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Overcoming the hype to educate people about sociopaths

Lovefraud recently received the following email from a reader whom we’ll call “Eleanor.”

Thank you for your wonderful site Lovefraud! It has helped me tremendously. I am still with my sociopath husband, but am quietly and surely planning on leaving. We have a few children so it really makes it more complicated.

He has now gone up to the next stage in what I’ve read sociopaths love to do. I’m so thankful that I read about it before he did it and know how to react and what to expect! He’s started to call up my family, giving them a sob story about how broken he is and how I won’t get any help (we’ve gone through a few counselors, with no obvious results as they’ve all been taken in by his acting abilities).

Now my question to you is, knowing he’s doing this, how can I have my close family not be influenced by him or believe him? To know it’s useless to fight him that’s a given (except in court, I will do whatever I can so that he doesn’t get custody of the children). But what can I say to my family to let them not take sides, realize he’s lying to them, and have them not believe him? I tried to tell them this but his authentic depressed behavior got to them more. I don’t want to be left alone without any support and want to catch this in the bud.

After I read your wonderful site I realize he’s been doing this for years. He’ll see I’m talking to a specific friend too much, and suddenly she’ll stop calling. I tried hard to think if I did anything to offend her, and I didn’t. Before I just had vague suspicions, but now I see clearly that he probably called her or her husband and spread lies that I told about her (I have only said good things about her, so there’s nothing truthful that he could say that would be bad). This has happened with past counselors also. One I finally had the courage to call and told her what he said that she said, and she was very upset and said she never said that about me and she’ll clear it up.

People don’t know

The problem Eleanor faces is that people in general do not know that sociopaths exist. They do not know what sociopathic behavior looks like. So because people do not understand that there are people who intentionally feign distress and unhappiness, casting themselves as the victim, they do not realize that what they are witnessing is nothing but an act, and they are being conned by a sociopath.

Eleanor needs to educate her family about sociopaths, but she needs to do it carefully. If she rants and raves that they should not to believe her husband because he is a sociopath, they will probably look at her like she is nuts. In fact, her husband may already be telling them that he’s very concerned about Eleanor, because she’s becoming mentally unglued. The family may begin to think that the husband is right, and Eleanor does, in fact, have mental issues.

Why would they think this? Because they probably believe that sociopaths are all deranged serial killers. If Eleanor’s husband hasn’t killed anyone, or if he isn’t violent, then she must be nuts.

Silence of the Lambs

A few days ago I watched The Silence of the Lambs. This is, of course, the movie that features Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, the cannibalistic psychopath.

Even though the movie came out in 1991, I’d never seen it. I don’t like horror movies or scary movies, so I never wanted to. But since we spend so much time talking about how people don’t understand what a psychopath really is, I figured I needed to see the movie that created so much misinformation, so I ordered it from Netflix. I was so apprehensive that I actually had nightmares several days before watching the film.

Two things struck me about Silence of the Lambs. First, Jodie Foster was really young in the movie. Second, no wonder people think psychopaths are all brilliant, cold-blooded serial killers.

The movie won five Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Actress for Hopkins and Foster, along with Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.  The American Film Institute named Hannibal Lecter, as portrayed by Hopkins, as the number one film villain of all time.

In the beginning of the movie, the medical director of the prison where Lecter is kept says, “Oh, he’s a monster. A pure psychopath. So rare to capture one alive.” And Lecter does display psychopathic behavior. But his behavior is so off the charts that I don’t know if there are any real-life cases as bad as he is.

Lecter is highly manipulative. The problem, however, is that his manipulation is obvious. His evil is obvious. And, of course, the guy is in prison for crimes so heinous that they put him in a straight jacket, strap him to a gurney and put a full mask on him to prevent him from literally biting someone’s head off.

I can see how the image of a psychopath from The Silence of the Lambs could be seared into someone’s brain. Unfortunately, the cartoon image of Hannibal Lecter may prevent people from identifying the real psychopaths who live among us.

After watching this movie, I feel like my decision to use the term “sociopath” on Lovefraud, instead of “psychopath,” was correct. No matter how many academic papers psychology researchers publish about the behavior of psychopaths, they’ll never be able to overcome the image of Anthony Hopkins ripping a cop’s face open with his teeth.

Red Flags of Love Fraud

Lovefraud’s goal is to educate people about sociopaths and what they’re really like, especially in intimate and family relationships. Towards that end, today I am sending my second book to the printer. It’s called, Red Flags of Love Fraud 10 signs you’re dating a sociopath. Here’s the description from the back cover:

What everyone who wants a loving relationship needs to know about social predators

Charisma, charm, so much in common and sexy too—is your romantic interest a dream date, or a sociopath? Millions of these social predators live among us, and they don’t look or act like serial killers. Rather, they present themselves as the love you’ve been waiting for all your life. Red Flags of Lovefraud identifies the clues and patterns of behavior that may indicate your partner is actually an exploiter. This book explains why you may be vulnerable, how the predators seduce you, how you become psychologically bonded, and how to break free of the trap.

I asked a former employee, whom I hadn’t spoken with in many years, to proofread the book. It turned out that she, too, married a sociopath. She told me, “If I’d read this book 10 years ago, it would have changed my life. Literally.”

My hope is that people will read the book, recognize the behaviors and realize that they’re dealing with a sociopath. My bigger hope is that people will read the book, learn the warning signs, and avoid becoming involved with a sociopath in the first place.

Explaining the behavior

But back to Eleanor she’s dealing with a husband who is full manipulation mode, trying to remove her support system by lying to her family and friends. My guess is he’s also running a smear campaign, subtly disparaging Eleanor to make her less credible.

First of all, I am really glad that Eleanor had the nerve to tell one of the counselors what her husband said.  I’d be interested to know how that situation plays out —does the counselor start to get what is happening? Or does she fall for the husband’s lies again?

As far as the rest of her family is concerned, I think Eleanor needs to thoroughly educate herself about exactly what a sociopath is and how they behave. One way to do it is by reading Lovefraud carefully. She should learn about the key symptoms. She should even be able to quote some statistics about how many millions of sociopaths live among us.

Then, when appropriate opportunities arise with individual family members, she can present this information coolly and calmly. In fact, when her husband does something right out of the sociopathic playbook, she can explain how it is typical sociopathic behavior. For example, his sob story about how broken he is is an example of the pity play.

It’s important not to get upset or angry while conveying such information, because that would create the image that Eleanor is nothing but a scorned woman.  People can’t listen to someone who is upset; they put up their defenses. And, presenting this information while upset could play right into the hands of the husband, who is probably saying that Eleanor is mentally unbalanced. So the best way to communicate this information is dispassionately.

What else can she do or say? Do you have any suggestions for Eleanor?


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114 Comments on "Overcoming the hype to educate people about sociopaths"

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Quote Donna: So the best way to communicate this information is dispassionately.

Donna, this is SOOOOO important, but it is the HARDEST THING TO DO I think there is, because when we are WOUNDED and scared, to appear dispassionate and logical and calm is almost impossible to me. At least for me it was.

It is normal to be angry when someone smears you, and apparently her husband has been smearing her behind her back for years, making himself appear sympathetic and throwing on the pity play, making her appear the mean one.

I would encourage her to gather documentary evidence of hubby’s bad acts if possible, then I would encourage her to LEAVE ASAP….

If she can’t provide documentary evidence or witnesses to his bad behavior, lies, etc. then she must not appear to be “kicking” the poor depressed darling, or do anything that appears “mean” to the average person…simply say “I want a divorce, I am not happy with John” and that is enough reason for a divorce.

