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Fear and loathing when the sociopath returns

In August Lovefraud posted a story called One woman’s experience of romantic manipulation. The information was submitted by “Survivor,” who had been targeted by someone whom she believes is a sociopath, and lists her observations of behaviors that, in hindsight, indicated how she was being manipulated.

Survivor wrote to Lovefraud recently—the guy was back. Survivor had finally taken a step to be social again, joining a singles group. The guy found out and joined as well. I told her that No Contact is the best policy, and she might want to drop out of the group.

To confront—or not

What happened next illustrates three things:
1. The amount of psychological damage that sociopaths inflict
2. The difficulty victims have in recovering from the damage
3. The cluelessness of people who have not experienced the devastation of a sociopath

Here is Survivor’s letter:

I wanted to let you now how right you are about the no contact policy. I wrote you last week about the sociopath joining a singles group that I had also joined a few weeks before him.

His finding me there and joining that group fully aware that I was also a member terrified me. I didn’t want to be terrified and felt “owned” by my fear. I wanted to be able to confront my fear and well that has turned out to be a rather bad idea. I share this with you because you and another woman seem to be the only people who understand. My therapist doesn’t even seem to get it. I’ve been even “scolded” by friends and told to get over it and let it go and stop letting him have power over me. The healing process is slow and just when I thought I was ready to venture back out into the world at large and be ready to meet new people he is there again. I don’t live in a small town, but a large metropolitan area and the coincidences are strange.

Last week I sent an email to the singles group coordinator . . . a woman in her early 40s explaining that I was probably going to drop her group because he had joined and I couldn’t be anywhere that he was and didn’t like the idea of him being able to see which events I had RSVPd for. I even gave her some examples of his behavior, told her I feared him and that he had been stalking me periodically for months. The coordinator said she didn’t want me to drop out and that she would think of a solution and check into him. Yesterday, I got an email from her. She apparently contacted him and shared the situation with him and came up with a resolution whereby we could “share” her singles group with me having precedence of opting to join different activities and RSVP Yes or No within a week after they were posted. He agreed to this . . .OF COURSE because it was another “win” for him.

I can’t tell you how upset I was that my good intentions to warn this woman went this way or that she really didn’t understand that I AM AFRAID and the examples I gave her of his behavior didn’t seem to make any difference. Of course, she was probably charmed by him. He signed up for an event occurring two weeks from now and she was encouraging me to attend this event stating that the other members “would keep me safe.” She proposed that this shared arrangement of her activities continue to the end of December and was hoping that he and I could work things out by then, but if not, she’d ask him to resign the membership of the group.

I kept thinking that I needed to confront my fear and by doing that I would get over it. My not so brilliant idea motivated by my fear was to email him and ask him to meet me and I would have a friend there with me and just tell him that I did not want any further contact and if he started joining other clubs I was involved in, I would consider that further stalking. He responded quickly to my email, but said he was busy and wanted further clarification about “what happened” in August the last time we were in touch. I responded that I was not going to participate in the singles group and was not going to discuss anything else. No reply from him, but once again . . . in hindsight I most likely didn’t do the right thing. I should have just followed your suggestion and ignored the whole situation.

I guess you could say that this email serves to show that dealing with a sociopath is going to be far, far different than anything you’ve ever experienced. The rules for social contact do not apply here. I guess I had to be kicked upside the head again to keep learning the lessons.

Thank you, Survivor, for being willing to share your story.


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20 Comments on "Fear and loathing when the sociopath returns"

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I am so sorry this happened to you! It seems the woman you contacted tried to undermine your efforts to protect yourself! In her effort to “unify” everyone and try to work things out, she may very well have put your life in jeopardy! I would run as fast as I could as far away as I could. I ran from Berlin Germany back to the USA because of my sociopathic boyfriend. I loved living there, I loved everything about it, but these people just seem satisfied to ruin every aspect of a person’s life until they make YOU feel like the bad guy! My only comfort in this whole situation is that the Embassy helped me and my son out, and when the man tried to follow, they deported him back to Germany back in July.

