How to recognize and recover from the sociopaths – narcissists in your life › Forums › Lovefraud Community Forum – General › Targeted by manipulator while married
February 18, 2021 at 6:25 pm #65275
I have decided to share my story for the benefit of others like me, who entered an extramarital relationship with a manipulator, but who have been held back from healing and receiving support because of fear of shame and ostracization. My shame kept me tied to my abuser, and that was part of his toolkit of control. I’m pretty sure he isn’t a P, but I do wonder if he’s on the spectrum considering his treatment of me and what I know about his treatment of his ex-wife. It’s those dead eyes that I keep getting hung up on…but for now I will just call him an abuser because the label is less important that what he did.
Since the day it finally ended for good, I have wanted so badly to know I wasn’t the only one to have been manipulated this way; to hear that I wasn’t a miserable excuse for a human because I couldn’t stop it; and to understand what he did to me and that it was wrong. I have been fortunate enough to find a therapist to support me and validate my experience. I know not everyone has access to therapy, and for those folks in particular, and those who may still be doubting themselves, I hope that hearing my story can offer you some beginning toward finding your peace. I hope you can try to forget about what others will think, and to try to trust yourself again, regardless of the circumstances of the abuse you suffered.
I do want to make clear that I’m not trying to take anything away from those who were betrayed by their abusive spouses or partners. My abuser was married while he targeted me, and I know his ex-wife suffered as deeply as any of you have. I carry the burden of that on top of my own suffering, which is another reason I want to share my story. I respect that folks who were betrayed by a spouse or partner might be uncomfortable with my post, but if you continue to read, I hope you can try to understand that anyone – married or not – can be susceptible to manipulation. The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you are married. These abusers see something they want, and they take advantage of people. Period.
When I met my abuser, I loved my husband – and still do – with every molecule of my being. Despite that, my abuser was able to weasel his way into our lives and manipulate me into acting against my best interests. I always considered myself to be a sensitive, compassionate person of strong morals, and never, ever saw myself as someone who would have an affair. My abuser had a strong presence in my day-to-day life and with that access was eventually able to influence me enough to obliterate my ability to think for myself and shatter my moral code.
He targeted me while my husband was working on a project that left us only scant hours together over a period of years. I was lonely and depressed, and that’s when my abuser made his move. He stalked me, but he was clever enough about it that I didn’t see it that way at the time – he was just a creep from work who kept showing up in my life outside of work. Still, over time, he was able to disarm all my warning signals and create a familiarity that became a friendship. He used anything available to represent himself as having only pure motives, including frequent mention and praise of his wife.
He started manipulating me from day one. He used the usual techniques – he insinuated himself into my life, he negged me, he got personal fast, he made me feel special with lots of attention and the idea that “I alone” understood him, he praised me for attributes I didn’t have but wished I had, he blamed me for things he had done, he belittled me and made cruel “jokes” that I always took “too seriously,” and he lied and lied and lied – he gaslit the daylights out of me until I literally did not believe my life was real or that events had happened as I remembered or whether they had happened at all. I apologized to him a lot for little “mistakes” I was making, and I started forgetting things. I was miserable and didn’t understand why. I moved about in a gray fog with a distance between my body and my head, like I was always looking through a tube.
He messed with my brain, and my marital status was not relevant to the ultimate effect of that abuse. The magic of love isn’t an all-powerful elixir against the insidious techniques of a skilled manipulator. I wish it were – oh, how I wish it were! He used against me both my vulnerabilities and my strengths until I was dizzy and helpless with the circles he ran me in. He zeroed in on signs of past trauma and used that to belittle me and make me small, and yet he was able to make me think that he was the only one who cared about me, using my husband’s absence like a weapon. He flooded me with attention, then he’d disappear for a week. When he resurfaced, he was cool toward me, then as soon as I backed away to give him the space it seemed he needed, he flooded me with attention again. At a certain point, he became somewhat paternalistic, correcting my behavior and presentation, and the craziest part is that I started changing to try to meet his nebulous and ever-changing expectations.
He did it all to satisfy his selfish desires, and he did it without remorse. By the time he began making overt sexual propositions, I was so dulled by the constant self-doubt and confusion and lack of self-worth he had mired me in over a long period of time that I actually believed him when he said we wouldn’t be hurting anyone.
