Sunday, February 21, 2016

10 things to remember

A well written post, that I need to remember! 
Found at :

The journey to healing from emotional or physical abuse requires us to revolutionize our thinking about relationships, self-love, self-respect and self-compassion. Abusive relationships often serve as the catalyst for incredible change and have the potential to motivate us towards empowerment and strength, should we take advantage of our new agency.
Here are ten life-changing truths abuse survivors should embrace in their journey to healing, though it may appear challenging to do so.
1. It was not your fault. Victim-blaming is rampant both in society and even within the mental landscapes of abuse survivors themselves. Recently, the victim-blaming and the mythical "ease" of leaving an abusive relationship has been challenged in the public discourse. Accepting that the pathology of another person and the abuse he or she inflicted upon you is not under your control can be quite challenging when you've been told otherwise,  by the abuser, the public and even by those close to you who don't know any better.
Abuse survivors are used to being blamed for not being good enough and the mistreatment they've suffered convinces them they are not enough. The truth is, the abuser is the person who is not enough. Only a dysfunctional person would deliberately harm another. You, on the other hand, are enough. Unlike your abuser, you don't have to abuse anyone else to feel superior or complete. You are already whole, and perfect, in your own imperfect ways.
2. Your love cannot inspire the abuser to change. There was nothing you could have done differently to change the abuser. Repeat this to yourself. Nothing. Abusers have a distorted perspective of the world and their interactions with people are intrinsically disordered. Pathological narcissists and sociopaths are disordered individuals who have specific manipulation tactics as well as behavioral traits that make them unhealthy relationship partners. Part of their disorder is that they feel superior and entitled; they are usually unwilling to get help and they benefit from exploiting others. A lack of empathy enables them to reap these benefits without much remorse. Giving your abuser more love and subjugating yourself to the abuser out of fear and out of the hope that he or she would change would've only enabled the abuser's power. You did the right thing (or you will) by stepping away and no longer allowing someone to treat you in such an inhumane manner.
3. Healthy relationships are your birthright and you can achieve them. It is your right to have a healthy, safe, and respectful relationship. It is your right to be free from bodily harm and psychological abuse. It is your right to be able to express your emotions without ridicule, stonewalling or the threat of violence. It is your right not to walk on eggshells. It is your right to pursue people who are worthy of your time and energy. Never settle for less than someone who respects you and is considerate towards you. Every human being has this right and you do too. If you are someone who has the ability to respect others and are capable of empathy, you are not any less deserving than anyone else of a relationship that makes you happy.
4. You are not forever damaged by this. Healing and recovery is a challenging process, but it is not an impossible one. You may suffer for a long time from intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and other symptoms as a result of the abuse. You may even enter other unhealthy relationships or reenter the same one; this is not uncommon, as a large part of our behavior is driven by our subconscious. Still, you are not "damaged goods." You are not forever scarred, although there are scars that may still remain. You are a healer, a warrior, a survivor. You do have choices and agency. You can cut all contact with your ex-partner, seek counseling and a support group for survivors, create a stronger support network, read literature on abusive tactics, engage in better self-care, and you can have better relationships in the future. If you suspect you were the victim of emotional abuse, you can read about the manipulation tactics of emotionally abusive people and understand how pathological individuals operate so that you can protect yourself in the future. All hope is not lost. You can use this experience to gain new knowledge, resources and networks. You can channel your crisis into transformation.
5.  You don't have to justify to anyone the reasons you didn't leave right away. The fear, isolation and manipulation that the abuser imposed upon us is legitimate and valid. Studies have proven that trauma can produce changes the brain. If we experienced or witnessed abuse or bullying in our childhood, we can be subconsciously programmed to reenact our early childhood wounding. 
The trauma of an abusive relationship can also manifest in PTSD or acute stress disorder regardless of whether or not we witnessed domestic violence as a child. Stockholm syndrome is a syndrome that tethers survivors of trauma and abuse to their abusers in order to survive. This syndrome is created from what Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D calls "trauma bonds," which are bonds that are formed with another person during traumatic emotional experiences. These bonds can leave us paradoxically seeking support from the source of the abuse. Biochemical bonds can also form with our abuser through changing levels of oxytocin, dopamine, cortisol and adrenaline which can spike during the highs and lows of the abuse cycle.
The connection we have to the abuser is like an addiction to the vicious cycle of hot and cold, of sweet talk and apologies, of wounds and harsh words. Our sense of learned helplessness, an overwhelming feeling that develops as we are unable to escape a dangerous situation, is potent in an abusive relationship. So is our cognitive dissonance, the conflicting ideas and beliefs we may hold about who the abuser truly is versus who the abuser has shown himself or herself to be. Due to the shame we feel about the abuse, we may withdraw from our support network altogether or be forced by our abuser to not interact with others.
