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Dealing with a sociopath: Fight or flight?

Sociopaths are social predators who live their lives by exploiting people. When you’re the person who has been exploited, how should you respond? Do you try to hold the sociopath accountable? Or do you cut your losses and run?

Lovefraud is an open forum, with many people expressing opinions about what you should do. In the past, some folks have posted comments saying give up, run away, don’t fight, you can’t win.

I don’t necessarily agree with that. Yes, in some cases, fleeing is the best course of action. But sometimes the only way to survive is to fight. Or sometimes standing up to the sociopath enables you to reclaim yourself, even if you don’t win the battle.

I believe you should do what is best for you. But figuring out “what is best” may be difficult. You need to carefully evaluate the entire situation before deciding what, if any, action to take. The following considerations may help you.

If you suffered financial losses:

Do you have documentation that the sociopath promised to repay you? If you don’t have an agreement in writing, it will be very difficult to pursue your claim. The sociopath may argue—convincingly—that the money was a gift.

Does the sociopath have any money, property or assets that you can go after? Does he or she have a job? If the sociopath has nothing, there may be no point.

How much will it cost you to go after what he or she owes you? Is the amount of money taken from you worth the trouble it will be to get it back?

Can you use small claims court? The good news about small claims court is that you don’t need to pay for an attorney. If the sociopath owes you more than the dollar limit for small claims cases, perhaps you can break it up into several different claims. Again, you will need documentation.

Even if you won’t be able to collect, you may want to file a lawsuit against the sociopath just to expose him or her, or create a public record. This does, in a way, hold the sociopath accountable, even if you are never repaid.

Criminal behavior:

Is the sociopath engaged in criminal behavior? Is the sociopath dangerous? Can you report the behavior without jeopardizing your own safety? Are you willing to cooperate with law enforcement agencies? Or, is there a tip line where you can report the behavior anonymously?

Would your conscience bother you if you did not report the behavior?

If the sociopath is accusing you of criminal behavior, you must fight. Do not admit to any criminal behavior that you did not commit. A criminal record can ruin your life.

Children with a sociopath:

Having children with a sociopath is a nightmare. The best thing that can happen is for the sociopath to go away. You may want to offer a deal — if your former partner will give up parental rights, you won’t ask for child support. Usually this deal won’t cost you anything, because sociopaths drag their feet on paying child support, if they pay at all.

Many sociopaths, however, will not give up parental rights. They want to use the kids to continue to control you.

The issues involved in co-parenting with a sociopath are incredibly complex, and beyond the scope of this article. So here are just a few suggestions:

  • Document everything. Keep very good records of everything that happens. Save every text, email, receipt and record. You never know what you will need.
  • During a custody case, do not let any false claims that the sociopath makes about you go unchallenged in court. If you do not challenge the lies, the statements become part of the court record and will cause problems for you later.
  • Make your custody agreement as comprehensive as possible. Then, you follow it to the letter and demand that the sociopath follows it.

As Quinn Pierce wrote in her article, avoiding conflict to keep the peace may not work, and can hurt both you and the kids. But remember, the sociopath’s objective is to get a reaction out of you. So be calm, unemotional and businesslike as you enforce your boundaries. Even when the sociopath upsets you, never let him or her see it.

Your physical and emotional strength

If you were involved with a sociopath, you certainly were deceived, manipulated and betrayed. You may have been physically assaulted. You likely endured emotional and psychological injury.

So as you’re considering fight or flight, what can you really handle right now?

Your first priority must be your own health and safety. If you need to give up the money or property you lost in order to protect your very life, then do it.

Or maybe you need to retreat for the time being. Then, after taking time to recover and gather your strength, you can go after the sociopath later. That is perfectly acceptable.

Recovery and accountability

True recovery from a sociopath means moving forward with your life. It may not be the same life that you had before the sociopath. In fact, if you work on deep emotional healing because of this experience, it could even be a better life.

