By | April 20, 2009 285 Comments

What works when dealing with a sociopath?

Lovefraud recently received the letter below from a reader; we’ll call her Andrea.

I was married to a sociopath for 12 years (didn’t know it until we divorced). He had 3 affairs and was a minister for a majority of that time. He messed up a lot of lives. Anyway, I am at my wits end right now because I cannot get him out of my life because we had 2 children. I am so tired of dealing with him. My kids are 12 and 10 now and my ex is doing everything in his power to try and convince my son to go live with him when he’s 14. I see it happening and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I keep notes about everything that happens, but my lawyer tells me that it would be a very hard case if my son wants to go.

I’m also struggling right now because I have something my ex wants. I have some documents from when we were married and owned a business. He needs some proof that another couple we were in business with is not responsible for a loan we had. My ex got the loan in the divorce. I believe he’s trying to bankrupt his business. Anyway, I’m refusing to give him the documents because I am so tired of being bullied by him and lied to. I know this was a stupid thing to do because now he’s furious and is attacking me through emails and bashing me to the kids. But, it seems so unfair that I have to give in to him ALL THE TIME to keep the peace. I am tired of it. He has something I want and I’m holding the documents as a bargaining tool. Do you think this will work with a sociopath? Or am I just asking for it?

A relationship or any type of involvement with a sociopath leaves us with a big ball of turmoil. We discover that everything he or she has ever said to us was a lie, and we are outraged. We learn that we were played like a fool, and we are humiliated. We realize that our love and trust were abused, and we fear that we’ll never love and trust again.

While trying to deal with the emotional shock of the betrayal, we also have to deal with the practical issues of disengaging—divorce, finances, children. As we do this, especially if there are legal proceedings involved, we want to tell the world, or at least the judge, about the sociopath’s wrongdoing. We want to prove that we were honorable, and the sociopath was not. We want to be vindicated.

The sociopath does not experience this emotional turmoil. The sociopath’s only objective is to win. The definition of “winning,” of course, depends on what the sociopath wants. Maybe it’s keeping his or her possessions, such as children. Maybe it’s keeping his or her money by not having to pay child support. Maybe it’s destroying us.

Think strategically

Usually Lovefraud advises our readers to have no contact with sociopaths. Of course, this is not possible when someone, like Andrea, has to co-parent with a sociopath.

My advice to Andrea was to think strategically. There is no point withholding the documents just because she is tired of being bullied. What does she really want? What leverage does she have to get what she wants?

The documents she talks about are leverage. Therefore, Andrea should play this exactly as the sociopath would—using the documents to extract some kind of concession out of him. She needs to evaluate what that might be, and then use her leverage to get it.

However, whatever she demands needs to be something that the sociopath can deliver immediately, not at some time in the future. Sociopaths do not honor agreements, so there is no point in asking for something that will be delivered later, or over a long period of time. It will never happen.

What works?

For sociopaths, it’s all a game, a game that they want to win.

In my case, however, my sociopathic ex-husband, James Montgomery, just quit playing. In our divorce, he fired his attorney, signed papers to represent himself pro se, and then defaulted. He was on to his next scam, and had no use for me. I never interacted with him again.

So I actually don’t have experience in ongoing dealings with a sociopath. Therefore, I ask Lovefraud readers for your input. If you must continue to deal with a sociopath, what works?

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If the poster truly thinks her ex is a sociopath, then if it were me I would hand those papers right over. I understand what she is saying about being tired of giving in, but by not giving in on this particular issue, I think she has to look at what she is gaining and what she is losing. I can’t see where she is gaining anything other than more turmoil in her life. If she is upset and fighting with the ex, then her stress will carry over into her home environment with her kids.

I hold the opinion that if the person is truly a sociopath, then he is dangerous. Period. They can wait a long time for revenge, and they will seek vengenance and to win. So, is it worth it to her to withhold a few documents. If he loses this battle he is likely going to pick a bigger one to win, and one that may be alot more important to her than a few documents. Wouldn’t be worth the risk to me.

On the issue of the child, I would suggest that she read all of Dr. Leedom’s posts about raising the at risk child and then apply that knowledge to both her and her child’s benefit. Instead of spending my energy fighting the sociopath on small battles, I would spend my energy creating a loving and inviting environment for my child so that he would want to stay in my home with me. And if she does that, even if the child leaves for awhile to live with the Father, hopefully in a short period he would want to return home because he would miss the non-choatic environment filled with true love.

Also, my only other advice to her would be to never let him see you sweat. Even with regards to the child issue, just try to act non chalant about it, like if the kid wants to go live with you–whatever. (even though you really don’t feel that way) If he knows you cringe every time he picks the kids up and spend all your time worrying about whether he will get the kids, he is gonna play that one for all it’s worth. Don’t react to his insults and criticisms and threats. Don’t let him know what you really want because he will zero in on that to make sure you don’t get it. Just concentrate on building really good relationship with your children.

Ox Drover

I agree with Jen about the “never let him see you sweat” concept and acting like it’s fine with you if your son goes to live with him…actually, the son might get a chance to see what a CREEP his father REALLY is by living with him.

On the papers, I agree with Donna. Use the papers for leverage but whatever you trade them for, make it something you can get IMMEDIATELY because he will not honor anything in the future, even if it is in writing.

I understand the woman’s frustration with the situation. Her need to be vindicated and/or to at least hurt him back in some way….but I think she needs to use the papers to her advantage at least. If she gives in and gives them to him for “nothing” in return, she is not going to “buy” any “good will” from him anyway, so she might as well get something out of it.


Poster said: “He has something I want and I’m holding the documents as a bargaining tool. Do you think this will work with a sociopath? Or am I just asking for it?”

On holding the papers as leverage for something she wants, well, I think it depends on what it is she wants. And Donna didn’t tell us that. If it is something he can readily hand over and that he is not likely to fight big time over, then yeah, I would withhold them for an even exchange. But otherwise, I would still hand them right over and just forget it so I wouldn’t have to interact and fight with him. As a general rule, I just hold the opinon that fighting with a true sociopath is a waste of time and you are asking for it because they are gonna give it to you in some fashion that you absolutely do not want and usually when you least expect it.

Elizabeth Conley

“He has something I want and I’m holding the documents as a bargaining tool.”

