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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I saw a post of facebook that said something about conflict not being worth the loss of peace.I’ve got to agree.I don’t look down on anyone who makes the choice to fight in court.It’s just that I’ve lost enough,and as many of you can attest,the losses only seem to pile up as the drama goes on.My health and sanity are my top considerations.Life goes on.

So true, Blossom. So much time and energy is wasted by these sociopaths and psychopaths. They take such a huge toll on resources. They rob so many people of their time, money, sense of self, safety, community integrity and basically, every level that is measurable in economic terms.

As a naturally curious person who is uncomfortable wallowing in misery, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to calculate the dollar amount that is evaporated by these social predators. It’s really far more than the actual dollars they stole from you and me. It is also court costs, the costs of fixing our cars that they’ve sabotaged, the cost of our and our children’s climb out of the horrible pit of destruction that the predators foist upon us, and so many other incidental costs of their insidious perversions often without our even really getting a grip on the actual losses we could add up over the course of a year.

Based on my own losses plus those that the one who targeted me also created for others, that I estimate at no less than 5 other people besides myself per year and multiplied by the estimated head count of the socially predatory types across the United States, and taking into account the averaging of some being far more insidious and costly than others, I calculated a $7 Trillion loss per year in the USA.

This number represents half of the GDP of the USA per year. I surmise from this estimated number that the advancement of mankind due to innovation, conservation of resources, applied technologies and labor saving devices, is negated in a very, very significant way. It is due to the predatory aspects of these social toilets that worthy resources are flushed away in huge amounts, where if the social predation were attenuated, the largesse would effect a huge boon to the economic advancement of mankind.

In other words, without these social predators masquerading as normal and disallowing them free rein to hurt and destroy, we would see many, many more millionaires and people living less stressed and more bountiful and happy lives.

Sociopaths, psychopaths and malignant narcissists destroy real resources. They impoverish innocent people. They hurt people over the course of lifetimes and this is why humanity is not advancing as quickly as one might expect: i.e., the natural result of the general trending of better and better resource allocation.

It’s true that every fight we give them is like their life blood. They see any interaction, no matter how hurtful to themselves or others, as a win for them. But it’s not a win at all, as we know. People get hurt. People cry and lose their life savings, if not their lives, too. Real people lose real assets. The social predators make people lose resources. That’s why I call them “losers”, because that’s all they know: losing. To them, losing is winning!

If that’s not the epitome of dysfunctional, what is?

For me, I had to stand up and fight against the loser-kook because he was breaking into my house, threatening my life and my son’s life, stealing my property and saying stupid but true things like, “I’d marry you for your money…(and then I’d kill you and make it look like an accident and claim everything that’s yours as mine…)”.

Shocking. Horrible. Disturbing? Yes. Every day.

I stood up to him and got a TRO which he violated several times and is now fighting, claiming “not guilty”. But with so much evidence that is irrefutable, he just looks like a fool. But whatever.

I got a quick lesson in phony baloneys. So did my son. Now, I can help my new boyfriend understand that some predatory types are working him over in underhanded ways. Not blatantly illegal but manipulative and insidious…and really, theft and fraud. And conspiracy. Horrible people. And they move through the community thinking there’s nothing wrong with them. If I say something, they think I’m the bad guy…wow… Deja vu all over again!!

But, no. I’m not the bad guy. I’m just the person who reveals them for what they truly are, which is socially pathological. I recognize them early, call them out on their lies and then make moves to get away before they inflict more damage.

Then, because I tend to be a “fixer”, I explain my actions to others, explain my extensive research and my management of these types to those I care about and try to live the best I can: with integrity and honor and uprightness…and, with every fiber of my being, honestly and above reproach.

I got involved with a kook. I endangered my son. Now, I must make amends to my son so that he can live well and with integrity. This is why I fight…and also why I get the hell outta Dodge!

Nice to hear your Ride-O’-Horrors has ended.
Feet and Hands are now Free to move about the Earth at normal speed 🙂

I found this note to myself in a journal I had kept for two of the three years I was with “It”, during one of many break-ups. (Is that too mean to call him ‘It’?)

