By | October 21, 2013 50 Comments

Dealing with sociopaths: 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 walk away?

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.

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 most recent 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 may have 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.


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Thanks hinahina. This thanksgiving I will not sit in any closet crying, him standing over me and yelling at me . My son and I will have a wonderful dinner and be thankful for him leaving us. I don’t care if he has dinner with his coworker/mistress. For all I care he can take her on cruises and fancy restaurants. All this will not replace a family full of love and caring. She can have him. Before long she will be sitting in a closet crying and shaking hearing his drill sergeant voice.


Kaya and All:

Being Thankful for Peace of Mind is such a simple and yet, profound sensation!

Social predators are unable to be thankful for such freedom. In fact, they are unable to be thankful for all the material items they lust after, after destroying good people in the process!

People who are responsible and have integrity are characterized by their industriousness, caring for others, planning and saving up for the future–rather than sponging off of their targets!–and building their resources up over time, while being mindful not to hurt or take advantage of unethical means to personal gain.

Then, these steady-minded creators of wealth, make timely assessments of their progress and measure their wealth not only in monetary terms, but also in good will and loving, wholesome relationships with others. Evolved humans give thanks for their blessings in every fashion.

Predatory types seem to be unable to be thankful. They can “win the world, but lose their soul”, and well, I guess it’s “instant karma” that finally gets them, as they create negative and thankless, angry energy fields around them by their dysfunctional choices.

Back to the original discussion of “fight or flight”, may I include in the paradigm the concept that’s been added as a de-stressor to the triggers that elicit the limbic system response of “fight/flight”: This concept is dubbed the “Relaxation Response”, or RR.

This RR is learnable and recommended for times when our organism is stimulated but the desired response is to give another avenue for the sensation of dissonance: we learn to actively relax when triggered with shock and surprise.

This RR is less stressful for our organisms in the long run as it interferes with the adrenaline release into our bloodstream. Though this hormone infusion into our tissues made it easier to deal with life in the uncertain jungle, over time and with constant triggers, we suffer from the stress which results in Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.

And, the result of that is that the immune system has been repressed and the body starts to kind of shut down.

With ongoing PTSD, it’s important to incorporate new knowledge and coping strategies in order to counteract the damage we’ve suffered. This learnable response reduces the stress on the system and allows us to be more keen on solutions to the issues/people that trigger our fight/flight response.

You see, you can use this to defuse the “problems” that others create in your life and calmly allow your mind to take you to a place where peaceful balance is found…the land of solutions…and from there you can step back and create a more positive world to live in.

It takes effort to get there, as we’ve all discovered.

Try the Relaxation Response as an alternative to the panic merchant’s ploys to control your limbic system!

Ahh, and be so thankful for everything you’ve got…rather than upset about anything you feel you’ve lost…

That’s my key to happiness!


Hinahina. Your closing statement is so true. This will be my new motto. Thank you so much. I know there is hope and soon I will be free of him for ever. There is one good thing that came out of this terrible mess and that is my beautiful, smart and loving son. He is nothing like his father. Take care everyone. I know life will be better for all of us. How can it be any worse? I already went through hell.

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