On psychological head games and “Nookie” the turtle

Editor’s note: This post was submitted by the Lovefraud reader Aloha Traveler.

Sociopaths often use subtle methods to intimidate their victims. One of the funniest and most absurd manifestations of this tactic came to me in the form of a small stuffed turtle.

I had been on Maui for about six months and was able to get a cheap ticket home to California for a visit with my friends. I was already deep into an abusive and confusing nightmare with the Bad Man. He was twisting up my reality and I needed to be in a place where I knew who I was, with people that knew me well.

The Bad Man agreed to take me to the airport for my departure. As I finished packing and was about to zip up my suitcase, the Bad Man produced a gift from his pocket. It was a small stuffed turtle. He presented it to me stating that he wanted me to have something to snuggle with while we were apart. I am a little too old for stuffed animals but the gesture was sweet and I instinctively knew by this time to make a big deal about his thoughtfulness.

As I started to gush over the gift, he added seriously, “His name is Nookie the Turtle. He can see and hear everything you do.” “Oh. Okay. Well, how nice,” I said, as I turned and tucked “Nookie” into my suitcase. This was one of the those moments where it was undeniable that something was wrong. My inner voice spoke to me. “That isn’t right,” it said… but I still didn’t listen.

These days, I read a lot about the dynamics of abusive relationships. Recently I read that it is common that the victim begins to believe that their abuser has some sort of powers and is all knowing, particularly when it comes to them. The abuser carefully creates this illusion because it helps him/her to control the victim through perceived fear.

A few days ago, I saw The Color Purple on TV and there was an excellent example of this tactic in the movie. Celie, the main character and narrator, is abused by the man called “Mr.” throughout the film. Celie is desperately waiting for a letter from her sister Nettie. Mr. tells Celie that he has “specially rigged” the mailbox so that he can tell if it has been “messed with.” He has done no such thing but she has already been abused, degraded, and terrorized by Mr. and so she believes him. He then catches the mail every day for almost the entire film and hides the letters that her sister faithfully sends over decades. It’s a subtle, tiny piece of the film but it really stood out for me now that I know what I know about abusers.

Here’s another intimidation/control tactic the Bad Man attempted to use on me. Once, several months after I had left the island, he sent me a text message that said, “I had a bad feeling last night. What were you doing at 9:00 pm? I ain’t stupid!” (Well, if you must know, Bad Man, I was watching The Little Mermaid with two small children.) While we were together, he was always calling me “sleazy cheesy pop culture girl” in an attempt to shame me in reference to past sexual relationships. With the text message, he was trying to “catch” me at moving on with my life in a way that I had every right to! Abusers only have to “catch” you once to create the illusion that they know what you are doing at all times. This creates a lot of anxiety in the victim. It gives the abuser power over you and expands their reign of emotional torture over space and time.

Here is a perfect example of how that emotional battering and psychological torture roots deeply in you. One night, at least one and a half years after I had left the island, something popped into my head. I remembered an advertisement I had seen in the back of a magazine for teens. It was for a website called, “” Up to that moment, I had been obsessing nearly 24/7 as to how I might stop Bad Man or warn others about him. I wasn’t sure what he did to me but I knew it was something really bad. I felt powerless to stop him and this caused me to toss and turn many nights. So, I signed on to the site, got the gist of what it was all about and decided to write a post. After a few minutes, my piece was finished and then I hit the button: PUBLISH. The instant the ad posted, I started to feel panic and anxiety. Although my good sense told me it was not possible that the Bad Man would find this ad instantaneously, a part of me was convinced that at that very instant, the Bad Man had found my ad and the email bombs would start to come. My heart raced. I felt shaky and nauseous. My agitated sleep was even more so that night.

Setting verbal traps is another little game that disordered abusers use on their victims. Here’s a simple one a friend of mine experienced with Bad Man Jr. (She had her very own BM.) They were driving through a small mountain resort town. As they passed a restaurant he oh-so-casually asked, “Have you ever been to that restaurant?” She confirmed, “Yes.” His tone suddenly shifted. “With who? Did he PAAAAY?! You are SUCH-A-USER!!!”

