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Telling our stories of being targeted by sociopaths

Sociopaths have no heart, no conscience and no remorse. They purposely drain the life out of people and then throw them away. Despite their charming and charismatic veneer, they are evil to the core.

In my opinion, the people who truly understand this personality disorder are those who felt the full brunt of sociopathic deceit, and then woke up to the truth.

We, the former targets, remember the promises of love and luxury, and how it all seemed so possible. We remember the confusion—how reality didn’t match the promises, and the excuses that explained away the discrepancies. We remember attempting to express misgivings, only to be told we were crazy.

We, the former targets, also remember the shock, dismay and devastation we felt upon learning that everything we were told was a lie. The devastation didn’t happen just once, it happened many times, as layer upon layer of deceit was uncovered.

How we tell our stories

Our group of people, former targets who learned the truth, is only a small percentage of the population. In a way this is good, because none of us wish this experience upon anyone. But it is also bad, because it means there are millions of unsuspecting individuals who can become targets in the future.

We want to warn the unsuspecting, but that presents a circular problem. Because they can’t comprehend the evil of sociopaths, they don’t realize the danger. And because they don’t realize the danger, they can become targets themselves.

So what do we do? I think it’s important for those of us who are survivors to tell our stories. But how we tell the story is critically important.

We can’t just ask for sympathy, although we certainly deserve it. We need to educate others about sociopaths. We need to know some facts ourselves—like sociopaths are 1% of the population, which means there are 3 million of them in the United States. We need to say, “These predators are out there, this is how they operate, and I know because it happened to me.”

When we tell our stories

It’s a difficult message. Those who haven’t experienced sociopathic deception wonder how we fell for it. They think we’re stupid.

So I think when we talk about sociopaths is also important. If we’re still in the midst of the struggle, we aren’t talking to warn others, we’re talking to seek support for ourselves. We quickly discover that friends and family can only listen for so long—again, because they don’t understand.

It’s probably best to talk about sociopaths after we’ve escaped the relationship, and have had time to recover and reflect. Educating ourselves about the disorder will help us know the truth of what we experienced. This will also help us recover our strength and dignity. Once we do, we can tell our stories with authority.

Maybe, if we all start talking, our stories will eventually reach critical mass. As awareness of this personality disorder increases, the sociopathic predators may find that there are fewer unsuspecting targets.



8 Comments on "Telling our stories of being targeted by sociopaths"

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  1. LAMan says:

    Strange, but I was just beginning a short story about my experience (I’m a writer) with a psychopath. I took a break and with green tea warming me on this December afternoon, called up this website, and here is the latest blog entry!

    I’ve made other comments on this site. Really, it is very helpful to gather here. I agree about education.

    I am proud of myself, because I discovered my psycho’s criminal past after we were done (and without his middle name I would never have known!) and found out all I could. My lawyer called up a legal public file, so I got the record of the dates of his prison stay and court appearances.

    Lesson: Google whoever you want to know better!! And use their full name.

    I found someone who had dated him before me which confirmed what I had experienced wasn’t unique to me. I read “Without Concience” and spoke to a few writer friends and psychologist friends who know about this disorder.

    After 3 months, I have sifted through all the details and oddities of our relationship. It all fits! Down to the artwork on his walls, and the wording of his emails. Down to the amused smile on his face the last time we saw each other when I was in emotional distress. Our whole relationship was an amusement to him. I was victimized and emotionally abused.

    Yet, it was very very subtle. Through my writing, i think I can bring out the subtleties. We had super super sex, it’s true. He focused on all the things I needed to hear. He had skipped 3 grades!

    He didn’t mistreat me in any way until I refused to immediately leave my partner for him.

    I asked the psycho if he had ever been in love. He couldn’t answer! I asked him what kind of relationship he wanted with me. Again, he couldn’t say. I repeated the questions several times. He couldn’t speak! Thank God, my shrink had suggested I ask these questions. Now, in retrospect, it was clear he had never known love and had no need of a relationship for love.

    When I didn’t leave my partner (in just the space of two weeks or less), the psycho withdrew and told me I was the reason. I was too weak to live life fully with him. I was living in a facade of a marriage. I valued money more than love. It was all on me!

    I almost believed it, except, when a person loves you, even if you’re married, they don’t just pull the rug out from under you (after just a few months knowing each other and only one month in love) and expect you to come crawling.