So what is the best way for you to move forward? Is it letting go of what happened? Or is it standing up for yourself and holding the sociopath accountable? Is it letting go on some issues and taking a stand on others? Only you can decide.

Here’s another factor: Sociopaths will continue with their exploitative behavior as long as they keep getting away with it. If nothing else, I hope we can at least talk about our experiences. As more people realize that millions of predators live among us, perhaps working to hold sociopaths accountable won’t feel as lonely as it does now.

My experience with fighting

Personally, I am glad that I fought, although I did not claim a total victory. When I divorced my ex-husband, the judge awarded me all the money I claimed — $227,000 — plus $1 million in punitive damages. I spent a year and even more money trying to serve my judgment. I failed, and eventually had to declare bankruptcy.

But I did prove in court that he committed fraud. That legal judgment enabled me to expose James Montgomery for the con artist that he is. And, it enabled me to create Lovefraud, where I use my experience to try to educate the world about the social predators who live among us.

For me, the fight was worth it.

Lovefraud originally posted this story on Oct. 21, 2013.

 

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6 Comments on "Dealing with a sociopath: Fight or flight?"

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Excellent article Donna.

I just want to make a point, that if, you are living in the same home as a sociopath, that you need to stay alive. That when a sociopath starts to push your buttons to start a fight, all intentional by them, that you should bit your tongue and not fight them verbally. That it’s best to ignore them & let them rant, rave and throw their god awful temper tantrum. If you engage in a verbal fight with them, they may harm you physically, they also are messing with your mind by starting the fight in the first place. They are causing you more brain trauma, which will take longer to heal once you escape. So it’s best to not to engage, I feel.

If you are planning your escape, it’s best to have a support network to help you with your plan out of the abusive relationship. Such support as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, your local abuse center, trusted friends & family & venting & educating yourself here at Lovefraud plus a counselor who is extremely knowledgable with narcissist & sociopath abuse.

When I finally got to the point of escaping, I felt in my mind that I could not trust anyone. This is what my ex husband, a sociopath, did to my mindset. But also, What I did not realize was he had already started a smear campaign against me since day one. So my gut instinct was correct not to trust anyone. So I did not have anyone to help fight him in court when I crawled out of his hellish world. And I was so broken down emotionally & mentally after 12 plus years of marriage & being abused daily that I did not have the strength to fight him in court.

My sanity was more important. Sadly, I lost everything in divorce court. Still don’t understand how a Judge could hand literally every thing to my ex a sociopath but that is what happened after my ex did everything to drag the divorce out for 4 god awful years. It just goes to show you how manipulative they really are and how easily they lie to everyone including to the Judge and how easy it is for them to mount an army against the good person.

I’m glad you had the strength to fight Donna…and thankful that you had the strength to start this incredible website & write life saving books for all of to educate ourselves & heal.

You state Donna:

“Personally, I am glad that I fought, although I did not claim a total victory.”

In our eye’s you did claim a total victory by creating this site. By exposing your ex husband to the world, by educating all of us on the hell we had been living…by making our lives better because of being educated. It might not be the financial victory that you had hoped for…but the emotional ripple effect you have created around the world is a major Victory for all victims of a sociopath. You & Terry have made a positive impact on this world. That’s profound. Please know this. Thank you Donna (and Terry).

am still being attacked by the flying monkey on social media it’s taken a toll on my life, I can hardly work I cry non stop. She takes my face and puts it on a picture calling her me a slut and is spreading lies saying I “service men”. I’ve contacted my local police he said because she is not directly contacting me there is nothing he can do. I have messages from her- saying she will take down her fake sites and stop If I agree to her condition which is to never contact the wife of this man.

I already agreed to everything in fear of her nonstop harassment. She lives in PA and I think the crimes on bullying are different so I’m trying to go talk to a officer there. I can’t take it anymore. She’s made a fake page and uses it to attack, it has followers and it’s public. She is defending this man when I told her the truth

I’m exhausted. I am at my end I cry I can’t eat or sleep and no one is helping my local police says call an attorney. I believe that she is doing a crime. Even if it’s only social media she is attacking me. Has anyone been in a smear campaign this bad ???