These reasons and more can all interfere with our motivation and means to leave the relationship. You may have been financially dependent on your abuser or feared physical or psychological retaliation in the form of slander. Therefore, you never have to justify to anyone why you did not leave right away or blame yourself for not doing so. Someone else's invalidation should not take away your experience of fear, powerlessness, confusion, shame, numbing, cognitive dissonance and feelings of helplessness that occurred when and after the abuse took place.
6. Forgiveness of the abuser is a personal choice, not a necessity. Some may tell you that you have to forgive the abuser to move on. Truly, that is a personal choice and not a necessity. You might feel forgiveness of the abuser is necessary in order to move forward, but that does not mean you have to. Survivors may have also experienced physical and sexual abuse in addition to the psychological manipulation. You may have gone through so much trauma that it feels impossible to forgive, and that's okay.
It is not our job to cater to the abuser's needs or wants. It's not our duty to reconcile with or forgive someone who has deliberately and maliciously harmed us. Our duty lies in taking care of ourselves on the road to healing.
7. Forgiveness towards yourself is necessary to move forward. Self-forgiveness is a different matter. You do have to demonstrate compassion towards yourself and forgive yourself for not leaving the relationship sooner, for not taking care of yourself better, and for not looking out for your safety and best interests. These are all things survivors tend to struggle with in the aftermath of an abusive relationship and it can take a while to get to this point.
Remember: You didn't know what you know now about how the abuser would never change. Even if you had, you were in a situation where many psychological factors made it difficult to leave.
8. You are not the crazy one. During the abusive relationship, you were gaslighted into thinking that your perception of reality was false and told that you were the pathological one, that your version of events was untrue, that your feelings were invalid, that you were too sensitive when you reacted to his or her mistreatment of you. You may have even endured a vicious smear campaign in which the charming abuser told everyone else you were "losing it."
Losing it actually meant that you were tired of being kicked around, tired of being cursed at and debased. Losing it actually meant that you were finally starting to stand up for yourself. The abuser saw that you were recognizing the abuse and wanted to keep you in your place by treating you to cold silence, harsh words, and condescending rumor mongering.
It's time to get back to reality: you were not the unstable one. The unstable one was the person who was constantly belittling you, controlling your every move, subjecting you to angry outbursts, and using you as an emotional (and even physical) punching bag.
Who are you? You were the person who wanted a good relationship. The one who strove to please your abuser, even at the cost of your mental and physical health. You were the one whose boundaries were broken, whose values were ridiculed, whose strengths were made to look like weaknesses. You attempted to teach a grown person how to behave with respect - often fruitlessly. You were the one who deserved so much better.
9. You do deserve better. No matter what the abuser told you about yourself, there are people out there in healthy relationships. These people are cherished, respected and appreciated on a consistent basis. There is trust in the relationship, not the toxic manufacturing of love triangles. There are genuine apologies for mistakes, not provocation for attention or quick reconciliation.
Consider this: aside from the experience of trauma, these people in healthier relationships are not drastically different from you. In many ways, they are just like you - flawed, imperfect, but worthy of love and respect. There are billions of people in this world, and yes, you can bet there are plenty out there who will treat you better than the way you've been treated before. There are people out there who will see your wonderful strengths, talents, and who will love your quirks. These people wouldn't dream of intentionally hurting you or provoking you. You will find these people - in friendships and in future relationships. Perhaps you already have.
10. It may have seemed this relationship was like a "waste of time" but in changing your perspective, it can also be an incredible learning experience. You now have the agency to create stronger boundaries and learn more about your values as a result of this experience. As a survivor, you've seen the dark side of humanity and what people are capable of. You've recognized the value of using your time wisely after you've exhausted it with someone unworthy. With this newfound knowledge, you are no longer naive to the fact that there are emotional predators out there. Most importantly, you can share your story to help and empower other survivors. I know I did, and you can too.
For more resources for abuse survivors, please be sure to visit Self-Care Haven, home of The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care.
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Shahida Arabi
Author, The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care
Shahida Arabi is the author of The Smart Girl's Guide to Self-Care, a bestselling Kindle book also available in print. She graduated with a Master's from Columbia University and studied English Literature and Psychology as an undergraduate student at NYU, where she graduated summa cum laude and was President of its National Organization for Women (NOW) chapter. Her writing has been featured on Elephant Journal, Dollhouse Magazine, The West 4th Street Review, Thought Catalog, the Feministing Community blog, author Lisa E. Scott's blog and Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Monica O'Neal's website. Her interests include psychology, sociology, education, gender studies and mental health advocacy. Her blog, Self-Care Haven, recently had 1.4 million views and her work has been endorsed and shared worldwide by numerous clinical psychologists, mental health practitioners, bestselling authors, and award-winning bloggers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dealing with Sociopaths, a prescription for survival.