03/11/12 1:03AM:
Self, Please REALIZE!:

“Being with HIM was like getting on the Roller Coaster time and again, each time willingly, WITHOUT the safety harness to hold YOU inside the car”

Hey self! read the above. Do you see the capitals?
Will you please finally get a CLUE about what he probably is!

Three days ago was the day I decided to stop the ride I was on with Spath for the last time. I had broken up with/got back together with/broken up with about half a dozen or more times out of pure frustration and/or heartache since the fourth month of being with him.

I’ve suspected that he might be sociopathic after finding LoveFraud one and half years into the relationship, but not being a professional behavioral healthcare specialist, I knew that I would have to basically ‘watch and decide’ for myself if he was a disordered human even though it felt as though all the descriptions of what a Spath really is all about, and the true stories of victims, had somehow been written by professionals who followed him and me around taking copious notes and ultimately gathering enough ‘evidence’? to write a Medical Doctrine on. At first I was in some kind of denial though as if it couldn’t be true that he was really that Empty and Manipulating as those people are described to be. I spent a year and a half hoping to prove the medical world wrong. He couldn’t be one of those.

There is no other logical conclusion I can come to. I have to save myself. He can not help what he is and neither can I.

My mind is spinning right now, but I am going to be okay.
Take care,
Jenni Marie

Yes,they’re like a nightmare that you wish you could just wipe away and say “Be gone!” and they would obey!But that would be too good to be true…right now anyway!

Truly I can understand why you and many others go to court and fight the predators–often dealing with predators within the justice system.

I’m just fortunate enough not to have any children living at home.I live in a secured apt building,with enforced security rules.I never go anywhere alone.I do have support.

With No Contact,life has been peaceful for a year.One of my daughters is 6 monthes pregnant and out of respect for her condition and for the fragility of the other two,I’ve decided to just let things go for now.But I know that doesn’t mean that problems won’t present themselves later.

Hoping that things work out for you and your son!

A truly troubling part of parenting with a psychopath is that you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

Victims with children often believe that eradicating the offender from their life or the lives of their children will make the problem go away. Unfortunately, it could undermine the emotional maturity of the child.

Psychopaths often treat one child especially well and turn another into a “scapegoat.” The one they hold close is their “golden child.” Roles can change as children mature and catch on to the manipulation that is occurring. Children who reside with a victimized parent can be treated badly and even abandoned by the perpetrator. But abandonment can cause “longing” and make the child cleave to the parent in a way that exposure would have resolved. A child who is ostracized may become the “golden child” as an adult because they don’t have experience with the machinations of the parent’s disturbance, and are easily manipulated.

Whatever you decide about how you deal with the intricacy of the relationship, it’s important to remember that abandonment will teach your child how to abandon.

The message is that no matter what you decide, the outcome could be quite different from what you intended. And when it is, you can only comfort yourself with your knowledge that you did the very best you knew how to do at the time.


Thankfully, in my case, the disordered person has no familial relationship with us. He is entirely a bogus presentation that targeted me for “destruction” in his words.

My son was a most innocent bystander who was caught in the crossfire and tried to defend his mom from attack, which brought the attentions of the psychopath toward him.

In speaking with my son just last night about our experience as we continue to process it, we discussed how we’ve managed to make the most positive outcomes out of very tragic occurrences in our lives.

I’m very thankful that my son has stuck by me in our rough moments. We lost his dad to a fatal accident some years ago and have worked very diligently to maintain the most normal lives we could…then, the psychopath targeted us because he acts as a parasitical scourge on the community and has done for the better part of his life.

We can now use the experience as a case study in the most obvious of dysfunctional behaviors. Our family has gone through huge tragedy and risen above it. This latest episode is like another chapter in the list of “what went wrong” and how we turned it around from being the worst thing that could have happened to us into the best thing that could have happened to us!

Hard to believe? Yes. Not for the faint of heart.

Is the fear of the unknown the best response to the unknown? From what we’ve seen and after having faced the unknown and just kept going, looking always toward the positive outcomes that we want, we have struggled through our fears and come out on the other side as far better human beings!

