By | January 29, 2009 352 Comments

Can I Have A Witness?

For purposes of simplicity I will be using “he” throughout this post to designate the abuser and “she” to designate the abuse victim. We can all agree that males are also abused in relationships by females.

One of the insidious (and enabling) aspects of abuse is that the abuse victim often lacks a credible witness to the abuse that is occurring (or has occurred).

“Witnessing” is the act of validating, of believing, the victim’s presentation of her trauma. It is the willingness to face, not turn away from, the victim’s experience of her experience.

The abuse victim often lacks a mature, credible witness to validate the abuse as existing as a real problem—a real problem that is called “abuse,” and not a watered-down euphemism.

Lacking this validation, she is less empowered to confront the abuse, while the abuser’s leverage is simultaneously strengthened.

One can’t confront, after all, something that isn’t identified, recognized as real.

When we speak of abuse, we are referring to the intentional use of one’s power to control, frighten, cow, shame, restrict, degrade, dismiss, humiliate, suppress, inhibit, isolate, invalidate and/or damage and destroy another person.

I routinely work cases in which abuse is occurring but has yet to be labeled “abuse.” Sometimes the euphemisms, the minimization, or the mis-identification of the abuse begin at the bureaucratic level.

For instance, I recently got a referral through an insurer who described “anger” as the presenting issue. With a little further information, I asked the referrer if “abuse” wasn’t the more relevant concern? A half-minute later, with a little more information, I suggested,“So this is about domestic violence?”

The referring agent, who probably had some mental health training, surprised me with how relieved, almost enthusiastic, she was that I’d apparently called the situation for what it was—abuse.

And so the insurance company, in seeking a provider for the client, could not “witness” for her, at this early stage of her help-seeking, the true predicament (and trauma) she was dealing with.

The culture of secrecy, shame, euphemistic language, and sometimes ignorance surrounding relationship abuse enable and sustain its subterrean status and persistence.

Abuse always is a form of exploitation. But it’s also a tactic; the tactical aim of abuse is to control, restrict, or otherwise subjugate someone. The pattern of abusive behavior defines the abuser, which shouldn’t surprise us, as the aims of abuse speak directly, and indictingly, to character.

The abusive individual chronically uses a variety of defenses—like rationalization, contempt, devaluation, denial, minimization—to support his abusive attitudes and behaviors.

The more, for instance, we devalue someone—the more contempt we feel towards someone—the more we are de-humanizing that person. And the more we de-humanize someone, the more dangerously we expand our latitude to treat (and mistreat) that person as an “object.”

A major aspect of the abuser’s mentality is an inflated sense of entitlement. The abuser feels entitled to what he wants. He doesn’t just want what he wants; he doesn’t even just want what he wants badly.

The abuser demands what he wants.

For the abusive individual, to want something is to deserve it. Anything less than the responsive delivery of what he wants (and feels entitled to) is perceived as an injustice—a personal affront.

He will then use this perceived affront as justification (rationalizing) for his punitive, destructive response.

The abusive individual sees it somewhat like this: I deserved what I wanted; I didn’t get it; now she (as the uncooperative party) deserves to be punished.

When the abuser is too cowardly to punish his real frustrator (say, a boss), he’ll bully, instead, a more vulnerable target, like his partner (or kids).

Often intense anger and abuse are assumed to be synonymous. But it’s important to remember that expressions of anger—even intense anger—aren’t always indicative of abuse, just as expressions of abuse aren’t always delivered as overt anger and rage.

Anger can nicely deliver an abusive intent; but sometimes it’s just anger, not anger as the delivery vehicle of the abuse.

Many intelligent, abusive individuals can convincingly give lip service to the wrongness of their behaviors. Some abusive individuals, who aren’t sociopaths and/or too narcissistically disturbed, can and do confront the driving factors of their abuse and make genuine amends and changes.

But many others can’t, and won’t; their narcissism or sociopathy—in any case their fundamental immaturity and pathological self-centeredness—prove insurmountable.

When I work with cases of abuse “witnessing” for the abused client is vital. Although it’s true therapists shouldn’t make a practice of diagnosing people they’ve never met, it’s also true that when clients have a story to tell of their abuse or exploitation, it would be destructive not to believe them. And if you believe their experience (and why wouldn’t you?), then failing to recognize and label it as one of abuse is to fail them.

Why would it be destructive not to believe the client? Isn’t it theoretically possible that a client could be lying, contriving, or grossly exaggerating? What about false memories? It is exceedingly rare for clients to manufacture experiences of abuse. If anything, the opposite is true: the culture (as noted) of shame, secrecy, and minimization surrounding abuse inclines clients to underreport, not exaggerate, the extent of their victimization.

Invariably, it is the abuser who is guilty of the inverse of exaggerating, which is minimizing. And from the abuser’s minimized perspective, the truth looks like an exaggeration.

In the case of the aforementioned referral, it took little time to see that abuse was prevalent. I saw this couple for a consultation. It’s always an informative, first red flag when a partner tries to take you aside before his partner has shown up to preemptively set the record straight—that is, to assure and prepare you to expect all sorts of exaggerations and misreprentations from the yet-to-arrive partner.