Dealing with Sociopaths, a prescription for survival.

Let’s face it, dealing with sociopaths can be said to be one of the hardest things one will ever have to engage in. So up front we should state that the best way to do so is to avoid contact.
Now this is much easier said than done for many reasons. In many instances Sociopaths and their victims are in situations where this cannot be avoided or some form of contact must be made. This can be the workplace, home or public transportation. But it is imperative that you cut the sociopath off completely and you can do so knowing that you are lessening their power. They are highly manipulative and can only gain an assessment of the success of their behavior by contact, if they don’t have contact they don’t know how well they are doing. It isn’t unheard of to have sociopaths continue to make contact via “agents” even after they have been removed from contact with their victims. And as we all know, these agents are usually easily impressionable people, students, folks going through hard times, the gullible, highly insecure or any number of good people (and yes bad people as well) who have a flaw the sociopath can exploit.
In fact, there are cases where a less intelligent or less developed sociopath has been removed from their place of power of their victims of choice. Their entire focus becomes the recruitment of agents to do their bidding to regain control in the place they are removed from and to ultimately reconfigure an attack on their victim. This could be something like a post-divorce scenario, a sociopath befriending a maintenance worker who works at the former spouses home to gain information, or engaging on a complicated campaign to use former co-workers to attack targets at a former workplace…If it can be dreamt up to get power, the sociopath, to the surprise of most normal folk will do it. In one instance, I believe this story is from California, a sociopath was fired from a business and then created a “competing business” for the sole purpose of revenge against his former employer. The business recruited anyone with an axe to grind, or employees who had visible flaws and fell victim to the sociopaths manipulation. In this scenario, the sociopath used contacts at his previous place of employment to keep abreast of happenings and used puppets he had created to file law suits, complaints and generally disrupt things. When these agents had reached their usefulness and when the finger was pointed at the sociopath, they were abandoned. Some of these folks were surprised to learn, that while they were doing the bidding of the sociopath, he had been building files on them to use against them when the time called for it. A hard lesson learned, I suppose.
What can one do?
Avoid talking on the phone, don’t send, open or reply to e-mail. Don’t use online instant messaging or open any emails from them, don’t accept any cards, letters or packages. And most certainly do not visit or make contact with him.
If you have the unfortunate happenstance of having to make contact, bring a witness, actually a minimum of two. Otherwise do not go.
Remember that many sociopaths are also narcissistic and pretty much the only thing which can effect them is abandonment.
Abusers increasingly use a tactic some call “preemptive strike,” where he accuses the victim of doing all the things that he has done. Be aware of this and alert to the sociopaths desire to indulge in this behavior.
Consider the following article:
R. Lundy Bancroft, author
Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
To avoid exposure of his abusive behaviour, the abuser begins a smear campaign against his victim. Directed at her closest friends, coworkers, even children and family, he accuses the victim of being the abuser.
Here’s a typical scenario: Your abuser has been emotionally/physically cruel to you. He’s cheated on you, lied, and usually much, much more. So, you break up or end the relationship only to find that he has gone around to your friends/family telling them that you are the one who has been cruel to him, lied/cheated.
An Abuser’s typical lie: “I love her so much, but now she’s going around telling people I hit her, lied to her and cheated on her and she told me we’re finished. I’m just devastated. I need someone to talk to who can help me get over this.”
Your abuser has already anticipated what you will do. He beat you to the punch. You soon find others believe his convincing tales of being the victim. He works hard to present himself as “Mr. Perfect”. Therefore, people believe him. They ally themselves against you. This was his plan all along. Brace yourself. Emotionally anticipate this common response from the mentally disordered. Hang on tight, it’s going to be a very cruel and bumpy ride.
Do you feel you want to warn others or defend yourself? Your abuser has anticipated this. If you do this, you will likely only be validating what the abuser has already said about you. Without knowledge of the strong psychological defence mechanisms of the personality disordered could put you in danger or at the least, being discredited by an abuser who has already anticipated your actions.
An abuser will quickly ‘devalue and discard’ his target claiming he is the victim of your cruelty. His victims are now put in a defensive role by his lies and character assassination. By involving others he is enlarging his circle of those who give him attention. Any attention you may have given him is now replaced and multiplied by other people he manages to fool. A win/win scenario for a narcissist.
He will increase his attempts to provoke his victim into some reaction – the more emotional the better to make her look crazy and him sane. For heaven sakes, don’t fuel this behaviour by taking his bait. Do NOT take his bait. It is his trap and setup. Provoking you into a reaction is his goal.
Abusers abuse in private. They fear exposure of their abuse. So they need to discredit anyone who can point the finger at them.  You may be left with little more than police, lawyers, accountants, and your protective zone of No Contact.
An abuser’s preferred tactics is the Smear Campaign. They spread lies, character assassination, malicious gossip, backstabbing with factless innuendo and cruel insinuation. Smearing the reputation of someone else (often using projection accusing them of doing what the abuser has done) is a major indicator of personality disorders.
Sadly, some ignorant people believe the abuser’s lies that you are the abusive person and without proof of any kind, will, like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of OZ, defend the abuser by harassing his target. The abuser has orchestrated this knowing these people may commit illegal acts while the abuser himself is protected. They believe him and see him as the injured party, pitiful and in need of help. The abuser is now thoroughtly enjoying all the resultant chaos and attention he has created.

