you really don’t need right now.  (Self-reflection may be important, but not at the stage where getting out safely and no contact is the priority.)

Family/Friends With Hidden Agendas

One thing I sadly discovered as I reached out to family and friends for support is that some of them had hidden agendas. Perhaps some enjoyed being with me due to my success and energy, and now that I couldn’t offer that to them, the relationship no longer worked for them.  Who knew?

Even worse, I’ve discovered some people I thought I was close to used my current difficulties to feel superior or pass judgement– “How could you let this happen?” “How could you be so naïve?” “I told you to get out sooner.” (Even if I couldn’t recall them actually ever giving me that advice.)  Asking someone how they ended up in a dark, churning, ocean gasping for air is not particularly helpful when someone is drowning—throwing them a life preserver is.

For those of us who’ve had their lifestyle or career or family derailed, some “friends” may use this as an opportunity to be competitive: “I’m so sorry you’ve lost your home, now let me tell you about the amazing addition I’m putting on my house”¦” or “How terrible your son is near suicidal.  My daughter just got into Harvard and finished third in her age group at archery nationals.”  Now, that’s helpful too.

The Aftershock Of Not Finding Support Where Expected

Like earthquake aftershocks, we may think we’ve found a temporary safe haven, but sometimes we have not. My therapist had to help me understand that I had to stop returning to sources for “support” who really weren’t supportive. It doesn’t matter if I wanted them to be supportive or they “should” have been supportive. It’s reminiscent of the Albert Einstein quote–“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I had to find some new sources of support—such as Lovefraud and others who have lived it or a few rare people who were unconditionally supportive and had no hidden agenda.

Although it took time to see it, one of the silver linings was that at the end of this painful process, I really found out who my true friends were and forged some new profound relationships as well.

My own sad tale of unwittingly investing almost twenty years of my life into a relationship with a sociopath and sometimes diverting from the best path, is chronicled in my book Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned (available via Amazon.com). As I don’t get a “do over,” hopefully some of my painful lessons can help others impacted by these toxic people.

Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.



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58 Comments on "After A Relationship With A Sociopath/ Psychopath, Finding The Right Support Can Be Challenging"

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Hi Diane111, sorry I lost the post we were chatting on. There are so many reason why we stay. One being they are being “nice” but that does not last long. And once I left I realized he was never nice ever he was using the nice guy to manipulate me that is it. And I also realized most of the time he was NOT nice. I honestly look back at my marriage and I was miserable from the day I met him. I was just trying to find some time of good in my day…but the happy face on but he was making my days even the ones I thought were go miserable.

Look at your marriage right now is he really being nice or has he just toned down his anger & mood swings to that you can tolerate his behavior?

I know you feel stuck right now but make a few steps each day to get out. Call your local abuse center and talk to them about doing phone counseling instead of having to drive to them. I would also suggest that you read Donna Anderson’s books and the book that my counselor gave me Women who love psychopaths by Sandra Brown. This book OPENED MY EYES WIDE OPEN to exactly all the manipulation my ex h was doing to me. Everything he did had a text book term to go with it!! Everything. I saw it in the beginning but by the time I left I was just so exhausted to do anything about it. But one day I had it, had enough of his craziness, his lying, his manipulation, his abuse his crazy thing he did to me.

I choose to SEE what he was doing to me…this is what you have to do. It’s easy to just settle back into life with a sociopaths but their craziness always comes back to terrorize us.

Ask yourself: Is my husband really being “nice to me” or is it just a game of his?

Hi Jan7, I was getting worried when I didn’t hear back from you for a while … thank you for starting a new thread! And as always, for your guidance and support and encouragement! ((HUGS))

You hit on a very good point which I didn’t think of. He’s being nice right now so I tolerate his behavior, and I have settled back into life, and to thinking, “He’s not that bad”, “I misjudged him”, “He’s changed” … God, I’m messed up in the head because I know he hasn’t changed and I know he is bad and I know I have not misjudged him. It’s just so difficult to take that step when everything is “calm and nice”.

And I have read Donna’s books … I had downloaded them on to my Kindle so my h wouldn’t know what I was reading. It’s so sad what we have to do to protect ourselves. I definitely need to re-read the books to reinforce the truth.

