Editor’s note: Lovefraud recently received the following e-mail from a reader whom we’ll call “Greta.”
After being married for 23 years to an alcoholic, being sad and lonely, I was vulnerable and targeted by a sociopath online through Facebook. I live in the US, he was from the Netherlands but living in Italy at time. He sent me a random friend request, I accepted, we talked on instant message chat occasionally for about 9 months and then he zeroed in.
He speaks 5 languages fluently and has traveled to many countries. He is very bright and articulate. We had similar interests, especially spiritually, or at least the illusion was that we did. He convinced me to use Skype and after that I ended up leaving my husband, family and job and sent him a plane ticket to come to the US. (Of course, he had no money and used the excuse that he lost his job several months ago and was unemployed in a terrible economy—pity party.)
We met in Florida where we stayed with my father and stepmother for a few months. Employment was difficult but I landed a long-term temporary position with an insurance company. My stepmother was the first one to see through him. She tried to warn me but I didn’t want to hear it, even though my intuition was telling me something just wasn’t right. When she finally said he had to get out of her house because his 90-day visa was going to expire, he convinced me to go to a motel until we got an apartment, which we did within the week. Once we were on our own, his true colors started coming out.
He was manipulative. He isolated me from friends and family. He grabbed my arm so hard one time he left a bruise that lasted over a month. He was a drinker from the beginning but it escalated. I started to find out things about his past relationships and work history, some of which did not add up to what he had told me. Evidence of him trying to find other women was all over the internet. He would constantly threaten me that, “if I ever broke his heart, there would be no grotto in the mountain that could hide me ”¦ he would hunt me down and kill me.” In the beginning he couldn’t do enough around the house, including cooking. Soon enough he became lazy and did nothing but drink, smoke and play on the internet all day (most likely looking for his next target).
Meanwhile, I was missing my 21-year-old son and his new 2 month old baby. I wanted to come back to PA to see them. He did not want me to go. Something about the whole situation started to scare me. I was afraid to break it off but then I wasn’t sure if I wanted to or not. Something just didn’t feel right. The good times were great and the bad times were subtle but yet scary. He would get terribly angry over trivial matters. He would say nasty things. I would cry and then he would apologize then use intimacy to get to me.
Because I was fearful, I finally decided that I would secretly leave, as if I was going to work one day and go to the airport and go home to PA. I started secreting my most precious belongings to my mother’s house. He was so self-involved he never even noticed anything missing. I knew I would have to leave a lot of possessions and clothing behind but I didn’t care.
The day came, I left as if I was going to work, kissed him good-bye and left for the airport. Three times on the way to the airport I was ready to turn around and go back ”¦ why was I feeling such an attraction to him that I was having such a hard time going away from? With my stepmother’s and mother’s help, I got on the plane and went back to my family.
Even after 4 months of this nightmare, my husband and family never gave up on me. My husband never stopped loving me and is willing to do anything to help me through this trauma and we are working our marriage. He has even stopped drinking.
On the street
After I left I stayed in contact with my SP for a while, feeling guilty and responsible that I didn’t send him back to Europe and left him basically in the mud ”¦ no place to live, no money ”¦ nothing. The apartment manager contacted me and told me that he was taken by ambulance to the hospital for playing suicide. After 3 days, he was released and tried to enter the apartment but I had the locks changed. He then broke into the neighbor’s apartment and was arrested for trespassing and spent 10 days in prison. When he was released he spent about 2-3 weeks on the street and in shelters. He convinced a church to buy him a bus ticket to NY city.
I cut off contact with him ”¦ he had my email ”¦ but I remain in contact with his ex-girlfriend/mother of his child in Italy. She tells me that he is in NY waiting for the paperwork to be sent back to the Netherlands. It scares me that he is only 2 hours from me in PA. It scares me that I might look out my door and see him standing there one day. Even though our last contact he kept telling me how much he loved me still, I know this is not true. I know he is angry. I know it is obsession not love. I can only hope he gets that ticket back to Holland and does not ever come back to US soil.
He is an internet predator and once I have healing under my belt, it is my goal to teach women about the dangers of the internet and sociopathic predators such as the one I encountered. I was a Criminal Justice professional with a B.A. degree in Criminal Justice Rehabilitation and a minor in Psychology, yet I didn’t see it coming. I was physically, emotionally and financially devastated from this experience, and I want to prevent others from making the same terrible mistake I did.