When sociopaths lie about you

When sociopaths lie about you

It’s bad enough that sociopaths lie to hook you. Anything they tell you about themselves may be false — their age, education, credentials, family details, income, criminal record, job and work history.
And of course, sociopaths typically lie about their relationship history and status. They claim to be single when they are married; they claim to be childless when they have many offspring — even with multiple partners.
Sociopaths lie — it’s the key characteristic of the disorder. When you fall for the lies, you feel like a chump. But what often turns out to be even more devastating is the lies they tell about you.
The smear campaign
Sociopaths typically engage in a “smear campaign” about their targets. These are outright lies that they tell about you to your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and others in your social circle.
The sociopath’s objective with the smear campaign is to compromise your social support system, and therefore increase his or her control over you. For this reason, the sociopath may start lying about you long before you suspect any problems in your relationship.
For example, a sociopath may have a conversation like the following with your friend, Jane:
Sociopath: “You know, I found out about six months into our relationship that Mary was cheating on me. She was secretly seeing a guy from work.”
Jane: “I never knew about that!”
Sociopath: “Well, I imagine that she didn’t want to tell you, because you might have said something to me. I know I can trust you.”
Jane: “Of course you can!”
Sociopath: “I really love Mary, so I’ve forgiven her.”
You, of course, never cheated on the sociopath — the entire story is complete fabrication. But look at what happens because of what the sociopath said:
  • Jane thinks you cheated on your partner, which lowers her opinion of you.
  • Jane believes you are keeping secrets from her, so you aren’t much of a friend.
  • The sociopath pretends to be wronged, which elicits sympathy from Jane.
  • The sociopath enlists Jane as a potential informer.
  • For taking you back after you supposedly cheated, the sociopath claims the moral high ground.
All of these dynamics may be very useful to the sociopath down the road, when you split up and find that your family and friends are supporting him rather than you.
The top lie
I’ve heard from many, many people that sociopaths have accused them of being crazy, psycho, unbalanced, needing therapy or needing medication. So I think the most prevalent lies sociopaths tell about you are statements undermining your mental stability.
What’s really dangerous about these statements is the manner in which they are said. Instead of ranting about you, often sociopaths seem to be expressing concern.
A sociopath will quietly say to your friends and family, “You know, I’m really worried about Mary. She really seems to be losing it. But she just won’t go see a therapist.”
They come across as so believable.
You, of course, may be legitimately suffering from anxiety or depression because of emotional and psychological abuse by the sociopath. And due to the sociopath’s gaslighting, you may even be questioning your own sanity.
Still, by questioning your mental ability to your family and friends, the sociopath weakens your standing and makes them less likely to support your decisions. The sociopath, in the meantime, is seen as a concerned partner, someone who is looking out for your well-being, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Picking your battles
Sometimes the sociopath’s smear campaign has been going on for so long, and has been so well-orchestrated, that you may find your entire family, social group or community aligned against you. I’ve heard from many people who realize that everyone in their church believes the sociopath’s lies and not them.
This is terribly distressing. Your reputation is shredded, and you did nothing wrong. So how do you fight this? What do you do?
Unfortunately, sociopaths are such accomplished liars that some people will believe their stories no matter how much you protest. So here’s what I suggest:
Figure out which people are really important to you and need to know the truth. Do your best to tell them your side of the story. Show them proof if you have it.
For everyone else, you develop a stock response, perhaps a shrug and, “He likes to tell stories.”
You may find that you will need to walk away from some people, remove them from your life. So be it.
When to fight
There is one situation in which you must do your best to fight the lies: When you have a court case involving a sociopath.
Sociopaths have absolutely no qualms about lying in court testimony or court documents. When the sociopaths lie about you in court, you MUST object.
Court proceedings are all about establishing a “record.” Because everything said during a court proceeding is supposed to be the truth, sociopaths are assumed to be telling the truth, no matter what they say. So when their statements are lies, you must counter them.
If you fail to dispute the sociopaths’ lies, they become part of the court record. This can turn into a real problem later on.
Another time to fight is when you are accused of a crime that you did not do. You may be advised to plead guilty, especially if you can’t afford a lawyer. This is generally a bad idea. A guilty plea means a criminal record, and a criminal record will cause you big problems later in life.
3 questions to help you respond
Here’s the bottom line: Sociopaths lie about everything, so they are likely to lie about you. No one wants to be characterized falsely. But realize that you can choose how, or even if, you will respond to the lies.
Here are three questions to help you decide what to do:
  1. Does this particular lie damage my life?
  2. Does this person need to know the truth?
  3. Will responding to the lie keep me engaged with the sociopath?
In situations where you can move on without combating the lie, that might be the best approach. Reserve your energy for taking action on the matters that are vital to your life.

