Lovefraud recently received the following e-mail from a reader:
My psychologist referred me to this web site. It’s terrific save one section: How can running away from these people be the only solution? Granted, it’s a stop-gap solution to protect yourself from future abuses; however, it’s not a solution for full/final resolution.
Allowing [them] to perpetuate their endeavors and perpetrate them on others only permits proliferation. Please tell me that there is some constructive, legal way to be proactive and preventative in a more communal fashion. I have visions of: 20 years from now they rule the world. It won’t be survival of the fittest. It will have become survival of the sickest.
To have to swallow this reality would be a further devastating blow to my slowly recovering resiliency.
There simply must be constructive ways to deal with these [people].
We all know this reader’s frustration. It seems like sociopaths are able to lie, cheat, steal, abuse, damage and injure with impunity. How can this be? Isn’t there anything we can do?
Let’s first address the issue of running away. This is the best thing to do if you are observant enough to see the signs of sociopathic behavior before you become entangled. If you know what to look for and see the red flags, or if your instincts tell you that someone is trouble, get out. You should not knowingly allow a sociopath into your life if it can be at all avoided.
Many of our readers, however, are already caught in the sociopath’s web of deceit. You have fallen in love, married the sociopath, had children with him or her, or given the person money. Or, the sociopath is a family member. Somehow, the predator already has a piece of you.
You may have been emotionally, physically or financially abused for a long time. You’ve been criticized, denigrated and told that you have mental problems. You’ve lost your confidence and your sense of self. You wonder if you are, in fact, going crazy.
At this point, you must break away from the sociopath to begin restoring your mental health. You must take yourself out of the sociopath’s game. Any time you see, talk to or exchange e-mail with a sociopath, you are opening yourself to further manipulation. He or she knows exactly how to pull you in again, and will do it.
You may call it running away; Lovefraud calls it No Contact. It’s the best way to begin healing.
But how can you take action against the sociopath? How can the sociopath be held accountable? How can he or she be prevented from devastating someone else?
Unfortunately, it is not illegal to be a sociopath. Therefore, action can only be taken based on what a sociopath does, and many typical sociopathic behaviors are legal.
- It is legal to cheat on a spouse or intimate partner.
- It is legal to lie, except under oath and on some official documents (which never stopped a sociopath).
- It is legal for a sociopath to talk someone into giving him or her money.
Many sociopaths know exactly where the legal lines are, and manage to stay in the gray area without crossing over them. Their actions are unethical, but not illegal.
Criminal prosecution only becomes possible when a sociopath violates the law—which many of them do. Prisons are full of sociopaths.
So prosecution is possible when a law is violated, but whether it actually happens depends on the seriousness of the crime. Most murder cases get investigated. Most fraud cases don’t, especially if it’s a sweetheart scam.
Lovefraud usually recommends reporting a sociopath’s crime, even if it is not likely to be investigated. If a sociopath is doing something illegal to you, he or she is probably also doing it to someone else. Maybe if a pattern develops, authorities will take action.
The other option is civil court—suing the sociopath. Unfortunately this will cost you money that you may not have if the sociopath has wiped you out. Then, even if you file a lawsuit, win your case and get a judgment, it may be difficult or impossible to actually get your money. Sociopaths are notorious for blowing through money; there may be nothing left for you to collect.
The whole process of taking a sociopath to court will financially and emotionally drain you. The sociopath, however, looks at a court battle as a game—a game that he or she is determined to win. And they’re good at the game. They bend the rules to suit their purposes. They put on a great show for the judge, even as they perjure themselves. They find attorneys who are equally cold-hearted, or who are so dazzled that they believe the sociopath’s lies.
Many judges, in the meantime, are as ignorant about sociopaths as you were. They hear the sociopath say, “I’m only concerned about the welfare of our children,” or, “I never meant any harm,” and believe the hollow words.
Exposing the sociopath
If you can’t take legal action, you may want to at least expose the sociopath to save someone else from being victimized. You may post the sociopath on Don’t Date Him Girl or other websites that name cheaters. You may get away with it. Or, if the sociopath you expose has resources and likes the lawsuit game (see above), you may find yourself in court, accused of libel or invasion of privacy.
Here’s another complication: There are no legal guidelines for when or how it is permissible to say someone is a sociopath. Media lawyers frequently do not allow the publications or TV shows they represent to call someone a sociopath. This may be the case even if the person making the statement is an expert. When his show about Ed Hicks was taped, Dr. Phil referred to Hicks as a sociopath. Dr. Phil certainly knows a sociopath when he sees one, but the show’s lawyers cut the term “sociopath” from the broadcast.
For this reason, Lovefraud is extremely careful with naming names. According to our terms of service, readers may not post the names of the sociopaths they have experienced in comments to this blog. And when Lovefraud does a case study in which we do identify a con artist, every single statement made about the subject of the story is documented with evidence.
Lovefraud does believe, however, that exposing sociopaths is the only thing that really works. In the future, we hope to offer a Con Artist Database to help our readers. But this is a project with many technical and legal challenges (see above). We look forward to the day when we can tackle them.
What should you do?
So what’s the bottom line? If you’ve been victimized by a sociopath, what should you do?
First, take care of yourself. Extricate yourself from the predator’s grip. That’s what No Contact is all about—escape and recovery.
Then you have to evaluate your situation to determine if further action is possible and worth the trouble. Every case is different. What did the sociopath do? Was it illegal? Do you have evidence or documentation? Do you have the money to pursue action? Do you have the emotional stamina?
If you have a good case, and the resources, by all means take action. Or, if you can’t do it now, maybe you can do it later, after you are healed.
As the saying goes, “revenge is a dish best served cold.” It took me five years, but I finally exposed my ex-husband, James Montgomery. He was fired from his job and forced into bankruptcy.
I will admit—it was satisfying.