Jan7- brain trauma is exactly how I feel. How do you survive it?? I feel like it’s taking over my life- I’m constantly in fear of this flying monkey although the man I had the relationship has not contacted me at all since June. This insane woman I confided in won’t stop. It’s mid October. I have nightmares, anxiety, cry. Over the next social media campaign she’s still doing. She has a entire page to attack me on.

Hi. I’ve started reading the book, “When Love Is a Lie” by Zari Ballard and I feel like she’s writing the book about me!!! I’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist for almost 8 years (married to the man for 5 1/2 years). I honestly don’t even know where to start. I have four beautiful children (none of which are his, thank goodness) and, as a mother, I know that my situation is wearing on them. They know I love them so very much but they are confused as to why I stay with someone who treats me so badly. I feel like a terrible mother… With that being said, I realized two summers ago that I was married to a raging narcissist (knowing sooner than that but in denial of course). I have made excuses upon excuses as to why I should stay, ie. I didn’t get married to get divorced, I have 4 kids to provide for and I’m scared to do it alone, he’ll change, he always does…. But each cycle seemed to get worse so I finally packed up my kids (2 summers ago) and left north dakota to head back home to my family in Idaho. I was tired of being called a bitch daily, fighting for a husband that was cruel to me. I begged cried and pleaded for so many years. I apologized when it was my fault, I apologized when it was his fault. I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. I made it 2 months, followed the rules (to a certain extent), ignoring him, not answering calls and texts (wishing I would’ve blocked him because I’d still read the texts) he cried and begged and promised he’d change. He said he was sleeping with my wedding dress, wasn’t getting any sleep, he claimed he had visited a counselor, said he’d do anything if I’d just come home. So, I did. And things were good for about two weeks. I found out he lied about seeing a counselor. He started accusing me of sleeping around in Idaho, calling me a slut and a whore. And once again, he had me hooked into feeling the need to defend myself… Complete desperation… But at this point I felt there was no turning back. I couldn’t call my family who begged me to not go back… Who warned me about exactly what would happen… A year has gone by and I still find myself fighting a fight I will never win. I’m lost. I’m tired of crying. I feel alone, as all of my family is 1000 miles away and they’ve heard me cry wolf 100 times too many!!! I know what I need to do… I don’t know why I’m so scared to do it!!!

Dear Friends,

Realize my advice is not appropriate for young people (I am 60).

With both friends and dates, I always pay my own way/expenses and I never co-own any property/bank accounts.

Tend to be friends with GROUPS, rather than individuals. Also, when I date at least double-date, with another trusted couple, or even in groups.

Also, I make it clear EARLY that I am not seeking a living together arrangement.

This puts sociopaths on notice that I am not an easy target. (They move on to an easier mark.)

Have noticed LONELINESS attracts sociopaths. Do everything I can to PREVENT loneliness, as hard as that it is to do.

Realize sociopaths still try to victimize me, but not as often.

Monica

I stayed, until the younger boys were in HS; the older son in college. Then I ‘fled’ to a friend’s house for safety, and a divorce lawyer was found for me. The first offer of settlement was $5000 and 80 acres of our farm to me. I said NO to that; I had worked, like a dog on that farmland, and I wanted NO part of it. (not to mention having to deal with him as a possible renter)..the lawyer eventually came up with a cash settlement, which I accepted. The lawyer told me, I could have forced a farm sale and divided the money (and the debts) down the middle. Half the profits from the land sale, half of the debtload. I said NO. As far as I could see, he would be farming all of it, on his own, without his married woman doing all the dirty work. He’d HAVE to farm it by himself, or hire help to do the work I was made to do (without benefits, time off, etc)..He likely came out far better than I did, to own the land. But I was done with that life. I don’t miss that land. Its ALL his, so our boys can fight over it, when he’s gone.

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