You know that invalidation (and gaslighting), for instance, are issues when you hear (as I did), “Trust me, Doc, what she’s gonna say, it never happened”¦at least not the way she’s gonna say it did.”

These are cases where it’s best not to trust the client.

(This article is copyrighted (c) 2009 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)

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Elizabeth Conley

Thanks Mr. Becker. Invalidation was rife in the abusive situation I was in last year. Worse, it spread like a cancer in the insular community I functioned in. It was very hard to negotiate a way clear of the abuse without destroying my social standing and children’s relationships at the same time. It was like trying to perform interpretive dance in a mine field.

I wish more people could pick up on invalidating tactics as quickly as you do.

In the face of almost universal invalidation, discounting and devaluing, it was all I could do to cling to the shreds of my dignity. If it were not for my husband’s unwavering support, I couldn’t have coped.

Just one person who recognized invalidation, devaluing and mobbing for what it was would have been a lifeline. As it is, I’ve come out of the experience with considerably less confidence in my community than I had previously. From here on out, anyone who wants my trust will be earning it the hard way.

Maybe that’s good. Some former friends are beginning to realize their new status is “acquintance”. They don’t seem too hurt by that, so I guess it’s appropriate. They’ve actually started to be more considerate and polite than they were previously, when I would have done anything to please.

It’s weird. I’m human, and human nature still puzzles me no end.

Elizabeth Conley


Chuckle! Maybe I can’t spell it ’cause I’m new to the idea. I used to think the world was populated with friends I hadn’t met yet. I was the human version of my sweet but silly golden retriever. Now I know better. I may be late catching on, but I am catching on!

Ox Drover


Elizabeth: “doing interpretive dance in a mine field!” ROTFLMAO That one was WORTHY OF ALOHA,, Elizabeth! BTW, I call my cousin’s Golden Retriever a “Golden RETARD” LOL They think everyone is their FRIEND! Actually, they are not dumb, just naive.

Elizabeth Conley

We love our golden, but every time we com home from an outing we scan the house muttering under our breath.

“What did stupy do?” “Stupy Doo – oo, where are you?” Her name is Punkin, but she get’s called less flattering things as well – always tenderly!


In the beginning, the thing I was second most desperate for, the first being for my ex to tell me the truth, was to be believed by others. There were a few, family and close friends, who never doubted what I was saying. And they were life-savers. But I was always aware that, as far as most others were concerned, especially those ignorant about sociopaths, I could just as easily have been the concocter of events as the S.

In fact, most people, even for the first few sessions the therapist I saw (a wonderfully sweet, caring lady who was and still is essentially clueless about sociopaths), looked at me as if I were the one with the problem.

With the abuser gaslighting–which the S will invariably do–the need to be believed and validated is even more desperate. I think a person ultimately can stand the loss of just about anything, but the loss of faith in one’s mind, in one’s judgment and perception, is intolerable. On top of the abuse the S has already heaped up, this doubt, if not outright disbelief (even more likely if they know the S and not you, because the S is so damn convincing), on the part of so many is the worst insult to injury.

Elizabeth Conley

“On top of the abuse the S has already heaped up, this doubt, if not outright disbelief (even more likely if they know the S and not you, because the S is so damn convincing), on the part of so many is the worst insult to injury.”

You’re right Gillian. What is freakishly amazing about an S’s smear campaign is how believable they are. Particularly when the S has the personal history profile of an S, it just blows my mind that most people will nod along to his lies like bobble head dolls on the back deck of a pimp’s caddie. What’s up with that? If it weren’t so depressing it would be funny.


Thank you for posting this article. Sometimes the one of the worse things about the experience with the S is that people refuse to believe the extent of the cruelty and trauma caused by the S. The sadism of the S. I have been told a number of times after trying to explain what happened in the 7 years of being with the S, that I was acting like “a scorned woman” , I was “bitter and vengeful” “just cannot let it go”, “creating extra drama to torture myself” and “toxic”. These were the labels I was assigned because I finally had to speak the truth. These were people I thought of as my friends, yet refuse to see the truth. Well I guess the S deceived me for a long time too, so why do I expect others to see it?

I think the general public feels a lot more comfortable identifing beatings, physical violence and such abuse. People feel sorry for drug addicts, there are services for kicking a drug habit. People see children of alcholic parents and it’s clear who the victim is. Not a question.

Rape also. I mean come on, do people have to be raped in order for the public to say, violation has occurred? It is now well known that rape does not happen because the woman is dressed slutty. So why should the trauma and damage done by the sociopath be minimized and dismissed? Okay, yes, what goes on behind closed doors in private is harder to proof. But why would someone make up stories about the S? Why would we pay years of therapy after being with the S? Why would we have nightmares and flashbacks about the S? Why is it so hard for people to look at emotional abuse? Does it make people uncomfortable? Why say we are imagining it?


A weird analogy for what it was like being with the S.

It was s like being raped in the sou and spirit, in my humanity,l then killed by him. Then him staging the whole thing as suicide, after he has scrubbed away every evidence with bleach. Once my body is discovered there is no evidence of the rape, murder. Everyone writes it off as suicide.

Sorry for the morbid picture, maybe I watch too much CSI.

Maybe this is how it was in the Drew Petersen household, eh?