I’m hesitant to contact the Domestic Abuse hotline only because I’m not being physically abused. Mine is more on the verbal/emotional abuse end of the spectrum … the pathological lying, the stealing, the manipulation, the love bombing and gaslighting. I’m afraid they won’t be what I need and will make matters worse (in my head). As Donna’s article alludes to in finding the right therapist.

I do feel good in the fact that each day I make progress, if not in action at least in my thoughts, on my exit plan. I just need to get the strength to take that step, and I do know, that day will come, just like it did with you, that I walk out the door without a second thought! How I dream of that … to be okay and not feel guilty, and to have my self-confidence back.

Till tomorrow ..

Diane111
I’m only occasionally speaking to you and you might even have missed my post to you. I felt the need to share a truth with you b/c truth gets lost when we are still with this type of disordered personality.

TRUTH: Your intuition that he is being nice so you will tolerate this level of abuse is spot on. He sensed that you were willing to leave him and he’s gone sweet, to reel you back in. I remember those times of thinking I could be content with “this” (when he wasn’t being overtly cruel). But… that’s not his natural self. That a strategy he uses.

A second and important TRUTH: It’s much harder to leave when you are newly traumatized. Your strength is actually greater when you are not trying to recover from a fresh assault on your senses. TRUTH: There is no such thing as walking out the door with confidence and without a second thought. That comes later, after you have the time and space to let your mind put order to the craziness that was done to you. In fact, the abuse causes us to NUMB ourselves b/c it’s gets to be too much. That’s how our abusers get us to accept greater and greater assaults on our sensibilities, b/c we have become numb as we adjust to living with abuse.

BUT GOOD NEWS! Your self confidence will return AFTER you get free. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Wishing you freedom and a good life, which is not possible while living with this type of personality disorder.
~nwhsom

Thank you NotWhatHeSaidofMe! I do remember your comments to my situation … thank you for reconnecting and not giving up on me! I just got off the phone with my daughter who is losing patience with me and growing frustrated with the length of time it’s taking me to “move on”. As I said in my initial post, I bought a house, 95% of my personal belongings are moved out, we have no children together, no joint property, separate checking/savings accounts. From the outside looking in, should be easy to walk out that door … but it’s not. The playing with my thoughts/mind … the manipulation … is brutal on my psyche. I don’t which way is up the majority of the time.

Your first TRUTH … You saying how you felt with “I could be content with this” is exactly where he has me right now. And you’re right in that he knows I’m right on the verge of leaving even though everything on the surface it appears it is a perfect marriage. But it’s not real … that’s the craziness of this whole thing … I know this deep-down but yet still question.

Your second and important TRUTH … never thought about it that way. Spending these past weeks on LF has been extremely therapeutic for me … my crutch so to say. I am slowly but surely pulling myself together and seeing my h and this relationship without the proverbial rose-colored glasses. I’m starting to feel less guilty about leaving .. still feel guilty just not as intense as before. I know I need to leave when he’s not here, more than likely when he’s at work. Somehow I need to mentally block his spath ways from getting to me so when the time comes, I don’t have second thoughts because of something he said or did.

I know once I leave it will be long process before I get back to being “me” again … but I just can’t wait to start that process. I’m tired, exhausted, worn-down with the stage I’m at right now. Like you said, numb. I just want it to be done. I want that freedom you speak of!

Thank you again!! Hugs to you!

It sounds like your daughter supports your decision to leave. My closest friend and my then teenage son were impatient and frustrated that I wasn’t leaving the spath I was ‘married’ to quickly enough. I didn’t blame them for feeling that way. I reassured them that I would be ready to leave, but it had to be when the time was right for me and when I was ready.

Hi AnnettePK,

Yes, my daughter is very supportive of my decision to leave. Thank you for telling me your son and friend felt the same way as my daughter. Like you, I don’t blame her … I totally understand. Heck, I get impatience and frustrated with myself. I tell her, along with my sisters, I will know when it’s right for “me” to leave … I have to be okay or I won’t be okay, if you know what I mean.

Diane111
What you said to AnnettePK made me want to say just a bit more:

Yes, You will leave when YOU are ready.

I wrote “TRUTH”: but forgot to mention what inspired me to deduce my “truth”.

I kept thinking I’d leave my husband when I felt stronger and had gotten myself together. Only I never got stronger. I got weaker and weaker. I finally left on the spur of the moment when I realized I didn’t want to die and I knew I would die from cancer or some immune disease if I stayed, I was a MESS. (this was BEFORE he almost killed me). Those last months with my ex….my soul… my spirit was dying, the ME inside me was slipping away. I was having a hard time finding a reason to live. I wasn’t planning suicide but I wasn’t living at all. I was a shell.

