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Contracts, Property, Civil Procedure, and Lawyering Skills

Today, I am piggy-backing on Cappuccinoqueen’s post from yesterday regarding Family Court.  I was accepted to law school for the Fall 2012 school year. The title contains a sampling of a “first year’s” classes.  As you can imagine, there’s a lot to accomplish prior to taking Family Law.  Although a remarkable opportunity, I plan to table this option for now.  However, I have not completely eliminated the possibility for the future.   Justice is something worth fighting for.  Whether I do it as an attorney or not, I will continue to do it.

What on earth possessed me to apply to law school? 

I cannot credit (or blame) one single person or event.  Rather, my desire to make Family Court slightly less stressful and equitable for victims of psychopaths, or individuals with psychopathic features, heavily influenced my decision.

I, too, have done battle in court.  I, too, have experienced the chaos and expense that tends to go hand in hand with protracted litigation.  I understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end of threats, harassment, manipulations, and revenge.  Like Cappuccinoqueen, I have also experienced a questionable filing date that may have been meant to trouble or upset me.  Naturally, I noticed, but the only thing that troubled me was the notion that anyone could think I’d still care.  In all fairness, I must acknowledge the possibility of coincidence, but find it highly unlikely.

Regardless, like everyone else in these situations, the goings on brought about a change in me.  Early on, I learned that abusers often wage court battles as mere attempts to continue past control and abuse.  Over time, I started advocating and talking to others about their situations.  I realized that people’s lives were sometimes truly destroyed (exactly what the abusers wanted) by such occurrences, especially if they were unable to find healthy coping mechanisms.  It was then that I decided I had work to do.

First, I chose to recover from the wrongs that had been perpetrated against me for years.  Next, I considered taking my fight to a more global level.  I figured that people needed access to legal representation, who truly understood the unique challenges associated with psychopathy or individuals with psychopathic traits.  So, I applied to law school.

I sandwiched the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) in between a restraining order filing, hearing, grad school, and parenting.  I’ll admit, the practice book didn’t see as much action as it deserved and now, looking back, it is all a blur.  Nevertheless, the importance gnawed at me, propelling me forward.

There’s a hole in the bucket 

The Family Court system can be emotionally charged and frightening, especially without a basic understanding of how the laws and system work.  On this site alone, many experience great angst.  For every story here, there are also many more that remain untold.

Some feel that we need significant changes to occur in Family Court.  Perhaps that is true.  Either way, I believe that small scale initiatives are good places to start and can lead to greater change eventually.  Legal professionals who “get it” are critical.  Why?  Because these types of cases are different.

For example, if you have no idea that the opposition’s attorney is going to attempt to hammer, intimidate, and discredit you, (although this happens in most types of law) you are going to become upset.  This is especially true if you have truly done nothing wrong, as most of us “rule followers” have not.  If you are in only the early stages of learning about personality disorders, you may not be able to comprehend why anyone would do this to you and may become caught up in trying to solve and fix.  If we do that, we may allow the opposition to remove the attention from the facts.  There’s a lot going on.  If you don’t move quickly, you may get left behind.

Thus, the reason we retain attorneys.  However, lawyers are busy.  Even the most well intended, sometimes, don’t realize that those battling psychopaths, typically have different sets of needs.  Few attorneys have first-hand knowledge of the court experience from their clients’ perspectives.  While this is not necessary for success, it may help.

Then fix it

That’s where this gets complicated.  There is not any one quick fix.  It’s not as though one or even a few survivors can go to law school, hang their shingles, and BOOM, all the Family Law problems of the world evaporate.  Not at all.

Rather, there may be some complex shifts that need to occur, involving multiple players on multiple fronts.  Legislative changes may need to take place.  But nothing will happen until we start the dialogue about psychopathy.  When we do, we can expect some enlightenment, even if there is initial resistance.  Attitudes will begin to change.  Law makers will hopefully ponder the research.  More judges and law makers will begin to see the connections between the research and the realities.  There will be a clearer picture of psychopathy and the damaging effects on others the disorder brings.

With what shall we fix it?