One of the hardest things about this situation is that you’re not only struggling to manage his presence in your life, but your feelings. You’re not only afraid of him, but uncertain of yourself. From my own experience, this was the most damaging result of a five-year relationship with a man I believe to be a sociopath. My ability to generate my own self-esteem became diminished. I second-guessed every feeling and thought I had.

I don’t think you did a bad job in handling this. At least not from a functional perspective. You explained your situation to the group coordinator, and asked if she could help you in a way that would allow you to continue in the group. You took an action with him with the intention of drawing a boundary.

But from a functional perspective, there was an obvious weakness in your actions. It was the fact that you were acting out of emotion. This guy upsets you. I suspect that what you communicated to the organizer was that you had emotional issues with him, and that was what she responded to. And if you think about the response you got back from him, I bet it was patronizing and “caring” about how upset you are.

One of the very difficult things about trying to get any understanding from anyone about the repercussions of dealing with a sociopath is that the real damage is to our ability to trust ourselves (not just the outside world). I know that in my case, when I talk about it, I know I sound like a dependent, incompetent, whiny person who is totally involved in my victim status. Whatever the sociopath takes from us, what we really lose is the sense and the ability to project that we’re in control of our own lives.

I would suggest to you that you make an effort to shift your internal view of this thing. This guy is poison. Whatever he may be in larger terms or in other milieus, his impact on your life has been destructive and wounding in ways that are slow to heal. Everyone faces good and bad things in their lives, and he is a very bad thing.

Normal, healthy survival instinct dictates that you eliminate him from your environment. One tactic is to walk away. But if he doesn’t take the hint, you can also get aggressive about defending your boundaries. Make it clear that you will name him as a predator, tell your story, and do everything in your power to make life difficult for him if he comes anywhere near you. And then do it.

There is no shame in your experience. You got targeted. You had losses. You got away. You survived and you’re healing from your losses. You learned your lesson about him. And now you regard him as someone you may not be able to ban from polite society, but you certainly can ban from your world. And you have no problem doing that.

My predator came out of my professional life, seduced me with promises to “help” with with some serious challenges I had personally and professionally, conned me into a sexual relationship, and parasited on my feelings and my bank account until I was virtually destroyed, emotionally and professionally. It has taken me years to rebuild my faith in myself.

I may not ever get back to where I was before. But I know that my biggest lesson was to learn to pay attention when I become uncomfortable with someone and do something about it. Speak up. Clarify the situation. And if I can’t get clarity or don’t like the situation, walk away and not look back.

You are doing something about it. And that’s a good thing. But odd as it might sound, the more you can take this out of the realm of your feelings and into the simple awareness that this guy is poison in your life and you will not tolerate it again, the stronger and clearer your responses will be.

If you want to know what I did with mine, I told him clearly that there was nothing here for him anymore. I wasn’t interested in his feelings or his problems. I particularly wasn’t interested in anything he had to say about me. I also told him that if I found him professionally anywhere close to my area of activity or connections, I would go out of my way to contact his employers to tell them that he is a predator and a thief, that he exploits women for money and power, and that they will regret having anything to do with him. If I found him living anywhere near me, I would make an effort to discover who he was associating with and do the same thing. And if he wanted to take any action against me at all, there was documentation in my lawyer’s hands that would go to law enforcement agencies, his friends and family, and to a group of journalists who might find the story interesting.

My objective was not to stop him. I can’t stop him. There are too many women in the world, and he’s too smart. But I can stop him in my life, and I have. I’m not easy any more. I have made my world unfriendly to him. and for the right reasons — not that he hurt my feelings, but that he’s vicious and dangerous. And so he’s moved on. And wherever he is, he is not in my professional world either, because I’ve made sure that enough people know enough about my story that they watch out for him.

My strategy may not work for everyone. My sociopath isn’t physically violent (though I didn’t put it past him to try to kill me if I got in between him and a really big score, which is why I added the “insurance policy” with my lawyer). He is just a classic emotional violator and financial predator. But beyond getting sex and money from me, he thrived on his power over me, all the while criticizing me for my “unattractive weakness” and my inability to meet his standards. Take away that power and control, and you become a lot more unattractive. Threaten to make his life difficult, and surprise, he won’t rise to the occasion and fight back. He’ll wander off to some friendlier pool of potential victims and find other fish to fry.