It depends on whether you’re legally entitled to what you’re bargaining for, and whether he’s legally entitled to the documents you’re holding.

If he’s legally entitled to the documents; get certified true copies and send them by registered mail. You need to hand ’em over, and be able to prove you’ve handed them over.

If you’re legally entitled to what you want, be very public and open about your request. If he has no clear entitlement to the documents, use them for a bargaining chip, but be public and open about this “deal”.

You need to need to be legally correct, you need to be firm, and you need to be boring.

I have a friend who deals regularly with her Ex S over child custody issues. She repeats everything of importance over and over again in a library paste dull tone of voice until her message registers with the S. This helps him understand that the issue isn’t going to go away. Further, by using the minimum number of words and a monotonous tone of voice, she helps him understand that she means exactly what she says, and he cannot weasel his way out of their legal agreements.

To this end, keep all his silly emails. Don’t respond to them. Forward any threatening emails to local law enforcement. Fulfill all your legal obligations promptly, through third parties to the greatest extent possible.

Do not worry about currying favor with an S. It’s not possible. They only “Like” those they “respect”, and they only respect those they fear. Sucking up to an S is a waste of time. Knowing what they are and how they think is key to your eventual success. Don’t be fooled. His cronies are his cronies ’cause he’s using them, or he needs their favor, or some combination of the two. The only way to settle the S down is to become a force to be reckoned with, or dull enough for him to forget about.

Elizabeth Conley

PS: A word about threatening emails.

One ex S I know of regularly threatens to become disabled so that he can stop paying child support and/or collect worker’s compensation. He made one of these statements in an email, and his ex wife forwarded the email to his employer. She’s started keeping recordings of his phone messages and playing them to key audiences. It’s been an eye opener for many people.

A record doesn’t have to be “admissable in a court of law” in order for it to open the minds of various people the S has bamboozled.

Jim in Indiana USA

” Fulfill all your legal obligations promptly, through third parties to the greatest extent possible.” -Elizabeth Conley.

I’m with Elizabeth. And boring is good.

Got a phone call from the ex-tox this morning. Problems with my daughter at her house (chaos central). Complaints about spending for my daughter’s clothes, cost of tennis uniform. Oh, and she’s busy….can I take the daughter tonight til 8 or 9?….the ex-tox has something to do (not my scheduled late night).

I’m getting better at it. She has been the one, for three years, who has not followed the court order, agreed settlement, parenting time schedule, and legal requirements. When I demanded she do so…I was “controlling” her like when we were married for nearly 25 years (my take on that is a little different). I was boring.

1. OK…I’ll take my daughter. Always do, whenever I can.
2. Ignore the “money” complaints. I pay the agreed support, on time, every time, every week. I have spent thousands extra on clothes for my daughter, laptop computer, iPod, cellular phone, etc. I even sent the ex-tox extra money for school registrations, book rental, athletic uniforms, medical expenses for my daughter, ad nauseum. I’m done. She has a boyfriend, still married to another woman, living in her house. My “late night” with my daughter is their “date night”, and they can’t make it home at the legally agreed time in the decree for me to return my daughter.
3. I respond with no emotion, and ignore anything not directly related to my daughter. I have no control over what happens “there”.
4. My daughter is 13. She can be manipulating, too. I’m teaching her the meaning of the word “NO”. She doesn’t like it much, but she still knows I love her.
5. I learn something new every day…and draw new boundaries.

6. “She repeats everything of importance over and over again”-Elizabeth Conley. LOL…I said “OK…I’ll take her” at least six times in a ten minute conversation. Pretty much ignored the rest.

I’m getting better at it. TOWANDO!


“My ex got the loan in the divorce.”

Andrea, speaking as a lawyer, unless the creditors gave you a formal release from this loan, it doesn’t matter what your divorce settlement says. If your ex defaults on this loan or files for bankruptcy, my concern is that the creditors will come to YOU for repayment.

If you provide your ex with copies of the loan documents, and I cannot think of what you are gaining by withholding them indefinitely, I would have EVERY SINGLE PAGE NOTARIZED AS A TRUE AND CORRECT COPY. You do not want to give your ex the change to substitute his own efforts at “creative writing”. I know of what I speak, since a conman brother tried this stunt on me. Then sent the document out certified mail, signature return receipt requested.

Before you do anything, you need to review this with your attorneys. If you are still on the loan, you should consider approaching the lenders with your attorney to see about getting released from the obligation.

Bottom line? I’m all for leverage when dealing with these creatures, but you’ve got to CYA financially in this case.


Elizabeth Conley:

“Do not worry about currying favor with an S. It’s not possible. They only “Like” those they “respect”, and they only respect those they fear.

After I had driven off the S, I told him it was time to start repaying the money I loaned him. He responded with a nasty letter which sunk to new, insulting depths, even for him.

My reponse? I sent him a short, strictly business,”library paste” letter with copies of the forms I filed against him with the IRS. I had realized that I had to instill so much fear in him that he wouldn’t screw with me again. A riend of mine said “I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes around again, because in his perverse logic he now respects you for what you did.”

Personally, I don’t want him anywhere near me. However, handling him the way I did was highly satisfying.

Elizabeth Conley

Dear Matt,

Thanks for giving her the legal advice. I didn’t think of the possibility she would own the debt if he defaulted.

I’ve got a question for you:

How can I prove I’ve sent something to someone? Even If I send something Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, that doesn’t prove that the certified mail envelope contained what I claim it did, does it? Someone suggested I put the Certified Mail Tracking Number in the heading of each page of the letter, and get certified true copies. Still, I don’t see how that proves that I sent what I claim to have sent.

There’s got to be a way, because I’m not the only one who needs to hold someone else accountable. Can you help me with this one?





Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, the certificate of mailing is legal proof. I agree with you that putting the tracking number on the headers doesn’t prove you mailed the document. Here are two thoughts on how to prove the recipient got the document.

First, is electronic backup. I often, just to make certain that the recipient got something send the first mailing out certified, then send an executed pdf copy of the document via email with it set up so the minute the recipient opens the email, I am notified that he has done so. Now you have both the receipt for the snail mail and and the electronic confirm and the email with the attachment. IF you think the recipient is going to pull the “attachment didn’t open” song and dance, bcc the email to somebody else.