Her appearing calm to her friends, and the court should go a long way toward undoing his lies.

She must also be careful not to “bad mouth” him unless she has EVIDENCE she can display.

She may still lose some of her support base but there is no way we can completely counter the “smear campaign” which is typical with psychopaths, and the devaluing of us that they do. The psychopaths are well skilled in the smear campaign and the pity ploy for themselves. Poor dears.

Donna ~ This is such a great article to use as an educational tool. It has all the important information in one place, especially if you click on all the red highlighted words and read what comes up. It is easy to read and understand.

I am printing it out for a quick reference and also to show to people that don’t understand the concept of spaths. That might be a good idea for Eleanor also. Like Oxy suggested, document some of her husband’s behaviors, show them to family and friends, then give them a copy of this whole article, including the highlighted reference pages. I would also think that the fact that you singled out her story and printed it here will add credibility with her family and friends.

I agree, remaining dispassionate is indeed the hardest thing to do when dealing with this. In my personal experience, I have always been a truthful person and just the fact that someone was questioning my word and believing the spath lies, almost always left me acting like a complete “crazy person”. You almost have to practice remaining calm and to the point, no matter what.

This is a wonderful post. If I’d had the answer to this question years ago my life would have been quite different. Not sure how applicable it is to you, Eleanor, but below are the things I’ve learned that I wish I’d known earlier.

First thing I’d say is that, as hard as it is to hear, you need to be prepared that you won’t get all, or even many, of your old supports back. Psychopaths basically do the equivalent of ‘salting the earth’ as they go; you’ll need to accept that your world will be forever changed and there is no going back to the old. Decent people do their best to make alliances and cooperate; psychopaths divide and conquer. But one of the positives wills be, if you can successfully intercede in his machinations, that you will indeed find out who the saints and the swine are – but only if you are careful and observant.

Viktor Frankl used a little poetic license when he said that:

““Sigmund Freud once asserted, ’Let one attempt to expose a number of the most diverse people uniformly to hunger. With the increase of the imperative urge of hunger all individual differences will blur and in their stead will appear the uniform expression of the one unstilled urge.’ Thank heaven, Sigmund Freud was spared knowing the concentration camps from the inside. His subjects lay on a couch designed in the plush style of Victorian culture, not in the filth of Auschwitz. There, the ’individual differences’ did not ’blur’ but, on the contrary, people became more different; people unmasked themselves, both the swine and the saints.”

That passage has resonated deeply with me ever since I’ve read it. But I think the above doesn’t only apply to life-threatening crises, like life in a concentration camp. I think it applies equally where a social group is influenced by a psychopath – exactly like yours. Yet (this is where the poetic license applies) further on in his book he really refers to *three* groups: swine, saints, and the herd in the middle who haven’t yet made up their mind – whereby he implores each of us “to do our best” to join the minority:

“You may of course ask whether we really need to refer to “saints.” Wouldn’t it suffice just to refer to decent people? It is true that they form a minority. More than that, they always will remain a minority. And yet I see therein the very challenge to join the minority. For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.”

So hopefully there will be some wise people in your social circle who are also those “saints” who will eventually come to your aid. But to protect yourself, you shouldn’t count on that. The challenge will partly be to educate and empower the “saints” in your family, if there are any. But I think your main target audience are the ‘herd’ in the middle, who generally find it easier to follow the pack that blindly follows authority (and shmooze) than to think for themselves unless there are good reasons to do otherwise.

I think the best you can do is, as Donna and Oxy said, softly drop information that help people educate themselves, and help them think their own way to the right conclusion; as they’ve said above if you try to educate them in any other way it will feel alarming and uncomfortable – factors which automatically escalates someones mistrust and skepticism. Most people do not want to look horrible information ‘in the face’, and will use pretty much any reason to shoot the messenger. So, as the messenger *as well as the target* you must be very careful here.

Not sure if this applies here, but one of the best things that ever happened to me was something my soon-to-be ex-husband did for me after my mother had completely salted my earth: even after 7 years of NC she spread all kinds of malicious gossip about me to his extended family; many people I had never met and my husband hadn’t seen in years. Luckily, we had a very friendly, cooperative and collaborative divorce – we didn’t go through a lawyer and did all the paperwork ourselves. He only heard about this at the point where we had newly separated, when his father told him that it was just as well because I was “trouble” – accompanied with what I now know are the usual lies: I’d been institutionalized; I had a drug problem; I had a criminal record; etc…. The truth was that I was the Dudley Do-Right/Good girl/straight A student of my family and social circle. My husband hit the roof and told his father the truth, and tore a strip off him for listening to malicious gossip without checking it out with us. He interogated his father and found out who had been spreading the rumours, and then called me to tell me this. He contacted my brother, who lived 2000 miles away, and bought a ticket for him to fly to where we lived. And he planned a route where the three of us went together to each person who he had been told were spreading the rumour, and asked them (gently) if this was true. HE told them it wasn’t true, and asked them where they had heard this. Of course, all of them pleaded innocent and disavowed any knowledge of this. None of them would disclose the source of the rumours. But it didn’t really matter, the gossip had been countered, and henceforth I doubt my mother would be able to get away with her machinations without people being aware that her opinion wasn’t to be trusted. And it’s so much easier to hold your head up high in the midst of malicious gossip when someone has clearly come to your defence. No matter how many problems we had in our marriage I will be forever indebted to, and grateful to, him for supporting me then.

Unfortunately our actions served to further salt the earth I imagine, and I doubt this is a path you (or anyone for that matter) should consider lightly. After all, people are quite comfortable spreading gossip, but rarely comfortable being confronted about it. But from what I could see the earth was so thoroughly salted that reconcilation with people we barely knew wasn’t really an option. Getting the truth out so that people had some kind of defence against my mother’s ‘dark arts’ was however, and my ex’s unwavering support of me even during our separation/divorce carried a lot of weight.

I feel for you; I’ve rambled a lot here because this is so very triggering. I didn’t know how to counter this, and went NC with my entire family. If I had it to do over again I would have tried to cultivate at least a few allies, but at that time I had barely even heard the words psychopath or sociopath and was defenceless. As Frankl says, people who will stand up for what’s right when the chips are down are a minority, and it can be very depressing when you start to see how very few there are. The gift that can come out of this is that you will start to see people unmask themselves.

Oh, forgot my original point. I soooo wish LF had been around when I was going through this. At the time there was no defence I could use to counter my mother’s manipulations; now, thanks to Donna, there is hope.

We all owe Donna a debt of gratitude for raising awareness on this issue.