Did we enjoy the experience? No. It was indeed horrible! It was a life and death struggle most assuredly, but as testimony to our most basic survival and thriving energies, we never gave up!

As I like to tell my atheistic friend who now is coming to the realization of a conspiracy of kooks in his life, I prayed to whatever God had the time to listen to my pleas for help. And help did come via the ether…no other way to describe it. The very air vibrated with the answers I needed to make my horrible discoveries and shut down the juggernaut of kooks that had ganged up to crush us.

My son and I learned so much about ourselves during the crisis. We learned about how to face off against injustice and hurtful people. We kept our center of gravity low, our integrity high and we never gave up.

My son is a good guy. He is now able to recognize dysfunctional behavior and stand up to it without confusing dramatic displays to distract him from his sense of what is right.

He knows that loving energy is good and hateful energy is not good. Pretty simple. Keeping it simple makes the process much less stressful. We discourage stress in our home. We’ve lived in an ashram/holy place for most of our lives and that’s the way we like it. If evil energy tries to invade our space, it’s very obvious and it can’t stay. We enjoy a peaceful home!

My most recent sociopath incident was at the workplace. I knew within a few weeks that I was in trouble, but I stayed because I needed to work. It was 3 years of pure hell. My union was more than useless – they appeared to work more for the employer than the employee. Besides the union, I filed a Human Rights complaint. The employer whitewashed an internal (yes, internal – we know how that works) investigation. However, I was able to get some recourse through the Human Rights Tribunal. However, it meant me leaving the job. That has been a blessing. And the concerns I had filed with the union? More than a dozen complaints from other employees since then…but I’m so out of there…and the employer shot themselves in the foot by whitewashing my original complaint. My co-workers were dismayed by the internal investigation because they did support me – but the results were ‘unsubstantiated’. So they still have to work there, but I don’t. This one person has destroyed the morale and wellness of the workplace. My fight took too much out of me (at the time), but I’m much better and happier out of there. The end result was that he was not hired as supervisor, which was his goal as he gutted us. Because I worked for government, the complaints were far reaching. For that, it was worth it..and for knowing that I stood up and tried to change things. But to do it again? No. With hindsight – and should I be in a similar situation in the future – I’d leave.

Ironically, I entered this workplace a year after my final contact with my s/path ex. So perhaps at least I was more in tune with the red flags (although not savvy enough to get out fast).

I’ve learned that in relationships and in work – find people that you share values with and who don’t throw up a graveyard of red flags.

I also have to fight. My battle is just now beginning with divorce proceedings moving forward. My attorney says that he will be a very ugly divorce. Already my soon to be ex husband has changed all bank accounts, left his family with no money, had me “baker acted ” and filed an injunction. All based on crazy lies he made up in his head. He will use anything and everything against me in court. This is why the no contact is so important. There is nothing he can twist and mold to his advantage. I have no other choice but to to fight because divorcing a narcissist is like going to war without any weapons. I used to have fear about this divorce but fear is never good. I am confident the judge sees him got who he really is. His lying, cheating and deceiving will come out in court and I am ready for it .

Thank you Donna for your article. It reinforces for me that our actions against those that we were involved with are worthwhile!
The eyes of the law may not always be open,however,exposing the SPs allows others to see them for what they are; liars, manipulators and people that others should stay away from in the future!

Agreed, Roger. It is why I am ordering the court transcripts from when my ex had his child support reduced because I turned him in for embezzlement. His lawyer ADMITTED to it in court. So now I can expose him, with proof! Not too smart on his part. But, as we know, they have to “win”–even if they act against their own best interests!

