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.
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.