Malicious Narcissists Convincing Others You Are At Fault Or Crazy

Malicious Narcissists Convincing Others You Are At Fault Or Crazy

Narcissists have a sinister side, especially if they want something that you have and you refuse to comply. This becomes very ugly during the severing of a marital relationship. Many non-narcissistic spouses who have been treated abominably still want to believe that when it comes to ending the marriage, the narcissist will be civil and fair just for the purpose of watching you exit quickly. The plays are opposite–Bring on the army of shark-toothed lawyers and go for the jugular. To protect yourself, study and research in-depth the true nature of the narcissistic personality including examples from real life. Get to know this personality profile intimately. It will be a strong reminder when you start to bend or buckle to the narcissist’s tricks, tactics, strong arming techniques and charm offensive.
Another dark ploy is that narcissists contact your relatives, in-laws, friends and anyone who will listen to broadcast blatant lies about your character. This doesn’t happen in all instances but it is remarkable the lengths these malicious individuals exceed to trash you, put you at fault and lead others to believe that you are “crazy”; you need immediate psychiatric help; you have always been unstable, etc. Even people whom you have trusted —family members—can be flipped to the narcissist’s side, especially if he/she has influence over them and deep pockets.
To successfully deal with these complex and stressful situations as you move toward divorce, be sure you hire an attorney who is not only an expert in family law but who is exceedingly savvy about the ruses, tricks and ploys of the narcissistic personality disorder. Your attorney needs to be highly professional but fearless in facing this relentless cruel and destructive individual. An excellent attorney in these situations must be like ultra-marathon runners. Regardless of any obstacle placed in front of them by the narcissist, they are undaunted. Their perseverance is golden.
A narcissist (male or female) will wage a custody battle for the sole purpose of trying to psychologically and financially decimate the former spouse. For the narcissist, revenge is sweet. It’s where they live in their delusional treacherous minds.
Surround yourself with individuals whom you can trust completely and who believe and understand the horrible ordeal you are going through. Be good to yourself. Know that you hold the truth. You are very wise. If some others around you don’t believe your life story, don’t associate with them. Don’t talk about your personal life. Be protective of your privacy. Another dirty offensive is to make you look “crazy” . This is so cruel and sadistic. Know that you are the sane one who is holding the truth. You are entitled to be treated with respect. You deserve it. Pay close attention to your intuition. It will always reveal the truth to you and help you to maintain a sense of steadiness and calm

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Leaving a High Conflict Person

Sanctuary for the Abused

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Leaving a High Conflict Person

by Randi Kreger

It's been tough. After many months or years, you see no alternative but to separate from your high conflict partner (HCP). The process of leaving an HCP is tougher than you may be used to. These guidelines, developed over the years by people who have separated, will help.

Make sure you're ready to leave. Some people leave impulsively. Later, they miss the person or feel guilty. If you've tried a variety of techniques designed for high conflict partners and they haven't worked, or you and your children are suffering, it's time to let go.

No take backs. Once they see you are really going to leave, HCPs usually back off from their abusive tactics. You may receive gifts, flowers, and all kinds of promises to change. Not buying in is tough, because everything in you will desperately want to believe them.

But restructuring a personality takes years. While people with borderline personality can get better, narcissists seldom do. Insist on therapy. You have issues you need to face too, and your own recovery to undertake.

To stay in reality, keep a notebook of all the reasons why you want to leave. List all the ways you've tried to change things, along with their results. Make a list of all the hurtful things your partner did and read it when you feel weak.

Avoid contact. Whether you reach out to your ex or vice versa, the results will be confusing and painful. If you contact them, you might find they've moved on. Don't invite contact or respond to it, no matter how curious you are or how validating you may think it might be.

Now is not the time to tell your ex you think they have a personality disorder. Don't write letters to their therapist or family. Don't tell your ex what to do or continue to try to fix them. It's over. Move on. If you feel guilty about leaving your partner, remember, your partner functioned without you before you met them--as did you.

Take care of yourself. You've been through an extremely stressful experience and you need time to heal. You're probably dropped the habit of caring for yourself, or have developed serious problems with depression--even traits of post traumatic stress disorder. Seek professional help if you haven't already.

Go for a walk. Go to a coffee shop and be open to conversation. If you have hobbies (especially creative and expressive ones) use this new-found time to pursue your interests. Look upon this as a great new beginning. Go back to school. Set some new goals. If you've learned unhealthy coping techniques, like drinking, seek help.

Isolation may be one of your biggest problems. Even if you don't feel like it, make new friends, reconnect with old ones, and reach out to supportive family members. Ask them for what you need. They may say you should have left long ago; on the other hand, they might tell you you're doing the wrong thing. Stay true to yourself. Be specific about what you need and don't need from them.