Ox Drover

Elizabeth ROTFLMAO!!!

“Like a bobble head doll on the back deck of a pimp’s caddie”

YOU ARE TOO MUCH GF! I don’t know if I can stand you and ALOHA both coming up with these things, I”m an old lady and it’s difficult for me to laugh like that and not pee my pants!

Absolutely! The need for validation is so intense! I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had a couple of friends and my son D that validated me. That didn’t think I was the crazy one. Even now, with my mother’s abuse, it is difficult to realize that no one outside the family in the community validates what is going on.

I AM very fortunate though that I have a network of CLOSE friends that are very supportive and my two sons, C and D, as well as my step sons and step daughter. I am SO BLESSED that I have ANYone that validates me, but the thing I had to learn most though, is that MY OWN VALIDATION is truly all I need, although the other is NICE it is not essential. Learning to VALIDATE MYSELF, my own reality, has been an important thing for me.

AT FIRST though, the external validation was the “training wheels” that kept me upright. When I was learning to set boundaries I would “validate” that my boundaries were reasonable by discussing it with my son D, but eventually I got to the point that his validation of my boundaries was not necessary, as I gained more confidence in myself.

That overwhelming NEED for validation external to ourselves I think is one of the things that I have had to WORK on. I CAN and SHOULD be able to validate my own reality, but it was a SCARY thing to do. I was so afraid of making a “mistake” and “doing something wrong.”

Why was I so afraid of doing something wrong? Why did it terrorize me that I might be “unkind” or “hurt someone’s feelings?” “Not be perfect?”

I finally got it through my head though, that those people who are “distant” to the fray really don’t give a rat’s behind, or if they validate the P or the abuser, they are misinformed, so what difference does it make? They don’t pay my rent, they don’t make a car payment for me, they aren’t my bosses, so what’s the big penalty if they believe the abuser and not me?

What have I lost? In truth, NOTHING IMPORTANT. Like Elizabeth said, they are/were not friends, not in the sense of the word “friends” that has any real meaning.



I do find it hard riding through the discomfort of lacking external validation. I have been practicing it though…I just keep telling myself “hold it-hold-it, let me ride through the discomfort, do not panic, I will still be the same person when I come out at the other end”
Growing up in a family where I had to guess the adults wishes, moods and expectation, I have hard time holding my ground in disagreement. I have become better at it.

When I stand up for my opinion, I have a feeling that flashes through me; a fear of being rejected perhaps. What I am learning that in a truly democratic realtionships and frienships you can say no and disagree and still be respected.

For most people this might seem natural, but for me it’s a new learning experince.

Elizabeth Conley

“That overwhelming NEED for validation external to ourselves I think is one of the things that I have had to WORK on. I CAN and SHOULD be able to validate my own reality, but it was a SCARY thing to do. I was so afraid of making a “mistake” and “doing something wrong.”

Why was I so afraid of doing something wrong? Why did it terrorize me that I might be “unkind” or “hurt someone’s feelings?” “Not be perfect?”

I finally got it through my head though, that those people who are “distant” to the fray really don’t give a rat’s behind, or if they validate the P or the abuser, they are misinformed, so what difference does it make? They don’t pay my rent, they don’t make a car payment for me, they aren’t my bosses, so what’s the big penalty if they believe the abuser and not me?

We’re social animals, and I think some need for external validation goes with that. If we aren’t at least willing to accept some external input, we’re pretty sick.

On the other hand, some of us are just too concerned about what others think. I can’t get over how much I wanted other people to like me and think I was a good person. Now I try hard to ask myself what I think of people once in a while, instead of always worrying what they think of me.

I recently organized a group field trip to the Surry Nuclear Power Plant for local home schoolers. By local home schooling standards, it was a big success. The weather was perfect. The Nuclear Power Plant Education Center Staff rolled out the red carpet and treated the kids to a really good educational program. About 80 people partipated. I overheard several ladies whining because the thought a tour of the actual nuclear power plant was what I had promised them. (Nuclear power plants are major terrorist targets. Since 9/11, virtually impossible to do anything like that. These gals were on crack!) The old Elizabeth would have let their remarks ruin things for her. Not me. I hope those silly wenches get really mad and boycott our next event! No way was I going to waste my breath trying to make them like me or see reason. They had been treated royally, yet they still whined. Whatever!

I plan on being party to many more similar field trips. The whiny campers are invited too, but I don’t care if they’re happy or not and I don’t care that they’ll never like me. We’re goin to have a great time cultivating joy with the people who know what to do when there’s joy to be had.

Looking back, I can’t believe I used to do back flips trying to get everyone to like me. What was I thinking?

Elizabeth Conley

Ox Drover ^ Above was addressed to you. Sorry, I got stoopid and 4got to type your name 1st!

I’ve gotta go torture children. They have to double up on their work today ’cause they’re taking 2morrow off from academics to participate in a play, go ice skating and attend birthday parties.

Ox Drover

Dear Greenfern,

I too was not allowed to “disagree” with the “party line” in my family. God and the Bible was used as the “final authority” (as interpreted by my mother of course) and so there could be NO dissent allowed within the family.

