LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Child of an undiagnosed sociopath

Editor’s note: A Lovefraud reader, we’ll call him Allen, tells his story.

I know the story starts way before my time with my dad, so I can only tell you what I saw growing up and what I now see in hindsight.

I think the biggest thing that I see in him is that he takes no personal responsibility for anything. Somewhere in his late 20’s he “found God” whatever that really means to him, and it was right around the time that my mom finally left him because of physical abuse that he denies to this day. He says that he never laid a hand on her and then when I remind him that I was there that day and saw everything he still denies it. He claims that pushing her over a couch and through a screen door isn’t laying a hand on her.

That day, the day they split up, I spent the rest of the weekend with my dad, where he kept saying how little my mom must have loved me, since she left you with “such a monster.” At nine, I believed him and spent the next year of my life making my mom’s life a living hell. I would torment her, asking her why she was leaving dad and how she must be evil to not love him. A thin mixture of religion over a solid base of fear led me to believe that my dad was the only one I could trust.

My mom was a teacher at the Christian school that I attended and my mom was condemned for leaving my dad by the church, mostly because my dad was playing the victim and smearing my mom as unforgiving and bitter. He claimed she just left him for no reason. Especially when he was friends with most of the pastors at the church. He would go for “counseling” with them. He would read every religious book he could find. He even ended up in the psych ward over Christmas that year. He really made my mom look evil. I was 30 when I finally saw what he did to her. And I and everyone else bought it up to that point. I eye-witnessed it and I still bought it.

In an effort to “re-unite” our family, my mom was told by the church to either reunite with my dad or find a new job. She found a new job. Ironically, her good friend from her childhood taught with her at that same school. Her husband beat the crap out of her the next year, and she had him arrested and he wasn’t as manipulative as my dad. She still works at that same school. It protected her.

Living with dad

This all happened my third grade year. The following year I continued to live with my mom meanwhile going to my father’s every single weekend, and getting my head filled with everything bad my mom had ever done. Every skeleton. I “tormented” her regularly, but I thought I was doing what God wanted me to do, which was remind my mom what God says she should do ”¦ at least according to what my dad told me. I knew that God hated sin, and divorce was a sin, and my mom was divorcing my dad on purpose, therefore I thought I was doing what was right. Finally my mom had enough and she let me go live with my dad my fifth grade year. The divorce was done somewhere between June to August, and by September I was his best man in his next marriage.

I moved in with him in July, and that’s when he started beating the crap out of me when I would do stuff he didn’t like and that continues to this very day. I had to call the police on him this past weekend because he spit on me as I walked to my car, ran up and threw me up against the wall and cocked his fist to punch me when I told him he never took responsibility for anything especially getting real help for his abuse, which he denied when the police arrived and said I came over to pick a fight with him. My brother even told me I should expect to mauled when I throw stones at a bear. Anyways”¦

The marriage with his second wife was a disaster of biblical proportions. I had a stepsister my age and a stepbrother my brother’s age”¦five years younger than me. I was the only one that kept saying they shouldn’t be married and that he was being a bad father, which brought me more and more abuse. I even protested at his wedding, so he told everyone that I had psychological problems. Turns out I was just exhausted trying to have a conscience for two. He was a doctor. He would buy cars, tv’s, all kinds of stuff and then lie to his wife about it and make me promise not to tell her about it either. When I would say it was a bad idea, I would be told either I was too young to understand or beat up, so I played along. They split up, of course because of us kids not getting along. He forgets that I spent two years locked in my room avoiding everyone that I could from our family. Not sure the fights I started, but I believed him. We, my stepsiblings and I, had to lie about how my stepmom got a black eye one time. A family football injury. Unbelieveable.

Difficult to love

My dad and I moved into a cottage at a Christian community that was a few miles outside of town. We lived there until I graduated from high school. At the time I really defended my dad, believing that he WAS the victim in all this and that if my mom hadn’t left him, none of this would have happened. This made me hate her more. And he kept beating me up too. Said I was “difficult to love”. Same thing he said this weekend ”¦ funny. I would go to school with bruises and a swollen nose, fat lips all the time. That’s when I had to lie to the police and tell them nothing was wrong. My mom even got emergency custody of me and tried to have me put in a school for troubled kids. I saw it as evil since I saw her as evil and not able to be trusted. I lied my way out of that school interview. I made it look like she was crazy and that she just had a problem with my dad and was trying to get back at him. She gave me a choice: the Detention Home or a Runaway Shelter.