    And yet, you can almost buy it. Lucky thing is, I was going to leave my partner, but the psycho’s continued punishment of me by giving me a 98% cold shoulder while I worked out my marriage problems told me not to. A real lover, upon hearing you were leaving your partner within a short time, if they truly loved you, would wait and offer discreet support.

    My psycho was done with me, and had left me alone to imagine he was waiting for me to change my life for him…yeah, he was but for his amusement, or to get something from me once I was his.

    I still think about him every day. I am much better now, and I know how to focus my mind on other thoughts to stop dwelling on him…and it works! and yet, i’m still obsessed with him to a large degree.

    I am a writer, so I am fascinated by his story. His life. How someone can live as he does.

    But when do I show my story to someone or try to publish it? I am in a long-term relationship, and my partner doesn’t know what happened, so there’s that reveal to deal with. I imagine years from now when age has dimmed my partner and I, we won’t care much. Knowing me, I won’t wait that long. I can always say it’s fiction…yeah right.

    3 of my close friends know…and my shrink. So I have people to talk to (a necessity!)

    It really is a great story, and a warning, and very sad…because the person the psycho pretended to be stays with me and always will until I am too distracted to remember.



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  2. Fighter says:

    What we try to do on our site (http://cyberpaths.blogspot.com) is expose internet predators by posting their methodology – emails, IMs, etc. In this way other people can relate, like here at this fantastic site!!

    One problem is that the as-yet-untargeted will say things to victims making them feel stupid or blaming them for being a victim/target. Of course like high school, no one wants to be laughed at. I hope many of us can get beyond that and tell… tell… tell. There are so many sites on the net to “out” your abuser, sociopath or not. There is power in telling.

    Do not keep someone’s secrets. These sociopaths only flourish because of the fear of telling. Yes, how can these creatures live like that? A normal person may never understand but knowing their methods, their cons… makes it so much harder for them to do it to others and knowledge in this case is both protection & power.

    Tell… tell… tell.



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  3. At one point during the debacle with the conman, I went to a friend who is a lawyer. I asked him if he would protect our conversation by the lawyer/client code and he agreed. I told him my fears, what was happening, etc. He said, “No one has the right to ask you to keep their secrets. By keeping them, you give them power. How can I help?” I didn’t have an answer on how he could help me — I couldn’t figure out how to help myself! I listened and ran away and did not speak to this friend until after the psychopath was arrested.

    My lawyer friend came to my book launch. After he read, The Dandelion Spirit, he phoned and asked me for coffee. He wanted to apologize. “I always worried if there wasn’t something I could have done,” he said. “You asked me to protect you with the lawyer/client code. I couldn’t break it. After reading your book, I wish I had.”

    That would have not made the situation right. My friend would have carried the burden of compromising his ethics, his moral code — I was doing enough of that for everyone!

    I told my friend that I had come to him, not for advice, but rather, for a magic wand. He wasn’t capable of waving magic wands. Magic was not going to end that debacle. Only my finding the courage to turn up for me, to stand up and be counted, and to tell the secrets of what he was doing, and what was happening to me would have ended the story of his abuse sooner.

    Actions that harm, break the law, protect abusers are not secrets. For me, keeping his ‘secrets’ kept what was happening to me secret.

    Their wrong-doings are not secrets. They are acts of abuse.



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  4. khatalyst says:

    I too am a writer (fiction and poetry), and professional communicator (PR). I have never found any story so difficult to tell as what happened to me during five years in a relationship with sociopath.

    During the years I was with him, my friends and business associates were concerned about me. About what he was doing to my finances and business. About the fact that I was crying so much and my identity seemed to be breaking down. Everyone wanted me to get away from him. They all seemed to see better than me that something was terribly wrong.

    But when I finally did, and then began to long process of putting myself and my life back together, I found it almost impossible to explain to people the state of my feelings and my life. And when I tried, I felt like I was simply making a spectacle of myself. I am trained professionally to moderate all my communications to the level of the people I am dealing. There was no way to tell this story, or even to break it down to generalities (‘a terrible relationship,” “the boyfriend from hell,” “a series of unmanageable disasters”) that could mask the fact that I’d gotten into something that was way too hard for me, and I was somehow broken as a result of it.

    It took a long time to find the courage to just tell the truth. Today, I use the words “sociopath” and “psychopath” easily, understanding that many people will find my comments over-dramatic or hyperbolic. I make an effort to educate people that not all psychopaths are homicidal maniacs. And that people who attempt to manipulate other people through relentless pity-mongering, abusive attacks that diminish self-confidence, and tricks to obtain financial or sexual concessios are behaving sociopathically. It’s not important to name them as sociopaths, but it is important to name the behavior, and to understand that this is all about our own boundaries and defending them.