It was difficult for me to accept that the way my mother treated me was ABUSE, but it clearly was. Emotional abuse, religious abuse, and one case of physical abuse when I defied her at age 15, she beat me in a rage until the blood ran down my back. I realized she would have done that again if she had thought she could have gotten away with it. I could see the look in her eyes more recently that was in her eyes that night so many years ago. That look that was etched on my mind then, and repeated more recently.

I also realized that I did not have to accept HER INTERPRETATION AND VALIDATION FOR THE REALITY OF LIFE, that I could be right and she could be wrong. I also had to accept the fact that here intentions were NOT “honorable but mistaken” and accept the fact that her intentions WERE NOT honorable in any shape form or fashion. Her intentions were for CONTROL at ANY PRICE (and of course, I would pay that price by being punished if I didn’t allow her to control my thinking and my actions.)

I guess at age 62 I have finally SEPARATED myself from my mother’s apron strings, or cut the emotional umbilical cord. I can now live my own life and validate my own thoughts and actions. I do not have to be dictated to by her or anyone else.

It is amazing just how much I depended on denial of the reality of things and devalued and discarded my own soul to make it correlate with HER reality. Of course, doing this gave me the perfect venue to be abused by the Ps in my life as well. Just as I had accepted the twisted “reality” of my mother, I went on to accept the “twisted reality” of the Ps that I became involved with. It was so familiar. I listened to everyone in my world, EXCEPT MYSELF. Now I am listening to myself. It is hard work to break a lifetime habit, and to stay “emotionally sober” (like an addict with booze/drugs always “available.”) I have to work at it daily to maintain my sobriety.

I finally realized that I will never be “free” of the addiction to that former world, the world where I didn’t have to work at creating my own life. I might not have liked the life they created for me, but it was very predictable and I knew what to expect. Now that I am at the stearing wheel of my “life’s bus” I am responsible for where that bus goes, and I can’t put the blame or responsibility for the direction it goes on anyone else, just ME. But, by driving it myself, I don’t have to drive it off a cliff any more just because that is where THEY want me to drive it. I am in CONTROL, but I have to continue to work at it daily.


When someone is being gaslighted, as most victims of sociopaths are, the validation of others *is* important because otherwise you start to doubt your own sanity. I remember so many times, after talking to my ex on the phone, hanging up, holding my head and almost shrieking, “Is it just me?” I could go into the conversation sure of what I knew, sure it was the truth, but he sounded so damn sincere, so insistent, so adamant, he knew what to say to introduce doubt into my mind. And it would be normal, even healthy I would say, that if everyone is disagreeing with your view of reality to ask yourself: “Is there something wrong with me? Am I thinking clearly? Have I come to the wrong conclusions?” So while the opinion of others is in most ways not important–only if *we* say it is–to have everyone question your version of events–when you are the one telling the truth–is like being doused with whatever substance it is that arsonists use to make a fire burn worse.


OxDrover, wow!

Just as I had accepted the twisted “reality” of my mother, I went on to accept the “twisted reality” of the Ps that I became involved with. It was so familiar. I listened to everyone in my world, EXCEPT MYSELF. Now I am listening to myself. It is hard work to break a lifetime habit, and to stay “emotionally sober” (like an addict with booze/drugs always “available.”) I have to work at it daily to maintain my sobriety.

In ways, before the S, someone has had paved the way. In many cases our own parents.
I feel that the process of self validation and listening to myself is a complete re-wiring of my insides. I imagine it like a bicycle overhaul.


Sorry OxDover, I forgot the quotation marks…


Steve, this post is so important. I really like your definition of abuse. Not only did I not recognize the extreme emotional abuse I was subjected to as a child, I then, as a result, saw nothing wrong (I cringe to admit it) in shaming, laying on guilt trips, being intrusively and overly “helpful” (controlling) with my husband or family members. Thank god I limited it to that intimate circle, and did wake up. But I had to recognize what was done to me as abusive before I could recognize what was wrong with my own behavior, though I was a much, much, much toned down version of what was done to me, by about 95%.

And yes, I have always cringed a little at the labels a therapist would put on what was done to me, thinking I must have “over stated” things. But you are right. I did the opposite actually. And it was very important that the therapist did say “that was extremely abusive.”

And I was so used to “minimizing” and taking on shame, that when I was raped at age 12 by a stranger, other than the first two adults who found me, I told no one (and they didn’t either, to protect a relative), until 9 years later. It has been a long hard road for me to recognize abuse, but I think I’ve got it now!

Ox Drover


You are so right! Yes that “have to please everyone” and have to “make everyone like me” COMMAND implanted in our brains by our “internal parents” is a powerful stimulus.

Accepting that we don’t have to make everyone like us by laying down and playing door mat is important. It is difficult for me to internalize and I have to keep working on it. It is a “tape” that is difficult for me to MUTE. Looking back at my life in retrospect, I have had periods when I could do it, and periods when I didn’t do it, didn’t even try. It was much too easy to fall back into the “familiar” patterns of looking for external approval instead of validating myself (that’s work!) I realize now I will have to continually WORK on this aspect of myself, there will never be a time when I am “free” from the “addictions” of the past any more than a cocaine addict or a booze addict, it will always call me with the Siren Song, which I must MUST stop my ears to.

