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Donna Andersen teaches high school students the “Red Flags of Love Fraud”


I recently presented the Lovefraud education program, Sociopaths and Abusive Dating Relationships, to students at Princeton High School in Princeton, New Jersey. As I talked about these social predators, explaining how they seemed to be just like the rest of us but lived their lives by exploiting people, I could often see shock on the students’ faces. This was new, and important, information for them.

The students completed short evaluation forms after the presentation. Most of them thought it was informative and educational. Here are a few of their comments:

The presentation was informative and especially interesting because it applies to people my age and situations we may fall in.

It was helpful in that it explained what these people are actually like and how to recognize them. I found it very interesting as it is something I will certainly be using in life.

I thought it was very informative but also shocking. I’m very happy that I got to listen to the presentation.

Young people suffer more

Young people need to know about sociopaths. In analyzing the data collected for my new book, Red Flags of Love Fraud—10 signs you’re dating a sociopath, I found some frightening statistics: People who get involved with sociopaths at a young age fare far worse than those who meet sociopaths when they are older and more mature.

I divided the respondents to the Lovefraud Romantic Partner Survey into two groups. People in the young group were between the ages of 14 and 29 when they met the sociopath. People in the older group were age 30 or older when they met the sociopath. Here is how the two groups compared:

Physical harm experienced by age

Age when met sociopath 30+ 14-29
Suffered physical abuse 29% 49%
Lives were threatened 30% 44%
Considered suicide 34% 47%

I spoke to about 150 kids at Princeton. In their evaluations, several of the students mentioned that they were “paranoid” after the presentation. I hope that means they got the message. I’d rather they be paranoid than injured or dead.

For more information about this program for students, please visit the Lovefraud Education Programs page.



18 Comments on "Donna Andersen teaches high school students the “Red Flags of Love Fraud”"

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  1. Truthspeak says:

    I believe that it is an imperative to educate people – especially, young people. Since the experiences with the exspath, my son has been going through some serious changes. It’s been extremely difficult for him to process the facts that he has seen with his own eyes, let alone the ramifications of the expaths’ choices on a financial level – conceptual aspects that adult experience is barely able to decipher.

    I work in an environment where I interact with teenagers, frequently, and I can see a distinct difference in what they feel to be “important” and noteworthy in relation to what I had believed during my teenage and college years. Professors were people who had earned respect in the classroom – yeah, some of them had NO business teaching and had become professors only because they finished their degrees. But, on the average, most of them enjoyed their jobs. Now, college students walk into lecture halls in their sleepwear and bedroom slippers, text-message throughout lectures and demonstrations, engage in random conversations during lectures with their friends, and arrive for class and leave at their leisure. These same students become enraged (literally, I’ve seen it) when they don’t do the work and end up failing the class.

    I don’t know what the answer to this is, but I know that there was once a time when a person’s word was their bond. There has ALWAYS been someone running a con or a scam throughout human history and development – an unfortunate aspect of the human condition, I guess. But, it seems that contemporary people (especially, younger people) are more prone to narcissism and sociopathy than I ever remember at their age. Then, again….it just may be that I didn’t even know what a sociopath or narcissist was, and have no frame of reference.

    Again, thanks for your incredible work, Donna.

  2. Nolongeravictim says:

    I’m new to this board and will try to keep it as short as possible. I was married to an abusive man for 11 years (physical, mental, emotional) and have twin girls with him who are 11. His abuse was to me and the kids also. He has been officially diagnosed by a psychologist as having the cluster B personality disorder after a suicide attempt over a year ago. After his suicide attempt the cops were called to our house and a protective order was granted for me and the children. He violated it and was arrested for aggravated stalking. We are still awaiting the criminal trial for this. In the meantime he is banned from the state we live in and has no visitation. He is allowed one phone call a week to talk with the girls. Both of them refuse to even speak on the phone with him.

    After the protective order was issued, before his arrest, he filed divorce from me five days after the order was issued, seeking full custody of the minor children.

    He is the most manipulate and controlling person I have ever met. He has a way of turning everything around on me. His family enables him and says its all my fault. The kids and I have both been in counseling for a little over nine months, which has been wonderful for all of us. So, I’m coming along and learning to stand up for myself.

    Every time I turn around he files something with the court. The latest is a motion for a DNA test. He says since filing for divorce he received information the girls are not his. Which is a total lie!

    I guess my question for other members here is how do I not let this control my life? I am so scared. I am afraid after his criminal trial is over he will come back to our state and kill me and the kids. He is crazy. He won’t let go. I have found out where he has contacted all my friends, even old ex boyfriends or an ex husband from 20 years ago that I haven’t heard from in 15-20 years. It’s like he is obsessed with getting even.

    What is your advice? And what else can I expect from him? I am terrified he will eventually hurt the kids and me. I am also scared at what he can accomplish thru the court system. The girls have so much anger toward him. I don’t want him to ever be alone with them. Can the court make the girls see him if they don’t want to? I feel helpless and at the mercy of whatever the court says.

    I would appreciate any help or advice I get.

  3. No longer a victim – I am so sorry for your situation. Unfortunately, it is typical of divorces with sociopaths when children are involved.

    Your objective is to keep him out of your life and the lives of your girls as much as possible. The key to your case is documentation. Keep careful records of everything that happens – everything he does or fails to do. You know how good he is at lying, so you need to be able to refute his lies, and prove your case, through documentation.

