ASK DR. LEEDOM: How can I get my ____ away from the psychopathic con artist?”

This week I will propose a strategy for helping a family member break free from a con artist/sociopath. The conclusions I have come to about how best to do this are based on the information regarding the techniques these people employ that I explained last week in Coercive persuasion, mind control and brain washing.

Sociopaths establish control over a person little by little, BITE by BITE. Remember, BITE stands for behavior, information, thoughts and emotions. To help your loved one, you have to BITE back. Take a look at the situation and see how you can gently facilitate your loved one gaining back autonomy over his/her daily behavior. Try to always appear affirming and loving so that it will be difficult for the sociopath to come up with an excuse to exclude you from their lives. See your loved one as frequently as possible. Be a source of real information, in contrast to the lies your loved one is being told by the sociopath.

The sociopath will set up situations that narrow, yet intensify, the range of emotions your loved one feels. Be as much of a source of warmth and encouragement that you can. Try to resist any temptation to disparage the sociopath. The responsibility for recognizing the evil in the sociopath has to come from the person him or herself. If the person complains about his/her life, do not react emotionally, instead be a good listener and point out the feelings you see. If you become angry and say to the effect, “How dare he/she treat you this way!” You will see your loved one defend the sociopath, and make you shoulder the emotions he/she should be having about the situation. Instead, your loved one has to personally own all the negative feelings about the sociopath.

While you should be loving and supportive, don’t render any practical aid as long as the person is still with the sociopath. For example, do not give or lend money or take your loved one in until you are sure the relationship is over. The only exception to this rule is in regards to your loved one’s children. Do not stop babysitting even though this is rendering aid. Chances are the children need a break away from the sociopath.

Realize that your loved one may be subjected to these coercive influence tactics:

• Selective reward/punishment
• Denigration of self and of critical thinking
• Dissociative states to suppress doubt and critical thinking
• Alternation of harshness/threats and leniency/love
• Control-oriented guilt induction
• Active promotion of dependency
• Debilitation
• Physical restraint/punishment

Combat these tactics by bringing up the good you see in your loved one. Talk about his/her past successes. Help your loved one reconnect with a sense of autonomy and competency. Encourage your loved one to be more independent. For example, women often stop driving. If this has happened, say something like, “I always thought you were a good driver.” Use compliments and other supportive comments as much as you can genuinely do so. If you do, the contrast between you and the sociopath will eventually be felt by your loved one.

Patiently wait for the honeymoon phase of the relationship to be over. Since Sociopaths, at first, don’t act like jerks you will have to wait for the “jerk” phase to begin. When the situation escalates and you feel the time is right, you can chance talking to your loved one about the sociopath. Instead of labeling the sociopath, I think you might have more success if you point out that some people “love by control.” You can then name the above tactics that these people use to gain control over others, and give examples of what you have observed here. You can say, “I’ve heard that people who love by control aren’t capable of real love”¦tough spot to be in.” It is very likely that, in the beginning, you will not be able to convince your loved one that the sociopath doesn’t love him/her and is a complete fraud. That is why I suggest you not try to do that. Instead point out the harmful dynamics of control. People need some amount of freedom in order to be healthy and happy.

If you are in this very difficult situation and your loved one is in the grip of a sociopath, don’t give up hope. Every one of us here at Lovefraud was once in that situation. I will be forever thankful that my dear parents were there for me when I needed them most. May that also be your happy ending.

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34 Comments on "ASK DR. LEEDOM: How can I get my ____ away from the psychopathic con artist?”"