Elizabeth Conley


Here’s a chuckle for you. (By the way, I love burros!)

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway;it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finallylooked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping,never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.
Free your mind from worries – Most never happen.
Live simply and appreciate what you have.
Give more.
Expect less.
Enough of that crap . . . The donkey later came back,and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him.The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.


When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.

Ox Drover


I remember a time when I was a hospital supervisor for a specialty hospital. We lost our wonderful director of nurses and they hired a woman who was unsure of herself, and she then hired a psychopath. The psychopath immediately began to “court” her and convinced the unsure DON (director of Nurses) that “everyone was out to get her.”

It wasn’t long before there was a MASS EXODUS of nurses leaving the hospital in a time when there was a HUGE nursing shortage. The rest of us were there and shaking our heads, validating each other, but still wondering, “Can administration be THAT stupid? Are we the ONLY ones that see what is going on?”

The rest of us hung in another six months, trying valiantly to save the hospital because the level of treatment there was dependent on the experienced nurses. But, in the end, every nurse there except one (the director of infection control) left enmass. It ended up with the psychopath getting fired, the new DON fired, the hospital administrator fired, and eventually within a year the hospital closed and sold, all because of ONE PSYCHOPATHIC BITCH.

Of course at the time I didn’t really know what a psychopath was, or WHY someone would be so MEAN, hateful, untruthful, etc. WHAT COULD SHE ‘GET’ OUT OF DESTROYING THE PLACE SHE WORKED? Looking back though I can see the pattern she used to destroy the place, to literally cut her OWN nose off to spite her face.

The only thing I ended up seeing that was “good” out of this destruction was that the highly trained staff moved on to other places and passed on their knowledge. I moved on to a better job, took several of the nurses with me and had a fully staffed unit when other units in places were running on 40% agency nurses. Many of the nurses that I worked with there at the time have kept in contact even though that happend nearly 30 years ago, it is like we have a “bond” that I never developed with the nurses in other places I worked….maybe it is a “trauma bond” that we share. I know for a fact that witch sure created TRAUMA for us and we were dumbfounded about WHY. Now it is clear to see, in retrospect. Maybe things wouldn’t have been any different if we had known then what I know now, but it would have made things a bit more “understandable” in what we were as a group dealing with, as well as individually. At the time, though, I was crushed.

I have also worked for other psychopaths and seen them persecute personnel. Knowing now what I know though, I simply left that job, even though I in some cases hated to do that, but realized I had NO OTHER choice. I either lived with it (and the stress) or I bailed, and since I had no power over these people, bailing was the only choice open. It is disappointing sometimes, but knowing you can’t “fix” it and not wasting your energy TRYING to “reason” with them, does make it easier in the long run.

I’ve paid some big prices though for NOT bailing when I should have…I hope and pray that I never “fall off the wagon again” and lose my “emotional sobriety.” Just like alcoholics, I think sometimes we have to HIT ABSOLUTE BOTTOM before we realize what “drug” we have been taking is ruining our lives and ONLY we can quit the addiction, one day at a time. (((hugs)))


Oxy: That’s why all companies … no matter who owns or runs it … should ensure that all employees know where to write to express experiences regarding said anti-social staff. All this could be done confidentially and anonymously. Then the complaint can be checked out by sending undercover employees into that work force to check for themselves. Results would be sent back to owners/CEOs/Board of Execs so they can do something about the person instead of all the trouble these companies are having today.

I would think most owners of companies would care … after all, it is their company????


“I think a person ultimately can stand the loss of just about anything, but the loss of faith in one’s mind, in one’s judgment and perception, is intolerable. On top of the abuse the S has already heaped up, this doubt, if not outright disbelief (even more likely if they know the S and not you, because the S is so damn convincing), on the part of so many is the worst insult to injury.”

This is exactly what drove me crazy for 15 months…the bad relationship, the abuse, the assault, splitting up, the HUGE con job to get me to let him off the charges (he broke the NC order issued by the police and sucked me back in three months later. I was homeless, utterly alone, and suicidal – and he knew it), and then finding out about the lies and the other women afterward; it had all come and gone. I still had no idea what I was dealing with…and I went through all of it alone (or with him).

My best friend took his side from the night of the assault. This alone confirms his smear campaign. Why else would my best friend take in his daughter while he was hauled off to jail, and not even call me until a day or two later? (it took me months to come to this realization. It didn’t enter my mind that any of this was possible; that he would manipulate her, or that she could’ve been manipulated). I was horribly hurt and didn’t understand.
When he threatened to drag her into court I marched my butt to her house. It was the first time we had seen each other in almost seven months. When I told her that he and I had been together for the previous four months she was shocked. I told her then that he had asked me to not tell anyone because of the pending court date, “But if you’re going to court for him, then you’re gonna go in there knowing the truth.”
She said, “I told him I wouldn’t go to court. I wouldn’t be any good to either of you.”
“Oh” I said, “so he’s just trying to scare me – nice”

And then she complained that this whole thing had been “really unfair” to her, and that she “lost a friend too”

Uh, Hello lady!

“You did not LOSE a friend, you chose to stop speaking to me. I was never more than a phone call away.”

