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By February 16, 2009 Read More →

A guidebook for recovering from the devastation of a sociopath

Legal Abuse SyndromeI clearly remember the shock of realizing that everything my ex-husband, James Montgomery, had ever told me was a lie. I remember the devastation of discovering the truth: His entire purpose in marrying me was to get a free place to live, take advantage of my good reputation and defraud me of my assets. All the promises, all the assurances, were literally sweet nothings. They sounded good, and meant absolutely nothing.

I remember being paralyzed by my new truth. How could I possibly plan a recovery for my life, when every day I was falling apart? Worse, no one seemed to have an explanation for what happened, or advice on how to handle it.

It’s been 10 years since I left my ex-husband. I’ve now identified what I was dealing with—a sociopath. I read books that explained the disorder, such as Without Conscience by Dr. Robert Hare. But books with practical advice on how to cope with the trauma? They’re hard to come by. One of the best I’ve found, surprisingly, is Legal Abuse Syndrome, by Karin Huffer, M.S., M.F.T., which is now available in the Lovefraud Store.


Eight steps to recovery

The book was written to help victims cope with the betrayals and inefficiencies of the “justice system” after a violent or deceptive assault. Huffer contends that continuous assault by the legal establishment creates post traumatic stress disorder in the victim.

Well, the egregious assault of a sociopath created post traumatic stress disorder in many of us, whether we got involved with the legal system or not. So in the course of laying out a plan for overcoming legal abuse, Huffer also lays out a plan for overcoming sociopathic abuse.

Huffer identifies eight steps to recovery:

1. Debriefing. That means telling someone what happened, and that person listening without judgment.

2. Grieving. It is legitimate to grieve the loss of possessions, or our lifestyle, or our place in the community.We didn’t just lose things. We lost part of ourselves.

3. Obsession. Huffer suggests coping with obsession by compartmentalizing it—only allowing yourself to dwell in it for specific periods of time.

4. Blaming. This means putting blame where it belongs: on the perpetrator. The guilt, anger and rage needs to directed towards the person who deceived us.

5. Deshaming. The dreadful experience has taught us that some of our prior beliefs are false and need to be changed. When we do this, we change our attitude from “I was a fool” to “I’ve been wronged.”

6. Reframing. At this stage, you can look at your experience, define it differently, and then articulate the wisdom you’ve gained.

7. Empowerment. You take ownership of your problems, determine how you are going to cope with them, and go into action.

8. Recovery. With recovery, you are able to move forward in your life.

Protocol works

I spoke to the author, Karin Huffer, at the Battered Mothers Conference in January. It was the first time I’d seen her since finishing the book. I told her that, in my opinion, the eight steps she defined for recovering from legal abuse would also work in recovering from a sociopath.

Huffer agreed. In fact, she said that her program has now been out long enough to have proven itself. “The protocol works,” she said.

When we decided to add the Lovefraud Store to our website, one of the books that I really wanted to offer was Legal Abuse Syndrome. It explains why other people—even those who care about you—can’t listen to what you’re saying. It tells you how to place blame where it should be—on the predator. It tells you how to handle your obsessions. Oh, yes, and it tells you how to cope with legal shenanigans.

Legal Abuse Syndrome is now available, and I strongly recommend it—even if you aren’t in court with the predator who assaulted you.

Legal Abuse Syndrome in the Lovefraud Store.



789 Comments on "A guidebook for recovering from the devastation of a sociopath"

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  1. Savannah says:

    Jim in Indiana USA: Hi Jim, I think I have the answer to your riddle above, although you directed it to Matt.

    “Matt…if one beats the crap “out” of an S with an iron skillet, what’s left?”

    Answer: Nothing’s left. There wasn’t anything there to begin with.

    Kindheart48: Thank you for resonding to my post. I feel pretty stupid about continuing contact with him these past few years but it takes so long to get your mind around the disorder! You are SO RIGHT when you state that it “hasn’t done you one bit of good.” That is so true. All of the talking, commuinicating, reasoning, pleading, more explaining, not one bit of it did any good. And, he never changed his view point and anything. He used to say “If you do everything my way, we will be happy”. I told him that wasn’t good enough for me. I just couldn’t get him to see that I had a right to my feelings and opinon’s. He thought I was an object. He would take me down from the shelf when he wanted to play and ingnore me when he was done. We never lived together that goodness. We dated for 1 1/2 yrs, and then I spent the next 1 1/2 crying for him every day. This was the Booty call stage. I didn’t realize that of course. You are so right when stated that they can’t stand to see you happy and they ruin everything! So true, so true.

    Stargazer! I’m scared to start the trama work but I must. I feel infected and dirty. I miss the me I used to be. I’m glad you have dated some nice men. I KNOW there are wonderful fella’s out there, heck, I see them posting here! I have to say: I have never been in a relationship with a nice man. What a shame. I’ve had 8 relationships, starting at age 17. The longest being 6 years. I gave everything to these relationships. I always had to walk away.

    The relationships never started out bad. Really Nice for 3-6 months or maybe a year, then the mask came off. The devaluation, he is so “misunderstood”. Or how about the part where they make it soooo bad that you have to leave. You can say to them, “why don’t you leave or breakup with me if you are so unhappy?” Of course that’s a direct question that they won’t answer because that answer is: they are having to much fun abusing you!

    Anyway, I really hope it goes ok for you on the reptile site. I’d love an update. Your comment about being whacked with a carp was really funny!

    This is such an amazing place. I’m sad that Donna had to go through what she did but she is a miracle worker for putting this site together for us. The love she has for anyone going through this, that she would try to educate and protect us! Thank you Donna. There are not enough words. This site gives us a place to go during the dark night of the soul. I feel like you all are my family. God Bless.

  2. Savannah says:

    Stargazer: I hear you about the Monastary idea. Funny thing: I was such a handful when I was five years old that my Mom and Dad took me to a Catholic one and we toured the place, it was a boarding school and the dorms were on the third floor, they were going to check me in but my Mom was afraid of a fire and that I wouldn’t be able to get out. I had fun going there and might have ended up a Nun!! HA. I just cannot imagine….

  3. Savannah says:

    Matt:
    I saw that movie just night before last too!! I never recommend violence BUT that was pretty funny. Hot Grits and the skillet. She showed him some “skillet love”. I like to watch the “Kill Bill” movies when I’m really pissed. It cheers me up kicking butt vicarioulsy. Ha!

  4. Jim in Indiana USA says:

    Savannah…I think you’re right…NOTHING, after you beat the crap out of an S with the skillet. I was afraid there might be a greasy spot or something. But a good stiff brush and some bleach should take care of it, if so.

    I wonder why Oxy was cleaning and polishing skillets today…mmmm?

  5. Matt says:

    Jim and Savannah:

    So sad, but so true. There is nothing left because there is nothng to begin with.

    I was walking through the park today and had the most amazing revelation. I don’t remember S’s cellphone number! It was amazing. I realized I remembered the area code and the first three digits, but drew a blank after that.

    So, for you newcomers who are wondering – yes, NC works. I’ve been 4 months, and if the cell phone number has left my mind, the rest is bound to follow.

  6. kindheart48 says:

    Wow Matt, that is great, i think it will be awhile til i forget my s’s phone number as he prides himself in having a private number and yet he gives it to every Tom Dick, or Harry he meets. He picked a number that would be impossible to forget as well. He on the other hand was always forgetting my phone number confusing it with all the other sources he has going. It is a definate good sign for you and i;’m very happy for you. You should celebrate as that’s a bigger accomplishment than most would understand. Treat yourself to something special. love kh