Eleanor ,
You will get through this. Go back through the archives and read. I just read under Authors, Dr. Steve, Aggression. Sarah999 had some excellent posts under that thread. There are many experienced and knowledgeable posters here. I’ve read many books about psychopaths but no one knows the animal the way lovefrauders do. Now for my advice : not knowing the specifics of your situation – age of children, if you have a job or money of your own, etc.- I’ll start with some fundamentals. Any and all time spent with the psychopath around is time spent in isolation. I can’t emphasize that enough. Isolation is your worst enemy. It sounds from your writing that you have not kept up your relationships with your own family and your own friends. Fix that now- start today! Start spending all your spare time socializing with your family and your friends ( the remaining ones). But you need to do this without the psychopath around. This might sound impossible but it’s easy, really. Have fun with them and don’t harp about the sociopath too much. And definitely don’t refer to him as a sociopath or a psychopath until you are out of it -divorced. Try to get out and make more friends and never let the psychopath around them. Do tell all your family and friends how unhappy you are with your marriage and give specific reasons. I know how hard it can be to articulate why you hate him, fear him, distrust him, especially early on in the foggy quagmire. You need to discredit him the way he has been discrediting you. There is a poster on lovefraud that calls this “backspathing”. You are going to have to fight fire with fire. And the psychopath will be shocked that you have used this play. If you can’t articulate many specific behaviors, make them
up. Examples: You caught him masterbating in front of the computer.
He hasn’t been coming home until late on many evenings. You think he is screwing around (he probably is). He is hoarding money from you and the kids (financial abuse). He is a gambler, sex addict , he’s ‘on the down low’ -my ex was!. He won’t talk about his problems. He does the silent treatment (emotional abuse), etc. Don’t let having documented proof of any of his behaviors stop you from undermining his manipulations. LIE if needed. You have found yourself legally married to a psychopath.With kids! This is bad! It will be very hard for him to disprove any of these negative accusa

Newt Gingrich being cheered during primary debates is sad evidence regarding the public’s lack of education regarding psychopaths.

I lost the thread I was on . It’s probably a good thing. I was getting really worked up! Just to wind it up- What is important is that you start
compartmentalizing him just the way he has been doing you. Put him and his people in a box. And put you and your kids, family, and friends in a separate box. Talk as little as possible to any of his people. You have to let go of his family and cohorts. Cut them loose. Concentrate on your people. Strengthen your relationships with YOUR people.

madhanna,
I think your advice to compartmentalize is excellent.

However, I’m not so sure of the advice to lie. For purely pragmatic reasons – leaving aside the ethical considerations – decent people stink at it. For good reason; it’s not a socially desirable skill to acquire (unless you’re a path) hence decent people never practice it enough to get good at it. And the odds of being caught out in a lie are greater for us than for the paths in our life. Nothing will set you up to never being believed again more than being caught in a lie while painting yourself as the aggrieved victim.

I believe ErinBrock backspathed by judiciously using the truth at the right time, not by lying.

Besides, it sounds like Eleanor has more than enough truthful examples to use.

Annie,
All of your advice is excellent and right on the mark.
I would add that Eleanor should get a little mp3 recorder and record his BS antics to save for the future as needed. They may come in handy. Another way to get the truth out is to “accidentally” dial your cell phone (make a pocket call) to someone while he is streaming his BS in private. Save that tactic for the very BEST moments.

Keeping this evidence is important, but I would not deploy it unless absolutely necessary. I much prefer the end result of what happens when a spath slanders you: It separates the wheat from the chaffe.

In truth, there are many bad people in our lives who hide their disgusting nature. Evil gossip reveals them because they revel in the slander. They pass it on and it titillates them. A true friend, doesn’t stoop to that. With the help of a spath you can reveal who else is a worthless person in your life. Then you can cull that from your rolodex.

I completely agree with Annie that lying is not ever going to work. When we backspath it has to be with the truth and hopefully with some evidence.

Thanks skylar,
Speaking of good advice, I’ve been meaning to ask you and ErinBrock to submit a post documenting your advice on ‘grey rock’ and ‘backspathing’ respectively.

I wasn’t reading regularly when the topic of grey rock first came up, but I believe that it was you who introduced it. I was quite confused at first, but after wading through a lot of posts figured it out, and I’ve since found it to be a powerful technique. In my opinion it deserves its own post so that people can find it.

Same thing with backspathing.

BTW, I came across a thread where you and Oxy were coming up with trite ‘grey rock’ expression to use – and they were hilarious!!! That could be a separate post all on its own.

Annie I am in total agreement with you and Viktor Frankl is my HERO AND GURU, the man is brilliant to say nothing about ethical in the face of the worst kind of abuse. I think reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” that he wrote saved my life if not my sanity. I read it the “summer of Chaos” while I blogged here and wept 24/7 it seemed.

Good advice to Eleanor as well…and Sky, I totally agree about the little recorder in the pocket, or maybe a hidden nanny cam some where. Use any and all ways to document his abuse.

Thanks to you too Oxy.

Actually, in my comment above I meant to say that I’d like to see skylar and ErinBrock write ‘articles’ for Donna to post on LF. I’ve been meaning to write her and ask if she’d be willing to ask them if they’d be interested. And, now that I think of it, perhaps skylar and Oxy could revisit their trite expressions exchange and write an article on that.

Re: sky’s suggestion of using an mp3 device, it would be helpful if there were some articles, or perhaps links to articles, documenting the different types of technology one can use to gather evidence, and tips/best practices for how to use them. Plus easy-to-follow instructions for the technically challenged (which is pretty much all of us when we’re in that shock stage).

Annie,
that’s a good idea. I might do that, I learned the trick in June 2009 from a stranger in a sushi bar!

Regarding your and Dr. Frankl’s mention of “the herd in the middle”, I have such little regard for most of those people because their natural tendency is to choose selfishness when given the opportunity. I can understand and forgive it in a young person, but once you reach a “certain age”, perhaps 25-30, it’s just too late, IMO. I hope not, but that’s been my experience.

Annie,
What you say is right and moral. And what I have written is immoral. I Know this. But I divorced a psychopath with a child in tow within 1 1/2years spending only $3000. I was married to it for 20 years. Had my own house that he was after , a child he was after, no job, and spent the last 4 years still married to it educating myself back in the early 2000’s. I started by googling narcissist, “Sam vac” , then found Donna and Oxy and many other insightful bloggers on love fraud . Excuse me if my advice is morally wrong . Somehow I think God will understand. And no, I don’t think for one second that you should play by some ‘good girl rule
book’ when your dealing with a psychopath, especially if you have children involved.

Madhanna, I don’t call it a “lie” or immoral– I call it DIS-information….LOL if it is for the purpose of protecting yourself from the psychopath, I think all bets are off. Do what you have to do to survive. Deceive them if you can. Keep real information away from them. Sky says if they know what you value, they will go after that, so pretend not to value something and they might not go after it. Good advice there.

In war time the army of one country tries to give dis-information to the other so that they won’t know what they’re up to…same with a psychopath and BABY IT IS WAR!

There are times that you have to “cut and run” and get out of their way, there are other times you have to stand and fight, and each situation is different. Whatever it is though, it is WAR and we can be sure of that, and it is war with someone who will use any dirty trick in the book, who will undermine you, and sometimes literally KILL you…and it is best to be “safe rather than sorry” so do not trust them, or even trust that you know what they will do. I never in a million years thought my son Patrick was capable of murder, but goes to show you, I wasn’t quite as knowing as I thought I was.

Live in caution, but not terror.. If you are in terror, then run! Get safe above all else!

God bless us all.

I second or third the audio device. I used my blackberry and he didn’t even notice because it was usually sitting near me anyway. Taping him when he was behaving like a lunatic was important just in case something awful happened, but taping him speaking during our “normal” conversations was even more eye-opening. Holy S. Bless those audio tapes.

What is the “trite expressions exchange” about?

Madhanna,
it’s not that lying about the spath is wrong, it’s just unnecessary. They are sooooo evil, that anything you could make up is not even going to touch the truth.

If you make up things and push comes to shove, you will likely lose the higher ground and THEN when you tell the truth, nobody will believe you. This plays right into their hands. Best bet is to get the truth, document it and expose them. That’s when they high tail it out of town.