My abuser coupled his manipulation with sexual assault** and photographic exploitation, and a dictate of absolute secrecy – I was not allowed to tell a single soul about what was happening, not even my doctor. He got angry when he interpreted even an innocent act as an attempt to sabotage his carefully maintained secret, and I was afraid of him, afraid to “slip up,” even if the rules were never clear, or impossible catch-22s. By these means he was able to maintain control over me for an appalling stretch of time. I did try to leave him several times, and each time he mouthed words of support and acceptance, then would turn right around and force himself on me the next time I saw him. After several attempts I gave up, exhausted.
All this time I still loved my husband, but my abuser had made it clear to me that he would not permit me to be free of his control. There came a time where I thought I wasn’t even allowed to leave him, or refuse him any wish. He also made it clear that he did not love me, that neither of us were to leave our spouses for each other, even while he called sex “making love” and aped the gestures of intimacy when we were together, so that despite his abuse I wondered if I loved him, and if he loved me. While he never respected my attempts to end it, he periodically broke it off only to press himself on me once I had accepted it was over.
The “choices” I made while I was being abused were not choices. They were the options he made available to me under the parameters he set up with his constant psychological warfare. I was not in a state of mind to make informed and deliberative choices. His control over me was so severe that this abuse did not end until his wife caught him with a different woman, and he cut off all contact with me to try eliminate evidence of our relationship, supposedly on the advice of his therapist to “save” his marriage. He disappeared for 2 years before trying to get back into my life (because they all try this), and I was fortunate to be in a place of strength at the time so that I was able to dismiss his attempt.
I blamed myself so many times when I was coming to terms with what had happened to me, wishing I had heeded the warning signs before my mind descended into chaos, wishing I had trusted myself and wondering how on earth things had gone so far. But he was so insidious, I couldn’t possibly have seen what he was doing, particularly after he had gained my trust. Even after accepting that I was targeted by a predator and that blaming myself for his abuse was useless, I battled denial and confusion and still do from time to time. All the while I wanted so badly to see myself in these stories when I was flailing about seeking answers. My story is still developing, but I’m in a good place, and I hope that opening up here can help any of you who have been abused by any sort of manipulator while married.
I wish all of you well.
**I included this because it was present in my case, but physical violence is not a necessary threshold for judging behavior as abusive.
February 18, 2021 at 10:13 pm #65278Jan7Participant
your post is incredibly powerful & articluate of the evilness of a socioapths grip on a victim. I applaud you for being brave to post your nightmare of a story as a “mistress”.
I’m sorry that you endured his hell. I’m sorry that you stuggle with some of the reprecutions of your decision to get tangled up with him.
But, know this, from a ex-wife of a socioapth who was cheated on endlessly throughtout my 12 years marriage (4 plus years trying to divorce him total of 16 years) and ex that had endless “mistresses”…that this evil man manipuated you, all his other “mistresses” and his wife he manipulated…his friends, family, coworkers and any one else that got sucked into his evil web were manipulated by him also…
YOU ARE A VICTIM…just like his wife, the other women, and anyone that crossed his path. HOLD YOUR HEAD UP HIGH HON…you survived a sociopath. And you are re-building your life & you see this world how it really is…that alone takes guts.
Do you know that a sociopath LITERALLY uses Trance & Mind Control (aka brai washing) to suck people into to their evil life…and they use trance & mind control throughtout the relationship to keep you hooked into their con game. Look up “sociopath trance” and “sociopath brain washing”. Look up the book review Donna did here on LF on the book Freedom of Mind by Steven Hassan (see his website Freedom of mind resourse center and his videos on the net/you tube). These evil people know how to control a victims mind EXTREMELY quickly…from hours to just days they can suck someone into their cult…whether a one person cult (domestic abuse) or a million person cult such as a religous cult or say yoga or even a political cult.
To escape this nightmare shows how strong you are hon. You should be so proud of yourself for escaping & seeking therapy and now posting your story which WILL help others. Every story helps a victim.
you are strong!!
Wishing you all the best.💜
February 23, 2021 at 3:03 pm #65310littleflower55Participant
Thank you so much for sharing your story….you absolutely are not the only one! My husband was targeted by a female psychopath who is a neighbor, we’ve known her for a long time and always knew something was not right but had no clue. When I found out about the affair, I was devastated, and I could not wrap my mind around how my sweet, kind, empathetic, morally upstanding husband could have done this. That day, he said two things that made a lot of sense later….