Hi Donna,
You have been an inspiration for many! I decided to fight,not flight. The ex spath set me up in the courts as being insane, gaslighted me, and used my daughter to manipulate me. During the
past 6 years, I have found accounts he held in his name, copied everything I could get my hands on. I was going no where in the courts, except waisting my monies, while the attorneys were getting paid off by him and his family. I had no other choice, I placed a call to the IRS Criminal Investigations and turned everything over to them. The IRS are my attorneys now. The scams
the monies, and the investment accounts are now in the government hands. The spath new I
was getting closer and closer to what happened, and he turned it on me in the courts, while he portrayed the victim. Once you tell the truth, the truth does not deviate. The beginning of the end
is almost here. I will continue to fight! The one good thing, I can certainly testify against him in court, and I will. The spath is truly a sick, depraved evil soul, that is a parasite to anyone that will
put up with it, until something else comes along. There is no changing these soulless people, except make sure you know the red flags, and run as far as you can. I can’t emphasis it enough,
NO CONTACT! You keep that door open a crack, they will sliver in, and start all over again. If anyone has anything about their exspath that concerns fraud, do not hesitate to go to the right people, and turn them in.


Good for you! I have done exactly the same–though spath doesn’t know about the IRS yet. There will be repercussions to me (loss of his maintenance income) but it was the right thing to do. Morally, legally and to make sure he is exposed for what he is!

Best of luck you you!

Good for you!!! Imagine your ex spath being questioned and investigated by the government. He is going to have to come up with some good answers. You are the innocent spouse, and you did the right thing. If you had put up with the crap, and torture just for the monies, that day would have come when you would have been audited, and then your troubles would have begun. He
does not have to know about the IRS and you. It is all confidential, or anonymous. He won’t know what hit him. Keep on going, and do not stop. He will disappear, most likely in federal prison. It will take time, my investigation has taken 3 yrs., but the end is almost near. Waiting to exhale!

I escaped from my ex by running away to my parents house where they moved to 85 miles away. But somehow he got their phone number and before I knew it he was talking me into coming to see him. The way he would do it is he would tell me he had something he knew I needed. And stupid me, would fall for it everytime. The last time he conned me into coming to see him he told me he had tires for my car he wanted to give me. He knew I needed tires. So, I fell for it again. There were no tires. It ended up being 2 days of total hell. He mentally abused me so much my mind shut down and I couldn’t even think a straight thought. He kept me hostage wouldn’t let me leave for those 2 days. I didn’t have a cell phone. He beat me, pulled my hair out, waved a 357. pistol in my face and talked about shooting me. I truly did believe I was going to die. He ended up trying to kill me by cracking my head open with a board. I needed to go to the hospital but of course he wouldn’t let me because he would go to jail. It got to where I finally could think of nothing to do but cowar in a corner as far as I could make myself fit. Then I heard him talking on his phone and he said my son’s name. So I started screaming to my son that I was there and he wouldn’t let me go. So when my son heard me he had no choice but to let me go. I went to a girlfriends house and called the police. It was a female cop who came and she wasn’t nice to me a bit. She was pissed at me because she was telling me that I would be back with him in a couple of days. She wasn’t believing what I was telling her and that I was never going back. I told her about this website, Lovefraud and the support group here. Then her attitude suddenly changed and she rolled her eyes and said well you didn’t say he was a psychopath, and said good you are trying to find help then. So after talking to her i went to forensics at the police station and they put a warrant out for his arrest. They finally caught up to him and arrested him and put a 38,000 dollar bail on him. Someone put up the bail and got him out. But then he jumped the bail and was arrested again. I found out that he spent nearly a year in jail for the charges I reported him for and it is 2 years this month since I saw him last. I’m so proud of myself for getting him out of my life.

marcyll, I’m glad you are proud of yourself because you should be! I want to comment on you saying you were stupid for falling for the lies he told in order to get you to see him – you weren’t stupid at all, you were normal! That is the power of the cognitive dissonance that they use to manipulate us and why going absolutely no contact is so important.

Keep up the good work!!

Marcy, yes, they *ALWAYS* try to bait you with the old “I have a gift for you” or “I have your money” or something along those lines. It happened to me, again and again!

Everytime it happened, it was a trick to get me alone so he could abuse me! And everytime, I was abused! And of course, with his psychopathic nature, he would abuse, then I would squirm and react and he would laugh, thinking it was the funniest thing that he had trapped me yet again!