I remember when she told me about this charming moment, we began to discuss how we both felt like nothing was safe that came out of our mouths. They were always twisting up our words, and attacking us with them. And another favorite was that they often lamented angrily about all the money “WASTED” on us. It was like they had to reinforce how unworthy we were of being treated nicely, so that way they could justify their Bad Man-ness. We laughed because we agreed that both of these men were cheap but always acted like they we treating us like queens. The Bad Man was always trying to convince me that I needed to be grateful for his crumbs of kindness. “Any woman would want a man like me!”

Do you recognize that twisting of reality?

To this day, I don’t know why I was so susceptible to words. Back then, my thoughts were like this: If someone says it, it must be so. And so, around and around I went, my head spinning and grasping to reconnect with reality as it seemed to spin farther and farther away.

In case anyone out there is wondering whatever happened to “Nookie” I will tell you. There has been no Nookie in bed for a long time.

Posted in: Cases

Comment on this article

19 Comments on "On psychological head games and “Nookie” the turtle"

Notify of

I know that there are some people who have been In jail/prison who have “reformed” and I know that there are some people who have been addicts who have “reformed” and are clean and sober—BUT that said—it still makes me wonder about them.

I also know people who have been “clean and sober” for 20+ years and show up at every AA meeting in the world, but they are still psychopaths and will stab you in the BACK for fun!

I have a dear dear friend who has been married 3 times—all 3 ARE CLEARLY psychopaths and I know this for a FACT, not just his word, but most guys who have been married 3 times are NOT good risks—

rperk, your wheel coming off twice is NOT an accident, if the lug nuts are loosened where the wheel moves on the nuts, it will eventually sheer them off.Even if one or two are loose the wheel cant move, so they ALL had to be loosened. The man tried to kill you, and your guardian angel kept that from happening! Not only that, your tire coming off could have caused MULTIPLE DEATHS not only yours. It is only God’s grace that it didn’t happen.

I am beginning to think that there are no EX-convicts. While maybe only 20% of convicts score high enough on the check list to “qualify” for the P diagnosis, there are many of them that just “miss” qualifying. I would almost bet that 75% of them or more have P qualities and traits enough to make them not “suitable” for trust of ANY kind by a “normal” person.

I am beginning to be very leery of people with “bad track records” of any kind…multiple marriages, short term relationships, anyone who had cheated on their spouse, anyone who has stolen, anyone who “seriously” drinks or does illegal drugs—no matter how they say they have “reformed”—why take a chance? The odds are against it working. I’ll play the “odds” that someone who has ever gone to prison isn’t a good risk.

RPERK, the “why” we stay with them has a lot of answers, and I think that you were trying to “rescue’ him. (fix him)

Quote: “I thought I could be HIS knight and shining armor”

Any time we have that “fuzzy” feeling that a guy just needs someone to “be good to him” and he will be all fixed, it is a signal to us that we do NOT need to get involved with this creep. Just because you pick up a snake and take it home and love it and are good to it, it will NOT grow fur and become a puppy and love you back.

I’ve done the same thing with people, and tried to “help” them, but it can’t be done. It will bite you in the a$$ EVERY TIME. 100% of the time. My X-FIL who was I think a P had a good saying though,

“you can give people things, but you can’t help them.”

Thank you for your wisdom. I can use all the information and help I can get. Years ago, when this whole MESS started, and my friends were still talking to me, one of them told me, “He is a psychopath, get away!!!” She also told me words of wisdom “It is too bad you have encountered a psychopath, but from now on…you will be able to recognize one right away and will literally run in the opposite direction”. I am hoping that is true and that she is right. Especially when I still have thoughts about the SBPOS, even after all he has said and done to me.

Thank you for your wisdom. I can use all the information and help I can get. Years ago, when this whole MESS started, and my friends were still talking to me, one of them told me, “He is a psychopath, get away!!!” She also told me words of wisdom “It is too bad you have encountered a psychopath, but from now on…you will be able to recognize one right away and will literally run in the opposite direction”. I am hoping that is true and that she is right. Especially when I still have thoughts about the SBPOS, even after all he has said and done to me.


