Sociopaths and their smear campaigns

Lovefraud received the following letter from a woman who was married to a sociopath for 16 years.

I was a stay-at-home mom until my son entered kindergarten, then I got a job. This was the end of any peace I would have for 10 years. The worst possible thing happened to my husband—the woman he could make fun of for being stupid or having no goals (whatever he would say to hurt my self-esteem) became a huge success. In fact, I made three times as much as Mr. Wonderful. The abuse escalated. He was so obsessed with destroying me that even on a business trip where I was getting an award for being the top sales rep in my company, he was pulling my boss aside and insinuating I was committing fraud and that was why I was #1.

For the last year of my marriage, he had convinced me to hand over all extra money so he could invest for “our” future. I did it thinking it was his ego that was hurt from my success. I didn’t know what he was then.

He spent a year hiding every dime, transferring every debt into my name, making up horrible stories about me to my friends and family. He would go talk to them in tears and say I was stealing all of our money and cheating on him. He would say how much he loved me and ask for advice, then have them swear not to say anything to me because he wanted our marriage to work. He even went so far to pull cousins, aunts and uncles aside during my grandmother’s funeral to say these things.

At the end of the year, while I was packing for a very large business meeting that was to announce a promotion for me, he told me he had cancer.

I believed him. Who besides a sociopath would say such a lie to their wife? That whole evening was spent crying and upset that my husband had cancer. Then I asked him a simple question, “Who is your doctor?” He couldn’t answer. Who would forget their cancer doctor? Then I realized, if he had been going to the doctor for such a serious illness, where were all the insurance bills? I have been to the doctor for a cold and gotten a bill from a lab, the doctor, then a follow-up from the insurance company to pay more, etc. I kicked him out.

I went to my business meeting and the onslaught of horrible screaming calls to the receptionist began from him. An entire week of this, while I was supposed to be there receiving a promotion. I left without the promotion and was basically fired”¦ “maybe you need to take some time to attend to personal problems.”

When I came home, I filed for divorce, cried for weeks and then looked around to find our money to pay bills. It was hidden; not a trace of paperwork was left. Every bill was in my name only. My friends, my family, my neighbors, even customers, no longer spoke to me. I deserved this, in their eyes.

Three years later, I still have nobody who fully believes me. I have one friend. My parents and I speak, but I don’t trust them not talk to my husband. If he has any information on me, he does whatever he can to destroy me. He abandoned our son, moved to another state to live with the next victim. My own sister sends him cards and letters and won’t speak to me.

The smear campaign

This woman was subjected to a smear campaign from her husband, the sociopath.

Abusers often use this tactic to cover up their own behavior and convince others that they are the ones being victimized. In fact, abusers frequently start the campaign as a pre-emptive strike, long before the relationship with the true victim collapses.

That’s what happened to the woman who wrote the letter. As the sociopath was getting ready to move on—he probably had his next victim already lined up—he laid the groundwork to destroy his wife. With his tears and skill as a liar, he convinced the woman’s friends and family of his story. They became unwitting co-conspirators.

What can you do?

Fighting the smear campaign is difficult. Most honest people can’t imagine that someone would be lying when making the outrageous charges that the sociopath claims, so they believe the lies. When the true victim finds out what has been said, everyone has already turned against her.

MSN Psychopath, a forum for victims, has a page about the smear campaign with suggestions on how to handle it. For example:

If anyone tries to talk to you about him, hold up your hand (like a stop sign) and say something like, “I don’t want to hear anything about him. He’s lying.” Say no more. If it continues, say, “My lawyer recommends I warn people they will have to testify where they heard that, should this turn into a libel or slander lawsuit.” Watch them scatter quickly when hearing this. This can cause people to stop cold and have another look at what they’ve been told.

Some more ideas: Say nothing but burst out with raucous laughter, slap your knee and laugh like crazy. “You should have heard what he said about his ex-girlfriend (ex-wife, you, his sister).” You get the idea.

Your own pre-emptive action

Once your relationship falls apart and you realize you’re dealing with a sociopath, or once you start to hear the lies, you may want to take your own pre-emptive action. Warn your family, friends, co-workers and the Human Resources Department at your job that the sociopath may start saying terrible things about you. This may work if their perceptions haven’t already been poisoned by the sociopath.

It may help to be able to explain why a person would say such terrible things. The reason, of course, is that the person is a sociopath. But as we all know, very few people understand what that means. To help others comprehend what you are dealing with, send them a link to Lovefraud.

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