I sent her a short email at Christmas, including photos of me at his place in Oct/Nov…in his robe even.
“Yeah Yeah, I know…He’s “worried” about me, he’s “afraid” of what I might do, he’s just being a “nice guy”…
Have a nice holiday. I love you.

No reply of course.

The lack of validation is a real killer.


greenfern ,

your analogy makes perfect sense to me. I will add to it by saying even as I come back to haunt him, he is still sitting there with his arms folded saying, “you are an insane slu* bit&. You slept with someone else, I never raped your soul. you don’t have one. Everyone hates you. They know you were insane. But I’ll pray for you.” LOL

I am not kidding. This is the stuff he would say to me and i still have nightmares about it! I love CSI too.


Pb: They have no substance to them. That’s why their lives are superficial and nonsensical. They were so busy lying and conning folks from an early age … they never grew spiritually. Each righteous path we take, we learn lessons to build on the foundations of who we are and eventually will become as we grow into adulthood. They, on the other hand … never took righteous paths in life … they thought they were so much brighter, smarter, better looking … then everyone else … so they lied, lied, lied and conned their way in life to get what they wanted. Now look what they have. NOTHING!

They want to know what life is all about? … shut up, stop telling lies … go to a group of competent compassionate counselors (hopefully, this will be in a prison setting) … work backwards through your life and fix each part of each miserable year that you’ve been breathing … aka starting from scratch. Everything about them is a lie … everything they’ve done is a lie … first thing they have to learn is how to become humble again to listen to how to become WHOLE instead of the jellyfishes they are inside!

Beam me up Scotty … I’m outta here!


“She said, “I told him I wouldn’t go to court. I wouldn’t be any good to either of you.”
“Oh” I said, “so he’s just trying to scare me – nice”

Man! How did I miss either of those? See?!

The thought that she would betray me was completely inconceivable…”I wouldn’t be any good to either of you”!!!? I should’ve called her on that one right there and then.
I still want to know what I did to HER – not what I supposedly did to him – that would cause her to treat me this way. I want to know what HER reasons are.

And, as for the “he’s just trying to scare me”; I should’ve questioned the threats he made before court – while professing to love me and wanting to work things out, but I thought it was just him being a desperate idiot while drunk.


Pb: What part of she and he are both being their simple selfish selves DO YOU NOT COMPREHEND?

Selfish is as selfish does.

Peace. Stop thinking about him and her or any him or hers like them … for that too is considered having CONTACT … in your mind.


Oxy, PB . . .

“I didn’t really know what a psychopath was, or WHY someone would be so MEAN, hateful, untruthful, etc. WHAT COULD SHE ’GET’ OUT OF DESTROYING THE PLACE SHE WORKED?”

I really don’t think it’s “mean, hateful . . .” If we consider that sociopath/psychopathy is a sliding scale, I don’t think the more extreme are even capable of “mean” or “hateful.” I think it’s just control and power. I really think it’s all about “destroying the place.” Such a fun power trip. Wow! Tear down the entire hospital from the inside. How cool is that?

Several years ago I tracked down a psychiatrist who had started a company based on a collection of high-tech products pointed toward monitoring human behavior. I wondered how it had all turned out. As it happened, the VP of engineering, a man he had trusted for several years BEFORE starting the company, became the lying destroyer who sold the founder out to new investors. The psychiatrist lost millions of dollars, lost his company, lost his wife and family, lost everything. It didn’t help that — too late — he figured out that not only was the VP of engineering a psychopath, but he also barely had a high-school diploma. But he sure had a shiny aura of charisma!

I’m sure the psychiatrist would have liked a witness as well. I actually think it helped him that I also understood what a psychopath was and how this all could happen. It didn’t put his life back to rights, but I could validate his experience. If a devastated psychiatrist could appreciate some external validation, then pro’ly the rest of us chickens have every right to be looking for it as well!


Oh, by the way, the VP of engineering didn’t make any money on his treachery either. He just had the fun of tearing down lives.

Ox Drover

Dear Rune,

My husband lost his business in 1976 to 4 psychpaths who were experienced and successful CON MEN. Being an engineer and focused on R & D and new products, my husband wasn’t a good business man and by the time he figured out they were crooks, it was too late. Bless his heart, he never quit feeling “raped” by these jackasses and never got over the rage and anger at them. He spent the next 7 years trying to prove they were crooks, i.e. to VALIDATE what he knew. Unfortunately, he got the business back but it was simply the empty coffin, containing nothing but thin air.

Unfortunately, he spent 7 years of effort trying to validate his reality, that would have been BETTER SPENT on building up a new business. At the time we married, he was broke and downcast and tired. Fortunately, he did recover enough to have a good life and we did fine financially, but I just think about the “time he wasted” being angry and frustrated at them. Because he would never have tired to do anything that would be immoral and steal someone else’s business, he never could get it through his head that others could and would do that, and then get away with it. He was waaay too trusting sometimes. When he did make a mistake and trust too much, he held on to the anger at the Psychopaths as well.

I realize something that my husband never did and that is that we have to at some time, let go of that malignant anger or it will only hurt us. Doesn’t mean we have to approve of them, or what they did, but we have to let go of the anger when it is no longer beneficial and accept that “chit has happened.”