    You might find the following article helpful:

    10 tactics for child custody battles with sociopaths
    http://www.lovefraud.com/blog/2008/05/05/10-tactics-for-child-custody-battles-with-sociopaths/

    In fact, you might want to read many of the articles in the “Sociopaths and family” category.
    http://www.lovefraud.com/blog/category/the-sociopathic-disorder/sociopaths-and-family/

    Most of all, take care of yourself. The stress will make it hard for you to cope (see today’s article). So it’s important to find ways to cut the stress.

  4. 20years says:

    Nolongeravictim,

    Welcome, and your story sounds very scary.

    I do not know if my suggestion will apply or not. My ex-husband is crazy and litigious, possibly dangerous but mostly dangerous under stress and less dangerous when contained.

    This is not foolproof, by any means. It’s just that the courts cannot always protect (as we know) and the courts sometimes get it wrong (as we know).

    Therefore, my only advice is that you get yourself the most excellent lawyer you can, and if you can borrow money to do so, do it. If you can get the most excellent lawyer to do pro bono work for you (they all do it — maybe they would for you) if that is necessary for you, please ask. But it is very important to have a very good lawyer. Continue with the therapy for you and the kids.

    Then, my other advice to you is, if you can and ONLY if you think it applies… play a waiting and placating game. This will not always work and may not apply in your case. I am thinking, in some cases it works to help them calm down and get distance from the explosive situation. And the girls will age out of it.

    (yes, I know this prolongs the walking on eggshells. If anyone ever wonders “why doesn’t she leave?” then tell them to talk to me. That question makes me more angry than just about anything!)

    I am sorry — your girls are only 11. As they get older, they can speak up for themselves in court. They may be just a bit too young though, now, to make it stick.

    My daughter began refusing visitation at the age of 13. This has angered her crazy father. The other two children suffer for it. And he continues to stalk her. Because he is her FATHER no one sees this as “stalking.” They see this as “father’s rights” or that the poor daddy just misses his little girl…

    In our case, he is least dangerous when we throw him bones (don’t make waves and play along). I hate to say that. It totally sucks.

    I know that if we tried to get away from him (through the court or by running away) he would become unstable, dangerous, and also bankrupt me through litigation. So we do not try. Even though we very much want to.

    I hope your situation does not turn physically dangerous and that you are able to get the protection you need.

  5. 20years says:

    I second what Donna says: keep a journal in a calendar — write down absolutely everything. Phone calls, contacts, EVERYTHING.

    Also, there are some other books out there: Splitting; Protecting yourself while divorcing someone with narcissistic or borderline personality disorder, by Randi Kreger and Bill Eddy — is very helpful.

  6. skylar says:

    nolongeravictim,
    welcome to LF, so sorry you have experienced this evil person but I think, so far, you have done very well in escaping from him. It’s great that you’re getting counseling for yourself and kids.

    From this point on, it’s important to understand his mindset. This will help you to know what to expect and what you can do to dodge his attacks.

    I wrote an article called Gray Rock and I think it gives a good overview toward understanding how not to trigger more attacks. http://www.lovefraud.com/blog/2012/02/10/the-gray-rock-method-of-dealing-with-psychopaths/

    There is also a book called, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry Men by Lundy Bancroft.
    It has some insights into the sense of entitlement that these people feel. You’re not likely to change that sense of entitlement, but you can change the way you respond to it. Lundy says that they do what they do because they like the response they are getting – otherwise they wouldn’t do it. This is ssoooooo true. By changing your response to one that has NO EMOTIONS or emotions that are non-dramatic, you pull the plug on his game.

    Another book that helped me tremendously is Why is it Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy Hotchkiss. Understanding narcissism is key to dealing with spaths.

    Spaths are driven by envy. They want what you have and what you want to have. Don’t let him see those things. Don’t give him a target.

  7. 20years says:

    To piggyback on what Skylar just said, in my case I have noticed:

    He wants to learn what I most fear — and make sure I get that.

    He wants to know what I most desire — and thwart my attainment of that.

    So the Gray Rock method works VERY WELL against both of these spath-tactics. Keep it to yourself, what you most fear and desire. That helps keep you a bit safer.

  8. abbri says:

    20years–

    I was really into trashy romance novels during my mid- to late teens also! Victoria Holt, etc. as well, the historical romances.

    Interesting point you made about that, I believe there is definitely something to it.

    Even now, at age 52, I still have a subconscious belief that love and sex should be “magical” and when I find the right one, he will sweep me off my feet (it sounds corny, but it’s deep down inside me anyway).

    So, of course, I was instantly attracted to my spath (both of them actually) because they did just that!

    You have really given me something to think about; I wonder what other early seemingly innocuous experiences we all have absorbed that helped to form us into people drawn to psychopaths?

  9. Ox Drover says:

    Dear Nolongeravictim,

    I would also like to welcome you to LoveFraud and remind you that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER….so learn all you can about the psychopaths and stalking…..”The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker is a great book and it is about how the stalkers work. There are several books on how stalkers work listed on the internet.

    It is more difficult when you have kids and when they can get a court order like the “one phone call per week” which requires you to give them a phone number….and where you have to keep the kids in school, so that ultimately, the stalker is helped by the courts to know your address and where the kids go to school. SICK!

    Keep yourself SAFE and I second the get a lawyer that believes you and one that will fight for you. Good luck and you and your daughters are in my prayers! God bless.

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