Continue therapy. Self-awareness is actually one of the "gifts" received from having been in an abusive situation. With enough work, you may actually come out of the experience as a stronger person.

Take time to process this journey. Even if the relationship was bad and you're happy about getting out, you may go through the stages of grief characterized by Dr. Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages don't happen overnight, and you will go back and forth between them. Give yourself time.

Whether you were together for a long time or a short, intense time, you had hopes and dreams. You thought this person was a soul mate and you're convinced you'll never find someone you'll love as much and who will love you. This isn't true. A new relationship may not be intense, but it will be more intimate.You need time to grieve both the loss of what was and what you hoped would be.

If you were married, anticipate a difficult, high conflict divorce. You need the booklet Splitting: Protecting Yourself When Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist by attorney Bill Eddy. (He also has a CD.) There simply is no better source.

Prepare for a distortion campaign.
An abandoned partner may try retaliating and starting a "smear" campaign or distortion campaign. This consists of making false allegations or exaggerating the negative in things that may have happened years ago. If your partner degraded previous partners, assume the worst.

While you can't prevent this, you can do damage control. Quickly anticipate what your ex might say--think of old arguments and false accusations. Next, have short, informal chats with people who may be on the receiving end. Briefly mention they may hear things and ask them to talk to you to see if they're true.

If you are getting divorced and your spouse is making false accusations and gathering negative allies, you need to respond at once. See Splitting for a step-by-step process on what you must do to protect yourself and your children.

When you start dating again, be aware of red flags.of potentially abusive people. You know this person acted abusively. So why does it hurt so much now that they're gone? Why do you feel almost addicted to the other person, even missing all the drama and intensity of the relationship?

The reasons for this are complex. You brought certain issues into the relationship; so did they. The combination of trauma with intermittent good time creates a strong bond--an unhealthy one. You may be mistaking intensity for intimacy.

People who have patterns dating high conflict people may be trying to resolve issues stemming from important childhood relationships. Explore this with a therapist before getting into another relationship. This is critical.

People can be great at hiding their illness in the beginning of a relationship, but in retrospect, you will see that some early signs were there. Don't rush into any new relationships before you have fully processed the previous bad one.

In the end, you will be amazed that you even allowed yourself to stay in such a relationship, and even more amazed to find that you now have the inner strength and awareness to avoid repeating it in the future.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Divorcing A Sociopath: Avoiding Conflict and Other Mistakes

These posts are from 2 other women that have gained more courage than me.  I am personally in the keeping the peace mode because of recent transitions and current court case.  It seems that every time, I stand up for myself, my actions occupy the courts time and the real issues are still not heard.

Remember, I have been in my situation for 3 years and still have not been awarded proper child support because 42 hours of the judges time has been discussing the following facebook post I made after he refused to pay child support:

"A deadbeat parent is a person that willfully refuses to provide support even when they have the means to do so"
Please note my daughter is blocked from my facebook page because, I have made a post like this from time to time. (considering my circumstances, it has been minimal)

I never mentioned my ex, my situation, I just simply posted the definition. Each time I go to court the clock is ran discussing a post I made two years ago. 
After, I advised my daughter to "Keep the peace" while visiting her father.  I felt, I did the wrong thing and discussed it with her. She informed me she prefers to keep the peace at this time. 
The posts below, remind me of a recent incident where I gave in.  My only successful hearing so far has been my petition to relocate and the only reason it was a success was because my daughter was allowed to testify.  Unfortunately, my ex presented such a scathing report of me, I would be  afraid of my instability and abusiveness if I had believed it.  Of course the "Deadbeat Dad" post was brought up again, making court feel like I was stuck in the movie "Groundhog Day" and I was never going to escape that post.  It is funny how the judge assumes both parties are being unreasonable and lying and never considered the fact he was withholding child support. 
Back to the point.  In my agreement to move 350 miles away, I am to provide 100% of transportation once a month and he is to meet me halfway the other visit.  He lives in my hometown and most of family lives there so, it makes sense for me travel the full distance most of the time.  Our first scheduled visit,  I brought my daughter down.  The second scheduled visit, he was to meet halfway, but he postponed the visitation (arrangements he made directly with my daughter). The third scheduled visit he was supposed to meet halfway, since it was a postponement of the second.  Being the nice person I am, I made the mistake of offering to bring her down and provide 100% of the transportation if I could pick her up on noon on Sunday.  The drive is 6 1/2 hours and I wanted to get my daughter home at reasonable hour.  Our meeting time was 3pm at  the midway location about 3 1/2 hours from his home.
Needless to say this ended up being, one week of accusations, attorney consults, threats, etc. and I finally said fine, I will bring her down and pick her up whenever.  For me, I gave in because he wanted me to fight.  He wanted to cause me stress and feel he still had control.  My choosing not to fight, allowed me to win and saved my daughter from a car ride with him complaining about me the whole time. 
The one thing that does concern me, as the post below mentions "by not standing up, we are showing our children we can not protect them" I pray my actions have not given my daughter that message. 