Second, have a witness to what went in the mail up to the mailing. Then have them execute a certificate, with a copy of the document attached, saying something to the effect that they witnessed you put the document in the envelope, that the attached document is a true and correct copy of what you put in the envelope, and that they witnessed you place the true and correct copy in an envelope and present it for mailing to a representative of the US Post Office.


Dear Andrea,Welcome.

Your child is only 12 now, ALOT can happen in the 2 yrs. before your child can legally reside with your x. This jerk is once again trying to get you off balance, focusing on something not yet an issue to distract and worry you. (classic S stradegy) IF you focus on this, you won’t have energy to focus on what knife he is REALLY stabbing you with!!!!Sounds like other issues at hand must be sifted thru, these lunatics are sneaky & bet on you being taken off guard.

My experience is that they really don’t want the children underfoot, unless they know it bothers you or benefits them in some way (pity plays, etc.)
My x N/P has 2 children from prior divorce.He admitted to me after divorce that he “used” his children to” get back” at his x wife thru getting them every weekend that was allowed. And why not? he had me to take care of them.

As prior post read, the ONLY persons who get respect from the S is those whom they fear. 100% TRUE. You can bet on it.

I know with older children, its harder on them to force some issues but,
The x wife, made my x- N/P walk the line on child visitations and it worked:

He was forced to send certified letters to request ANY summer visits, change of plans, etc. OR she would not allow. PERIOD.
No Concessions. If he missed a weekend, no swaps.

She was so tough on him, at the time, I didn’t understand WHY, BUT he knew he had to walk the line consistently by the divorce papers. She even had written in d. papers small details such as when he returned children, their clothes had to be washed, and every item returned. If this wasn’t done, he would receive a call as to why he didn’t.

I know that seems severe, but I swear it kept him respecting the rules. Also, less debating. At the very least, when the children were with us, they were well taken care of and had a great time. He knew if ANYTHING was amiss, DHR could be knocking on the door.

Good advice to ACT as tho he is doing YOU a favor by taking the kids. My x P used to say his x wife treated him like nothing more than a glorifed babysitter. Made him crazy that he had to go by the rules. Same w/ child support pymts. She would go to atty. IMMEDIATELY if he were ever late.

NO SLACK, NO COMPASSION. Sad you must do it this way, but your not dealing with a normal human- must never think you are. Compassion for these monsters are viewed by them AS WEAKNESSES in you. They will RUN ALL over you.

Lastly, Don’t underestimate their propensity toward violence & abuse toward you. Do not be alone with him. My x actually became so enraged on divorce issues with his x, he hit her IN FRONT of children. She learned the hard way how to protect herself. She always had someone with her during pick up times w/ children.

The good thing with you is that since your children are alittle older, you won’t have as many years to deal with him. Teenagers tend to be very vocal if they don’t feel they are being treated well (to say the least), which is in your favor.
Good luck and Peace to you. Please post and stick with this site for help and healing.

Elizabeth Conley

Thank You Matt,

You’ve really helped me here.

This is my problem:

The State of Virginia Requires me to provide my Superintendent of Public Schools with my kid’s annual standardized academic performance test scores each year by August 1st, and my letter of intent to home-school for the coming year by August 15th.

This is not onerous, so I’m happy to oblige.

The trouble is with my local Superintendent of Schools. His office loses, or more accurately states they’ve never received, documents I can easily prove they’ve received. They’ve actually made the error of claiming to have never received correspondence they’ve responded to in the past! I don’t think they’re dishonest, I think they’re disorganized. Trouble is, they’re also very arrogant, and prone to bluster and foolish posturing. I could end up in a legal battle with them over my right to home school, just because they’ve lost documentation I’m required to submit.

Legal defense is no big issue. I belong to HILDA, and they’d be more than happy to handle a case like this where the Superintendent of Schools is so clearly in the wrong. I feel differently. I have no desire to be part of any “landmark case”. The stress would make me a nervous wreck. I’d like to head the whole sorry mess off at the pass.

I always submit everything in one neat little package in July, ’cause paperwork is not my favorite pastime.

This year I’ll send it all Certified Mail, return receipt requested, retaining certified true copies of everything. If the certificate of mailing is legal proof, I’m done. The law requires me to give them the documents. If I can legally prove that I’ve fulfilled my obligation simply by mailing it to them via certified mail, return receipt requested, then I can relax after I’ve got it all in the mail with my certified true copies on file.

Errr… does “Under the Federal Rules of Evidence…” mean that a certificate of mailing is legal proof in State and Local Courts as well? I’m serious about heading trouble off at the pass.



State rules of evidence (in this case Virginia) are pretty much the same as the Federal rules.

A suggestion — having dealth with my share of bureaucracies — make your submission “unlosable”. What I do is get one of those cardboard velo-binders, in the most day glow color I can find and place each document behind a tab. For some reason, if it gets tossed into a pile, the harried clerks I deal with remember the color. Personally, I recommend hot pink, day-glo orange or puce.

Another thought. Since you’re dealing with the local superintendent’s office, have you tried walking it in personally and “charming” the clerk? For some reason this approach also seems to work.


Dear Matt,

I feel really self conscious about asking you a legal question but I’ve been so impressed with your deft handling of other queries, I thought I’d give it a shot.

I realize up front that you will not be able to answer it categorically given that each bar is different depending on the state. However, I wonder if you have any knowledge of how a bar might view the submission of a complaint with a request for compensation from the bar (our state makes $50k available) for an attorneys participation in a shake down íf the complaint is not filed for several years (well after the statute of limitations for the extortion itself). The attorney was not representing the perp or me but was acting as the bagman. I know that contacting someone represented by counsel in and of itself is an ethical breach, but I don’t have much of a feel for how bar associations handle these things.

Do you have any feel for how bars usually handle the commission of a felony by one of their attorneys? Or the participation in misdemeanors?

Sorry for the vagueness. However, I am well aware of the public nature of this forum. Thanks for any insights you might have.

Elizabeth Conley

Thank You Matt,

I’m going to take your advice with regard to the day glow cardboard velor-binder. That sounds like a winner.

