A Lovefraud reader using the name Dawn H posted the following comment quite awhile ago. At the end of her story, she brings up important questions.
My ex and I grew up in the same small town. We were like Barbie and Ken”¦expected to marry and live happily ever after. I watched him grow from a very nice guy into a predator and a very evil person in just a few years. After our child was born he started a new wonderful job in a bank and quickly climbed the ladder to success. I put him through law school as he became distant and harsh and wouldn’t touch me. I found out he was bragging at work about secretaries’ children being his. One of his secretaries divorced her husband to sneak around with mine in sleazy motels and the whole time he was telling her that I carried a gun in my diaper bag, etc. I met and befriended her, she started fainting at work, they both got fired, and she moved away. He begged and cried and we did major counseling for a year and I dropped the divorce proceedings thinking he was well.
Over the next two or three years he was nice and took my calls at work, came home for supper, etc, but gradually grew distant and harsh again. I found out in ’04 that he had a 10-12 yr affair with another secretary from his new position as COO of a publicly traded banking company AND a woman in every port city from here to Beijing. He had been hiding his money all this time, so that when he was caught he would not have to share. He bought all his mistresses suits, jewelry, even paid for one’s house, while I had to pay utilities, my own food, my own insurance, car payment”¦everything from my teacher salary. He kept me literally broke while he was making almost half a million per yr and telling me we had no money because he was reinvesting it all in the company. If I wanted 200 for Christmas presents, he made me postdate a check for January, and he wouldn’t let go of his check until I let go of mine.
There was no intimacy for more than 15 yrs. He lied all day every day, but the strange thing was that he turned very dark. He would leave butcher knives out on the counter facing the stairs where I came down in the morning. I found out his mistress was the one who had been phone stalking me for 7 or 8 yrs, and their phone records were like 25 or 30 calls to each other every day, even though they worked side by side. At the same time he had many other young mistresses and kept them all ignorant of each other. After he was caught and we separated, he cried and became perfect all over again for a year counseling, then got caught at a sleazy motel with someone again.
I could tell that someone was breaking into my house while I was at the gym. He brought me Ultimate Woman vitamin pills with the seal broken and some missing! I found an empty Viagra box in his vanity drawer. This guy has 150 IQ. Someone was hacking into my bank records online, and I left tape recorders at the house to see what was going on there while I was out. On the phone from the house to women, he sounded like a dirty old man, talking naughty and naked and nasty. I wouldn’t have believed it was him. One day he would cry and hug the stuffing out of me apologizing, and the next day he was rude and hateful and couldn’t remember he had apologized. I knew my life was in danger and I had to change the locks etc. I had to tape record every conversation during separation and divorce proceedings, because he lied so much to attorneys, etc, that you couldn’t prove anything without recordings.
He had NO concern for our son’s feelings in any of this. The mistresses’ children grew up with him sneaking in through the fence to sleep with mommy, and the first one’s kids were calling him Daddy too. He found out this mistress aborted his child, and he doesn’t care. He told me one time during the proceedings “the girlfriend knows I do what I want and I get what I want, and she’s fine with that.” Children’s feelings are unimportant, but he is wining and dining our son now, like we’re in a contest ”¦ climbing the pyramids in Egypt ”¦ took him to the Great Wall of China ”¦ fly fishing in the Grand Canyon, etc. Bought a barge and stocks it with bongs and booze for my son’s friends, etc. No regard for the kids ”¦ it’s all about him and winning.
My interest in cases like this is, where do you draw the line? When do you bring in the attorneys and police and IRS? What about the children? If he’s been hiding money for years in other countries, are you just supposed to forget and forgive and move on? I’ve had the hardest time with that. God is so good to me, but when I start to recall all the craziness, I get shaky and lose sleep and I just can’t really go there anymore. I want to protect others from this victimization and I don’t want to be vindictive, but then again, I don’t want him hurting other young women. I would not doubt that he might be one of these trafficking guys. Did you know most of the WORLD’S trafficking is financed by middle-aged American businessmen? We need to wake up and do something quickly. This American businessman/ sociopath/ narcissist/ predator thing is getting out of hand.
Dawn H’s story is terrible. Most people would say the story is shocking, but that’s because most people are ignorant about sociopaths. All of us here at Lovefraud know that stories like Dawn’s are much more common than the uninitiated realize.