I chose the runaway shelter. But when they notified the custodial parent, as my mom only had temporary emergency custody, he came and picked me up at 5 a.m. This really made her look evil and him like the rescuer! “Look! Your mom dumped you off again!” I went into school the next day and had a total and complete breakdown. I told them what happened the night before and coupled with what they knew was going on at home, they excused me from school for the last two weeks. They knew I would never turn on my dad because my only other option was the DH and everyone knew that wasn’t going to help. I even spent a couple of weeks in the psych ward as I was suicidal a few months previous. They even passed me as I was failing about everything in class. It was all because I wasn’t adjusting well to my dad’s new marriage. That may be, but I think that I never should have been there. I should have been protected by my parent, not stepped on to get what he wanted. But maybe that’s just me.

High school

High school went by because I found really good friends. My dad was trying to get back with my stepmom from eighth grade to twelfth grade so I was home a lot on the weekends by myself. Yeah. We partied. They still talk about how many parties I threw in high school. I would make remarks about my dad’s choices and how little I thought of him and his marriage, his wife, whatever. They were “disrespectful” and were always met with a fist fight. I got in a couple of good licks and they got further apart.

After every single fight, he would tell me that God still loved him and that I should forgive him. Truth is, I didn’t have any other place to live, so I tolerated him and his abuse. And sometimes his irresponsibility made him really fun. New cars and things like that made my place fun to live at. He even bough me a car at 15 and let me drive it around without a license just so he didn’t have to be bothered with having to take me places. That made me about the coolest person there was to my friends! I was pretty responsible and didn’t get into any trouble worth mentioning. I was actually one of only two people in my “circle of friends” to make it through school without any police incursions.

I went into the Navy when I graduated as I had a less than 2.0 GPA. It was very good for me. I was in two years and hurt my leg and was discharged. I got married to a woman EXACTLY like my dad. More on that in a bit. During that time my dad and his second wife got back together for about a year. And I was split up with my wife and moved back in for a short time with them. I got back with my wife and they split up a year later because my dad was cheating on her with someone that was going to become his next wife. But don’t say goodbye to wife #2 quite yet. She makes an encore later. I blamed my stepmom for taking all my dad’s stuff because she was “just a gold-digger!” I completely missed the point that he was getting this as consequences to his actions! But hearing him, it was all her fault again. She drove him to cheat. At this point I’m 23 or 24.

My wife was the same

My eyes were finally opened with my wife. Nothing was ever her fault. Perpetual victim. That’s when I discovered patterns! I started seeing things she did to my daughter that my dad did to me. Manipulation of the truth, telling parts of the story, lying, cheating and stealing. But it was never her fault either. She and I would get into a fight and she would wake up our daughter in the middle of the night and take her to her mom’s and say things like “Your dad is throwing us out.” Little stuff like that, when nothing was further from the truth. And her mom hated me! Rightfully so: throwing her and her grand daughter out like that. The only problem is, she never even asked my side. That’s when it hit me that I was her mom when it came to my dad.

She was always defending her daughter, like I did to my dad. She was always the victim, just like my dad. It was never her fault I was mad (even though she was charging $10k on credit cards in three months). I was the one that was being unreasonable! It finally hit me after 12 years of marriage and a tumor that these two people were identical: Sociopaths!

Beat us with the Bible

At 27 or 28 I finally saw what was going on. My dad was on wife #3, a total and complete psycho. And he was making it worse because he intimidated her too. And bought $120k RV’s, $5k banjos ”¦ you name it. Never EVER telling her first. “Screw her, it’s my money!” I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that saying. My mom, my step-mom(s), even me when I confronted him. He would snap and start attacking us as though we had the problem. First he would puff up and yell. If that didn’t scare us away, he would beat us with the Bible: saying that we shouldn’t judge and how we just didn’t understand “Grace” the way he did and that if God forgives him so should we. If we still didn’t run away he would start dismantling our character with every kind of attack known to man: our character, our lives, my kids, my wife, my relationships, my religion, my work, my work ethic, my friends, my salvation”¦everything. All peppered with vulgarities and personal attacks. I always blew it off because some of what he said WAS true and I bought into the speck in his eye and the plank in mine, like he was always reminding us of.