Once when I was struggling with all his criticisms about my weakness, I asked him why he didn’t get involved with a stronger, more independent person. He mumbled something about not being attractive to people like himself, and how he really didn’t get along with them. You can be one of those people.

This is all you can do. But it’s important to do it for yourself. You may have private healing to do. But in the outside world, you need to draw a hard line and find any way you can to enforce it, without apologies or any concern for him. It’s your life and you have every right to take care of it.

There are two problems here (1) singles organisers are always short of presentable people (and don’t want to lose any), and (2) he would have charmed her and convinced her that any fears you had expressed were groundless.

Do not trust her to keep you separated from him. He will see it as a challenge to circumvent any obstacles placed between him and you. He can afford to be patient – in fact, it adds to his predatory thrills.

If you fear for your safety, get away. It may mean leaving your town, state – even country. You may need to get into a totally new field of employment. It may mean creating a new identity. It may mean that you cannot risk giving your new details to anyone.

I (for one) do take your concerns seriously – and I wish you well.

It is very sad to see that this pattern is concistant among this type of people and that smart and loving people like us have gotten into it. I read your story and I can word by word put my own experience into it.

For over 8 months I was told that no contact was the best, I did that on and off, until he started harrassing me and my family, then I got it.. Finally got it. No contact is the best strategy. It seems that by no having contact, even if they pretend for a minute that they care about you, it is BEST not to follow up with calls or emails. It is a TRAP. I felt into it before, but ever since I Religiously and firmly had no more contact, my internal healing started moving faster.

Moving on, I read a book called “Who moved my cheese” That book gave me the insight that moving on and that change in life can be exciting and brilliant. Do not get stuck in thinking revenge or how you can make him pay for what he did to you. It is almost like I do not even take it personal. He is sick and I will not allow him to give me his illeness. I am trying the heal at my own time, but having NO contact at all, has been the BEST medicine.

Hi. I am sorry this happened to you.

Don’t be ashamed of your fear. Listen to it and ACT upon it to keep yourself safe. I read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin Debecker. He is a consultant whose company guards famous people from stalkers. He describes in the book how fear is given to us for a reason – to alert us to danger. Do not ignore it.

Good luck.

Dear Sister Survivor,

I can relate to so much of what you say and what you have experienced, because I have been there, too. You have received many wonderful and insightful responses already. My insight is this. Remember, a psychopath does NOT play by the same rules we do. When you emailed him, you fooled yourself into thinking that he was a “regular” person who operates by the same set of rules that we do. They do not. Period. I don’t find it useful to put this dynamic in terms of “good” or “bad” because then you are investing your emotions into it. Psychopaths are just wired differently. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, maybe psychopaths are from Pluto (which isn’t even a planet anymore!). They are different. Accept it and move on.

Another thought which might be helpful to you and others is this. I now look at my psychopath (husband and business partner for 17 years!!!) as a mirror – a mirror which painfully showed me where my fears were. Whenever he exposed yet another fear, I was given the choice of succumbing to it, or working through it. Because I, too, am a survivor, I chose to work through them rather than have them get the better of me. But if it weren’t for him, I could have lived all of my life with little pockets of fear swept under the rug here and there. Now I don’t live in fear anymore. I don’t have any fear for him at all because there is nothing he can do to me. He sees my strength and won’t even come near me. He’s too busy looking for other prey than to fool with me anymore.

One last note – don’t beat up on yourself – love yourself! You had a heart-wrenching experience with a psychopath, you’ve recognized it and you’re gotten out of it. You’ve done a great job! Not everybody can do what we’ve done.

Now have a great time with your life. Join another singles group and enjoy. I don’t even worry about whether or not I’ll meet another psychopath. It could happen. But if it does, I won’t be fooled for very long and it won’t bother me. I’ll just shrug it off to experience.