Yes, she is forced to visit him and until she tells me she does not want to, I will not make that fight.

Yes, we had an incident where calling the police failed us. (details at:

Yes, family court has not proven to provide justice or protection.

But, my daughter has seen me, leave the situation, fight the battle and survive this ordeal.  My daughter has seen me stand up for her and do my best to protect her.  Most importantly, she is open and honest with me and we have worked together to cope with her visits and develop what works for us today.
I do admire these women in the posts below and I hope, I find the courage to stand up a little more each time I deal with him.  I hope my boundaries become strong and defined.

Divorcing A Sociopath: Avoiding Conflict and Other Mistakes

by Quinn Pierce
For a long time, I tried to keep confrontations with my ex-husband to a minimum.  I always thought that I could avoid causing my boys any further harm by just ‘keeping the peace’.  I considered it a small price to pay if I had to tolerate inconveniences and insults in order to give my children a drama-less environment.

But, as is always the case when negotiating with a sociopath, the price was much higher than I ever imagined.

Good Intentions
I believed I was setting an example by taking the high road and not engaging my ex-husband in his game-playing antics.  Unfortunately, what I was doing was letting a bully set the rules and move the boundaries at will.

And while I thought I was helping my boys to feel safe and secure, I was acting in a way that made them think I could not protect them from their father.  If I couldn’t stand up to him when he tried to exert control and disrupt our lives with small, insignificant acts, how could I stand up to him if he did something really hurtful or scary?

I guess I didn’t realize that a sociopath will act the exact same way whether someone is nice or not.  It’s definitely true of my ex-husband.  The more accommodating and agreeable I am, the more he tries to take advantage of me and push past the boundaries I have set.  It seems as though his ultimate goal is always to have me engage in some type of drama, and so, he pushes until there is conflict, takes advantage of my conflict avoidance, or enjoys every second of his drama-filled arguments.

Unlikely Gifts
For me, it was something I had to figure out through experience, since it didn’t really register when anyone else shared this type of advice.  Which means it took a totally unexpected, and somewhat bizarre event, to show me just how misguided my judgment was when dealing with this man whose only consistent characteristic is spitefulness.

And that event occurred after I finally decided to reinstate a long forgotten rule of not allowing unexpected visits from my ex at my home.  Not long after my minor reprimand and reminder to him not to show up unannounced, I received two hate-filled emails from his new wife outlining every aspect of my life that she felt needed criticizing and judging.  Apparently, my life is just chock-full of reprehensible, despicable, and immoral behavior.  Actually, I was a bit jealous of the ‘me’ she described with such animosity; in reality, my life is not nearly as interesting or well planned.

Unexpected Response
It may not seem all that unusual for a new wife to despise an ex-wife, but I was very surprised by the email attack by this woman.  For one thing, I had probably spoken to her for a total of five minutes in the previous two years.  Secondly, I never gave as much thought to her as she obviously did to me, and I found it unsettling that she had such strong opinions of someone she hardly knew.  Lastly, I actually encouraged my boys to have a relationship with this woman.  Ok, maybe I couldn’t say the words “step mom” without feeling ill, but I figured the boys would need all the support they could get when visiting their father, so I was actually relieved when he met someone who had children the same ages as mine.

This may provide some insight as to how I missed the warning signs when I married my ex-husband in the first place, since twenty years later, I still seem to have this naïve streak that gets me into these predicaments.

Waiting For The Opportunity 
At any rate, I needed to talk to my boys about this strange turn of events. I knew they would be hearing some less-than-pleasant things said about me next time they visited their dad, and I wanted to let them know that, although I was disappointed by the disrespectful and cruel email attacks, I really didn’t care what she thought about me and they should just ignore anything they heard.

What this incident did, however, was far more significant than learning how much anger and hate a virtual stranger held toward me. It gave my boys an opportunity to unleash all the emotions they had held in for two years.

Following My Lead
Once those floodgates were opened, there was no turning back for my boys.  All of a sudden, I was hearing details of their visits that I never heard before.  And, my boys were starting to speak up for themselves when staying over at their father’s house.  What’s more, they became very protective of me and were no longer pretending everything was fine at my ex-husband’s home.

I was stunned by the transformation of my children.  I realized that they were just waiting for the opportunity to talk about what it was like visiting their father’s house.  I had actually prevented them from expressing their concerns, opinions, fears, etc, because what I had considered to be ‘keeping the peace’ had actually created an atmosphere that did not encourage the boys to speak their minds or share any negative experiences.

In Hindsight
In essence, by trying to prevent conflict and confrontation, I had caused more stress for my children.  I let a sociopath make and change the rules,-giving him his coveted control, while I appeared unable to protect the boys from his harmful behaviors.

I couldn’t believe the outcome of my actions were actually the complete opposite of what I had intended.  I guess I had continued a pattern of compliance from my marriage that I didn’t even realize was still happening.  It nearly broke my heart to learn this.