Letting go of the anger is an issue apart from that of being validated. Myself, I find it easier to let go of the negative feelings once I have been validated. I think that’s human nature. If my daughter, let’s say, comes to me with a problem and I try to give her solutions or talk her out of her feelings or tell her to just forget about it or let go of it or try minimize her anger, sadness, outrage–whatever it is–in any way, it seems to lead to more argument, dissatisfaction on both ends, and nothing resolved. If, on the other hand, I listen, if I do nothing more than merely parrot back to her what she just said, she feels heard, and that in itself is one of the most helpful things we can do for others. Likewise, one of the most helpful things others can do for us.


It’s called processsing – a necessary part of it all….

Ox Drover

DEar Gilliam,

YOU ARE SO RIGHT!!!! When we minimize another’s feelings, it makes them more intense on getting us to validate them. That is what is happening with others, they minimize or trivalize our feelings rather than validate them in their misguided attempt to “make us feel better.”

What you said about your daughter made me remember something from when my kids were little and bumped themselves frequently. You are a wise woman and a wise parent Gillian!

I remember if I tried to trivalize their bumps and scrapes they would howl louder, but if I were to give them complete “sympathy” and make a big deal out of their wounds, they would quickly stop crying and look at me as if to say “ah, come on, I didn’t cut my leg off” and happily go back to playing. LOL Now I realize WHY that worked the way it did with them.


someone please respond.

I sooo want to call him. I’ve done nc since Oct. 3rd. I keep thinking– maybe he was not an S.
I feel in every cell of my being that I am still supposed to be with this person. I miss him so much.
my friends are saying do not call him.

Don’t think I am going to survive this cuz I will never truly know what he was. He blamed it all on me– and I believe a lot of it.


akitameg: Look in the mirror … that’s who you were in love with and that person is still with you and will always be there! What you see reflecting back at you is/was the best of your relationship.

Meanwhile, take deep breaths … go silent … listen to your breathing … inhaling … and exhaling.

Do this for about 5 minutes … clear your mind and pay attention to your breathing. It will relax you when you get anxiety issues over what he was or wasn’t. As you focusing on your breathing … there is no pain. Only being in the “now”.



akitameg: You will survive this! I broke up with a N about a year ago, we had been together for 14 years and at the end he made me feel like I had imagined the entire relationship, I thought we would always be together. I cried and cried and cried. I am the biggest mess on the planet, but a year later I am still here, and kind of a different person, hopefully a little better, a little stronger, and I haven’t talked to him for a year (he still tries to call once in a while, but I won’t answer).

After I broke up with the N, I was very lonely and fell for a P. I didn’t know he was a P, I still wonder if he is. I have loaned him a lot of money and he has treated me like shit. Now that I am not loaning him anymore money he’s not calling, I did call him today and he said “I will call you from time to time because I am having financial problems and can’t see you right now”. What a brush off. It hurts.

I’ve been seeing him for 9 months and I still feel like we should be together, I so wanted it to work out. But I am not going to call again, I can’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. Now I am going to be missing him instead of the other guy!

I am just trying to say that you will be alright! I did not think I would survive, I had such anxiety. “This too shall pass” is an old saying but it is true. I heard someone on TV say when you have a crisis you will become stronger when you birth the quality you need to survive. I guess I gave birth to some kind of quality after the N left because now I feel a bit stronger going thru this with the P. Hopefully I will get better. I still think if I call him and say the right thing everything will be OK and my hurt will go away. I always want to understand everything. But I am still here, and I am going to be stubborn about being good to myself. I am thinking about you, and glad that you have friends to talk to! Have some fun, we’re supposed to have fun! I know you will be ok.


Thank you Shabby and don’t be shabby and give anyone any money– esp people you are dating! Bad–
Sounds like we both should get the book, “Women Who Love Psycopaths”, but I am too afraid to read it!!!

Bless you– keep in touch please! Be strong.


the ”trying to understand everything” is what will make you crazy crazy crazy. i am also that type. just give me ALL the information and THEN i will be able to get through.
problem is: there IS no understanding when it comes to what these sick freaks do. NOTHING can explain their behavior. and, unfortunately, it will NEVER be okay because a good, loving person can not have a healthy relationship with someone as sick as these folks. they are seriously mentally deranged in ways we (well, I anyway) will NEVER even begin to understand.
i know in my heart i did EVERYTHING right — i was loving, faithful, loyal, fun, helpful, generous, sexy, compassionate, giving, genuine — ON AND ON. problem is, they don’t even care about that stuff unless it nets them — money, a ‘win’, a possession, a leg-up, a ego-boast, a new toy — or whatever ELSE they want at the moment!
they are the dead-ends of the universe.
NO CONTACT is EVERYTHING. if we maintain NC … WE WIN … and ultimately renew contact with our own true selves.


Hang in there man! You are here for a reason. You are not crazy, even though you feel like you are right now. If he were the one for you, you would not be questioning yourself about it like this, not enough to wonder if he is a sociopath. Believe that there is better for you, please! Stay here, talk to us, don’t talk to him.


shabbychic2 and LIG–I always want to understand everything, too. I tried for years to understand my x–I thought his behavior was due to ADD, or that he’d learn from his mistakes and do better next time, etc. I still want to know if he is evil or just so damaged from childhood that hes’ amoral! But you’re right, it does make you crazy. The best thing is to focus on ourselves and take care of ourselves.

akitameg–NC. Whether he is an S or not, he was not good for you. What do you do for yourself that’s fun or nurturing? Maybe when you feel like calling S, you could do something good for yourself instead?