I would like to absolutely agree with what Chadwick has posted. I too made the mistake of trying to deal with my sociopath (ex husband) as if he were a normal person. Once I fully realize that he is not it was much easier. I have no contact whatsoever. I learned a lot by reading books about psychopaths, and from websites such as this.

Once I stopped being hooked (manipulated) back into “playing the game” he was left to try and play it alone. Once he realized I had it figured out (took me years by the way) he quit bugging me, and has moved on to his next victim (wife).

Do not respond to any communication.
Do not try to get revenge (they love that).
Ignore him totally.
You will heal, but it will take time.
You are not alone.

Good luck.

ps: People who have not been through it do not understand. Don’t waste your breath. Use your energy to look after yourself.

I was married to a sociopath for 7 years… I never knew it. I grew up in a very difunctional home and wanted out of that, so I got married at 18 and had a baby – that fixes everything right??? The whole time we were married I had no idea – I was too close to the situatioin. We got divorced and then he LOST it. He is know in prison and still tries to get to me.
The best thing you can do is DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE HIM. He doesn’t care if you scream at him in anger or are kind to him. He doesn’t care what kindof reaction he gets out of you -he just wants a reaction.
I am lucky to be alive and so is my new husband, not to mention my 2 children.

The scariest part is….. I never saw it coming.

The support here is so great — thanks to everyone for writing. Sociopaths will try to get in contact over and over again with people they had relationships with, it’s like a human recycling program. They target those who pity them and believe their lies. They get tired of people who ignore them.

I agree about the no contact rule, it has to include every form of communication. Otherwise, we get hooked into their webs and it’s impossible to think clearly about what is best for us. Some of us need to be hurt over and over again until we finally realize things will never change. Abusers say they’ll be different next time, that they’ve learned, that we’re all they have, all the stuff that pulls us back..but none of it is true. It’s hard, but letting go is freeing, and it’s the only way for healing to occur.

Once we accept that our partners were never who we thought they were, that they don’t think like normal people, that they’re really sick, we can move on and begin to finally take care of ourselves. Sociopaths know how to keep us unbalanced, now it’s up to us to rebuild and never allow someone to have that control again.

My recent breakup with a sociopath was not the first experience, but at least the second or third. This painful pattern will stop here, because I’m ready to figure it out. My dream of having the family I always wanted is over, but there is much to look forward to…thanks for your support and understanding!

I agree with everything thats been written here, But I would like to add listening to your gut feelings as far as infidelity goes. In my case my ex sociopath is not violent, so I never felt any gut feelings about terror or danger. He was however quite ‘a flirt’, he works at a hospital, so there were a whole lot of nurses to flirt with. His cell phone was full of womens #’s that were ‘just friends’ to which I heard “I can’t help it if all my friends are women” He would then make me feel like I was insecure about it. Like there was something wrong with me, to be so jealous. In my heart my gut feeling told me ‘he was a man who needed to be watched’ I thought maybe he could cheat. But since we talked 24/7 I never thought he was, talking 24/7 was why I caught him so quickly, but ofcourse as I replay the relationship over in my head (a million times) I have to admit, she may not have been the only one, and probably wasn’t!

My Advice: Trust that gut feeling as far as other women are concerned as well!!!

It was fear of possible fraud caused by mail addressed to multiple strange names which caused me to ask Mr X to remove himself from my house. It took a furthur year to remove him due to my family issues demanding my attention and his pity plays concerning his health . After a year away leeching on another single mother I find he’s used my address again for all his dealings, presumable so his new victim/victims will not find out about his true situation or find out about legal actions being taken. He did not ask if he could use my address. He just used it. Why not? It was convenient to him and by the way its very hard to detect or know if someone has put their driving license on your address. They can use a PO box to actually get mail and use your address as a street address to pretend they have one. A street address that has no history of fraud attached is a valuable assett for a scammer. I cannot tell you how disgusted I was to get this mail. It’s not “only my address” its a total invasion of my rights and a direct attack on my credit rating. Let alone the thought that he might be collecting things from that address at times when no-one is home. Creep creep creep! I made sure I took out a substantial loan some time back after he was coerced into departing and have paid it ahead clearly separating my financial behaviour from him but the attitude of male police was unbelievable. Yes they said, anyone could put their license at your address. How the hell then do they find anyone if they need to. It took several visits to the police station to insist that they remove my address from under his name on their records. How dare he and how dare they persist in listing him at my address simply because that is what is on a driving license when they know how easy it is to falsify that and even told me so!