Better Late Than Never
It’s strange to think I am grateful for being verbally attacked by my ex-husband’s new wife, but I would say that I am.  She provided the catalyst to the events that would subsequently give my boys the opportunity to find their voices.

And I learned how important it is to maintain boundaries and not let the bully exert control.  I had become so used to avoiding arguments and conflicts that I didn’t recognize those situations that required me to stand up to my ex-husband.  He recognized that trait in me, and he took advantage of what he saw as an easy opportunity.

So, I am grateful.  I don’t know how long it might have taken me otherwise to figure out that my non-confrontational approach to my ex-husband was causing anxiety and stress for my children.
Who knows, maybe someday I’ll email her back and thank her for telling me what a horrible, controlling, vindictive person I am…then again, it was really a pain to have to change my email address after her unsolicited opinions of my character flaws began flooding my inbox, so maybe I’ll just call it even.

26 Comments on "Divorcing A Sociopath: Avoiding Conflict and Other Mistakes"

firebird says: 
Hi Quinn,
My story mirrors yours in a number of ways! It took me five years and a long protracted legal process to divorce my ex. Even though he had told me that he hated being married to me and hated the house and dealing with the kids, (and he hated our two cats! Seriously?), and he was madly in love with one of his young employees apparently, he would not leave the marriage and move out.

(To give you a visual that works: I once had to have a molar extracted. It was planted so deeply into my gum that the oral surgeon had to take a hammer, shatter it, pull out the pieces, and she did need to wedge her foot under the chair so she wouldn’t lose her balance as she yanked the pieces of tooth out. Getting rid of my s’path husband was kind of like that…)

I tried to keep my children from the center of the storm and did not set them against their father, in spite of my own explosive feelings. I followed the strong suggestions of my therapist, our marriage counselor, and my divorce attorney, family and friends who warned me to keep my children away from the conflict – to not say angry things about their father in front of them. They warned that if I did this, I would hurt my children. So I didn’t, even though he constantly denigrated me when the kids were with him and Brunhilda. We hear this from all kinds of divorce “professionals”, and technically, it seems like the right choice – however, as you illustrate in your post, it can make the normal person who is dealing with a sociopath seem weak and passive.

Our divorce culture acts as if both husband and wife are equally at fault. The behavior of the rational non-sociopath partner who is trying to keep body and soul together gets clumped in with that of the irrational and vengeful sociopath. So many times I heard this comment from clueless advisors: (“Can’t you two just work it out?”) Unless somebody has dealt with a sociopath, they have no idea that to deal with one is walking a tightrope. You don’t want to appear vicious and vengeful,(don’t show them your cards, and/or you get stereotyped as an angry witch) yet, you don’t want to appear weak because they’ll chew you (and your children) up and spit you out if you let down your guard.
When my children would come home from their father’s (and his new wife’s) house, they would be upset and I’d hear stories of their father’s disturbing behavior, and how the new wife was a smiling bully. Trying not to make the situation worse, I learned to listen to my kids. It was incredibly difficult to listen and not comment or bad mouth their father. But looking back, I’m glad that I did learn to listen.(To keep from exploding myself, I shared these stories with my therapist, and with trusted friends out of my kids’ earshot) Listening is a powerful tool, and it did prevent me from further contaminating my children with my own anger and fear. They did find their own voices. As young adults now, they ended all contact with their father and his disturbed wife.

Like you, I too received poisonous emails from his wife, and my ex signed them also. Unlike you, I took a legal action, and the result was a Civil Court trial. (it’s rare for a Defamation case like this to make it to trial, but during the course of 3 years, these curdling emails did catch the attention of different judges as they were passed around to determine if my case had merit. It was decided by the Court that my case did have merit, and, I did get to read the emails to a jury of six people.) I felt I didn’t have a choice, as my ex and his wife had intensified their harassment of me, because I required that he pay child support as required by law.

Sometimes, when the time is right, and the situation calls for a swift action, we can deflect powerful aggression back onto the aggressors. I think that’s called jujitsu. I didn’t “win” my case, but they no longer harass me, or my children, and the peace is blissful. But in order to expose the s’path, we have to choose the right time, get brave, and move prudently but directly way out of our comfort zone.
Lovefraud has done so much to bring information about sociopaths to the surface of our society, but in many ways our culture is still ignorant. My heart goes out to women who are trying to protect their children and themselves as they extricate themselves from toxic marriages to male sociopaths, and who have to listen to the “play nicely” patter of clueless people. Stay centered! Remember to listen to your children: The relationship of trust that you are developing with your children just by your listening now, will have far-reaching healing effects for the future as they become their own people. Listen and then take an action to draw the line. Find a good advisor who understands what you are dealing with. Follow your intuition. You have to learn to become a kind of warrior, but maybe you needed to learn how to become a warrior. I know I did.
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