Editor’s note: How can one woman cope with cheating, abandonment, cruelty and worse? A Lovefraud reader has sent the following letter, and would appreciate your insight and advice.
I was the perfect victim for the man who has fathered two of my children, having just gotten out of a relationship with a previous sociopath (power and control was that guy’s motivation and he was cruel, vicious person behind closed doors). I was insecure, looking for a person with integrity and morals, and I still believed in the general goodness of mankind. The first sociopath hadn’t smashed my general outlook on life, though, and I was rising to the challenges I faced.
The second one has, though. He was the ultimate “Nice Guy” and relished his title. He proclaimed himself to be a “giver” and a “people-pleaser” and he certainly seemed that way. The way he told his story was that he had been victimized, as I had by my ex-hubby, by his ex-wife who was controlling and financially out-of-control. In fact, his life-story seemed to be eerily similar to mine and we seemed to have a lot in common. While I liked him as a friend, I wasn’t impressed by the fact that he had no actual skills, had been working as a food server since entering the workplace (he was in his mid-thirties when we met), didn’t know how to drive a standard vehicle and didn’t even have a driver’s licence, owned nothing of any value except what most college-age boys owned, had no savings, had horrible credit (his ex’s fault, of course) and seemed to have relatively little ambition to improving his lot in life. He never paid his bills on time and he had numerous debts that he ignored. I wasn’t interested in him as a potential partner.
Kind and warm
However, my family and friends loved him because of his nature. He was so kind and so warm to everybody that it had me wondering if maybe I was overlooking something more important than physical attraction and the usual prerequisites of success in a potential mate. He certainly wanted more from me than mere friendship. He worshipped the ground I walked on.
He pursued me for two whole years. It was a relentless pursuit with him shedding many tears at my refusal to become more than a friend. He was immensely kind to my very young son from my first relationship. Eventually I gave in and we were married within six months.
Children and change
We had two children within the two and a half year period we were married (he proclaimed he wanted children, as did I, and since I am no longer young, we needed them sooner as opposed later). Unfortunately, it was after the birth of our first child, a beautiful redheaded girl, that things changed. He was extremely displeased she was a redhead. He suddenly stopped being affectionate to me (previously, he practically smothered me to such a point that it was an annoyance). He made enough derogatory comments about the birthing process that I understood he was completely grossed out by it and me, too, by default. He didn’t want to be intimate more than once every couple of months so it was an absolute miracle our second child was conceived about nine months after the first was born. On the rare occasion we were intimate, it was over in less than thirty seconds. I felt like he had masturbated using my body, even before things with him ended. It was when I was six months pregnant that he began an affair with a co-worker who was married herself with three children of her own.
I didn’t know about the affair right away. All I know is that things got weird. He became hostile towards me and his stepson. He complained so much about all his “pressures” (passive-aggresively pointing to myself and particularly his stepson) that I recall at one point telling him it seemed like he hated his entire family. He suddenly wanted to sell our home (his name was not on the deed because of his abysmal credit rating so he didn’t qualify) and move closer to his workplace. I was three weeks away from giving birth when we moved. Yes, I was moving furniture and everything as well and even then he complained and grumbled the whole time. It was Christmas-time, too. He started making unsettling sexual comments about his then 18-month-old daughter.
With the sale of the house and the assets left over, he wanted to pay off all his sizable debts from before our marriage (student loans, personal debts to get out of his first marriage) rather than paying off debts we had accumulated jointly with home renovations of our first home (which were on my Line of Credit since he didn’t qualify for any). Fortunately, the bank forced my Line of Credit to be paid first before his as condition of getting a mortgage on the second house. Along the way, my good credit helped establish him enough that he was included on the deed for our second house. Not only that, because of the experience I shared with him in turning our basement into a self-contained suite (I taught him because I had been raised with a mother and father contractor), he was able to get a new job paying three times more as a Maintenance Supervisor at his job, instead of being a food server as before.
Name him Andrew
Three weeks after moving into the new home, our baby was born, a boy. We had long since settled on a name for him but a week before his birth, he wanted to change his name to Andrew. I didn’t know why and ultimately didn’t agree. Three weeks later I found out he was having an affair (and had been for the last six months), he moved out and never came back.
That was bad enough, realizing my life had changed dramatically. I was a single, unemployed mother of three children now. The father didn’t want to be bothered with them and had hardly any contact with them. He moved in with his mistress (apparently, her husband found out about two months before I did and as soon as I found out, she moved into an apartment by herself) within two weeks of our separation. I contacted her ex to find out what he knew and together we pieced together the ugly details, and we both concluded we’d chosen very poorly indeed. One of the things I found out about was that his mistress’s child’s name was Andrew. Imagine: he wanted to memorialize his affair by naming his newborn son after his mistress’s child. How sickening.
So my situation was this: I was on maternity leave from a job I couldn’t return to. (Maternity leave pays only 55% of my previous income of $24,000). His $40,000 income left with him. He refused to pay or share the mortgage on the house. He also refused to pay for any of our sizable family debt (his vehicle broke down four weeks before he left, requiring $5000 of repairs). He refused to pay child support consistently. He claimed he “couldn’t afford it” and also claimed to my face that he was “couch-surfing” (so he didn’t have to pay rent). He completely rejected any and all contact with his stepson, whom he’d known since a toddler five years before.