The charm thing is what I used the first year I home schooled. It was counter productive. It didn’t keep them from losing my documents after I left. It also left me with less proof I had delivered those documents than I would have had if I had mailed it certified mail, return receipt requested. It was a major hassle. The building was a high rise downtown where I had to fight for parking, walk for blocks, then go through several checkpoints to get up to the correct floor. Then it took a while to track down the right person. It also gave them an opportunity to attempt to personally intimidate me out of homeschooling by telling me the law placed far more burdens on me than it actually does. (This works for them a lot. They’ve intimidated some people out of homeschooling by simply baffling them with BS.)

Any way, my charm gets a bit brittle when someone is feeding me a line of bull. I figure I’m better off keeping it brisk and impersonal. I don’t want a relationship with these people. They’re a scary combination of ignorant, disorganized and authoritarian. The less I see of them, the less likely I am to slip on a banana peel and accidentally kick their backsides up between their ears. (It’s a Black Belt thing nobody understands…) Heh-heh!

Seriously, I like me mellow. If sending that self-important herd of numb-nuts a day glo orange folder full of documents via ceritified mail, return receipt requested, certified true copies retained will help me strategically and legally, I’ll do it. Sucking up in person is too risky and time consuming.



Your post on how your S’s ex-wife dealt with him regarding his kids should be posted as a permanent posting on this site’s section about how to “co-parent with a sociopath.” It is dead on.

Holding a sociopath to the literal letter of a custody agreement is something I stress repeatedly to bloggers on this site who are caught up in custody wars. You cannot give them an inch. Any variation/accomodation/dispensation can and will be used against you.

A sociopath will blast you for being unreasonable. A sociopath will badmouth you to the world. A sociopath will try to manipulate you six ways to Sunday. You have let it roll off your back.

Your only power over a sociopath is what is written in black-and-white in that agreement. You cannot vary from that agreement, one iota. The minute a sociopath varies from it, you set a dangerous precedent from which you will not recover. Your only option is to turn them in to the authorities, drag them into court, do whatever you have to do.

Power. Pure, unadulterated power turned on them. It is the only thing they understand.



Compensation from State bar restitution funds generally require you to submit proof of YOUR quantifiable loss due to the malsfeasance of an attorney. If you haven’t suffered a loss, I don’t see how you can claim against the fund.

Some state bar associations have hot-lines where you can report an attorney’s illegal actions and offer rewards for this. But, these are pretty rare.

If you have evidence of a crime, the place you report it is the District Attorney’s Office or the State Attorney General’s Office. Most generally have websites where they can tell you how to report a crime.

As for your State’s bar disciplinary committee, don’t bother.
The longer I stay in the law business, the more disenchanted I become with bar association disciplinary committees, medical association disciplinary committees, etc for the simple fact that I don’t believe the members of an organization can suitably police and discipline one of their own. There’s too much incentive to protect they own.

Elizabeth Conley

Oops Matt,

It seems my question has unleashed a flood. All I can say is that I’m grateful for your answer, and will be taking your advice.

There is a battle brewing between the Home School Advocacy Groups and the Superintendent of Schools. I plan to stay out of it. Virginia’s home school laws are totally appropriate in every respect. I like the status quo, and after the dust has settled I hope the law survives unchanged.


Elizabeth Conley:

The charm offensive works best if you’re in my shoes — having to deal with the clerk of court’s office on a more or less daily basis. Craven capitulation (on my part) made sure filings got made, etc. 🙂



It is quantifiable and well beyond the mere $50k.

Thanks for the insights.

Elizabeth Conley

Y’know Matt,

I’m in favor of that sort of thing 99% of the time. If I was in regular contact with these folks, I’d make it my business to charm ’em. We’d get past that initial assumption on their part that I was born last night, and I’d work past that initial urge to sneeze “bussshhhhiiittt” each time they pontificated. We’d talk about the weather, their children, their hobbies, their sports teams, how clever they are, how charming, how cute, and whatever else they wanted to hear.

Shmoozing is an important life skill we should all cultivate.



One clarification — if you have documented proof of the attorney’s actions against your interests, you can file with the Disciplinary Committee of your State Bar Association. What makes your case stronger, is if there is evidence of a criminal conviction against him. If the DA or State AG says “no go”, then take it to the DC.


Matt- Some other thoughts I feel are REALLY important , and I don’t mind if anyone wants to use it again, I just hope it helps others.

My x N/P was required by the d. decree to meet at a public place each time he exercised his right to visitation (like a restaurant or gas station) Gas stations are good, there are usually cameras set up in parking lot. When my crazy x hit his x wife w/ children in the car, a tape was pulled from the station and brought to court.

You can never be too cautious in these situations. An officer once told me violence is most likely to happen directly in weeks, and a couple of months following the separation.

True to form, my x N/P put sugar in the gas tank of my car, 2 weeks after he signed our final divorce decree. Which could quite possibly have caused a fatal accident(as the car was systematically locking up as I drove it with my child in back seat.)

ALWAYS,ALWAYS let the police know if stalking is going on, hang up calls, etc. Don’t hesitate to get the PDA (protection order) and TAPE ALL CALLS FROM HIM for documentation/proof.
Radioshack has equipment, test it first, make sure it can be heard. I had to get someone to digitally enhance the conversation via computer to make it more audible.

BEST THING I FOUND IN RECORDING is to put them on speaker phone, then use your recorder to get it all-worked perfectly! ,

In my state, it is admisable in court. I figured even if it wasn’t, WHO CARES, IF he killed me someone would have some flipping PROOF! Also can be used as leverage.When the other atty. heard about my evidence, he changed his plea to GUILTY .

At one time, my situation was so severe officers asked ME for permission to walk thru my yard at any time of night for my protection, told me what kind of tazer gun the force personally used so that I could purchase the exact model.

I asked for extra patrols around my house , and did not hesitate to issue warrants when necessary (advised by police And atty.) KEY is to not to appear crazy and emotional with officers, state facts calmly and seriously.SHOW PROOF whenever you can for creditabilty and/or witnesses. Keep a picture of the S, vehicle tag #, etc. with you to show officers involved with your protection.

Put extra enforcements/hotel locks etc. on doors at home. Even had my bedroom door modified for additional safety with deadbolts.

Reason being- Once he was coming after me to attack me, I locked bedroom door, he broke door AND facing like it was PAPER. He was strangling me so fast, as if I had never had a closed, locked door between us!