Well, my “wisdom” if I have any was EARNED THE HARD WAY, BECAUSE IT TOOK ME MANY ENCOUNTERS WITH THE Ps to get the LESSON. I seemed to trade one for another– The only one I actually “handled right”pretty much from the start was my P-bio father and I was NC with him, though at the time I ddint’ know what a psychopath was, I just knew I didn’t want anything to do with him any more. I grieved the loss and the abuse for years though.

NOW I can I think recognize the red flags and see them wave, and will RUN…but whatever the COST the lesson is WORTH it! if it protects us in the future. IMHO. (((hugs)))


OxDrover couldn’t have said it better, when she says that one of the MAIN REASONS we stay with these creeps, keep trying, regardless of all the evidence around us, is because we “think that we can rescue them” …. fix them …. mend their troubled soul/heart, etc. Problem is, though, that the entire time that we are on our “quest”, we are so focused on it that we don’t/can’t see anything else…..or better yet, we refuse to see it.

In the meantime, Mr. Parasite is already gaining ground on you…..not loving you….GAINING something FOR HIMSELF…AND ONLY HIMSELF (financially, physically, sexually, etc). While you are following through on YOUR WORDS with ACTIONS to prove YOUR LOVE, COMMITTMENT (all to his benefit), HIS WORDS ARE LIES…..thus, NO ACTION….at least, NOT TO YOUR BENEFIT.

In my relationship with the S, he always said “I JUST WANT TO MATTER” and “I’VE NEVER MATTERED TO ANYONE”.


I WANT TOTAL “PRIVACY OF RELATIONSHIP” …. SO THAT I CAN CONTROL YOU….(and nobody else would know what HELL I am putting you through)
I WANT TO AMPLIFY/EXAGGERATE EVERY LITTLE THING I DO, to make YOU FEEL THAT YOU AREN’T DOING ENOUGH (continuing his manipulation of getting EVEN MORE from you – you continue to TRY HARDER)

I will confess (as many of us have/will) that these signs are there VERY EARLY ON in the relationship….our inner voice is yelling at us, saying “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” and “GET THIS S.O.B OUTTA HERE NOW!”….. BUT, we are not finished “fixing” yet…..MISSION INCOMPLETE. So we keep at it…..and so do they….keep feeding our “need to fix” with daily manipulation and extorsion of our hearts/souls/body/minds…..and bank accounts.

This is Day 16 of being FREE. While I continue to have NC (at all), S is trying to get “through to me” with public posts on other website forums (wilderness/canoeing expeditions/camping websites). Of course, other forum members have no idea of our break-up, so he continues to post as if we are still together….decorating each post with many words of previous fun/adventure/challenges that we enjoyed together……ABSOLUTELY AMAZING…..and SICK.

To him, the GAME IS NOT OVER…..HE MUST WIN. Therefore, his attempts to manipulate me will continue. The funny thing though, is that when I do see his pathetic ways, it just makes me want to “spit at the computer screen” (didn’t mean to be gross here – just an expression). I KNOW that he is trying to pull on my emotional strings…..and honestly, it really does not phase me one bit. With my eyes openned wide, I just shake my head and say “you’re so F&%$en pathetic”. Then, if there is anything interesting on the forum, I will read other peoples posts and skip over ALL/ANY of his…..

Basically, I AM NOT INTERESTED and could CARE LESS about ANYTHING that he has to say.

In fact, even though he was the one to introduce me to the wilderness/canoe expeditions, I plan to buy my own canoe and either solo or find another single woman to go on my next trip in May/June 08. It will be my birthday gift to MYSELF.

I will add, though, that nothing can be any better/bigger of a gift, than what I have ALREADY GIVEN MYSELF; MY FREEDOM…MY LIFE.

Freedom is so very important, I have not seen him in over a year, but my feelings and thoughts are what I am having to work on now to get that ultimate freedom from him. The ball is in my court, I know. I just have to get over the self anger I have held onto for what I have allowed. That has been difficult for me. It does help quite a bit reading stories that are so like mine, I don’t feel so alone. It is almost a sad relief to know that other kind, caring, loving, generous women are out there who fell into the same kind of trap because of their loving, nurturing nature, but have moved beyond that and are doing so well. There is hope in healing no matter how slow it can be.