    I’ve written before on this blog that I think sociopaths are tragic people. What they do, they do in the absence of human feeling and connectedness that the luckier of us take for granted. The fact is that they are pitiable. But it doesn’t make them less dangerous. Or dazzling to someone who may be looking for a savior. On initial contact they seem so strong, so together and focussed. It not hard to be focussed when your entire experience of existance is about me, me, me.

    What I find in telling my story of the relationship and the recovery is that the people who really hear it are the ones who are dealing with less precise knowledge of similar experiences. People who are in recovery for codepency. Anyone on the “dependent” side of the personality disorder spectrum. There is a reason we’re like that, and it usually comes down to family training in stuffing our own feelings and becoming a “good girl” service provider in exchange for love and security.

    I agree with another posting about the language we use. And from the beginning of my recovery, I battled to find a “story” that I could tell that made sense of it all and didn’t make me such a victim. As a PR person, I’m used to creating “stories” for clients that ftold the essetial facts in positive terms.

    In the end, I came to realize that the story would never be positive, except for one thing. What I learned. Not about him or the dangers that exist in the world, but about myself. How my vulnerability was all about my belief that I couldn’t run my life alone, that I needed outside validation to believe in myself, that other people’s wellbeing could be more important than my own. The fact that he got into my life at all, and that I was so powerless to get him out of it, was all about those beliefs.

    Life throws all kinds of things at us. It’s not what happens to us, but what we do with it that shapes our character and our life’s meaning. I look at those five years of my life as what it took to learn that I am worth taking care of. I also learned that there are people who are too broken to feel anything but themselves. And I reluctanty have come to the conclusion that those people must be banished from my world. No matter how smart or funny or attractive or helpful they may seem. If I can’t find any potential for intimacy with a person, they are booted from my life.

    As a result, I have better clients, better freinds, and when I’m ready for another love affair, I know it will be different and better than any relationship I’ve had before. Because my criteria are very different now. I expect to get what I need. If I don’t, I work on getting it. If it’s impossible, I abandon the situation as not worth what it costs.

    So the story is not about being a victim. It is about the greatest challenge to survive as an individual I’ve ever faced. It is about what it taught me about being self-sufficient. And oddly enough, it is about learning how to love in a new way, a way that is not based on pity or need or any kind of trade-off for validation or security. How does a strong person love? Easily and without fear, because love isn’t attached to fear or need anymore.

    That’s the story I hope to tell. But in the meantime, I agree with everyone else here. It is valuable to tell people about sociopathic behavior, as well as the ways we become collaborators with it. Not just in romance, but in our careers, our families, our community life.

    We can’t stop sociopaths. But we can serve as trainers to the world, and especially those who are vulnerable. Not being a victim is not about dealing with sociopaths, I think, but in having well-developed wills, trust in ourselves, and habits of self-care.



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  5. LAMan says:

    Great entry, khatalyst! So much to think about there! Glad someone has pointed out that these people are tragic.

    I go through periods of feeling strong and over it…and days where I think about the psychopath a lot and discover more and more how every detail in our relationship pointed to his disorder.

    What happened to me was so subtle before it was obvious. There is an enormous disconnect between the sweet charmer he presented to me and the reality of what he was.

    Part of what makes coming out of this so difficult is that, as you say, we end up examining our own personalities and we discover that there is work to be done. So much easier to just dismiss that realization and try to recapture the easy world the psycho offered of validation and “affection.”

    I am in a long-term relationship that has its own problems (although not of a psycho nature, thank god), and I have to remember there are issues I must deal with in my relationship and with myself that drove me to the psycho.

    No one wants to have to deal with issues if they can easily be ignored, I think.

    You really gave me a lot to think about…

    We all hunt for validation — this is only human. The issue is: to what degree. I am gay and also in showbiz — so I naturally seek validation. I guess the fact I am aware of this is good. I suppose the psycho escapade pointed out to me that I wasn’t aware to what degree I am craving this validation at this time in my life.

    Another note: I am still wrestling with the concept of 1% of the population being this way, telling me that if I had one encounter that I can easily have another–that this was not an isolated incident (which I think I try to maintain in my mind to recover more quickly). The fact that there are more of these people around me out there is something I haven’t processed much yet.