Madhanna,
I wasn’t meaning to imply that you were immoral. Just that paths are muuuuch better at lying than we are and also seeing it in other people (physiologically, predatory people are much better at reading body language and situations than the average), and if we choose to climb into their arena we are at a distinct disadvantage. More importantly, the world being what it is, a victim trying to expose the truth caught out in ONE lie will pay a far higher price than the SOB’s who are so practiced at it, but who just insinuate rather than accuse so don’t alarm the listener.

Our truth comes with an expectation on the listener, where there is some expectation that they will, at least in some manner, uphold what is right. Paths on the other hand are slippery and appeal to the bad side of human nature by *inviting* people to participate in gossip, etc… and making it appear fun. No expectation, so people sliiiiiide into less than ethical behaviour by participating.

Our truth makes people uncomfortable, because if they honestly look at it they subconsciously realize that their reality is more chaotic than they’d realized, and on some level they know that if they align with us they may become targets. So they, more often than not, shoot the messenger.

I agree with you: for years I was overly invested in the “good girls handbook”. Had completely swallowed the notion that lying was always wrong. Sounds crazy, but it was watching a nature show that changed my thinking. In the show a robin was faking a broken wing to lure a snake away from its nest. I realized that, even though the bird was technically ‘lying’, faking an injury was the only ethical thing to do to protect its young.

But I’ve learned to differentiate between lying to the path, and lying to other people. Lying to non-paths is climbing into the path’s arena and playing their game by their rules. I’ve found that most bystanders really don’t differentiate between abusers and victims; someone once told me that bystanders usually view all participants involved as ‘trouble to keep away from’, and they suspect all parties of lying. All they have to do is catch us in one lie to feel comfortable putting us in that category.

Mainly though, I stink at lying, so select disclosure as described by ErinBrock, and non-commital indifference (grey rock) as described by skylar work better for me.

Skylar, Truth is not the goal. When you and your child are in the hands of a psychopath the goal becomes getting the hell out of it. Getting the hell away! Sometimes I Wonder if people here were actually involved with psychopaths. “Truth” isn’t the goal when you find yourself in this situation. Your goal is to get out of the legal contract of marriage (the morass) with the psychopath. And to do it as quickly and least expensively as possible. The TRUTH lies between you and God. I don’t think God looks down benevolently upon mothers that don’t protect their children. The higher ground is a good one? Where is this higher ground when you find yourself here? There is no high ground!

Madhanna,
I don’t think you understand what I’m saying.
If winning is the goal, then we cannot win by playing their game. We win by NOT participating in their game. They don’t know the difference of a win from a loss, because they have no values. The only way they understand if they’ve won or lost, is by watching how we respond and by the expressions on our faces.

Spaths DO understand that lying is evil and if they can get you to do evil in response to their evil, then they feel they have scored a win. The more you respond in ways that make them feel like they’ve scored, the more they will pursue their prey. It works as bait and a lure, rather than as a deterrant.

My point: don’t let them score in ANY way that gives them satisfaction.

That’s why it is important to understand the mindset of the spath. Only by understanding how they think, can you avoid “feeding the spath”. What they feed on, is not what normal people would ever imagine. They feed on creating evil in the world. I know, because my spath wrote about it, in his letter to God.

I can guarantee you that once he finds out you have lied about him, it will only egg him on to discredit you and destroy you in the eyes of others. You’ve given him bait.

Spaths don’t fear lies or run from them, lies only feed them. The truth, OTOH, scares the crap out of them. They don’t want anyone to see behind the mask.

I believe it was Oxy who said, “it’s not bad for you because it’s called a sin, it’s called a sin because it’s bad for you.”

So it is with lies. They are not displeasing to God for capricious reasons. They are displeasing to God because they create an opening for a sociopath to hurt us. “Satan” means “the slanderer”. He is the father of all lies. I think that spaths serve one higher purpose: as an example of how not to be.

You can lie to spaths if you wish, since they are liars, it makes little difference. But lying to others about spaths, starts you down a slippery slope. Of course you have free will and it is your choice and your responsibility as to how you decide to deal with your spath. I am only putting this perspective, out there for others’ benefit.

Skylar, you really should write articles. You are a powerful writer who speaks truth.

I so hear you: in my experience pathz greatest thrill is turning you into them. Not only that, but you taking the bait is, as you pointed out, their justification for every horribly bad thing that follows.

Madhanna, I agree that getting the hell out is the goal – partially. I think getting the hell out: with your soul intact; having taught your children the difference between right and wrong; teaching them how to stand up for and defend themselves without becoming monsters in the process, is also part of the goal.

The biggest victory over a spath is leading a happy life, trusting people that shown to be trustable, being open and genuine, sincere… that eventually he couldn’t destroy me.

Nah I wouldn’t lie either. Tempting but no. It could be that it’s easier for me to disengage from him as we don’t have children but he has tried to manipulate via my family and has been met by a brick wall. Lucky for me, yes.
I once said to my ex “The truth always comes out in the end”. This small innocuous statement was enough to send him into a spiral of paranoia, without me even knowing what a big fat liar he actually was! Give em enough rope and they’ll hang themselves ……eventually. I’m a fervent believer in what goes around comes around. So keep on friends. Fight the good fight. Truth conquers. Lies are for spaths.

Who said “You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time” ?

Amen to that
Life is for living.

I am feeling bad. Oxy, please don’t get out the skillet.

I met my spath in 08. Found this site in 09.
I went no contact on and off.
Longest I lasted was 2 consecutive months (Nov – Dec).
I recently, finally came out of my deep depression.
Finally I wasn’t hanging on this site by a thread every day. Finally I started enjoying my friends & hobbies again.
So what did I do?

I went back to my spath. Not in person, but I allowed him back in my life. Text messages. Thought I could handle it.

And now, my spath lied to me again, he kicked me in the gut again, he hurt me again and I am just beside myself with my own stupidity.

Why did I think things would change?
Why did I think, because I am stronger now, that contact would be okay?
Why did I have the audacity to hope?

He got remarried last spring.
This December he started telling me it was a “big mistake”, that he’s only living in the basement, yada yada.
I bought it.

I became aware that his wife wanted him to attend a game night night at their church.

So this morning he sent me a text about did I know that James Earl Jones blah blah blah

Something from game night (trivia game) I am sure.

It’s all lies. He goes to church events to make his new wife happy, with the intention of coming back and sending a dig to me.

Gotta pick up the pieces, and move on again, I guess.

God I am dumb.

Athena

Annie,
I’m also inspired by your posts – your insights, I think, are articulated concisely and to the point.
There are various other people here who have shared their wisdom who could also write great blog posts, IMO.

It’s our collective wisdom that creates this awesome forum. I’m so grateful to all the bloggers and the people who write the articles. As for Madhanna’s opinion, I am grateful to her for sharing it too, because it provided the forum discussion on this absolutely critical aspect of spath motivation.

My spath created more spaths. He mentors failed spaths on becoming more successful. That’s how he keeps his minions loyal. Those of us who cannot be turned into spaths become the innocent scapegoats to be sacrificed.

I honestly think that I’m MORE innocent because of my encounter with the spath. By poisoning me, he made me unable to work or participate in social interactions very much. Most of my life, from age 20 thru 43, I was like a cloistered nun, in some ways. I didn’t get the experience of meeting people, getting to know them, and learning how people can be two faced. I was truly shocked to learn it.

