Many people write to Lovefraud seeking advice for the situations they find themselves in due to a sociopath. I do my best to help, but sometimes the sociopath has created so much trauma that I feel like my suggestions are inadequate.
Reproduced below is an e-mail exchange between a woman who faces a nearly impossible situation—we’ll call her Theresa—and myself. If you have any suggestions that may help her, please post them in a comment.
Theresa’s first letter
When I met my husband he was divorced (three times) and had joint custody of his biological son and stepdaughter. At the time it appeared as though he was this loving and caring dad, and he was so convincing that I was the one person that made his custody case a slam dunk for him and he won custody of his biological son and stepdaughter. Now looking back, I see that was all a ploy, he was just doing that because I had a passion for the children’s well being. I’m afraid the things he was telling me about his ex-wife back then were all lies and I feel terrible.
I also helped my husband build his company so he could work for himself, and the whole time I helped he would never listen to what I was telling him about his spending habits, then the affairs, the abuse etc. At one point he told me that if we ever got divorced that it would be his word against mine and he would win, and that he could pass any psych tests they threw at him or any guardian ad litem, etc., etc. He said that he was able to pass the psych test to get in the Army he could pass anything. Every time we went to a counselor, he would always find a way to make them believe him and he would spin everything around to make me look terrible, when it was just the opposite.
Eventually his business failed and our bills were not being paid, but he would still pay his employees. I had to get a job, and after 20 days on the job, I had to go out of town on a business trip. He was watching all of our kids, and I received a phone call from my oldest daughter letting me know he was moving and I was out of town and could do nothing about it. I came home and he was gone and so were my two step kids, the bank account was overdrawn and he left me in over 16K worth of bills, I almost lost my house, my car and my job. My mom emptied her 401K so I could get the house out of foreclosure.
We have a daughter together and she lives with me, but he does see her every other weekend, and the only reason he does is to torment me, he does not want her or care about her, he is just using her. He had no contact with her when she was a baby and now all of a sudden he is trying to portray he is this wonderful father, when he is not. He served me with divorce papers a few months later after he moved out, and I made a parenting plan and presented it to his attorney and my husband told me that he will not agree to anything I put together, and that either I sign what he gave me or he will just keep fighting till he wins.
I have no money, my utilities keep getting turned off, so I can’t afford an attorney and he has one, I have no way to prove all the terrible things he has done. And when I did talk to the attorneys they said he may be a bad father, but he hasn’t broken any laws. So I really don’t have a leg to stand on. But my stepson is just like his father, dangerous, and there is little supervision but I can’t prove anything. Especially with no money, what can I do to protect my little girl from this monster?
My husband is living with his mom and he just bought a new truck, and is planning on moving in with his new girlfriend, and we are not even divorced. He left me is such financial despair I don’t know how to get my head above water, and fight for my daughter.
It’s really weird when the abuse happened, I would take pictures and hide my camera but he always found it and erased the pictures. And when I would defend myself he would run around the house in front of the kids and scream “no violence, no violence” so I looked like the abuser and not him. How do you fight against this type of person?
I am so sorry for your situation. Unfortunately, the behavior you describe in your husband is typical of a sociopath.
First of all, you should do everything you can to get an attorney. It is almost impossible to represent yourself against a sociopath in court and have anything come out favorable to you. Some states require a spouse with assets to pay for the legal representation of the spouse without assets. You may also qualify for aid through government resources or a women’s shelter. Contact a domestic violence shelter—they see this type of behavior all the time and may be able to direct you to legal representation.
Make sure the lawyer understands what he or she is dealing with—the sociopath will lie in court and will not follow established rules. The attorney must be very aggressive. Your husband will probably also submit false evidence. Do not allow anything that is not true become part of the court record. Some attorneys will say, “don’t worry about that.” This is terrible advice when dealing with a sociopath.
It is critical to document everything that happens. I recommend you get the book Win Your Child Custody War. It is somewhat expensive—$75—but it is worth the investment. At least it will tell you what to expect.
While all this is going on, you should maintain a policy of “No Contact” as much as possible. Every time you have contact with the man, it will be an opportunity for him to manipulate you. If you do have to see him, bring a witness.
If you are awarded child support, you can be sure that he will resist paying it. The best thing that could happen to you is that the guy is out of your life, and your daughter’s life, forever. If you can swing it, you may want to offer a deal that he gives up his parental rights in exchange for not having to pay child support. He’ll never pay anyway so you won’t lose anything.
May I reproduce your letter for a future blog article? I receive many letters like it (at least you are not alone).
Well, I have tried all the legal aid routes but since I have no proof of abuse, they said they can not help me. He currently pays child support although there is no order yet; his child support worksheet is a lie, but because I do not have the money to prove it, there is nothing I can do about it. But he pays it, because he is trying to look good in the eyes of the judge, who we have not seen yet. He told me that I could never get rid of him and he will always be part of our daughter’s life and that’s why I can’t get rid of him.
When we were living under the same roof, he used to sleep with a knife under his pillow, and then whisper in my ear “you never know when I will have a flashback.” Or all the times he took pictures of his private areas and sent them to other women; made lies about hundreds of dollars he withdrew from the bank; leaving pornographic material in the bathroom for my 12 year old to see; how he took 150 mg of his son’s medication and walked around like a zombie, but then lied about it and made me look crazy in front of his counselor. But I have no proof so it does not matter in the eyes of the court. It stinks that he can get away with being a bad parent as long as he is not breaking the law. He’s really good at portraying himself to others as the victim. I have had his friends call me and tell me that it is good that I divorced him, and I have to tell them that I didn’t, he left me. Everyone in town thinks he is the poor victim, once again.
Sure, you can use my story, I doubt it will help anyone; it certainly isn’t helping me at all. The law is not on my side, and I feel so helpless, and he gets to get away with it all and there is nothing I can do, because of the financial ruin he left me in.
He is taking our daughter for a week visitation and I can’t stop him, even though I know she will not be cared for the way she should. It all boils down to money, even when it comes to the safety of our kids.
His son is just like him, and dangerous for sure. For example, his son started a fire in the bathroom, because he did not want to wait for me to get him a Kleenex box he needed for a school project. I told him I would get one for him after he finished his homework, but instead he went into the bathroom and burned the Kleenex in the Kleenex box and when it got out of control for him he doused it all in water; he was seven years old at the time. He also went into my bathroom and stole my wedding ring, to this day I don’t know what happened to it; he told so many lies about what he did with it. At one point he told me it was in the school park, so I got a metal detector and scanned the entire playground and it never was found. Then he said it was behind the books in the school library, and it went on and on. He also will urinate in other places of the house besides the toilet when he does not get his way, or use his bowel movements as paint in the bathroom; scare his little sister with a robot and make her scream at the top of her lungs; shows her how to take a stick and poke fire ant hills; or dig a hole in the back yard and poop. And yet, I can’t do anything about it because I’m broke and he looks like an angel.