I wanted to keep the house because I could foster from it and also do daycare, keeping me at home with the kids and providing them with stability. At first he seemed to be cooperative although so lost in “new single guy who’s living it up” mode that he really wasn’t that interested in dealing with the loose ends (us) in general. I couldn’t figure out how he could have just dumped his whole entire life like it didn’t even exist, so easily and quickly. It was at this time I was able to get him to agree legally to a limited access schedule, though (by some miracle, in retrospect), and for that I’m eternally grateful.
So he went his way and I worked on going my own way. He was remarkably easy to get over and I did it quickly. I didn’t waste time “mourning” him. And that’s when the real troubles began. When I established “No Contact” (via phone, e-mail, and even going so far as to keeping myself hidden when he came for his limited access to the kids), he just went nuts.
Suddenly, he refused to fairly negotiate any buyout of his share of the house with me. I had to accept his terms or he’d demand more. With two of his proposals (there were probably six), I did agree, and he STILL turned around, rescinded his previous demand and demanded more. Eventually he told me it benefited him to keep his name on the deed as long as possible. Later still, he told me he didn’t care how much it cost him, he just wanted me out of the house. He contacted my first ex-husband (the other sociopath) and started having pow-wows with him, which completely destroyed the fragile but stable co-parenting relationship I’d established with that guy and completely emotionally derailed my oldest son. He began broadcasting to everybody that I was having a “relationship” with his current girlfriend’s ex. He attempted to separate my own family and support network from me by outrageous bad-mouthing. He worked overtime to redeem himself and get back his “Nice Guy” reputation (which is hard to do considering he had an affair while his wife was pregnant) by accusing me of being cold, overbearing, controlling and unemotional. Lots of people bought this because he comes across as such a victim, and a warm one at that.
All that stuff, horrible as it is, is stuff I could have dealt with. The worst was yet to come.
Just days before Christmas last year, my young daughter – two and a half at the time – had a breakdown of sorts and revealed she’d been molested by her father. Since separation from her father, I’d noticed some red flags but nothing I could put my finger on. Certainly nothing I could specifically target her father on. But after a weekend visitation with her father just before Christmas, she had all the classic signs of abuse (although I didn’t know what they meant at the time): withholding bowel movements, complaining of stomach aches, obsessed with a boo-boo in her pee-pee, extremely emotional, sudden extreme nightmares. I didn’t know what to make of her behaviours and I was concerned. The coin dropped when she was told she was going back to visit her dad and she suddenly became terrified and screamed “poke me with a penis!” while viciously jabbing her finger into her crotch. She’s only a toddler but she’s been speaking clearly since she was ten months old (in short sentences, no less), so I had no doubt what she was saying.
I immediately took her to the doctor, visitation was temporarily suspended and the Child Protection Agency was called. When the Social Worker visited her that evening, she told him her dad poked her (and pointed at her crotch). In the weeks that followed, she told me a lot more (spontaneously and without me trying to pry the information from her): he touched her pee-pee in the bathroom, he came into her bedroom when she was sleeping and touched her, he “pee-pooped” on her, it came from his crotch (she pointed) and it was “gray-white” colored. Then she suddenly stopped talking. When I read the safety books to her (bought specifically because I feared she’d been abused and wanted to teach her how to protect herself) and got to the part about telling someone, she told me she couldn’t – and wouldn’t – tell anyone because “Daddy will get in trouble.” She’s had loads of sexual behaviours since then and I don’t know if it’s because she’s still being molested or what.
The investigation by the Agency stopped. The case was dropped for lack of evidence. She still gets to see her father as before. She, as a toddler, has to protect herself more than an older child would (because an older child has more credibility, I suppose). He accused me of “false allegations” and has set the groundwork for her to be disbelieved when (if) the time comes she can point a finger at him and be more “credible.” He has set the groundwork to continue to molest her and get away with it because I’m “vindictive that he had an affair and left” me.
This has almost destroyed me. I was on the edge of madness. I had to fight myself: homicide is wrong, but so is sending my daughter (who was such a bright, bubbly, cheerful person before this happened and isn’t like that anymore) to a predator. I forced the quick sale of the house (by refusing to pay any more for the mortgage), spent massive amounts of money seeking permission from the courts to move from the area (under the guise of going to school again) and have reduced the access to bi-weekly instead of twice weekly as it was before. I’m so hoping the tremendous distance between us becomes so onorous to him that he’ll get bored and go away. But she’s still at risk and I can’t do a damned thing about it.
How to go on?
And now it’s Christmas again. I feel no joy and have no reason to. What happened a year ago is back in my mind again, vivid as if it were yesterday. I’ve lost all faith in the goodness in humanity. I don’t trust anybody. I have no friends in this new place because I’m afraid of people. With every person I meet, my instant thought is, “They want something from me, that’s the only reason they’re talking to me.”
Honestly, I don’t know how to go on. My entire perspective on life has changed. I used to be optimistic, easy-going, giving people the benefit of the doubt. I was a caregiver, too (I’m getting out of that line of work – it seems to attract sociopaths like bees to a hive – my former ex-hubby was a nurse, of all things). How do you do it? How can you pick up the pieces and stop continuing to be victimized by these predators without becoming completely cynical and suspicious of everyone? How can you both protect yourself and open yourself up? How can you see through the mask? Nobody saw it coming with this guy I married. Nobody. How could I possibly expect to see it again when I was on high alert already from my experience with the first sociopath?