So in that way, he kept me naive and innocent. When it was time to sacrifice me, I think he wanted someone who was really innocent. I know that he has an obsession with innocence.

Skylar, were you married to a psychopath and had children with them?

Athena,
you’re not dumb. You’re just addicted and you thought you were stronger than the drug. Nobody is.

I’ve heard that acceptance is the first step in beating an addiction. Accept that you are powerless against your addiction and ask for help.

There is more to it than that, I just can’t remember the rest.

madhanna, 25 years with the spath and had cats with him. Everybody in my family, it turned out, is a spath except for one sister. Both parents are spathy. The spath had recruited minions all over my neighborhood to harrass me. He also had the police in his pocket and they were harrassing me on his command. As were several members of homeland security. The FBI came through for me by accident, but even they didn’t believe me. So I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t.

He didn’t do this all of a sudden. He worked on it daily for 18 years so that the production would go off without a hitch and I would end up looking like a suicide. But I slipped away.

Sky, you survived! And he hadn’t expected you too!

Darwinsmom,
Spath has killed much stronger, richer, smarter and better people than I. It was God’s grace. I prayed constantly and He kept yanking me out of the mire.

Skylar, Oh, I believe you. Actually the more outrageous the stories here, the more believable . I needed a reminder of your story because I have difficulty remembering stories to people without a face. Sorry about your trials. I have a psychopathic brother also. On the way out I told the psychopathic ex that a lot of women feel like they had married their fathers but I felt that I had married my brother. He said ‘yeh’. They know what they are.

madhanna,
I know I have trouble with remembering everyone’s stories too. Can you refresh me on yours?

Well I haven’t really written my story. I’m in my mid fifty’s, married 20 years to a psychopath, divorced 5years. Have a daughter in her first year at college, live with my 90 year old father, he still drives ,doing well. I’ve been reading love fraud since 2006. And I work contracts on and off- statistics.

Sky

I have potted plants inside the house, and out. In the winter I only tend to the ones inside. Still, a dull topic all in all.

Athena

Athena, I won’t boink you with the skillet, I think you have punished yourself enough, now get back on the NC wagon, and block his texts or change your number…whatever it takes to go NO CONTACT.

You are right, when we break contact we give them another occasion to hurt us. When we maintain no contact, they cannot hurt us.

Getting stronger doesn’t mean we can “handle” contact, it means we need to realize that NO CONTACT is the ONLY way unless you have children and the courts require you to have contact and co-parent…then you find some way to do it with as little contact as possible.

Go ye and sin no more! (((Hugs))) and my prayers

Athena-

Really big hugs honey. We have all been there. Like Sky says – none of us are stronger than the drugs IF WE TAKE THEM. The ONLY way not to take the “spath drug” is to stay NO CONTACT.

You already know this and it will get easier and clearer as time goes on. xxx

Sky & Annie & others –

I couldn’t agree more with your take on speaking only the truth. Dis-information is not a violation of this, but lying is and serves only the spaths and their master.

As for the point that was made about how they target mostly honest people and then relentlessly use any apparent “chink” in our moral armour to “prove” the lies they have told about us, let me tell you a wee story from the year of my escape.

October 2007. Spath dumped me in the March, came crawling back in the July (and I reluctantly let him move back in with me: hope springs eternal and all that shite…)

August – he had been back in the house for precisely 4 weeks and I knew – and MY BODY KNEW to the point where I was afraid to fall asleep at nights – that he had ONLY come back to work out how he could kill me off without arousing suspicion. Came a day when I knew he was making his move and had the police remove him from the house. Bought my own house. Began to move house around the end of September. Had had pneumonia twice already that year, shingles in July then pneumonia and pleurisy end of August, through to the end of October.

Single-handedly moved house whilst still working full time, sick as a dog and grieving like – well, I guess you ALL know what the grieving feels like – and being slandered and stalked by the Superspath at my every turn.

I was back at the house to collect the last of my belongings. Given the state of my health that day and the amount of pain I was in and grief I was experiencing, it was no wonder that having driven to the house I discovered that I had left my house key back at the new house. I had no time to go back and get it because I had friends coming to help me move my gear and had no way of contacting them to say that I would be late meeting them there. I knew that I could jiggle the bathroom window to get in, so I did that. We did what needed to be done and we left.

But I forgot to shut the bathroom window.

Superspath knew I had my own keys, knew that I was till moving out and had not moved back in yet himself. He knew I was as honest as the day is long and would never knowingly break any law.

So he filed criminal charges against me for breaking and entering (my own home) and I had to go to court to answer those charges. The fact that the magistrate then ordered the charges to be withdrawn and I was not convicted of the alleged offences, was neither here nor there in the end ”“
In the meantime, he had kept me dangling and distressed for 5 months while the police tried to talk him out of pursuing the charges. Then there was a wait of several months between being video interviewed by the police (very traumatic) and having to attend the hearing. Then the trauma of the hearing itself and the continuing knowledge that although I was not found guilty, I had been made a public spectacle of in front of the very judiciary whose protection I would sorely need over the next few years.

He sent broadcast mobile (cell) telephone text messages to everyone we knew whose telephone numbers he had, telling them all that I was a criminal.

He has continued to raise the “break and enter” at EVERY court hearing subsequent to this, including recent property settlement proceedings at the Family Court (a completely unrelated forum that does not even deal with such matters).

I was innocent of wrong doing yet he was able to use a simple error of judgement on my part to paint me as a criminal.

Their libel and slander is one thing – they will all do that to us anyway. But playing into their hands (as I did) by actually MAKING a mistake, or by doing something dodgy, immoral, out-of-character or just not-quite-kosher – that’s just HANDING it to them on a plate; and boy will they ever keep dishing it up, long after the “meal” has gone cold!!

Good advice Aussie Girl! They will take anything we do and twist it and turn it to make like we are the criminals when indeed it is the other way round! Believe me the egg donor has twisted things around until I have been brutally abusive to my poor dear old mummy!

Hope you are well and still safe!

It’s important not to get upset or angry while conveying such information, because that would create the image that Eleanor is nothing but a scorned woman. People can’t listen to someone who is upset; they put up their defenses. And, presenting this information while upset could play right into the hands of the husband, who is probably saying that Eleanor is mentally unbalanced. So the best way to communicate this information is dispassionately.

This is absolutely sterling advice, and crucially important.

As for these counselors, spouses and partners of chronic abusers (who may be psychopaths or may have a different disorder) report very different experiences when they attempt couple counseling with the abuser. Joint counseling with an abuser is a crapshoot. The outcome may be better or it may be worse, depending on several factors. It depends very much on the skill and perceptiveness of the counselor. It depends on the character and bebavior of the abuser. But it also depends on the behavior of the partner.

When a partner does get benefits out of joint counseling with an abuser, these (off the top of my head) can take one of about four forms:

1. Once in a blue moon, an abuser has been persuaded to change or undergo treatment as a result of joint counseling. However, this is about as common as hitting the jackpot on a slot machine. Most of the abusers who do make a serious effort to change only do so when they’re jolted into it by the partner leaving (not just “threatening to”). They’re still a minority, and not the psychopathic types. Psychopaths just don’t change.

2. Now and again counseling can smooth over the worst conflicts in an abusive relationship and make it more tolerable, for a time. Unfortunately with an abuser any such improvements are likely to be both superficial and temporary, and don’t solve the fundamental problems making the relationship harmful to the partner and unsustainable in the long term.