I realized how unprotected and vulnerable I was. I will not be a sitting duck again. Plus the measure of protection makes me feel immensely more secure, like I am taking my power back. Mistake is to think HE WON’T DO THIS. Pray for the Best, But Prepare for the Worst! Peace….



A lot of good points — another article to add to the “dealing with a sociopath in divorce/custody”.

I was just thinking of nic, who I haven’t seen post recently. We were advising her to arrange for her S to pick up her daughter in a public place such as a police station. I didn’t think of the obvious reason for a police station — they all have security cameras. Gas stations are an excellent choice also. Now that I think about it, anybody in this situation should “case” a couple of places first to make sure they have security cameras.


Good idea- check the place out, ask questions to make sure cameras are in place and where.
Most station owners would be helpful if the mother explains this is the drop off point, and if there is ever any trouble, they would know to notify police.

Of course, I am in Alabama, everyone here says “Bless your heart,”Come on in, honeeey, and have some sweet tea,” Other places may not be as accommodating. lol

Police station good, just childrens instincts are sharp, may make them feel like something is wrong having to meet there, but its stilll better than being at risk.


This has become such an informative sight and I feel so lucky to have found it as my life of hell for the last 5 yrs made me feel I was all read all of this and know that I am not has given me such a great amount of inner stregnth. Without going into all of the horrific details which are all of what I have read situation is that my 3 yr old son …does not really know his sociopathic father..he left us when he was born and took me to court to get out of support for 2 yrs..didnt work..since then he came back …I believed him…he got to know my son for 4 months and it was hell….he left again this past feb….I told him to leave us alone…he is now back around again…tried to weasel back again this time It didnt work..called him on his lies..I was so upset told him we were done..over..never again..he then started talking about time with his son..trying to act like he loves him….he owes about 3800 in child support is not working and there is no court order for custody or ecen visitation..he has never tried…I have been nice before and let him see my son however the chaos os crazy..I have now not spoken or heard from him in a week..Im glad….my question if there is no order in place for vistation or custody can I ignore him..please help me as I am scared


I forgot to add…we were never married..I would really like any feedback to help as I am so worried about my son…I have come so far and I dont want to slide back again..I see him and things so clearly now..its as if the puzle has finally been put together…I just want to be careful and stromng in my approach…my son..i love him more than anything and want to protect him from the hell we have endured

Elizabeth Conley

“my question if there is no order in place for visitation or custody can I ignore him…”

Yep, you can. At least, for a while. If he gets a lawyer and attempts to establish orders on custody and visitation, that will change.

I think you should ignore him for at least long enough for the chaos to subside. Don’t do, say or write anything that could be used to make you look vindictive or irrational to any authority figures. What you say and do will very likely be examined under a microscope when custody and visitation orders are being considered. Establish yourself as the sane parent.

Hang in there sweetie. It gets better.


This sight has helped me realize I to have been dealing with a
sociopath. My sons girlfriend gave birth to a son and the child came to live with me at 3 weeks of age. The dad in prison and mom in and out of failed programs for drugs. Took jail time and I tried to have her live with us to help her. I now see you cannot help a sociopath. They manipulate everything. After several months of ignoring her child and partying , we had had enough and told her to leave. Unfortunatly she was allowed by police to take my grandson now 21 months old with her. DCF is investgating and we have retained a lawyer but at what price. If we fight she will fight and the child will lose. Why do they, sociopaths, use everyone including their children to hurt people? She has dupped DCF and family time and again. Swearing this will be the last time ever. That she will change. It seems never ending and now I must do something to try and mend this for the sake of my grandson.


Jen2008 sums it up well in the initial response to this posting. I too must deal with my ex S because we share a child. I have raged at the numbers he’s pulled in regards to our son and have spent much energy in playing his game to win.

The truth is, one never knows from one Sociopath to another what will work…but I believe one thing always does. Don’t let them control your emotions, reactions or actions! Be who you are, make decisions based on what YOU can live with and recognize what you simply can’t control…for all else, have faith…not in the Sociopath but in yourself and that there is a greater good you serve every time you do what you know is right in your heart.

There is no way to stop your son from moving in with his father once he is at an age to make such decisions. All the planning and plotting won’t change this and, if anything, will back fire. Because it’s energy ultimately expended away from raising your son NOW…the way you want to NOW…while you can! Your child will be his own person, make his own mistakes and hopefully his own successes. Focus on him, not his father!



Ox Drover

Dear Jordan and endthe pain,

Welcome to you both!

Yes, they do use their children to get what they want and the child is the one that suffers.

End the pain, since there is no order HE would have to hire a lawyer to go back and get visitation and I imagine he would have to pay support and back support, so I sincerely DOUBT that he would be able to do that (no job and all) so I also suggest NC –NO CONTACT—don’t answer his mail, e mail, phone calls, texts, or the door. JUST TOTALLY IGNORE. Chances are he will go away, he is just wanting back with YOU not the child.

Jordan, with the history you gave, there is a possibility you can get custody of the child, but also she may try from time to time to get the child back….I have friends in the same situation with you. I can only say I can only imagine how much it must hurt. Good luck. I also suggest you read the information on Dr. Leedom’s blog about raising the “at risk” child. God bless you both and welcome to love fraud, it’s a good place with some good infromation.


My x-sp-husband’s goal was to have an exact replica of himself. He sought out teenagers for friendship when he was in his mid-20’s with the only purpose of teaching them how to be like him. Out of this group of teenagers, who I have got to see grow up in 10 years, he succeeded in “teaching” 5 out of 5, his warped beliefs and actions. These 5 have also passed on the same actions and beliefs to the next generation of THEIR aquaintances. (Truly unbelievable and sick in my opinion).
His ultimate goal was to make my daughter just like him and he succeeded. He did it through precise manipulation and the biggest “front” I have ever experienced.
I can’t stress enough, “Do Not Let This Man Have Your Son!”
I did not know the extremes as to what he was doing to my daughter. He was telling her, in exact detail, how to misbehave, so I would just throw in the towel and let her live with her dad. After 3 years of daily nightmares with her, and a custody dispute in which I won… I did exactly that. My reasoning, I thought if he knew what was going on, by having her live with him, he could straighten out her behavior. Truth is, he already knew what she was doing because he instructed her! Hard to believe a father would tell his daughter to have sex, do drugs, skip school, lie, steal….BUT HE DID! and she was 13!
The things I see now in retrospect, appear to me daily, because there were so many lies and manipulations and calculations on his part and my only focus was on my daughter’s behavior. I knew it was coming from him, but I couldn’t figure it out. Keeping a journal of any contacts with him, and my daughter, I was able to pinpoint what he was telling her, how he went about doing it and how it corresponded to my daughter’s behavior. He did most of it by telephone. My gut was telling me he was instructing her, but I couldn’t prove it and she wasn’t talking.
My daughter is now refusing all contact with him but I feel in my heart, he could easily pull her back in. All I can do, with the help of others, is to keep reinforcing no contact.