Therefore, we must begin with education.  I have to believe that we can do this.  If those who came before us with similar issues threw their hands up in the air and gave up, many of us reading this blog would not be able to vote this November.  My godchild would be sitting on the back of a bus, simply because of her race.

Thus, we must teach.  The rules need to change when dealing with this disorder.  Certain aspects of these cases must be handled somewhat differently than cases where pathology or pathological behavior does not exist.  There are legal professionals who do, in fact, have grasps on this.  More will only improve the cause.

I will work to increase knowledge regardless of my profession.  That, I know.  I will remain open to any and all options and look for opportunities along the way.

Strength and success to all entering the arena.  Let’s not ever stop fighting the good fight!

 


Comment on this article

15 Comments on "Contracts, Property, Civil Procedure, and Lawyering Skills"

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Linda, thank you for your article and congratulations on your acceptance into Law School.

My first marriage was abusive and children were involved. It was during that time that I experienced how the systems function (or, not). After my experiences with that situation, I actually considered pursuing Law, but I was told that the Law is a greedy mistress that requires nearly every minute of one’s time.

This second time around, I’m not so much concerned with being “right” or outing the exspath as I am just getting divorced from him. Even with this simple process (no children involved), he has chosen to make it a very, very difficult process and his attorney has, indeed, painted me to be a raving lunatic.

The most important step that we survivors can take after we recover is to educate. “I don’t want to get involved in that,” simply does not fly with me – we ARE involved in it up to our hairlines, and simply “moving on” isn’t going to do anyone else any amount of good where spathy is concerned.

The education needs to begin with the psychiatric/psychological community. These professionals need to hear from survivors about the carnages that they experienced. They need to recognize that the damages are perpetrated with deliberation and malice aforethought. They also need to recognize that the collateral damages (extended family, business associates, taxpayers, etc.) can run into hundreds of other human beings that weren’t directly involved. They also need to “redefine” and “re-name” this condition and recognize it at a CONDITION and not a DISORDER.

The term, “personality disorder,” is misleading in that it can be interpreted to mean that it can be “put back into order” through counseling and/or medicaiton. It is not a disorder. It is a permanent, irrevocable condition without successful treatment or cure. EVER

I’m on the education bandwagon, at this point. Once I am relocated, settled, and into my recovery processes, I feel that I have “something to do” with regard to my experiences that could help others. I don’t know what it is that I’m supposed to do, but I feel that I have had these experiences for “a reason.” Hopefully, the answer will come as I recover.

Again, thank you for your article and I’m all in for the “good fight.”

Brightest blessings

Linda, I second the congratulations on your acceptance into Law School. I applaud your ability to get there in the midst of all the drama that was going on in your life.

You are absolutely right about folks needing counsel that understands these people. My lawyers would often spout how experienced they were and tell me they knew more than me because of their age and their practice. When they would say that, I would follow up by saying, “where did you get your degree in psychology from?” or “so tell me about your custody war with a psychopath” or “when was the last time you have been severely conned by someone you loved (or thought you loved) and then had their child?”

After going through what I just did in court, I would hire Linda right out of Law School before I hired an old lawyer who had never seen one of these people.

Just to give you all a quick example, my ex told his lawyer that my family attacked him outside of the courtroom after one of our hearings. Of course, I knew this was crazy. His lawyer believed him so she subpoenad the video surveillance tapes. Of course, this showed nothing. His lawyer attempted to cover up the fact that he had requested these in court. I wished I had had a lawyer who understood how important it was to show the judge how this was just another example of the spaths pathology.

Instead, my lawyers seemed to ignore it just like they ignored the blatant lies about his new “job” and all of the rest of the fabricated paperwork he brought to try and prove he wasn’t criminal.

We will have to be in touch when you graduate Linda…I am sure by then I will still be in the middle of this war. Thanks for your article.