3. More commonly, depending on the perceptiveness of the counselor (among other things), the benefit the partner gets out of counseling is much-needed validation that they’re being treated abusively. Sometimes after seeing the abuser, a counselor has been able to tell a spouse, in confidence, “I think your partner is a narcissist,” or “a chronic controller,” or whatever. Though that can’t fix the abuser, or the relationship, it does give the partner the confidence to work toward a necessary separation and breakup.

4. Often the benefit of joint counseling is a paradoxical one. Though it may be a frustrating experience in itself, with no improvement in the abuser’s behavior or in the relationship, at least a partner can now feel reassured that they’ve “tried everything” and nothing works. Then the partner doesn’t need to feel so guilty about leaving.

Unfortunately there can also be risks associated with counseling, of which I’ll mention two here.

1. When the partner makes disclosures to the counselor in front of an abuser, sometimes the abuser uses this information against the partner later. Or the abuser may be angered by the disclosure and prompted to retaliate against the partner afterwards. This can pose a danger if the relationship is physically violent.

2. The risk that’s most relevant to the present topic is that in the wrong conditions, “Benefit Number Three” above may be turned on its head. A counselor who fails to perceive what’s really going on between the couple can end up tagging the partner, not the abuser, as the “real” problem in the relationship. Instead of being validated, the partner is invalidated. Then the partner, already beaten down over the years by the abuser’s constant criticism and blame, ends up being revictimized all over again by the “authority figure” of a counselor. That only worsens the damage already done by the abuse itself.

This is a special risk to the many partners who are confused, don’t understand what’s going on in their relationship, and are already inclined to believe it’s something “wrong” with themselves. That’s the irony of many abusive relationships: that the partners actually agree!–despite both being wrong. The abuser yells “It’s all your fault!” and the partner thinks “Yes, I suppose it must be.”

So the first rule for anyone considering joint counseling with an abuser is that “forewarned is forearmed.” Counselors are not “always right”! One must be prepared to stand one’s ground and not buy into the consequence of an unwitting “collusion” between the counselor and the abuser. Unfortunately this can come about for several reasons.

Now and then a counselor may be biased in favor of an abuser. This is not necessarily dependent on the counselor’s sex. True, some counselors may be tempted to sympathize more with a partner of the same sex. But just as many counselors may be seduced by the “charm” of a partner of the opposite sex. If the abuser is psychopathic, “charm” is a trait they’re well noted for.

But a major problem is that most counselors are simply not trained in the pathology of abusers or the dynamics of abusive relationships. It’s perfectly possible to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology with ever taking a class on abnormal psychology! To me that’s as astounding as getting an engineering degree without ever discussing engineering faults and failures, but there it is. Most “marriage” counselors are trained to deal with the majority of more or less “ordinary” couples who just have conflicts or trouble relating to one another, not with the minority where a spouse has some personality disorder. If the counselor also lacks the insight to see what’s “really” going on between the couple, he or she can end up blaming an innocent partner for the problems in the relationship.

However, the way the couple present themselves to a counselor makes all the difference. If the abuser is a psychopath, that “superficial charm” and “gift of the gab” that many psychopaths are well known for can fool a counselor into believing this is a perfectly “nice” and “reasonable” person who surely is doing their best and couldn’t possibly be chronically abusive or some kind of control freak. But whether the abuser is psychopathic or not, one trait all abusers have in common is their habit of blameshifting. Whatever they’re accused of doing wrong just “has” to be made into somebody else’s fault!—usually their partner’s.

They may do this for more than one reason. It’s fair to say that the typical psychopath has a very loose relationship with Truth. Conversation to a psychopath is a means to an end. Psychopaths are prone to make statements to others, not because those statements reflect objective reality, or even reality as the psychopath mistakenly perceives it, but solely for the effect the statement has on others insofar as that serves the psychopath’s ends. If a psychopath denies being at fault for something, it’s not because the psychopath is unaware of being at fault, but because others may be persuaded by the denial to regard the psychopath more favorably or to refrain from penalizing him or her for wrongdoing. Now and again when it’s obvious to others that the psychopath did something very wrong, he or she may indeed “own up” and apologize profusely—but only because no other course of action is likely to regain other people’s favor.

Ordinary humans can also be somewhat guilty of doing these things from time to time. But with other kinds of abusers especially, who are not psychopathic, there can be a different reason. It’s not because they’re saying these things to fool others, but because, to one extent or another, they genuinely believe what they’re saying! Abusers, even if not psychopathic, have a remarkable capacity for twisting reality in their own minds, and for seeing themselves as the “victims” in a relationship.

I suspect all chronic abusers have a well-oiled mental mechanism for blameshifting that springs into action almost automatically out of long habit whenever any accusation is leveled against them. With the psychopath its purpose is to convince others that the psychopath is “not guilty,” or anyway “not a bad person” in spite of it. With other kinds of abusers a far more important purpose is to convince the abusers themselves that they’re “not guilty” or “not a bad person.” Unlike the psychopath, who is devoid of any “conscience,” many abusers do indeed have a conscience of sorts, however deeply it may be buried. Many abusers are exquisitely sensitive to shame—unlike the psychopath who is shameless. Some abusers can be so sensitive that they react defensively to harmless remarks that they even suspect might be “criticisms” of themselves, and respond by attacking (and abusing) the person who made the remark. To protect an already fragile and damaged ego, they rationalize their behavior and end up convincing themselves that they’re the real “victims” (as so many once were in childhood), and that everything is their partner’s fault.

So while the psychopath may be a polished actor in putting on the appearance of blamelessness, other kinds of abusers can be just as convincing because they sincerely believe (having convinced themselves) that they’ve done nothing “wrong.” In their minds, their criticisms and angry behavior at their innocent partners are justified by the partner’s supposed “faults.”

From one viewpoint it doesn’t matter what’s going on “underneath” in the abuser’s mind. Provided the abuser’s claims and behavior are convincing enough, a counselor can be taken in by them. But in addition, an abuser who sees everything as their partner’s “fault” goes into counseling with an “agenda” of their own: to get the counselor’s help in “fixing” whatever is supposedly “wrong” with their partner! That’s counterproductive when the real problem is with the abuser.

Apart from that, it’s the inconsistency of abusers’ behavior that so often takes people in, including counselors or anyone who fails to realize that “what you see is not always what you get.” I feel safe in saying that “inconsistency is the hallmark of any abuser.” Inconsistency between word and deed, inconsistency between claim and truth, inconsistency between appearance and reality: all these mark the psychopath especially, but can be just as true of abusers with disorders of another kind. On top of this, many abusers’ behavior is inconsistent from one person to another, and from one time to another, even with the same person.

It’s particularly problematic for an intimate partner when they are the only person being targeted for an abuser’s anger, criticism, rage and control tactics. Family, friends, and associates may never see that side of the abuser, and imagine he or she is an all-around “nice person.” Unfortunately it’s the nature of an “intimate partnership,” or what psychologists have called an “attachment relationship,” that invokes a whole different mental mechanism and potentially a whole different set of behaviors from those we practice with people at large. If that mechanism is unhealthy, an intimate relationship can bring out the worst of behaviors in an abuser, behaviors rarely or never seen with any other person. That can make it hard for an abused partner to get others to believe that the “nice person” they know could behave in outrageous ways they’ve never seen themselves. A counselor may find it hard to believe for the same reason.