About the mystery post. If it’s the site that I am thinking of, I don’t think it was your guy. I see odd posts all the time on there and for some reason, people like to post messages like that, that could reach anyone. BTW… what are you doing on that site?! NO MORE INTERNET DATING! HAHAHA. I haven’t been on that site in quite awhile but when I am there, I am hunting for the Bad Man. He has been quiet for several months now. He is probably torturing some woman right now… or he’s in jail. Wouldn’t that be nice? I enjoy NOT seeing his distrubing ads anyway.

I did not know this topic would bring up so many stories of people in fear for their lives. I never felt this. The Bad Man is too cheap to fly to the mainland to bother me.

I did have fears. He was always attacking everything I said and trying to catch me at the most minute indescretion… any shred of evidence that was the horrible sleeze he insisted I was.

Honestly, I don’t know why I put up with that… must have been that shiny hook I swallowed at the beginning.

Aloha: It wasn’t a dating site, but it was the site you mentioned in another post, only geographically different. And there are weird things there, but never anything that pointed.

I didn’t react. As Free says, they only do things to get a reaction from you. And honestly, I’m pretty secure that he’s moved on to torture someone else, either new or a recycle, like me.

By the way, after the “disconnect” (can’t call it a break-up because he never really was together with me, just me with him), someone was following me around at that same site in the opinions sections writing posts responding to my various commentaries, saying “I love you” in them. The whole experience just kind of freaked me out on the heels of the windshield being broken and other weird things going on.

Confusing and torturing your sense of reality is the one thing all P’s seem to have in common, particularly when they think they’ve “lost” something. That’s why I thought it was him.

He liked to play with my reality simply by changing the way he treated me or what he said to me: “I love you/I don’t love you/I never loved you/Marry me/I’m lying/there’s nobody else/so what if I do like her/you’re wonderful/all women are liars.”

Knowing I believed in his words and actions, fully, and that they would keep me off-balance.

You guys know the drill, I suspect.

In the book I am reading now, about assessment of the risk of violence from someone (a great book by the way) the author talks about two kinds of violence in a way that makes absolute sense to me (he uses an analogy and I think in analogies)

Let’s say you have a cat and the neighbor’s dog gets into your kitchen and corners the cat. Imagine how that cat will react. FEAR! Hair erect, eyes focused, back arched, ready to fight or die! The cat is intent on violence. AFFECTIVE VIOLENCE

Now, go to the next day and the cat is stalking a bird. Notice that the cat is slinking along, eyes focused, hair down, quietly moving. He is intent on violence, PREDATORY VIOLENCE. Notice how cool and calculating he is, no rage and no emotions, just focused to do violence.

Go back to the scene in the kitchen too. Would you go pick that cat up while he was in the affective violent mood? No, because he would transfer his fear and anger toward the dog to YOU and chances are you would get bitten and scratched.

In the hunting predatory violence, you could go pick the cat up and suffer no harm.

Ps can be either kind of violence, and many times the predatory, COLD CALCULATING kind of violence is carried out by them. They are also very capable of the instant rage-induced violence that flares and dies down, but they are also very capable of the predatory violence that can last for years.

Most of “us” are only capable of the affective violence induced by FEAR or GREAT ANGER, but it doesn’t LAST LONG. I know for a fact that if I am backed into a corner, that I would come out fighting like that cat, capable of ANYTHING even homicide to get out of the corner rather than stand there and die at the attacker’s hands. But I have little or none of the predatory violence in me that I am aware of, though I admit that at times I have thought about revenge, but I control that impulse, where the P has little control over his impulses.

He is not necessarily “impulsive” (acting rashly without thought or planning) but doesn’t exercise control over his impulses for revenge etc.

However, I have learned not to put anything “beneath” them, and to be cautious, because I do know that they in some ways have great patience in seeking their revenge for slights they imagined or injuries you did to them years ago. They are like elephants, they “never forget.” Well, neither do I!!!

I won’t live in terror, but I sure don’t let my guard down either. I will keep my “P-dar” focused. “Know your enemy” and don’t underestimate him is a good way to live once you have encountered the Ps.

Send this to a friend