That’s what I meant by strength is greater when the sociopath isn’t attacking and we are weakest after an assault on our senses.

(my therapist was the one who pointed out to me that the absence of abuse was NOT love but because it was such a relief from drama and anxiety and humiliation and degradation, the relief FELT like he was being “caring” towards me!)

Hi Diane111, sorry to worry you 🙁

YES…the cycle of abuse is honeymoon stage, tension building stage, abuse state then honeymoon stage again….you right now are in the honeymoon stage again. This cycle will happen throughout your marriage and sometimes it could just be a few hours, days or months before the tension building stage starts again.

EVERYDAY read a little from Donna’s book and related it to your marriage. Also look at sites like:

Psychopath free

Psychopathyawareness. wordpress

BE SURE TO CLEAR YOUR HISTORY EACH TIME YOU LOOK AT THIS SITE AND OTHERS!! STAY SAFE!!

My counselor gave me the book Women who love psychopaths by Sandra Brown…it was really good for me to really see what I was living. Its not easy to break free from the brain fog that the sociopaths has the victim under. This is why you have to keep READING, READING, READING everything you can get your hands on about sociopaths abuse. Maybe go to your library and read books on the subject there. Might be good NOT to bring the books home on domestic abuse so you stay safe. But you can either ask the librarian to keep the book in the back for you or you can just keep them on the shelve and read them when you have a chance to go to the library or keep them at work or your sisters/daughters homes.

Please know that THE BULK OF DOMESTIC ABUSE IS EMOTIONAL, MENTAL, VERBAL AND FINANCIAL ABUSE

also know that PHYSICAL ABUSE TYPICALLY DOES NOT HAPPEN UNTIL THE VICTIM IS READY TO LEAVE OR HAS LEFT

this is why it is sooooo important to have an EXIT PLAN & A SAFETY PLAN in place before you leave.

When someone lies = emotional & mental & verbal abuse

when someone omits information = emotional & mental abuse

when someone uses gas lighting abuse = emotional, mental & verbal abuse

when someone belittles you = emotional, mental & verbal abuse

I too was not physically abused until I was ready to leave. And from what I have read since leaving the most damaging abuse is emotional, mental & verbal abuse this is why abusers use these tactics because their is no proof to outsiders. But like I explained earlier it’s like they put a bird cage over our minds to control us from leaving.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE CALL YOUR LOCAL ABUSE CENTER TODAY and ask if you can set up phone counseling with them explain the reason why. Then if you have to go to your daughters or sisters home to call during that appointment so that you do not have to worry about your h finding out. SAFETY FIRST!!

Diane you are not “messed up” your mind is just twisted up right now by your h you will untwisted everything once you leave and get into counseling.

You are making great strives Diane…each day a little step and soon you will be running. Its hard but like I told you for me when I finally packed my car up and drove off I felt a release off my shoulders & body literally it was like my mind & body was telling me YES you are doing the right thing!!

I too felt “guilty” leaving him even though when I left I had found out that he had 3 mistresses in two different states!! YES!! What was I thinking haha!! 🙂 This is what abuser do they manipulate us with pity play manipulation to make us feel sorry for them and this is part of their con game = control over us.

Trust me I have ZERO guilt now for leaving him!! ZERO!!!

The self confidence come back…you will return to your old self but stronger because you know have the key to the world of understanding people and how to avoid these evil manipulators and con men.

Finding the right therapist is key I would highly recommend that you call your local abuse center to see if they have an list of outside counselors and then call each to interview them to see how knowledgeable they are about sociopaths abuse.

Take care Diane. Talk with you tomorrow. ðŸŒ

You are such a lifeline for me, Jan7! ((HUGS))

You are SO fortunate to be out of your spath marriage!! I cannot wait for the day that I will be able to help someone on LF get through what I’m currently going through ” give them support and encouragement and guidance because I survived 

O.N.Ward’s questions (earlier post) were very eye-opening for me ” well, more so, my answers to the questions. Got me to thinking and this mind-fog I’ve been in has started to clear. And NotWhatHeSaidofMe (earlier post) provided me with things to think about too which are keeping me on the right path. There’s hope for me yet!