Then many abusers really do seem to have two sides to their personality, Jekyll-and-Hyde style. This can result from mood swings (as in bipolar disorder) or the alternating mental states found in the “cyclothymia” associated with many borderline personalities. It’s hard for anyone who only sees the “Jekyll” personality to credit the hideous behavior this same person can be capable of at other times.

There’s also the well known “Cycle of Abuse, Type II.” I call it that to distinguish it from the other meaning of that same phrase, namely the way abusive behavior is passed down through families from one generation to the next. Rather, the “cycle of abuse” I’m talking about here is the one in which abusive behavior gets worse and worse, culminating in a huge blowup—after which the abuser, realizing the behavior has gone too far, expresses remorse, apologizes and promises “never to do it again.” The promise may be kept… for a while. But then the abuser’s behavior slowly deteriorates and the cycle is repeated over and over again, ad infinitum. This is not necessarily because the abuser’s apology is “insincere,” like that of a psychopath. It’s often that the abuser is unable to tolerate the shame of self-confrontation for very long, and in any case unable to “keep up” the good behavior.

My only reason for mentioning this “cycle of abuse” is what looks like an ambiguity in Eleanor’s e-mail. Eleanor said: “He’s started to call up my family, giving them a sob story about how broken he is…” [My emphasis.] Taken in context, I suspect what Eleanor meant was “how broken up he is” about the “problems” he claims to be experiencing with Eleanor, especially if he perceives that she does plan to leave him. But I didn’t write this to pick holes in Eleanor’s wording. It’s only because the guy might have been admitting that he himself is “broken”—that’s to say, confessing he has his own faults and issues too—and is looking for sympathy on those grounds. If so, that would also be typical behavior for many abusers. “Have mercy on me, a poor sinner.”

Regardless of all that, it certainly creates difficulties when abusers of any kind, psychopathic or otherwise, go around misleading people with their twisted perceptions (or alleged “perceptions”) of their partners’ “shortcomings.” They can mislead a counselor or anyone else.

The trouble is, as Donna pointed out (and Oxy too) that what the partner says, and how he or she says it, can unwittingly reinforce the impression the abuser is already making on others. A counselor—or anybody—can look from one to the other and think to themselves “It’s this person [the abuser] who looks and sounds sane to me. So calm, so reasonable, so sincerely sorrowful about this whole situation; so longsuffering and patient in struggling with these marital hardships. It’s their partner who looks bonkers, out of control, hysterical, overreacting, plainly exaggerating, and with ‘obvious’ anger problems!”

A contributory cause, too, can be that while psychopaths and other abusers are so practiced at shifting the blame onto their partners, partners by contrast are often too prone to self-doubt and inclined to accept blame that doesn’t belong to them. So a partner can be angry and frustrated on the one hand with the abuser’s behavior, but when the abuser responds with blameshifting, the partner may “back off” and admit “fault” of some kind. Then an onlooker may think “see, it was really the partner’s fault all along for being so hard to live with, just as they admitted!”

So one rule is to stand your ground and don’t let an abuser “change the subject” on you, in front of a counselor or anyone, from your own genuine grievances to their manufactured ones. But above all, when presenting your case to anyone else the first rule is exactly what Donna said: to ensure that you yourself appear calm, sane, reasonable, and as moderate as the events call for. A tone of sadness and regret is fine. It’s only natural in the circumstances. But overt anger and frustration, while a natural response to abusive treatment, can be misinterpreted as “your problem,” while excessive fear could be put down to “hysteria.” Be careful when describing outrageously abusive behavior that friends and assoiates may find hard to credit at the beginning. It could be advisable to proceed by stages to give them time to accept the unexpected reality you’re disclosing to them. It may be better to appear initially reluctant to expose the abuser’s worst behaviors rather than revealing them all at once. It’s best to avoid the appearance of wanting to “create a sensation,” acting out of spite, or anything of that kind.

Apart from that, keeping records is very important so that the abuser’s behavior can be accurately described, summarized, or even demonstrated to anyone else. Skylar’s suggestion of a digital recorder is an excellent one. Even when a tool like that isn’t or can’t be deployed, it’s still important to keep a journal of the abuser’s behaviors, noting them while they’re still as fresh in memory as possible, so that they’re not forgotten and can be quoted to others later.

The problem we all face is the inertia of those around us. They generally do not want to hear anything that they might have to respond to.

My ex, only a borderline sociopath (I joined this because I did meet a “real” one, making ex look almost normal!) actually admitted to his sister all the appalling things he had done to me, and would she please lay off blaming me for HIS behaviour? She completely blanked this out and turned to me, asking “what did you do to cause this?” She also, when he told her he was an alcoholic and could not drink again, offered him a Rum Baba desert, saying “a little won’t hurt” !!!

I now live a pretty solitary life – all my ex’s relatives shun me, despite the fact that they know we are still friends. It is all my fault that he is an alcoholic, adulterer and gay. Hmmm?

My advice is don’t even try to convince anyone – your real friends (which does not necessarily include family) will stick by you. Even my own (widowed) mother, when faced with ex’s confession, burst into tears at the thought that she might be losing him as a support – she has never said anything about what pain I must have endured.

Oxy and Sky and Aussie,

Thank you for the hugs. I slept 11 hours. Back on the wagon again.

Wow. It is so hard to see what is in front of my face.

“Be kind! Be honest! Be transparant” I pleaded with him.

Might as well have asked him to fly to the moon.

Athena

I own a copy of The Talented Mr. Ripley and watch it when I start to feel sorry for my sociopath ex. That movie shows how these people will go to any lengths to “appear to be” what people need them to be. Also “Without Conscience” is an excellent book to make people aware of what they are dealing with. I was married to my ex for 33 years and it has taken me 5 years of healing to be anyplace close to trusting a man to begin a relationship. I am so lucky because the man I have recently starting seeing is so understanding that I got scared and kept “running away” from him at first. I never knew men could be actually protective and gentle. My father was a sociopath as well and all I ever saw from him was bullying of my mom and us and I married someone so much like him except if my ex had ever bullied out kids, I think I would have killed him. Instead, he basically acted as though they didn’t exist unless they were playing sports. He never went to the school plays, the band concerts. What a jerk these guys are. I still have trouble trusting the new guy but he just keeps saying “honey, don’t run away from me.” What a difference. Do you ever heal from these people?

Wow, all of you. Thank you so much for this article and all of the wonderful posts. A lot of this was triggering, but also so well thought out. I appreciate this community and the respectful dialogue, as we all share our experiences and learn from each other.

I have special sympathies for those of us who have children with our spaths. The discussion about lying in order to do “anything” to keep our children safe really hit home. It is true that I never had to lie — my spath was awful enough on his own; he didn’t need my help. But absolutely, I would have done ANYTHING to protect my children, including lying if necessary. Not for myself — but for my kids. I know if I only had to rescue myself, “no contact” would be possible. It is pretty awful to still have to deal with my spath and his spath-wife. My kids’ stepmom. Oh… ICK.

But I am 12 years out of that marriage. I honestly am wondering WHEN I will feel that it is OVER. When the kids are done with college? When they are married? It’s very, very hard.

I have had to be very forcefully insistent with my own “herd-like” family (parents, siblings) and friends, to please-pleasePLEASE have no contact with my ex. Because they could inadvertently give him “intelligence” about me that he would use against me. And all of his probing questions sound SO innocent… but he is really deviously digging, to find out — YES — what “matters most” to me, because that would be the thing he would set out to destroy.