Linda,

I think that the mental health professionals would do the public a favor if they would “speak out” about this disorder (believing that it’s THE WORST mental illness on the planet), educating the public about what to look for, advising us that when you see the signs-and-symptoms, SCRAM (run for the hills). I had to figure out on my own (independent of any experts) that my ex-spath was a psycho, first asking myself if LYING was a symptom of something, eventually leading me to a diagnosis of the ex (discovering that he has ALL of the symptoms of the disorder). Then, to realize that his family-of-origin already knew that he wasn’t right (they held the family secrets), I felt betrayed by them as well (including the sister-in-laws who married into the family). It’s all done with, but I still have to live with the after-effects (the family members don’t have as much damage as I do), resulting from their choice to stay mum about their relative. To me the whole family lacks a conscience.

Linda, my feeling about getting involved with educating the general public is that we can’t NOT be involved – if that makes sense.

It’s not so much about “what he did to me” that’s the issue. It’s “what THEY are capable of doing” that is vital to convey, I think.

The recollections of people who are recovering and healing are as harrowing as any cinema script, but the horror of what I read on this site (and, in my own situation) far outweighs a screen writer’s wildest imaginations. For a person to go from what they believed to be a “stable” partnership with real estate and assets into a state of homelessness and destitution in the blink of the proverbial eye is beyond comprehension for most people. It can, and does, happen to anyone, regardless of their education, socio-economic background, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender. And, this is the point that we need to drive home: it can happen to anyone. The one profession that I haven’t yet seen on this board is an attorney, Law Enforcement official, or CEO, unless I’ve missed their posts.
I find this significant and more than a coincidence.

What I discovered in my personal experiences in Family Courts was that the only emotion that attorneys ever displayed was in the courtroom when witnesses were testifying. From what I’ve experienced, there is no emotion in a courtroom except for whatever drama/trauma that the attorney can dredge up to push their point across. Perhaps, it’s because no attorney worth their salt would ever find themselves in the same position that their clients are in, or it could just be that they have seen and heard so many rotten cases that they’ve become immune to the personal carnages.

For my part, I feel that the changes in the entire system will need to begin with the psychiatric/psychological professionals. It’s time for the professionals to set aside their egos, recognize that they don’t “know everything about everything,” redefine the parameters, and stop with the tedious rhetoric. Who cares if someone is a “malignant narcissist” or a “sociopath?” Really – I’m quite serious. The damages are the same and, in most cases, life-altering.

Not that it matters, now, but everything that I ever believed in has been dismantled and laid bare. Where once I believed that I would be secure for the rest of my life, I have discovered that it takes no random act to wipe out one’s place in the Universe. I’m not trying to recover from the loss of a beloved spouse who dropped dead of a sudden illness or injury. I’m not trying to piece my life back together after some random act of violence. I’m fighting to remain sane after someone deliberately, maliciously, and convincingly led a double-life that included relieving me of enough financial resources that might have assisted me in starting over, again. There’s no insurance policy to collect if someone that I trusted betrayed that trust and left me destitute and homeless.

So, I’m heading into a scary direction and I’m putting my energies into recovering. Once I’ve gotten comfortable in my healing, the sign post will be set out to let me know which direction to take my experiences so that others can make better-informed choices about their partners, friends, and family members.

Yep……on a rant, now……..time to shut it down!

Brightest blessings

Truthspeak,

Thank you for your honesty, posting so eloquently about yourself, how you have been affected by sociopathy. I know that it must not be easy revealing facts about yourself. You’re an amazingly strong woman. You say things that I’ve noticed, experienced, etc. but haven’t spoken aloud. What you say, educates, teaches… Peace to you.

Bluejay….yeah…..the “code of silence” among the enablers and fence-sitters. I rather wish that I had known more about the second exspath’s family before I committed myself to him. Seriously. His entire maternal family is hopelessly dysfunctional – from the 62 year old uncle that still has his 93 year old mother pack his lunches on to his own sexual deviances, it’s a whole group of 4 generations of silence and enabling.

And, like I posted earlier, I believe that the term, “disorder,” should be forbidden with reference to spathy/ppathy. It’s not a “disorder.” It’s a “condition” that will never, ever, ever be treated or reversed by any medication (prescribed, or otherwise), therapy, surgery, holistic approach, or nutritional changes. Sociopathy is a condition, and more to the point, a part of the “human condition.” They have always existed, and so shall they always exist. But, until there is a resurgance of accountability and consequences, this “condition” will continue to escalate on an exponential basis.