He had a “Christmas gift” for me last year. He started to harass me to open my door so he could give me his “gift”. I called the police, but they did not arrive in time to see him trying to climb my locked gate, and when my son came out to chase him away, the abuser tried to hit my son with his car at top speed! My son dived into the bushes and behind a big tree as the kook rode up onto the sidewalk and grass aiming to hit my son.

In court, we faced off and the incident was recounted for the judge. We stated how he tried to hit my son with his car and how my son dived into the bushes.

The kook said my son tried to jump on his car!

Providing further accounts of why we needed a restraining order, I recounted how the kook tried to strangle me with both hands after I confronted him about his bogus lameness (lying, cheating, stealing–over $6000 from me–and basically being a complete ass all over town–calling me names and trying to get everyone he knew to gang up on me and say I was a bad person…all after he had been abusing me all along!).

The judge asked if I called the police at the time. I said no, that I was completely shaken up and just tried to get away from him and never see him again. The judge asked me why I didn’t call the police. I again said I was just shaken up and vowed to never go back to the kook.

The judge then asked the kook about the incident…”Did you try to strangle her with both hands?”

Kook: “No, I only used one hand. And, yah, why didn’t you call the police?” (he had control of my head and he was trying to make me look like an idiot in court)

But!! He used *one hand*??? Who uses one hand to strangle someone? And isn’t it normally worse, and even more violent than using two? And, *he admitted to trying to strangle me!!* –in court…under oath…which means nothing to him, he has no compunction against lying under oath. He lives like he’s in a damn movie and nothing is real.

I asked him once how and why he’s like he is… He told me, “I’m already DEAD.”

Yipes! *Already DEAD!!??!!* Who says that kind of stuff?!? Yes, it was one of his lucid and truthful moments! Argh!!

And people wonder why I don’t think Halloween parties are all the rage… Uh, yah…because…I’ve lived the horror and it isn’t fun or funny. Nothing is fun or funny about dead people. It’s simply horrible…that’s all.

Just remember folks, everything they say to get you back is a ruse… It’s to fool you into thinking they’ve “changed”.


They think there’s nothing wrong with them and that we are all idiots for them to abuse any way they see fit. The only thing to do is have them removed from the larger community of normal human beings and keep them out of our hearts and minds and pocketbooks.

Once the larger group of psychopaths has been removed from our lives, then we can get back to dealing with the bullies and psychological and emotional manipulators. They’re very dysfunctional also.

I have severe trust issues now. Severe! As has been noted by the experts, I obsess about these things now! (As do you all, I know!) I chase down all the information I can about how these snakes work and I put every person in my life onto the litmus test for their position on the scale of psychopathy!!

I even chased down the after effects of the stress from dealing with these kook-oids… It’s called Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. Google it. And do your personal work to de-stress from the events and the individuals who surreptitiously try to hurt you and your loved ones.

And…Note to Self: If he says he “wants to destroy” me, then, that’s a RED FLAG!! Mind the red flags!

And, Oh, my God…Live in Peace–not in pieces!! –whenever possible!!

Oh yes, he would sit there and laugh at me too. it was an evil laugh. i was his entertainment, his fun to be mean and cruel to. Funny you mention about him saying he wants to destroy me. the words my ex used that he would say to me were i’m going to destroy you. He also did the badmouthing about me to all the people who he knew, would tell them i was doing all the things to him that he really was doing to me. most of these people i never met and didn’t want to because i figured they hated me already even though they didn’t know me. he had me convinced of that. I’ve never heard of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. i will check it out. i do have issues to this day because of him, still have nightmares, and a really bad startle issues. i jump out of my skin just if my phone rings, or the slam of a door, so much so that people see me jump but they laugh and think it’s the normal kind of startle. i don’t laugh back.

You are the bravest person! You could have been left for dead. Keep safe, and your son. Keep fighting, and you will win. Your ex spath will vanish, and take on another. Karma is nasty, and will catch up with him, but not with you or your family. Be safe, and be astute
to your surroundings.

Thank you edge of sanity. I don’t think of myself as being any kind of brave though.


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