The man Dawn H described is clearly hurting many people—Dawn, her son, the bevy of mistresses, the mistresses’ kids, even American taxpayers, since the guy is hiding his money. He may even be complicit in the sordid the sex trade.
Whether our stories are as bad as Dawn’s or not, many of us ask ourselves the same questions that she asked at the end of her email: How do we respond?
We all have to find our own answers to the question. Following are the points and issues to consider. For the sake of convenience I am referring to the sociopaths as male, but they could be female as well.
Now vs. later
When we first realize what the sociopath was actually doing, that everything he told us was a lie, that we were exploited, our emotions are at a full boil. We are traumatized, disillusioned, furious, scared. We want to strike back. We want to tell the world that he is a liar. We wonder how we are going to survive. Our emotions rage back and forth between outrage and fear, worry and determination.
At this point, we need to prioritize. We need to figure out what we MUST do now, and what can wait, in fact, what MUST wait, until later.
The most important variable in deciding how to proceed is the possibility of violence. The best predictor of future violence is past violence. If the sociopath has been violent in the past—even if it wasn’t directed towards you—you must assume that he could be violent in the future, and you may be the target.
If you (and your children) are in physical danger, you need to do whatever will protect your safety. If the sociopath has committed crimes for which he is likely to be arrested and jailed, report them. But if his offenses are such that authorities are likely to regard them as a case of “he said-she said,” or he’s likely to get out on bail and come after you—well, it may be better not to poke the hornet’s nest.
Your first priority is survival. As long as you are alive, everything else can be addressed later.
Your second priority is stability. Many of us have been financially wiped out by the sociopaths. If you’re in this position, you need to take steps to insure your economic survival. If you’re married to the sociopath, and financially entangled, you need to figure out the best way to disengage that is healthiest for you in the long run.
In considering how far to go after the sociopath legally, here are questions to ask yourself:
- Does he have any assets? Does he have a job? Does he have documented income? If there is no money, there may be nothing to gain.
- Do you have proof of his money? If not, can you get it?
- Can you afford a legal battle? If not, perhaps you should just walk away.
- Can he afford a legal battle? Does he have a history of filing lawsuits? If he does, he’s likely to relish going to court, and will drag out the proceedings, costing you money.
- Do you have children with him? If yes, one of these two scenarios is likely: Either he will abandon his responsibilities and fail to pay child support, or he will maintain contact and use the children as pawns to torment you.
Your ultimate goal should be to get rid of the sociopath and move on with your life. Any financial or legal actions you take against him should support that goal.
An experience with a sociopath leaves us feeling like we’ve been through a meat grinder. Anger, disappointment, shame, guilt, fear, outrage, even numbness—we probably cycle through all of them.
We need to find our peace of mind. For some of us, it may be the first time that we consciously pursue peace of mind. Many of us were filled with vulnerability and turmoil, which attracted the sociopaths in the first place.
In deciding how far to go after the sociopath, therefore, we must also consider our emotional recovery. Lovefraud’s standard advice for recovery from the sociopath is No Contact—not having any interaction at all with him. No conversations. No phone calls. No email. No in-person encounters.
Going after the sociopath may entail some kind of contact. If you go to court, you’ll have to deal with him. If you want to expose him on the Internet, you may need to monitor his Facebook page. This means, as we say on Lovefraud, you are “renting him space in your head.” Thinking about the sociopath is a form of contact.
On the other hand, going after him may be important to your emotional recovery. By doing it, you are not allowing him to walk all over you. Standing up to him may benefit your self-esteem, and allow you to recover your identity.
Only you know what you need.
Making the sociopath accountable
Personally, I think it’s important to do what you can to make the sociopath accountable for his destructive actions. BUT you may want to think carefully about WHEN and HOW you take action.
If you have evidence that the sociopath committed a crime, report him to the authorities. Maybe the crime you report isn’t prosecuted, but it could help establish his pattern of behavior if another person reports a crime.
If, like many Lovefraud readers, you don’t want the sociopath to do to someone else what he did to you, you may want to warn the next victim, or expose the sociopath. I’ve written previously on both of these topics:
Perhaps you can’t take action against the sociopath right away because you need to attend to your own safety, stability and recovery. But maybe, when you are stronger, you can do something to stop the exploitative behavior.
Sociopaths get away with their immoral, unethical and sometimes criminal behavior because people do not stand up to them. So I think that when we can do so safely, we should speak up and take action. Sociopaths will continue their destructive behavior until they are stopped.