    I’ll sign off with this hilarious irony. My psycho fishes the internet sites (that’s how I found him). In his profile under “interests” he lists “healthy living”! He doesn’t smoke, drink, etc. and is a vegetarian.

    Healthy Living! That’s a good one!



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  6. will be okay says:

    It is hard to tell the story. In my case my sociopathic ex, lied to the police about me, just to shut me up and make me go away quickly, so his new girlfriend wouldn’t find out about me. Then he lied to our supervisors, I ended up getting fired, then he lied 5 times in an addendum to get a restraining order against me. JUST BECAUSE HE COULD, AND JUST BECAUSE HE WANTED TO. Now all my friends and family are completely baffled by this. They would ask, Why would he do that? When I answered, because he’s a psychopath, they’d just look at me with confusion. They just don’t get it. Unless you’ve lived through it, you don’t get it. Now all my loved ones are saying “You just need to stop thinking about it/him”, or “you need to get on with your life”, then theres my favorite “you need to get over it”. Which ofcourse I know is true, and I am. But it sure is hard not to think about how badly he hurt me, and messed my life up. Another thing I have found… Since this is so hard for people to understand, they really don’t want to hear about it.



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  7. fightback says:

    Amazing to read through these stories and see myself. I’m intelligent, educated and work in cyber crime. I’m a cynic by nature. Yet, I found myself sucked into the trap of an online sociopath. He was smooth – VERY smooth. He had the gift of the written word and charmed all around me who met him. He seemed like a real “catch”. He appeared sensitive, caring, intelligent. He was an “executive and business consultant”, who was financially secure and was looking for a woman he could spend the rest of his life with.

    I fell for it – hook, line and sinker. Me, a cynic, cybersleuth… I even googled him and everything I found matched what he said.

    He came on hard and fast, wanting to move the relationship to the next level. I moved in with him in very short order (completely out of character for me). The minute I was in his home (my home listed for sale), the world changed.

    Night and day. Jekyl and Hyde. My needs, wants, desires were no longer a consideration. His needs were the most important thing in the universe. I became his slave, his prostitute, his source of support (emotionally, financially and literally).

    After moving in, I learned that he was not the “successful” man that he painted himself to be. Though he called himself a “consultant”, he hadn’t had a paying client in over 3 years. Though he claimed to be financially independent, not needing to work for income, the reality was (is) that he is living on a line of credit against his home.

    I realized he was expecting me to support him. It was NEVER discussed, but now he sent me an email asking me how I’m going to “honor” my “promise” to support him. He took advantage of me financially, emotionally and sexually.

    I’m not the first and I won’t be the last. How can I use what happened to me to help others – to warn them? It is my mission at this moment.

    I am forever changed. I feel so ashamed! I haven’t even told my closest friends. I work with law enforcement and provide forensics evidence to help prosecute criminals. I can’t believe that I fell for this.

    I’m searching my memories for “warning signs” that I missed or should have paid attention to. The reality is that I was deceived. My downfall was that I wanted to believe the picture he painted.

    We talked for hours before we met. He knew about my hopes and dreams. He used this information to lure me into the web. I dream about traveling and he has been all over the world. He repeatedly told me “I’ll take you there, Darling”. I believed him.

    The reality is that he is a beyond middle aged, overweight, unemployed (for over 15 years!), living on a Home Equity Line of Credit, predator.

    I’m still evaluating whether a crime has been committed in my case. He still has my personal belongings – some sentimental and some valuable. But he knows how to float just under the line. What he is doing is morally and ethically abominable, but perfectly legal.

    It is going to take me years to get over this. I am going to devote myself to educating other women about these guys. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

    I’m grateful that these sites exist. Women are powerful when they unite! Let’s expose these predators for what they really are and maybe we can make a difference for someone else.



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  8. will be okay says:

    Post him on: playersandpsychos, womansavers, datingpsychos, and cheaterdb. I also posted mine on bashmyex (but that one’s pretty sleezy). The web crawlers will pick up his name. Then when a woman ‘googles’ him, there will be his name under the heading “playersandpsychos” or “datingpsychos”. Women will have been warned. If they question him about it, he may convince them “you are just psycho, posting him out of spite”, they may believe him and date him anyway. BUT atleast the warning will be in the back of their minds, making it harder to ignore any red flags, or gut feelings!! In my case, it never once occured to me to ‘double check’ any of his claims, or stories… If I had been warned, I would have.



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