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My son is married to a sociopath (I think). In the beginning of the relationship, family just thought she was a controlling wife. I have been educating myself lately due to the excelaration of her behaviors and after reading up on the traits of the sociopath and narcissist, she fits most of the profile. I have been witness to her castration of my son for the past 13 years and three children. The relationship started with her pursuing my son and then turning him into her “saviour”. She was always in turmoil. Her father and mother were bad parents and threw her out and she had no where to go. (her story) We fell into that trap as well and took her in. Next thing..she’s pregnant and talks my son into marrying her even though he said he didn’t want to. Plans for a wedding were on…then she says she lost the baby. I was sad for their loss and relieved that they didn’t need to get married now. They could wait. Surprise! Now her mother had cancer and she wanted her mother to see her get married before she died. My son fell for all of it. She has belittled, demeaned, embarrassed my son to the point that he has no friends left. (and no self esteem) She has tried desperately to isolate him from his family, but she needs us as babysitters. When she was pregnant with her second child she called me up at 2:00 in the morning screaming into the phone that my son was beating her. I rushed to their house only to be met by the police arresting her for beating my son. Apparently my son didn’t want to go to bed when she did, and this is what happens when you say no to her. Her brother was witness to this and said she just went crazy for no reason. Another time, after my son just got home from a vasectomy, with doctors orders to ice up and take it easy, she wanted him to babysit the three kids so she could go out. When he refused, she locked him out of the house with no shoes, and he walked all the way to my house holding his testicles…because they had turned black. I can’t tell you everything cause I honestly could write a book on the 100’s of dispicable things she has pulled. My son has left her a couple times only to go back because of the threats with the kids and his own self esteem issues. She is emotionally and physically abusive. Now that she has isolated his friends, she is working on his family. My son is aware of her lies and says he doesn’t know what to do with her. He says she’s crazy and really believes everyone is against her. She never takes ownership for her actions. (She has issues with friendships as well)The saddest part is that she is telling her kids, (ages 10, 8 and 5) that she hates us and is making up stories to them. I know eventually the children will figure this out but in the meantime, it hurts. My son knows she has issues. I just don’t know if he realizes the severity of them. How can I put this in perspective for him. Our relationship is still in tact thus far, but I can’t underestimate the power this women yields over him. When I talk to him, he says, “Ma, I can’t wake up in another house and leave my children with her.” There is so much more, but I am powerless and have to watch as she destroys several lives. Oh..and the most alarming thing to me is….she brags about the time when she was eight years old and hated her father, so she gave her fathers bird a sponge dipped in sugar to eat and then water to drink so the bird would suffocate. Who thinks of this at 8 years old? Help!!!!


What a terrible situation. Based on your description, the woman is clearly a sociopath. The issue the becomes, what to do about it?

There are no easy answers, especially when children are involved. You have posted on the best article in the Lovefraud Blog about what to do. In the end, he is going to have to make the decision to leave. You can’t decide for him. Follow the advice in this story.

If your son decides to make a move, he should document everything that happens. Every time she does something that harms the children or alienates them from him. Keep the documents in a place where she can’t get to them – certainly not in his own house.

Nanny Cams and video surveillance would be helpful as well. Check the laws in your state for what you can use them for. It’s also important to not give her any emotional responses – ever. They feed on emotions, so he needs to starve her of them. The more emotions they get, the more they will demand.

KarenMarie, he is in a physically and mentally abusive relationship, she most definitely is a sociopath, and worst of all the children are in harm’s way. If you still have any influence with him, and he is truly concerned for their welfare, he must put them first and break free of her. I realize this is hard with children but somewhere on this website is information about how to get away, how to save your sanity, and how to deal with the aftermath. There is even information about a website where he could deal with her through an online mediation site (something about wizard but I can’t remember) and not have to deal with her directly when it comes to the care and welfare of the children.

It is hard but the longer they stay under her influence, the worse it will be for them. I feel for you and this burden but I feel for the children the most. They are so young and can’t possibly realize what is happening to them. When one lives with a sociopath, everyone feels like they are crazy to such a degree that normal is lost. Once they were free of the crazymaking, he would be able to work them through this experience and hopefully get family therapy.

I pray you and he find the strength to do what must be done for the sake of the children.


I feel badly for your son. He is in a tough spot, literally experiencing “hell on earth”. Remain a support to him, being patient with him, because he needs you. Read the various articles and figure out concrete ways to help your son turn things around for himself and his children, the goal being to get free of the spath woman.

karen Marie – My son was involved with a spath. He was at the point of suicide when he finally asked for help. Thankfully there were no children involved. One of her stunts had been to say she was pregnant and demanded hundreds of pounds for an abortion. Of course there never was a pregnancy, just mind f@ck.

He was spat at, slashed with a knife, his car wrecked, his flat wrecked…..you name it SHE did it.

When your son is ready, and one day he WILL be ready, be there for him.

He is trauma bonded to her. She uses the children as a hook to keep him there.

May I suggest that you kit out a room for him at your house. A nice room – if you have space. Boys toys (tv, gameboy etc) and all that stuff. Show him that he has a place that’s ready anytime he’s ready.

We were fortunate in that our son was saved. Years down the line he is still traumatised by what she put him through.

Your son cannot just ‘get over her’ this is NOT a normal woman you are dealing with.

Ask him (when he’s at your house) to write down a list. On one side he should put the good things about her and on the other side all the bad stuff. It may help him to get things into perspective.

No contact is tough where kids are involved but minimal, no drama responses are the best way forward. Be borrrrrrrrring where she is concerned.

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