Sexual harassment

He really talked the talk, but never walked the walk. And that is what ALWAYS, ALWAYS bothered me. Even in childhood. Always do what the Bible says, unless you are me. It wasn’t until he was sued for sexual harassment that I knew he had a real problem. Having been in the Navy, I was trained almost monthly on sexual harassment. You say “Red Light” to anyone that was in the service in my time and they will laugh. They know exactly what that means. So I told my dad that what he was doing with one of the girls in his staff was beyond a shadow of a doubt sexual harassment. Five times I warned him and said, “Look! You have got to stop! You are going to get sued!” To which he replied “Mind your own business. I’m 58 years old and I’m not going to let you know-it-all tell me how to run my life. Beside, what the hell do you know? I’m a doctor! What the hell are you?”

Let’s just say I didn’t know everything else he was doing to her until the lawsuit was filed. I was shocked this married “Christian” man was telling me he was doing nothing wrong and yet he was still getting sued, even after I warned him about it! He told me “I wasn’t going to tell you but ____ is suing me. That bitch! What the heck is and everyone else gonna think? Their gonna think I did it!” I said, “You did!” He told me not to come around him anymore if I was going to be talking like that. So I shut up for a while.

Wife #3 went crazier. Now I realize that being with a person that thinks and acts like he does will drive a normal person crazy! I thought it was her until a I saw what living with my ex-wife did to me! Months of cover-ups and bashing the character of the sue-er, he narrowly convinced her not to divorce him then, claiming he, again, was the victim

Anger management

Then he punched wife #3 about a year ago and she had his butt arrested. He pleaded “no contest” and had to go to anger management counseling. The next week, after he had to move out, he bought a BMW 740IL and told me, “Now everyone is going to know that no lying b*tch is going to keep me down. I’m still on top.” He swears to this day “he never laid a hand on her.” I asked him if it was the same hand he didn’t lay on mom to which he points out how bitter and unforgiving I am and that he is praying for me to “get better.” She filed for divorce a few weeks later but he didn’t care. Wife #2, who is inarguably more attractive than wife #3, wanted him back. She couldn’t believe all that he had endured and come through. Truth is she just wants security and to not be alone I think.

When I tried to have him arrested this weekend it was me that had the problem again. He lied to police and said he didn’t lay a hand on me and that I, in fact was the one that picked a fight with him. He lied to family, the few that believe him, that I did come over “looking for trouble”. I have for the last year tried to stay away from him but keep getting my conscience turned against me by him because a child should forgive his parent. I shouldn’t be bitter. But he lures you in with a believable “I really am sorry” and a plausible story that it really IS your problem. And he is quick to point that out to everyone I or any of his victims know that he runs into.

And trying to get him help is impossible: He would argue theology with Jesus, and could intimidate Ah-nold. He has walked out of more counselors because they were trying put him “under the law.” Religion is a wall he uses to trap his victims within reach. Anytime they start to get away he reminds them of their obligation to forgive and they come back. It’s like a religious tether. It’s the same tactic my ex-wife (also claimed to be “Christian/religious”) used: bragging she knew she could do anything she wanted because she knew that I would never divorce her because my religious beliefs were too strong. I’m pretty sure that’s not what God teachs.

How should I deal?

There is my story. Use it for whatever you want. Even to convict me if I really do have a problem like he and my ex says. They say I make everyone miserable. My girlfriend tells me it’s them (but she’s a LITTLE partial!) and that if they walked what they talked, it would not be an issue. I just make them feel accountable because I question their actions to their faces, while everyone else talks behind their back. This is uncomfortable for them, thus bringing on their own misery because someone see through their façade, so their slander and character assassination starts on me and their true colors come out.

I would love to know, however, how I should deal with him? Should I stay away? Or should I forgive and always keep him at arms length? What about my daughter and him? He tells her all kinds of things too about me that aren’t anywhere near true. And she is starting to behave just like her mom and grandpa.

