Recovery – parallel courses for moving forward

What sociopaths do to us is unfair, coercive, exploitative and evil. In a just world, they would be held accountable. They would be forced to return what they took from us, and compensate us for the pain and suffering they have caused. They might even be prosecuted and imprisoned.

But we do not live in a just world. We live in a world that is oblivious to the human predators among us. We live in a world where clueless people believe a convincing liar; the best performer wins and courts have neither the time nor the inclination to sort out the truth from the lies.

For all of us who have been targeted, this adds insult to injury. We’ve been abused and exploited. We are damaged. Then because we are damaged, we are at a disadvantage when we seek redress—and this just adds to the damage.

Even when we do prevail, it can be a hollow victory. When I divorced my ex-husband, James Montgomery, I won in court. The judge found that my ex committed fraud. I was awarded everything that was taken from me—$227,000—plus $1 million in punitive damages.

I then spent thousands of dollars hiring a private investigator and lawyers to track down my ex, because I was sure he had money—money that was rightfully mine. I failed, and in the end I had to declare bankruptcy.

Parallel courses

Here’s where many of us make a big mistake: We believe that the successful resolution of the crisis caused by the sociopath will lead to our healing.

In reality, solving the problems caused by the sociopath and working towards personal recovery are two separate pursuits. To reclaim our life, we need to move forward along two parallel courses:

  1. Dealing with the real-world situation that we face
  2. Pursuing physical, psychological and emotional healing

The good news with this realization is that we don’t have to wait until the situation with the sociopath is resolved in order to begin our personal recovery. We can start taking care our health. We can overcome our addiction to the relationship and begin deeper healing. (For more on this, see After the sociopath, make the decision to recover.)

Think of the implications of this understanding. We no longer have to put our life and recovery on hold, waiting for the sociopath to face justice—justice that may never come. Dealing with the sociopath becomes a project in our lives, like cleaning out the garage. It’s something we do. It is not who we are.

Our true, important effort is our personal recovery and growth—and we can work on this regardless of what happens to the sociopath.

Decisions about fixing the situation

To decide what actions to take or how to respond to the sociopath, we have to evaluate both parallel courses for moving forward, and the interplay between them.

To deal with the situation, we need a very clear understanding of the personality disorder—Lovefraud has plenty of information on that. With this understanding, and our knowledge of the individual, we can probably begin to anticipate what the sociopath will do. In deciding how to proceed, we also need to evaluate our resources and possible outcomes of different courses of actions.

At the same time, we need to consider our personal recovery. Where are we emotionally and psychologically? How much can we tolerate? What actions—or lack of actions—would be most beneficial to our own recovery?

I don’t advocate that everyone simply cut their losses and run. Sometimes the more you give in to the sociopath, the more he or she demands, so it may be critical to fight. Or, what we really need for our personal recovery is to take a stand for ourselves, not allowing ourselves to be trampled again. I, personally, am very glad that I pursued my ex in court. Even though I never got any money, the court’s finding of fraud is what enabled me to launch Lovefraud. I had proof that he was a con artist.

In deciding how to best move forward, all of us targeted by sociopaths should balance the two parallel courses for moving forward: The reality of our situation and our own personal recovery.




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raggedy ann

Thank you for this post, Donna: you hit another one out of the park! I am bookmarking this. All my best to the reader who is in such a tough situation. I hope her decisions have given her some peace, and that her remaining divorce problems get resolved as well for her as possible, and as soon as possible.


I feel really bad for this person and all who are going through this and weighing their options. I just recently experienced the continued legal abuse and lack of justice when I found out that my own lawyer does not believe me and believes the sociopath instead. I fired her and she wrote me a very nasty letter. I’m going a different route and praying for a swift outcome so I can put this all behind me. Best of luck and prayers to you all who are fighting these evil beings.


I do not know if this was my letter as I did seek out your advice on when to cut my losses. I use a new email now. You were right about the procession of the divorce and it was clear when I needed to cut the losses and cut off the divorce process in its tracks. Because he thought I settled for so little, (which I really didnt if you add all the little costs here and there) he thought it proved my guilt in the entire situation… his denial is so deep. I got to the point I didnt even care he was slandering me anymore because I was finally away from him and his harassing tactics. He was convicted for his final assault on me… kicking me in the stomach, slamming the door into my spine and then as I was trying to leave, throwing me from inside our house out onto the back deck where he sat and watched me laying there in pain while he smoked a cigarette and then threatened to drag me inside if I didnt stop crying.

The court denied his first time offenders rights because of the severity of the attack/injuries as well as the other older injuries/attacks. He has a no contact order from the criminal conviction and a stay away order from the civil court in 2 states.

Like you said, like a drug addict, there has to be a bottom point where there is no choice but to leave and “cut losses” and each person’s limit is different.

Now, his conviction was the state against him and I was a witness… if it had been me against him, compensation for damages would have been sought. People encourage me to sue for damages because my injuries are permanent, but I cut my losses there because to be in a courtroom or anywhere near him again, is not what I care to do. I approach my injuries now as this is where my body is at present time, just like anyone in my age group who has degenerative disease of the spine has limitations caused by aging, mine are not, but they are my limitations today. Would I like financial help to pay for services I am denied because it s a pre existing condition now? Sure, but not at the cost of ever seeing his face again. Not worth it. So your article is spot on about cutting losses, and its not just financial or emotional, mine are physical as well… but its ok. Im lucky to be alive.

Peace, Meredith



I’m sorry about what you’ve been through. I can relate completely. I finally settled after a year and a half long divorce battle which cost me over $25,000 and literally bankrupted me. Financially it was unfair and unreasonable and is forcing me and the children to live in poverty, but like Donna’s article mentions, sometimes you are better off cutting your losses. I lost so much (financially), but I gained THE WORLD by being free of him!!!! When I was trapped in that torturous so-called marriage with the sociopath I used to fantasize about being free from him one day, but it took 12 years for me to gather the courage to finally make an attempt for freedom. Since I broke free, despite being broke and deeply wounded, I have NEVER LOOKED BACK. I know you never will either. Your freedom is wort every cent if cost you!!!

It is so difficult to receive justice from the legal system when you are up against a convincing liar. And the financial drain of pursuing the battle can cause debilitating harm. Particularly where support for children is concerned, and the disordered parent is after power at the expense of the welfare of their own offspring, the emotional toll can be brutal.

But even in the midst of the emotional upheaval, we must prevail at creating emotional distance from the predator so we’re not overwhelmed, and Donna has expressed this admirably. Understanding the nature or what we encountered can help us create that separation in our minds, even when we can’t physically separate because of continued legal wrangling.

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