Denise,

Good advice, I’m sure that many people have not thought of this possibility.

I know that in my state, your auto insurer must be notified of any licensed driver who lives at your address, so it may be possible to call them and first of all, see who they have listed as other drivers living with you, and secondly, ask if they know of any possible way to find out if there are any other drivers using your address.

I do believe that they might have some way to tell, as after my MIL got into an accident (she did not live with us and did not have the same insurance co that we did), MY insurance co asked me (when I did the yearly renewal) if she lived with us or ever drove our vehicles. I don’t know how they even knew her relationship to me as our last name is not at all unusual.

And now that I think about it, while it may not be possible for them to do this, it still may be worth a shot to call each of the big three credit bureaus and ask them if there is any way they can tell you if anyone other than you is using your address for credit. You might explain that someone has used your address for their drivers license, and that you are concerned about this. Ask them to document that you called and why so that if anything comes up later, it might be possible to have some kind of proof that you did call to notify them that something may be amiss.

As far as the police go, I would call the DMV where you live and ask if it is against the law to use a false residence address (different from a mailing address which can be a po box) on a drivers license application or renewal, because in my state, IT IS! If it is in yours also, then I would explain to the DMV what happened and give them the name of the officer(s) who told you that is was NOT illegal for someone to do this, and also write a follow up letter to the police department notifying them that you have spoken with the DMV in regards to what you were told by them.

Another thing that I have done is to write on every piece of mail I receive that is not for me (in bright red permanant marker) PLEASE RETURN TO SENDER – ADDRESSEE DOES NOT RESIDE AT THIS ADDRESS.

Hope this helps 🙂

Dear Denise,

If you live in the US—you can send an empty envelope with first class postage on it to HIM AT YOUR ADDRESS…be sure and put your return address in the upper left hand corner, and on the side of the envelope write “FORWARDING ADDRESS, PLEASE” and they will write his new “forwarded” address on it and return it to YOU.

Lostinthedarkness is correct, in that WHO LIVES AT YOUR HOUSE will determine what your insurance costs are…like for example if you had a young male driver living at your house it would make your insurance go up even if you DID NOT LET HIM DRIVE….

And yes, I think in the US it is a CRIME to lie on your street address on your DL or to FAIL to notifiy them within 10 days when you move….and if you get a PO box and LIE on the form for your RESIDENTIAL ADDRESS it is also a crime as residential address is REQUIRED for a PO box legally in the US.

Those “rent an address/PO box” places are also supposed to get a residential address as well but don’t always do so.

Protecting our identity and addresses is important especially in today’s world of international fraud and terror.

Talk about being stalked! My P/S?N tried to contact me every year on my birthday for 40 years. Last year a virus (stopped by Norton) arrived at my computer on my birthday. But at least he never contacts me. I did several things. Like a poster above, I let him know that I left evidence with law enforcement and two girlfriends, including DNA evidence and copies of email and if he ever contacted me or hurt me, they would swing into action. I also told him that I considered he owed me $2000 for therapy (there is nothing like asking a P/S for money to get rid of them). I also told him that the next time he contacted me I would call his wife and ask her to ask him to stop bothering me. I also contacted other women he was targeting. All in all, I think he began to think *I* was crazy. LOL! For whatever reason, all that combined stopped him.

PS It has been more than three years now since he last called and then I told him what was what. Frankly, I think it was telling him I would take him to small claims court to pay for my therapy that drove him off!

I convinced someone Once that I was “crazy” to make him stop what he was doing to me…..and actually it worked….wasn’t a former or X, but just a neighbor, but I walked a fine line between acting crazy and “terroristic threatening” (which IS a crime) but you know, sometimes its worth it. LOL

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