Regarding this post on being a witness, aren’t we lucky for this website which allows us to be witnesses for each other and to validate each other!


akita: i’m a little afraid to read that book too.
i feel like it will finally confirm my deep-held suspicion that i am a freakin’ magnet for these lunatics because i’m too ‘this’ or too ‘that.’
i’m self-questioning enough already, thank you very much.
anyone already read it?


personally, i think they are otherworldly … really non-human. i know that sounds crazy, but they really know what they are doing — damage — and they just don’t care. if conscience is what delineates humans from other animals, then they’re not human.
spawns of the devil himself, i say.


akita & lig: I read the book!! I am a magnet and that is the type of man I am attracted to: an extrovert just like me (but not all of them are P’s). Then my bonding, attachment, anxiety avoiding, etc etc just keeps me hanging in there. Like I am in competition with myself to be successful no matter what, even in this twisted relationship. I said before… I have a bullseye on my forhead. I have to read the book again, it just blew my mind.

And I try to understand everything. I believed that everyone was like me… honest, loyal, trustworthy. Well, they’re not. Because of my strong bonding and attachment… I thought the P was feeling the same thing! How naive can I be? Why am I feeling responsible for a grown man’s life and giving him money? The book said I/we can be impulsive. OOPS!


OH crap shabbychic2,
That sounds like a pretty accurate description of me, I hope I am not DOOOMED. I better read that book asap.

Healing Heart

Hey Ladies – Akitameg – did you manage not to call? You go girl!

Yes, NC is how we win! Not only do we take care of ourselves (which is why we do it), we actually make them suffer and miss us (added bonus)! If you distinguish yourself from the rest of the women by walking away from him and ignoring him, you will be the one respected one. He will remember you as the one who actually was too good for him and too smart for him. The one he could NOT manipulate and abuse.

Now I know that’s not the goal of NC, but isn’t that quite satisfying to think about? These guys do not like women, do not respect women (and the ones hooking up with men do not respect men), and feel that we are just objects for them to play with and discard. By going NC, you send a clear message that THIS ISN’T TRUE FOR YOU. A clear message to him, and to yourself.


Lostingrief: That was a good answer to pearl.

Sure made me laugh … but, it was good. “Spawns of the DEVIL” …

Peace (smile, your sense of humor is shining through). That’s a good step in the right direction for healing.


Breaking News with President Obama … saying “shame on the Execs giving themselves bonuses with the bail out money”.

I think White House staff should check in to what and who they are dealing with by reading this site.



Healing Heart,
I like that. I want to make sure that I get that message about MYSELF. Tonight is tough after that message, even though I know what I know, I am trying to block out the message of doubt that he was trying to plant in me. That it is my fault that things aren’t what I wanted, he is so good at it. Damnit he does know just how to word things…


Eliza: We all know how good they are at manipulating us. That’s why NO CONTACT.

No contact with you EX physically or mentally.

No contact with friends or family associated with your Ex.

No contact, no contact, no contact … and certainly, don’t look back. In order to heal … you have to force yourself to learn who you are again … today.

What do you like?

What do you not like?

Step by step … you get to learn about who you are all over again in this day and time.


Healing Heart

Hang in there, E. These guys are masters of lies, hooks, and manipulations. They will literally say ANYTHING if they think it can get you back – with absolutely no regard whatsoever for the truth. And they have no intentions on following through on what they promise. Oh they may actually think for day or two that they are going to (because they believe their own bullshit, but believe me, as SOON as he gets even the slightest desire to hang out with another woman, or as SOON as he feels the smallest amount of irritation at you – he’s history. He will drop you in a second and will not care anything whatsoever that he convinced you to come back.

My ex S did a big number on his ex Wife. She would FINALLY be dating someone else, and then he would go full throttle in winning her back. He’d put together CDs of lovesongs, pledge up and down that he realized she was the only one for him – she’d dump the nice guy, take him back, and within weeks he’d be cheating on her. This cycle happened three times!!! Don’t let yourself be a sucker like so many of these exes.

The fact that you are on this site already distinguishes you as a survivor. You are resilient, you are reaching out, you are healing, you are participating in a community. You are already flexing your “resilience” muscles – you are doing it, you are getting out. We are the strong ones!


Yes, NC can be empowering. The N I broke up with last year (not to be confused with the current P) complained to his sister that he can’t get a hold of me. Duh, I won’t answer the phone.

He moved back in with his ex-wife when he thought we were going to have to move out of the little house I was renting from my mother (and then he would have to chip in on rent), he told me “I am going to have a room there, it is a real opportunity for me, I will stay at that end of town and just come over here to see you!” NOT!! What planet is he from? Even desperate, insecure, self-hating little ole me found the guts to tell him to go to hell. I suprised myself, but I don’t think anyone was more suprised than him!!! Now he sits around and acts like he and his ex-wife are a couple, but you know if I called him he would be over here in a second. Not gonna happen!

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