He said that she was very powerful, and that it was the flattery that that sucked him in. Well, after many conversations I started to research and discovered love bombing….. after that, every single thing fit. Also, the things that she did to us in the neighborhood for the next two years we’re evidence of evil intentions, she simply wanted to destroy us. And we both realized that she took many many months to gain his trust, love bombing all the way… suddenly his interests were hers, even so far as to learn to fly an airplane!!! We were very blessed to find a therapist who was trained to recognize narcissism; after several months of seeing him she confirmed that he had been victimized by someone with NPD. I’m happy to say that just over three years later, our marriage is stronger than ever (and honestly, we had a good marriage before any of this started). I really do wonder how many people out there are prayed upon by these evil beings, but end up just getting a divorce, not realizing what truly happened
February 19, 2021 at 12:14 pm #65285
Jan7, thank you so, so much for your kind words – this means the world to me. I too am very sorry that you endured so much, not only during your marriage, but during the protracted separation stage after making the decision to leave (4 more years on top of it all! my god). I really hope you are doing well after all those years of torment.
I’d heard about trance and hypnosis but always thought it was pseudoscience. However, the way I would catch him staring at me, the way he could lock me in his gaze and still me…it demands some re-evaluation of my original thinking. I know that some therapists have used prolonged eye contact as part of rebuilding connection during couples counseling, so it only makes sense that if it can foster a sense of connection between willing partners, someone might use it to their advantage on an unwilling or unsuspecting person. Thank you for recommending Freedom of Mind – I will definitely look into that.
While I was trying to find answers, I came across Dr Omar Minwalla and his revised approach to treating individuals with antisocial sexual behaviors. Specifically, he considers deviant sexual behavior as symptoms of a more comprehensive syndrome and not just “sexual addiction.” My abuser was also identified as a sex addict and was referred to a 12-step program, so this really hit me. If you haven’t seen his work yet I recommend taking a look (he comes right up if you do an internet search for his name). It’s very refreshing to know that someone is trying to refocus the clinical approach toward the cause and not just the symptoms (ie, the abuse). Most of all, it’s reassuring to see him say that too much of the focus is on rehabilitating the abusers without addressing the trauma of their victims.
Anyway, thanks again for your kindness and your support. I’m sending you my best.
February 19, 2021 at 6:25 pm #65288Jan7Participant
Hi BreathingFree, you’re so welcome. Glad you found your way to Donna & Terry’s wonderful site Lovefraud…
YES, the eye stare by a sociopath is unnerving and intentional to put you under their mind control immediately. So scary. YES. my ex did the “stare” from day one & throughout our marraige. I felt like he was trancing me even though I had no idea what that really meant. Then once I escaped i read articles about their trance & hypnosis ability. Such a crazy world.
Do a serach here on LOvefraud up at the top for:
!) The eyes of a sociopath
2) Predatory stare
Donna has written many articles on their deadly “stare”.
YEs, my ex too was excessive with his desire for sex and has endless numbers of women & mistresses. When I escaped he had at least 3 mistress possibly 5 (not sure about two of them) but, also I know that he was having one night stands & most likely also paying for sex while he travelled weekly.
I looked up sex addict sociopath when I left…what I found is quite chiilling = 70-90% of child predators are socioapths/psychopath = there is NO amount of therapy that will ever change their mindset…this is enbedded deep into their brain = cant be erased or reprogrammed.
DO a search also here on LF for “The Gift of fear by Gavin Debecker” and also on the net for “OPrah Gavin Debecker you tube” to watch their interview on his book educating people on listening to their gut instinct. I read an article that humans can determine if someone is “honest or not” within 3 seconds…
Look back and think about the RED flags this guy gave off to you the first time you meet him…and every time after. I thought my ex was a “tornado” the first time I meet him thru a mutual friends…second time I thought he was “crazy’…(those were my first thougths literally about him = I was correct but was not educated on Lovebombing etc)
Look up on LF:
Gas lighting abuse
Cognative Dissnance (this is holding two differnce believe systems about a abuser “he is good/he is bad’
Madona & the whore complex (why sociopaths have diffent victims) look this one up on the net too.
It’s so crazy when you are in the nightmare with the abuser and then escape with our life and realize there are text book terms for EVERYTHING they do…so crazy.
February 19, 2021 at 2:21 pm #65286sept4Participant
Hi Breathing, yes my ex husband was also extremely promiscuous and sexually deviant. During work hours he would go to cheap roadside motels and meet up with hookers and strippers for sex and drugs. Sometimes multiple in one day. Sometimes bringing various cronies along.