Both exspaths are not “disordered.” They commit(ed) their acts and choices with deliberation, deception, and malicious intent to either harm, destroy, defraud, or betray.

The language needs to change, as well as the egos.

Brightest blessings

Truthspeak,

My kids started school yesterday and I have the day free, so I’ve got things that need to get done. I can get absorbed in being on my computer, reading the articles, taking up too much time. Anyway, I hope that you have a good day. Blessings back atcha!

-bluejay

Truthspeak,

Please keep up your ranting. 🙂

What you wrote hit me hard. I could not agree with you more about calling this a condition rather than a disorder, and yeah, who cares about parsing the differences between malignant narcissism and sociopathy (among others).

This is probably indicative of the stage I’m at right now. I’ve gone through so many. The “raw” one. You know, quivering on the floor. And the one where I am learning just a little, enough to be dangerous (to myself). Wanting to “out” him. But there is way more to this condition than that. The more I learn, the clearer it gets, and the more sure I am about what I’m dealing with.

Well, at the very least I am glad that more and more people are speaking up in various ways about this “condition.” Whether it’s psychopaths in relationships, workplace, families, the court system, government agencies, etc. I believe it is all the very same thing.

We cannot continue to pathologize the targets of these predators.

Yes, yes, yes — as you say so very well — this can happen to ANYBODY. Anybody.

And it is a horrifying thing to have the rug of stability (home, work, standing in community, family, financial resources) pulled out so completely from under you.

The missing thing which does not sink in to most people is that it can happen to ANYBODY. There is nothing special about them which makes them immune to it. Nothing wrong with us that made us susceptible to it.

Setting that aside…. of course we had *something* the sociopath wanted or we would not have been an attractive target.

The biggest lie told to us (the one it’s time to set aside and begin telling the truth about) is that they don’t exist or, if we say that they do, then it is implied that they can be fixed or rehabilitated or at least understood (that they are just like us, but maybe deeply wounded creatures) and also that you can do business with the devil and come out unscathed.

20years, I can get on a rant, oh-boy-and-how. Sometimes, it’s a good thing for me to incise that wound and let the infection drain!

“Disorder.” Pffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft!!! My a** is a disorder! The exspath is a condition – either conditioned through genetics (quite likely) or through environment (quite probable). Disorders are those situations that are not made by choice – schizophrenia, for instance. Nobody wakes up, one day, and makes the choice to become a schizophrenic. Multiple Sclerosis is a “disorder.” HIV is a disorder. Sociopathy is a series of behavioral choices, whether its roots are genetic or environmental. Plain and simple.

If sociopathic behavior was treated as it should be – criminal behaviors of intent and purpose – then, people would be far less likely to engage in damaging behaviors. It’s just that farking simple. It is. Now, “bad behavior” is rewarded with fame, fortune, and celebrity. It’s time to replace “Bad Girls Club” shows with “Little House On The Prarie,” again….stop rewarding sociopathic behaviors, for criminy sake!

Okie dokie….rant over.

I agree with all that has been said here.

There are predators in every area of living. (bugs, plants, animals, water and land, and so on)

Why would there not be a human predator by nature?

Does this seem so elementary to others as it does to me? I would like anyone to tell me what they think about this. I can’t come up with any knowledge that discounts this simple thinking of mine.

It’s a disturbing thought but maybe it would shake up the ability to deny and enable.

Eralyn

Truthspeak – I am with you on the psychiatric part, but my belief is that a large group of these “professionals” are psychopathic themselves. In fact, one of the largest groups. I sought the counseling of at least 10 different therapists over the course of the last 30 years and NOT ONE of them even mentioned personality disorder. depression, etc. NOT ONE.

Sadly, as survivors that want to make a difference, we have many battle fronts to approach with our message. The legal system, the judicial system, the psychiatric system, and the general public at large.

I gave a lecture this past March to a group of 150 young women age 18 -23 years old. When I told them I had been married to a psychopath for 16 years – about a dozen of them laughed.

Until we can erase the image of the movie “Psycho” from the general public about sociopathy and psychopathy – we will not truly begin to make the difference in our culture.

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