I too had to deal with a sociopath and him attempting to get custody of my child and attempting not to pay child support.

What I have found in dealings with him are a few things.

First of all, they feed off of fear. Once you stop fearing them and stand up to them emotionally and legally, they will begin to act differently. They are used to you being afraid of them and they are used to you not adhering to the boundaries you say you are going to set. When you say you are going to do something, stick to it. Plan everything you are going to do strategically and intelligently. Try to use logic instead of emotions when you plan your course of action.

After you have done all this, use all the advantages you have, witnesses, documents, emails, their former criminal records, etc, against them. Keep everything organized and know exactly what you are going to say when you deal with them.

Usually, if you disengage from the fear and “dance of anger” with them and begin to handle them strategically instead of emotionally, THEY WILL SELF-DESTRUCT in front of everybody. When I say in front of everybody, I mean everybody (Judges, Police officers, family, friends, new spouses, girlfriends, etc). They are not good at keeping their cool when You keep yours. And they don’t fare well when they aren’t pushing anyone’s buttons.

This is what I experienced, however, it’s just my opinion.

Hope this helps….


I was married to a sociopath for 10 years, and, like many other women, did not realize what sociopathy was until after I googled his symptoms after leaving the domestic violence in 2000, along with my daughter, then 9. Three and a half long years after having no direct contact with him, yet suffering at the hands of his lies (he started identity fraud using my SS# and signed my name on his IRS) and horrendous legal battles with a corrupt court system in one state, (he had several family attorneys), and my trying to hold life up in the home state I’d moved to with our child (with his help and permission), he kidnapped our daughter at the age of 12, while on visitation in another state. It was the worst thing I’d ever feared, he’d threatened it over and over again, and it finally happened.
To make things worse, he had managed to coerce her over time by gifts and by demeaning me as a mother; his own son from his first marriage joined in the fray, while also coercing her to stay with his father and to attend concerts with his punk band, which was rising to world fame. Completely powerless to do anything, (and also with no money), and not willing to put myself back in the fire of abuse, (because I instinctively knew that the reason he did these things was to get ME back into what to him was a game), I let her go, because there was nothing I could do to fight him, or to protect her from her own decisions anymore. She had become abusive to me, and had turned into a “goth,” mimicking the band’s style and dress, and so it was the hardest thing I ever did, but I did let her go completely.

For several years, I developed PTSD, isolated myself a bit, and mourned her as dead (as I knew his propensity for violence, and her burgeoning propensity for suicidal ideation). I told her I would always be there for her, but that I could not put myself back into the violence or let her decision lead me to ruin the only life I’d started to try to save her life and soul from the consciousless behaviors he believed in. At the same time, I feared the loss, not only of her life, but of her beautiful soul. All I knew is that my job was to heal myself, to walk on, and create and protect a soft place for her to fall, someday. I knew that she would prefer getting to know the mother that was healthy and strong and free of abuse, than to come back to the mother that cowered in fear and continuously broke down in tears of utter loss.
For three years, I heard nothing from her, until a therapist called me from NJ and told me that she’d just gotten out of the hospital after a third attempted suicide. The therapist set up one short weekend in which I could see her. I was frightened to see that she was depressed, very thin, and still goth. She had used all manner of drugs, gotten into all kinds of trouble, and I knew also that the abuse had continued. She went away, and I heard nothing from her for more than two years. Finally, she started coming to visit, for a weekend here, a vacation there.
At long last, I’d found a new life, a wonderful partner, and the freedom to begin something new and beautiful and healing, without this kind of sociopathy attached.
It was this past November that my daughter ran away from her father; she was 17. She had been lashing out in so many ways at her father and half-brother, and they were both ganging up on her to try to control her; last November, when she came up for a visit, she started revealing an unspeakable forms of abuse, not only from her father, but now also at the hands of her 30 year old half-brother. She was down to 90 lbs., was using heroin and other drugs to mute her pain, admitted to being truant for over 22 days in her school, was in withdrawal and was vomiting. and she’d cut her legs to shreds as a way to mute the suffering. She revealed a aspect of the abuse that led me to have to make an awful decision. I didn’t know what her father would do, but I knew I would not send her back to NJ, not over my dead body. With the help and negotiation of two therapists, our family therapist here (with my new husband), and my ex’s therapist (and daughter’s), we managed to secure a deal for her to stay here, without using lawyers, and we notified CPS of the situation. I couldn’t figure out why the ex was being so uncharacteristically cooperative until I realized that the NJ school had started a CPS investigation months ago, so it was purely fortuitous that we didn’t have to go to court. Since then, the ex backed off completely, and soon after my daughter left him, he very quickly met and remarried a woman from another country who barely speaks any English. (As my mother always said, “The truth always eventually comes out, but sometimes you have to wait a long time for all the “dead bodies” to float to the surface”) – these words are very wise, and so very true!
My daughter is now 18, (YAY- no more control by the ex in the courts!), has had a rough transition, with severe anxiety and PTSD. She sometimes acts verbally abusive, but we have held fast to the idea that she does this as a response to the PTSD and not as a perpetrator, yet. We hold fast to our boundaries, and slowly, she is responding like a flower, starting to grow again into the light. She was hospitalized for 8 days, and is now on some medications that help her regulate her emotional responses, but she is also realizing that she no longer needs to abuse or lash out, as my husband and I are by nature peaceful and respectful human beings.
I know how hard it is for so many of us, especially where children are involved. There are no easy answers, and all of it is excruciatingly painful, whether we decide to fight back, or play “belly up.” For me, playing belly up seemed to work better over a long period of time, because, as my friend once said, “if you do what you always did, you’re gonna get what you always got.” In addition, the more we keep our own lives as sacred, with as many private things kept as unknown to the sociopath, the more empowerment we find in our own lives. The more we let go of the fact that we’re powerless, the less power he will have. (The person least invested in an outcome is always the one with the most power). In addition, children have minds and wills of their own, and eventually, coercion is a powerful tool in the hands of the sociopath, and so our kids need to sometimes take that path to find out who they are on their own terms, not on ours, even if it means that they choose to stay with the sociopath for awhile, as awful and hard as it is for us to let them do it. The most important thing I ever did when leaving the ex (and I can only say that it worked because my daughter is still alive in spite of the worst thing happening), is to sever the relationship completely with the sociopath, in parenting, in any type of business communication, or verbal communication. I held fast to the Great Wall of China I put up between us in 2000, to protect our lives and sanity (even as he broke the restraining order several times and was arrested twice in our own state, used many scare tactics including hiring people to send us death threats). I knew even that I was risking our lives by doing this, but I felt the risk was worth it, even if the outcome might be the loss of my own life. I always held the faith that I deserved a better life, and that to act fearlessly, as if he didn’t exist, even if he took my own child, or tried to kill me, would be the only tools I could use to keep a safe haven for me and for her, should she freely choose later to come home and heal. I wish everyone the best of luck, wherever you happen to sit.
Never lose the faith in your own instinct. Never judge yourself or let anyone else judge your decisions, because we are the only ones that are dealing with things that many others cannot understand. Try to always remember that when the airplane loses oxygen, we’re supposed to put the masks on ourselves before our children first. When dealing with a sociopath, this mask represents our sacred, private lives, which the children need as their soft place to fall, no matter how long they are lost or gone.
Thanks for the forum, and for providing this website- it has been a beacon of hope and an invaluable resource.

