Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following story from a reader whom we’ll call, “Sally21.” She tells a typical story (unfortunately) of sociopathic manipulation in divorce and child support.
I have been divorced for 5 years, was in relationship with N/S (narcissistic sociopath) for over 20 years and it took me at least 10 to find the courage to leave and start over.
I have always been very outspoken, intellectual, and fearless. I came from a dysfunctional background but did extensive counseling to become healthy AND pursued educational degree last in both Psychology and Sociology. To no avail…I still married a N/S.
I knew from the beginning something was wrong. There were 2 (that I knew of) relationships outside of ours. The second one he promised to marry — I met both of the females and had conversations with them.
My work ethic and pride focused on me “fixing” the N/S and not putting myself first. That, and a combination of not experiencing how love should be from birth to adulthood, shaped and misguided how a relationship should look.
I married despite the outside relationships and his addiction to pornography. I was a praise and worship leader in my church and he was a “born again Christian “ and so the other layer was the belief “God can do all things” as he would be in the front row (and still is 20+ years later) professing his love to God and our Lord and Savoir Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile at home we were under the strictest control. Our children were afraid to ask for anything, there was never nor is there now the ability to have a relationship with the children (we have 4) with the exception of presenting the image of a beautiful happy family — we served no other purpose. So when we went out, to church, in the community, all I heard was what a devoted husband and father he was and how I was so lucky to be married to him, meanwhile he would be abusive (mostly mentally so hard to prove) and his dominance in the home was unspoken.
I was removed from my entire family and friend pool. The only people we hung out with were just family because they all covered and continue to cover for him and his illness. l There is so much to say — I could write a book!
When I finally decided I had enough, He wouldn’t let me leave. I pushed through for years and finally made the decision when I stood up to him for the first time and he threw me against the wall with his hands around my neck forcing my children to get in the middle to save me before I made the final step to leave.
He had the police under his spell and so when they came to the house, they didn’t even take pictures of my bruises or abuse. He was told to “go cool off” and came back the next day. I was stuck — he had a he clergy, police, our employer (we worked together) all under his spell and I was the one who was crazy.
He conned one of his clients to loan us $700,000 to buy our house and in the meantime was taking my money and not paying the bills. I was working 5 jobs while he spent my/our money on who knows what (sometimes I think he had another family) and when we got divorced, I found out he never paid taxes on the house (arrears of over $50,000) so we HAD to sell the house upon divorce.
There were other bills (he charged my CC over $20,000, CC accounts I had no idea about in my name, etc.) and when I told him to leave our 3500 sf house so me and the 4 children had somewhere to live, he said “it’s my house, if you want to leave — leave.” So I found a small apt to rent and we all moved out.
He was ordered to pay Child Support once the house sold. The first day it went on the market we got a full price offer, cash, close in 30 days- he refused and held the house, living alone in it with me paying the bills (my name was on prior to the divorce so I couldn’t change it) until I lost over $100,000 in sale price and 6 months passed without him paying a penny of child support, health insurance for children or any other bill. The list goes on — as I said, I could write a book!!!
My divorce agreement was so egregious but it didn’t matter all I wanted to do was get out and be free. He has never paid me alimony as I didn’t ask for it as part of a condition to leave the marriage. He never and still does not pay for the children’s healthcare and I have three children with a rare genetic disorder that continually need medical services.
The only time he’s ever been interested in our children is when they serve a purpose to his image. I could go on and on but my biggest issue now is my children are 24, 20, 17, and 15 and they are severely scarred from his sickness. My boys who are in the middle have learned manipulation tactics from him and I fear that they are turning into sociopaths themselves.
None of my children ever had a relationship from their father, he only shows up when it’s convenient for him, for his image in church or the community. It’s gone so far as to the day he was court ordered to reply to an indictment of child support he got an award from the town for being a service champion and serving the community at large through the pandemic by bringing food and supplies to those in need. Meanwhile he was over $15,000 in arrears of child support and I was trying to just make ends meet to pay my bills, borrowing from friends to survive.
My 17-year-old son unfortunately has some substance-abuse issues as a result of his turmoil with his father. But his father has showed up most recently to rescue him so he can salvage somewhat of a relationship for his image and my 17-year-old who doesn’t know any better is falling for it.
All of my children recognize his condition, my 15-year-old wants nothing to do with him and he’s embarrassed by his behavior. My 24 and 20-year-olds have tried to survive but they use him just as he uses them and this is my biggest fear again. How do I help my children?
I do not have any therapists who are willing to see us because they are all relationship specialist and will not counsel us unless he is present. He will not attend any counseling sessions even though they’ve been court ordered.
I’ve gone to court six times after our divorce and every time he has cut his way through the judge and through the system not only not to pay me child support, health insurance but also not to attend any counseling sessions.
I know counseling will not help I’m not interested in helping him, I’m only interested in helping my children. I could write so much more however I think you get the idea. Thank you for your site I’ve just finished your book Understanding a Sociopath and all the boxes are checked from my past 20 years of knowing the Narcissistic Sociopath that I had the misfortune of marrying.