I am being as careful as I possibly can be ” I know I have to be. The reading, that’s not on my Kindle, I keep at work in my desk. I get an hour for lunch, so I close my office door and sit at my desk and read. I search out anything and everything that will help maintain my sanity and give me the strength to persevere. I do have my exit plan in place 

I do plan on contacting someone to schedule phone counseling and maybe even an actual session or two. Although LF and the support group here are extremely helpful to me, I believe I could benefit from actual one-on-one conversations ” that human contact, I guess you could say.

I went up to my house last night and did some work ” loved it. I was happy and relaxed and envisioned me being there all the time. Did a lot of praying there too. Looking forward to the “mental peace”.

Oh, remember when I told you about checking his iPad, where I could see his text messages??? Well, guess who changed his password??!! He definitely is playing games with me ” and with my mind.

Right now, I’m feeling very strong mentally, but tomorrow he’ll do or say something that will have me all messed up again. I’ll never be free from this mind-craziness living with him.

Thanks, Jan ”

Diane111, just checking up on you to see how you are doing. I haven’t seen you post this week.

Hi Jan7,

Been down-and-out with the flu since last Tuesday. Actually just went back to work this past Monday. Thanks for checking in on me.

Everything else is status-quo with me, and I hate it. I don’t understand, and I’m getting extremely frustrated with myself that I haven’t left my h yet! I want to leave. I need to leave. Yet it’s like I’m held there by some unseen force. My anxiety and stress levels are high. I keep it all inside because, like I’ve said before, I’ve been conditioned not to “rock the boat”. I know this is not healthy for me … physically or mentally, but it’s where I’m at right now.

Will comment more later on …

Diane,

I understand what you describe as being held by an unseen force. I experienced the same thing. Consider if your ex is manipulating your thinking in subtle ways. My ex psychopath used hypnotic techniques and lots of other manipulative techniques to control my thinking. My son said it was as if I was a ‘puppet on a string.’

When I stopped having constant daily contact with the ex spath, my thinking changed and got back to normal me. My perceptions became more logical and balanced.

You might consider writing a list of pros and cons of leaving vs. staying – sometimes it helps to break one’s thoughts down into individual facts and feelings. You might consider making a detailed plan – just in your mind or write it down if it’s secure from him – about the specific steps you would take to leave, and in what order. Even if you don’t leave according to the plan, it’s helpful to think about the details, down to packing your clothes and what things you’ll take, and when you might leave.

You might consider finding a counselor or support group, maybe through a DV shelter if there’s one in your area. They may have services for people who aren’t using the shelter facilities.

Also, this book was very helpful to me. You can read exerpts from it for free on Amazon here, before deciding whether to buy. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004DI7SSC/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=utf8mb4&btkr=1

Thanks AnnettePK! I did check out the book, and it does look like its something that will help me. Any resources that get my thoughts on the right track is what I need. I have one of her other books also.

Just quickly doing a pros and cons list in my head … there are no pros … swear … none. Please don’t think it’s hell 24/7 BUT when I stop and actually think, “Why am I here?” I don’t have an answer. We own nothing jointly. Neither is close to the other’s family members. We have no children together. All our monies are separate. How sad is this. How sad am I.

As you know, Easter is just around the corner. I’m hoping … my plan is … to start anew … make a fresh start … be away from him so I can begin to think clearly versus having my thoughts and emotions always in a tornado.

Will stay in touch as my plan and life unfolds …

Diane,

Keep us posted! It’s hard breaking free, and then you may find yourself unexpectedly being pulled back in, either due to his fake remorse or your own doubts about leaving. Victims often doubt how bad things were when they’ve been away from the madness in the beginning. I would start thinking that my ex psychopath wasn’t so bad, I over react, etc.

BTW Lundy Bancroft is a man. Because of the name, many people assume it’s a woman. He has a website that has some helpful material.

Oh my gosh! Totally thought Lundy Bancroft was a female! When I read the book “Why does he do that” I’m picturing/hearing a woman. Thanks for clearing that up for me. Goes to show you why you shouldn’t assume 😉

And yes, totally understand what you are sayin with when its calm, you tend to forget all the bad times … things said and done. Thus you think, “this isn’t bad. I overreacted. I’ve misjudged”. I’ve started a journal, but need to keep it updated. Re-reading and reliving the incidents is like cold water on your face – wakes you up!

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