Peace. Hope. Joy to all.



Dear endthepain,
I am sorry for your pain. Take solace in the fact that he would have to take it back to court for visitation with your son.

Let the S know in a casual matter of fact way(BUT FIRM) that legally you can not give him visitation unless it is court ordered. AND in the event that it is, he will have support payment to keep up, medical insurance, half of all medical bills from this point on, college provisions, etc etc.

THis ALONE may be enuf for MR. I-Wanna-Play-Daddy to slither under his rock that some other woman is probally paying for anyway.

FACT is You MUST NOT ALLOW ANTYTHING that isn’t court ordered- suppose he takes child out of state against your wishes or any # of herific scenerios.

BE prepared -they are relentless in forcing you to respond. YOU decide N/C and be “relentless” with Your decision.
OXY is right, he wants YOU- to suck the life from you. You owe your energy to you and your son, this S is a thief.Don’t give him any thought. You are in CONTROL here.

NEVER appear scared or weak- Demons such as this feed off of it. KEEP firm boundaries. .

In case he tries to Guilt trip you: I know what it is like to yearn for the dad (if he were REAL) to participate in your sons life. I’ve been in a heartbreaking situation with my own son (he is now 20)where his dad was in and out of his life over a period of 12 yrs. He caused so much trauma emotionally for my son that is still a factor, I WISH my son had never even knew him. My son has the same sentiment.

The pain of a dysfunctional father who withheld affection at a whim was almost more than my son or I could take. The heartache seemed unbearable that his SO CALLED BIO-father made me feel guilty for not allowing contact SO I caved in. Every situation is different,

Just pray that God will protect and guide you and He will.

Jordon- Best of luck to you as well. Oxy gave you great advice. Be strong and study these posts. Peace to you.


Question…. Can a child of divorce make the legal decision of which parent they wish to live with at 14?? In all states? What states?

My ex convinced my 13 y/o that he can move when he is 14. I told him that it would take the family court judge to make an order to do so. Our custody order is very specific about not splitting up our children, and my ex was denied her motion to move my children with her out of state.

Outside of taking me back to court, does my ex have a leg to stand on in getting my oldest to move?


AKA Bob:

it varies from State to State. Some States view a child at 14 as having the capacity to make this decision. Other’s don’t. I’d check out your State Attorney General’s Office and see if they have rendered any opinions on this. If they haven’t, I’d submit a written inquiry. You also might want to contact a few of the children’s law advocacy groups in your state. A lot of law schools have child advocacy clinics, so they might be able to hep you out too.

The problem you’re going to have is how are you going to stop your kid from making this move, short of tying him down? The agreement may say the kids aren’t supposed to be separated, but short of chaining him to a radiator, you’re in for a tough ride. Any chance of your moving even further away to get the ex further away from the kids?


Just a thought off the top of my head – without having the time this morning to read all the great responses – what I read is:

“I have some documents from when we were married and owned a business.

He needs some proof that another couple we were in business with is not responsible for a loan we had.

My ex got the loan in the divorce. I believe he’s trying to bankrupt his business. ”

While the language isn’t absolutely clear as to whether or not the other couples’ names were on that loan, and this couple bought them out, OR that the other couple never were on the loan for the business….

Why can she not arrange to have the documents handed over to the other couple/former business partners – to be relayed to him.

IF the other couple’s names are on it, having signed OFF of it, they’d have every right to have those documents in their OWN records – and out “poster” today would rightfully be able to say, it’s out of her hands.

As I see it, that would take the onus off of our “poster,” and would also put the responsibility right back upon the P/S/N to go to the originating bank (the one that made the loan, to get the copies he needs) AND it would take the wind out of the P/S/N’s sails. All she would have to say is either: 1. I can’t find them, or 2. I don’t have them any more.

Just a thought or two – perhaps more thorough reading later in the day.

~cheers all~


Thank you for the responses!! The amount of pain you endure when dealing with this type of person is unimaginable unless you have lived it..when he is gone..I feel peace…and I intend on keeping this peace as long as possible. He has been ordered to pay a set amount of support..I already lowered it once..he voluntarily left his job in Oct when he came back last as he believed I was going to take care of him..I did for a short period of time..then told him to get out..he is n ow behind in support and without a job..he seesm intent on getting it reduced so far has had no fear comes from what he will do as far as desperation to lower the support..he has no money and is not even bothering to look for work..uses the economy to his advantage so to any ideas as far as the suppoirt aspect?? do I just let it go let the courts deal with him..I intend to keep up no has been quiet for over a wek but pattern shows calm before the storm so Im prepared.