(well, it is no secret, that my kids matter most). Yes, I even recently had to ACT (lie) in the CPS-mandated counselling with ex-spath and spathwife, as if I was unconcerned about the CPS threat to remove the children from my home. I did a grey rock about that (thanks!!!!) and I think it really took them by surprise. I think they were really expecting me to look anxious and “express feelings” about my “fears.” Instead, I turned it around on them, and it actually was pretty funny (in a very sick way).

Here’s what happened:

On the last day of counselling, spathwife put on her anxious act (totally an act; I saw right through it) and said, “oh dear, I’m just so FRIGHTENED of what CPS might DO!!! (20years), you have NO IDEA how much POWER they have!!! I know, because — you may not be aware of this — my early career years were spent working for CPS, and I got to know many foster children, and only ONE of them ever said they were GLAD that they had been removed from their parents!!! Oh dear!!!! I am just so AFRAID of their power… you just have NO IDEA what they are CAPABLE OF!!! I mean, WHAT IF they decide to remove the kids from your home, then they will come live with US fulltime, and, you know, I told (spath) when I married him, if I had WANTED to have kids of my own, I would have HAD them!!! I mean — of COURSE (20years) I will take care of your kids if they end up living with us fulltime…”

and to that spectacle (because that’s what it was), I said, “gee (spathwife), I can see how frightened you are. I know how much work these kids are… after all, I have been doing this pretty much fulltime for the past 18 years… that would be very hard for you.” And I had a vaguely concerned (for her) look on my face. Trust me — I had it down perfectly — I had no “bitchy” or snarly look on my face. It was just an appearance of sincere, mild concern for her evident fears and anxiety. 🙂 (so, that was me putting on a mask and being fake)

And then I said I was not at all concerned what CPS might do — that I thought it was highly unlikely they would decide to take them away from me, so I didn’t think that (spathwife) needed to worry too much about that. (intellectually I believed this, though emotionally of COURSE that was a fear of mine — it is that protective mother instinct!).

I showed NO fear.

So I thank ALL of you for your wisdom and your very good ideas of tricks and tactics, like the “grey rock” which was so useful to me in suddenly becoming very bland and unemotional in this fake “therapy” we were forced into. No way was I going to reveal any emotions … but most importantly, all of you have helped me see more clearly, as though it was happening in slow motion, frame-by-frame in front of my face, what this spath-couple were about and were up to. I used to be taken in by their masks of emotions, but this past summer I learned that everything about them is an act. Everything. (and I still hate sending my kids over there every other weekend)

Once I could see it, honestly being able to see it almost before it happens, it is so much easier to calmly ACT instead of REACT.

Thank you, thank you. (sorry this rambles) 🙂

It is hard to protect your kids. My grown kids only hear from their father if I won’t take his calls so for a while I was listening to his whining and bs about he didn’t have any food because he owed all his money to crack dealers and he didn’t have gloves and a hat because he spent all his money on crack. I was willing to have him hit me up for little things (probably all the time laughting at me with his boyfriend crack addict) to protect my daughters but I finally had to say “no more.” I told my daughters not to tell me when their dad called them. I am sooooooo glad this man has no interest in our grandchildren. They don’t need this sickness in their lives.

Oh, and thank God that I got out when I did. It was hard starting over in my 50s but I am not having any trouble dating DECENT men, have a new house that I bought on my own, a nice car, friends and family that I love and who love me back. It may seem like the sociopaths are winning, but they honestly don’t know what they are missing. I wouldn’t give up being about to give acutal honest love and to receive love for anything in the world.

A young family member has been dating a sociopath and did not realise it at first.
She broke off with him but he wooed her back with all sorts of romantic spiel.
Then he left her to find a new home for him to move in with her, while he works away and takes it easy when he is back in town on breaks.
She told him that as a working single mother she could not do the whole “find a house and move” without some assistance from him.
His reply: “I’m too busy”.
When he is away at his fly in fly out job he expects her to text and phone him all the time, and sulks and sends harrassing text messages and phone calls complaining for her lack of contact with him.
He is totally NOT understanding or accepting of the fact that she is a very busy hardworking single Mum trying to hold down a job and get her children off to school on time, fed, cared for etc.
I asked the youngest child if they liked him.
They replied that he seemed nice, but scared all the children when he was saying bad things at their Mum, swearing and yelling.
He has gone to their rental home and banged on the door repeatedly and been verbally abusive at the front door even when told to go away because “It was all over”.
I have heard him abusing her and pleading for her to meet him for a cup of coffee “So he could have closure” when she was been repeatedly telling him kindly, that the relationship was finished and he needed to move on, and to talk it over with his mother if he needed someone to talk it over with.
I advised her to alert the Police to his behaviour as he is actually stalking her and harrassing her.
Her children are afraid of him when he is behaving like this.
I am going to forward your emails to her so she can be better educated about sociopathic behaviour and manipulation.
I am concerned for her emotional and physical safety and for the effect his behaviour is having on her young impressionable children.
I have been there, and gone through that, and based on my personal experiences have advised her to have NO CONTACT.

CathyAnn

The Talented Mr. Ripley is an eye opener. It’s exactly like my spath.

There is a thread on here with a whole list of SPATHY movies. I rented most of them, probably 20 or 25 of them. I think Mr. Ripley was dead on. So is Bodyheat.

Still, it’s so much easier to see what’s going on in somebody else’s life rather than your own.

HUGS.

Athena

20years ~

I so enjoyed you sharing your counselling session experience. I think you give the perfect example of the “grey rock” and how it DOES WORK. I am such a total believer in “grey rock”.

After the luxury of five years of NC with my spathy daughter, because of court ordered visitation with my grandson (we have custody) I was faced with having to communicate with her on a daily basis. I could not imagine being able to do this and retain what was left of my sanity. When Sky first explained “grey rock”, I must admit I had serious doubts, but at this point I was willing to try anything. She was making daily calls, not really to talk to her son, but to “trigger” me by saying inflamatory things that she knew, from the past, would get a reaction from me. I responded with the trivial, boring phrases, always acting NEVER reacting. I knew it was working because she actually said, “Are you feeling alright, you just don’t act like yourself”

After several months, I slipped and reacted to something she said, WHAM – she moved in and took over, the chaos erupted and before I knew it I was in one of those “stick my head in a blender” fights. She had gotten what she wanted, a reaction from me. She started calling non-stop, wanting more. I was able, with help from LF buddies, to start the “grey rocking” all over again.

It is now months later and the daily calls are down to about once every two weeks, visits from weekly to every other month. SHE IS BORED WITH ME. That, as Sky teaches is the object. I am no longer any “fun” to play with, so she leaves me alone. It is really that simple.

Now, when the caller ID shows her number, I no longer shake in fear of what the call will bring. Now I immediately start thinking of new and even more boring responses. Right now I am working on “reasons why I can’t stay on the phone” I was thinking of maybe describing (step by step ofcourse) the boil that needs to be drained on the dog’s butt. Any suggestions here would be greatly appreciated.

“Grey rock” ROCKS

Wow…Good post. Sounds exactly what my ex s/p did to me. He had been working it even before I caught on to his cheating and abuse. My family fell for his lies, but now 6 years later, they realize just how sick he is. I would suggest Eleanor to educate her children on sociopathic behavior so they can recognize it when their father starts exploiting them. I have found that the court system is not designed to protect the innocense of children or the victim of this type of abuse so make sure you find an attorney who has experience with these type of cases and knows what a sociopath is capable of and what they are. I wish you the best!

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