By | February 16, 2017 7 Comments

Being With A Sociopath Is Like Being In A Cult


Husband Liar SociopathEvery week, a chapter of my book, “Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned” (available via, just click on the title or book cover) will be published here on Lovefraud. To read prior chapters, please see the links at the bottom of the post.

Chapter 39: Past The Point Of Rescue (Hal Ketchum)

Secretly, I hoped that Paul would just pick up and leave or be killed in a plane crash or in a car accident on one of those dark nights he came home late from a business trip or “working at the office.”

I had never been able to shake my concerns that Paul had been and perhaps still was sexually involved with Anne-Marie. He always treated her like a princess. He had even paid for her half of the massive litigation expenses years earlier, told me she would pay us back, and then never asked to be reimbursed (even though I brought it up several times). He had handed her half of a now successful company on a silver platter. Once, when I’d met Anne-Marie’s mother, she fawned over Paul, saying “Thank you for fulfilling every one of my daughter’s dreams.” I would have respected Paul for being a great mentor to Anne-Marie had it not been for concerns about the true nature of their relationship and for the fact that Paul treated me like a scullery maid. An image of Paul and Anne-Marie living happily ever after drifted into my mind. Good luck!

I felt dead inside—pathetic that I lacked the energy or will to escape from my pitiful life. But I wasn’t pathetic. I had been poisoned emotionally. Sociopaths are brilliant at what they do. Disguised as Prince Charming, they are emotional vampires who rob people of their souls.

I reached out to my parents for help. Their response was that I was always welcome at their house if I needed a place to go. That was not enough. They did not understand that I did not have the confidence, self-esteem, or strength to get there on my own. Perhaps my cries for help did not resonate as being “real.” Perhaps they could not comprehend how totally depleted I was, that I was flirting with serious depression. Perhaps I still looked like “me,” the strong, independent woman who had excelled as an undergraduate at Harvard and a business student at Yale, who had been a fierce national squash competitor, and who was once a respected business professional. Perhaps it was too much of a disconnect to believe the words I was saying were true—that I was almost gone. Most people do not want to interfere. I get that, but there are times when they should.

Being involved with a sociopath is like being trapped in a cult. With reality elusive, fear of reprisal (emotional or physical) palpable, and your strength sapped, you need help. That doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human. But no one reached out to help me. I would have to do it on my own, but I was not strong enough to do that. Not yet.

One reason victims of abusive relationships find it so challenging to leave is that in traumatic situations—whether a ten-day hostage event or a twenty-year emotionally abusive marriage—victims develop strong bonds with other people present during their trauma. As documented in the book The Betrayal Bond—Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships by Patrick J. Carnes, although it sounds counterintuitive and even repugnant, if the main person present during the trauma is the abuser, then the victim is prone to developing a strong bond and great loyalty to the very person perpetuating his or her abuse. Consequently, it is challenging for a victim to exit an abusive relationship, because it violates the strong bond and loyalty she has developed, albeit unwittingly, with the very person she must escape. People do not choose for this to happen. They do not want it to happen. It just does. I knew Paul was the source of my pain and unhappiness, yet I felt totally loyal to him and dependent upon him. I certainly did not want to feel that way, but I did.


Start from the beginning:

Chapter 1

Go to previous chapter:

Chapter 38B


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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O.N. Ward – You are totally right about the betrayal bond. It is totally counter-intuitive, but it is exactly what happens. It’s why people have such difficulty getting out of abusive situations – they are emotionally attached to the person who is doing the abusing.

And yes, it is exactly what happens in cults.


I was afraid of him, even years before I did leave (29+years); but my family was of little support. Either they didn’t want to get involved or didn’t know what to do; I’m not sure which. I thought that NONE of our neighbors knew, or that they blamed ME for what was going on. I found out, long later on, that they ALL knew. But, NO ONE (not family, friends,neighbors) offered me any serious help. I was, really alone in emotional pain, despair; afraid to stay and even more afraid to leave. It kept me in limbo for too many years. Maybe I wouldn’t have accepted help, I don’t know now. I’ve had to forgive those who knew, or suspected; and yet did nothing. There was NO spouse abuse crisis place or even a phone number for many years in our area of the State of Nebraska. I did call one such number in the later years of marriage, and visited one such crisis place. But, I did nothing. I was too afraid, too weak.


How were you able to leave in the end? Where did you get the strength from?


I did ‘hit bottom’ emotionally; and our youngest sons were in high school, enlisted to join military service soon after graduation. our oldest son was in college; so none of the boys needed me to be full-time mom anymore. their father’s bi-polar was increasingly erratic, and my body and mind simply wouldn’t take any more. by then, I had a fulltime busdriving job and a cleaning job that kept me busy at nights and not dwelling on HIM so much. It gave me time/energy/space to think “I cant do this anymore”. 2 women friends came forward and offered help of one kind or another, if I did the work of doing what I could, to get away and NOT come back. their support made ALL the difference. I never consulted my family at all; I was angry and depressed with them for their lack of support. The ex was taking ‘temp’ jobs (he refused to apply for full time work); and with my night time cleaning job, I boxed up and took out of the house, personal stuff, clothes, books, what I’d need to ‘start over’. I opened a secret bank account in my own name, hid cash at a friend’s house, and when I felt the time was right, I took a pet dog (the ex would have destroyed him), left a note for him and hid out at one of my friends. I called my family 2 days later, so they would know what was going on. My friends helped me get a lawyer I could afford. I was badly frightened, but I just kept taking tiny baby steps forward, and NOT GO BACK. Sad to say, our 2 sons at home, begged me to come back home; but I refused..I was out, and I feared if I did go back, I’d never make it out again. All 3 sons were upset, VERY angry with me, for leaving; I don’t think they’ve gotten over it and it is 18 years ago now. all I had was what little courage and ‘guts’ that were left, after years and years of verbal/emotional/sexual abuse and overwork on the farm. the boys NEVER defended me from their dad’s abuses, in fact they sided with HIM! I did it, to save myself, what was left to save.


regretfullymine, your post is very powerful. In your darkest of depths you slowly had the courage & strength to crawled away from your hell.

You should be so proud of yourself! All the steps you made not only freed you physically but also mentally from your ex.

I’m sorry that your children did not see why you escaped. I hope someday they will see the truth & stand by your side.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Kudos to your friends for having the awareness & education to help you out also.

Hugs to you!! You are a STRONG STRONG woman!!!

Hope Springs

Omg, this is such good writing and states exactly why people have a difficult time leaving the relationship with the disordered partner. People keep hoping the disordered person will return to that person they thought they were…but literally never were.

Normal people with normal emotions form attachments and love bonds. The disordered do not…can not. Therein lies the problem.

Cheers for another exemplary post.


Your post brings me to tears, but so so happy you finally got out of that situation. I have a question for you, I see how you mentioned your family didn’t offer help, etc. I’m in the situation that my sister is with the sociopath. There’s not a day that goes by that I think about her (we WERE extremely close before him). Can you please tell me, what would you have wanted your family to say? I feel like I’m lost. I’ve tried sending her sociopath information, told her things I’ve found, we (my other sister and I) have even sent her proof he was on a dating site – she told us to mind our own F’ing (that’s so NOT like her) business. I would love any recommendations from ANYONE?? I feel 2018 will be the year she wakes up, but I’m still so sad all the time for what he’s done to my sister. Thanks for any help! Praying for all!

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