Ox Drover

I would just go NC with him, keep him out of your life as much as possible, not answer any calls or the door. If he is behind in his support, you have a certain amount of clout to have him ARRESTED for back support that is unpaid. I would be willing to tell him, “Look, go away or I will have you arrested for not paying your support. If you leave me and our child alone I will not push for that and you will not go to jail, but if you push to see me or our baby I will push for support to the max”

Then nothing after that. They usually will be willing to forego the “visits” for the non pushing of the support….if he knows you are SERIOUS….and I would be. I know it is your decision and you know him and what he is likely to do, but just something for you to think about. He does NOT want to see the baby, he is just using the baby to try to hook you back again to support HIM. If he goes years without support or visitation, you might be able to have his rights terminated (matt would have more info on that) That was how my parents got my P-sperm donor’s parental rights terminated because he nver visited me or paid support, so I was labeled and “abandoned child” and my step father was allowed to adopt me.

Good luck.

Ox Drover

ps to even get it reduced I think he wold have to hire an attorney, and without a job how is he going to hire an attorney? Hope that is the case anyway, and in the meantime the support “piles up” unpaid.


Hi all. I’m reading the posts and taking notes! Thank you all.

My problem is is that my mother is a sociopath. I hope that I can use the insights on this wonderful resource to separate from her. My father passed and left me in charge of her money. I get caught up in the inheritance thing. Writing this makes me sound so foolish. Associating with her just to get an inheritance one day and then I might not as the way the economy is right now.

I have to understand my sanity and sanctity is more important than her money. I want to be a good daughter but I can’t. She is an S.

The no slack, no compassion sounds like a good start.

I am new at this and my life has been going down the toilet the more I am around her or talk to her.


endthe pain,
Regarding child support- he may not be paying now, but the debt never goes away. He would have to contact an attorney to get a motion filed in attempt to lower it.
My sons father moved out of state and didn’t pay support for years. Finally, I caught back up with him while employed. Judge set up payments with back child support with interest. With my son being 20 yrs old now, I still randomly receive payments as the interest incurs monthly.

THe dad hasn’t seen my son in years now. Makes no difference, His obligation is ALways there to pay whether he exercises visitation or not.


thank life has been so complicated with this man…he has now gone back to his ex wife…he stopped their divorce as he thought he would be ablw to get something thru the sale of their home and as it turns out they are losing it. I saw first hand what he was capable of when he was going thru this divorce as he had no concern for his daughters support…I tried to get him to do the right thing and was sickened with what I saw…needless to say she is refusing to pay his child support..but will support him in every other sense of the word…he has gone back and forth between the two of us..for so long..lying to each of us..I am the smarter one as I wil not stand for this any longer and have told him…I just dont kn ow what to expect next from him


also..he hasnt filed a motion as it was stipulation we entered when i lowered it once..he contacted child support services for a review stating he spent time with his son so it should be modfied and also that he isnt working

Jim in Indiana USA

aroundthebend…Diana…I just read your post/story…thanks, and welcome. I can’t think of anything to add to that account…just thanks.



Since S isn’t paying child support, go into court and ask for an order garnishing his tax returns. Going into family court pro se (without an attorney) isn’t hard — here in NYC I would say the majority of the people going in aren’t represented.

The bigger question you have to ask yourself is this — would I be willing to forego child support to get him to terminate his parental rights? That may be where you ultimately want to go, since you will be chasing this creature for money until the end of time and have to put up with his interference too.

sabrina, on a posting yesterday brought up the importance of getting a visitation agreement in place and forcing S to stick to every word of it. No changing visitation. No late support payments. All requests for holidays must be in writing and certified mail. All pick-ups and drop-offs must be in a public place. If you give this non-human creature an inch, he will take the proverbial mile.

Bottom line? You’ve got to get really, really clear on what you want vis-a-vis S, and then do it.



“First of all, they feed off of fear. Once you stop fearing them and stand up to them emotionally and legally, they will begin to act differently. They are used to you being afraid of them and they are used to you not adhering to the boundaries you say you are going to set. When you say you are going to do something, stick to it. Plan everything you are going to do strategically and intelligently. Try to use logic instead of emotions when you plan your course of action.

After you have done all this, use all the advantages you have, witnesses, documents, emails, their former criminal records, etc, against them. Keep everything organized and know exactly what you are going to say when you deal with them.

Usually, if you disengage from the fear and “dance of anger” with them and begin to handle them strategically instead of emotionally, THEY WILL SELF-DESTRUCT in front of everybody. When I say in front of everybody, I mean everybody (Judges, Police officers, family, friends, new spouses, girlfriends, etc). They are not good at keeping their cool when You keep yours. And they don’t fare well when they aren’t pushing anyone’s buttons”

This is advice is priceless! It is spot on. It is what should be done especially when involved with divorcing one of these people or sharing custody of children. Have to be in that detached state of mind, finally at a place where your emotions are only shared only with yourself and your true family friends loved ones and LF :)- not with the X!!


Diana (Aroundthebend)

WOW. Wow. What a story. What a journey. What a miracle! I experienced so many feelings just in your post..cant imagine all you have endured.

But you believed in yourself. You knew what was right for you, or rather what your daughter had to do – in order to find her way back home. There is SO MUCH TO LEARN FROM YOUR POST AND ALL THAT YOU SHARED..You certainly have touched someones life today.

Thank you for sharing and showing us the power of SELF- SURVIVAL and knowing when to put your faith in the hands of the power to be..God bless you…


Dear Pesel,

Welcome… sorry you are going through this in your life. There are alot of articles and post here for you to read and connect with and hopefully find the tools required to go through life with a sociopathic mother. You will find great support here. Sharing your story, your journey also helps in many ways…

More important than wanting to be a good the the importance and necessity of wanting to be good to yourself first and putting boundaries in place and knowing your own limitations with your mother.

Remember she is not healthy… so conversations with her are not necessarily to be received by you as healthy and correct. Hope you find comfort and support here and anywhere you seek it!! Good luck. Glad you are here!!

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