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46 Comments on "LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Child of an undiagnosed sociopath"

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Thanks for that long response. You sound like you’re really doing well in getting through this. Clarity is the big “symptom” of getting better. Though you’ve got big challenges in this situation, you seem very clear about what you think and about what you’re doing.

Only one thing you wrote — about getting confirmation from other family members in returning the gifts — showed some uncertainty. Understandable, but hopefully as time goes on, you’ll be more and more certain that your gut reactions are your most valid indicator of what to do or think.

It’s a really encouraging thing that other people are coming out about their concerns about your father. Even though you don’t need the validation, it’s nice to have it.

As far as your daughter goes, I’m with Elizabeth. It’s difficult for kids to interpret these adult dramas, and they have their own issues (including wanting lots of cool stuff to be able to compete in the popularity stakes). Life is a great teacher. And if you’re steady with your own good values, she will eventually come to understand why.

Congratulations on all of it.


Allen: If all our EXs were still in their teens … we’d naturally be calling them PUNKS … assuming they will outgrow this bad behavior as the years go by. This is our (all of societies) first mistake … we believed that with aging comes maturity. No one realized years ago, that they truly enjoy being the selfish, self centered brats that they are. If they don’t get their way (adult temper tantrums, they make everyone miserable simply because they always want to get their own way any way they need to accomplish this. Just imagine a toddler in the fit of rage … throwing their toys against the wall and smashing it to smitherines. Hence, what do these chronologically aged children do instead of toys … it escalated to the adult toys … smashing others lives to smitherines.

They’re brats because they want to be brats … period.



There is every reason to believe your daughter has an EXCELLENT chance of growing into a wonderful lady!!!

I’m NOT just saying that to make you feel better.

Most 13 year old kids are difficult. Those whose parents are having an ugly divorce are usually worse than average.

The vast majority of them mature into fine adults. Remember, she’s your daughter too! You have already influenced her, and you will have future opportunities to impact her life.

Please do not let this get you down. I’ll be keeping you and your daughter in my prayers.


Another book you might want to look into is “Adult Children of Alcoholics”. The author notes that whether or not you were the child of alcoholics, a lot of the same patterns exist in dysfunctional households.

I’m rereading it now. Some of the situations the author discusses sound like they are very comparable to what you are grappling with in the case of your daughter.

I definitely will Matt.

Elizabeth: I hope she does. I just see so much of her mom & her mom’s mom, and my dad in her actions that I just cant imagine her not ending as an S when it’s all finished. I turned out ok, but I fought my dad every time I saw his walk not equal his talk. She doesnt. She goes where it gets her the most of whatever she wants at that moment. I almost had her seeing through it by the end of my last summer visit. Guess I will just plant the seeds and pray God makes them grow. I cant even get a weekend visit, let alone a long summer visit. Her mom wont stand for it.

Wini: That is an excellent point that I never considered. I thought that is why my ex slept with me in HS…as rebellion and cuz she “loved me and knew she wanted to marry me”. I should have known I was more of a “toy” that she had to obtain rather than a person that she wanted to enjoy time with. It was always “If you’ll do ____ the I will do _____”…but she usually found a way out of keeping her end. In retrospect it seems so obvious! Thats why I stopped talking gifts from my dad. “If I buy you _______, then you need to accept ________”. He never kept his end either…the abuse always came back. I married what I knew.

OxDrover -“let’s pretend it didn’t happen” LOL, boy do have I lived through that nice little piece of manipulation!

That was the reason for the tsunami of fury unleshed by my mother. I dared to contradict her version of events.

There she was painting my father as the demon in the house “oh a fist followed by a boot into his poor wretched wife”. I swear to God the man never touched her. He blustered around a bit when agitated but he was never abusive or violent.

Anyway after about the 5th time she said it I quietly said “you know from what I remember it wasn’t Daddy who was the violent person in the family, it was you”.

Well she didn’t get hysterical there in the cafe, she saved it for when she got the pen and paper at home.

He’ll she even sent my sister to school with a perfect iron mark on her thigh………complete with the steam holes. Fancy that putting a hot iron on your 10 year olds leg- the teachers at school didn’t know what to do.

And to think that she had the nerve to say that Dad was the violent one. He wouldn’t hurt a fly, and not only did he NEVER lay a finger on my sister or me but we never saw him touch our mother.

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