I too thought it was sex addiction at first but then realized it’s not standing on itself. It’s part of a general addiction pattern. He is so extremely broken and empty inside that he is manically trying to fill that bottomless pit inside with external things. Money sex alcohol drugs food shopping etc.
Of course none of those things ever work to fill the void inside. Because the void is where a soul should be, a conscience, a light, love. Which are out of reach for him.
February 19, 2021 at 5:07 pm #65287
Hi, sep4 – yes, I completely agree. I still sometimes catch myself thinking that my abuser might be redeemable, which usually comes when I’m in one of those periodic moments of self-doubt wondering if I’ve exaggerated or misunderstood what happened or that he really didn’t mean any of it. But I also know that kind of thinking is a waste of my time, just another residual effect of his abuse. Trusting myself has been the most incredibly difficult thing to relearn, but it is getting better with time.
I read more of your story on another recent thread – I’m heartbroken by everything you’ve gone through and are still going through. I am so sorry. This is what hits me the hardest – that I was so mired in my own misery and the need to survive that I never gave a thought to his wife. I hate him all the more when I think how he used me as an instrument not only to satisfy his own desires with me but to cause pain to another innocent person.
All my best to you.
February 20, 2021 at 5:44 pm #65290Donna AndersenKeymaster
breathingfree – thank you so much for sharing your story – it is very powerful. It’s important to understand just how good psychopaths are at manipulating others. Normal people who do not know that they exist – which was most of us at one point – simply don’t have a chance agains them.
I’ve heard quite a few of these predators who only target people who are married – precisely because the shame makes it hard to escape. They know exactly what they are doing.
It’s great that you’ve found your strength.
February 20, 2021 at 8:32 pm #65293
Hi, Donna – Thank you for your words of support. And thank you so much for the labor you put into this website and making something positive out of a horrible experience. Clearly this website is helping a lot of people.
Jan7 – Learning more about your experience and those of others on this site is as affirming as it is upsetting. I also had red flags, most of them in the first few weeks of our acquaintance, then a few here and there as we became better friends. By then it was too late because he was able to take advantage of the trust I had developed for him and get away with lying about what he was doing. What I’ve been learning in therapy and from reading about human predators on other similar websites is to be aware of my vulnerabilities, and to know that vulnerabilities aren’t always so-called negative attributes, they’re just things that someone might take advantage of (empathy, for instance, or a need to be acknowledged).
I’m reading up on the predatory stare and it is…disturbing… All the nightmares I had about him were of his eyes, disembodied and glowing in the dark. Which makes perfect sense if you think about it – when was first trying to figure out how it all happened, I realized the stare was the very first trick he used on me (even if I didn’t know what it was called at the time). When we barely knew each other and I still thought he was a creep, he would look so deeply and intently into my eyes that I started to get uncomfortable, but for some reason I felt like if I looked away, I would be forfeiting control of the interaction – bizarre that the opposite should be true. Captivating is such an apt word to describe the sensation, all the more because it derives from “captivate.” As soon as he blinked, it was over, and almost like nothing had happened. He also used to stare at me when I wasn’t looking directly at him, to let me know he was watching, I guess. Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell he was staring at me, and when I looked, he held my gaze, not moving a muscle, face completely neutral, then after holding my gaze long enough to let me know that it wasn’t accidental eye contact, he smiled his fake little smile and turned away. He also did it when he got physical with me after we had supposedly ended it.
I’m sure someone else has already said this before, but I feel like the defense mechanisms that survivors use to cope with trauma is the very thing that makes us more susceptible to further abuse (I’ve heard so many say they feel like they have a sign on their forehead). Specifically, I wonder if survivors who are prone to dissociation may more readily fall into the trance state when they encounter the stare, or even upon encountering other triggers that we may not be conscious of.
Jan7, I appreciate your other suggestions, too. There really is a surprising amount of material out there for survivors to read, but it’s unfortunate so many of us don’t know about any of this until after the abuse has already occurred. I just came across the article on this site about the warnings of Little Red Riding Hood, which was funny because that was my epiphany when I finally figured out about him.
February 24, 2021 at 10:36 am #65319fermataParticipant
Jan7: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker – truly a must-read for everyone. Just wanted to mention that one of the first gifts from my last sociopathic ex was this very book! A genius way to establish himself as “the good guy” when all the while secretly satisfying his “duper’s delight”. These predators are way ahead of us in terms of gaslighting and manipulation. Education is the key!
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