This past year, I began speaking publicly on domestic violence and psychopathy. As many of you know, I feel that I have a bit of a responsibility to educate others on the matter. As a result, from time to time, people contact me or put their friends in touch with me if they suspect I can somehow help them make sense of their experiences. Some are in the beginning phases of understanding abusive personalities and/or psychopathy, while others have no idea what has rocked their worlds.
Last week, someone who was struggling to find answers asked me a series of questions. Not only were they excellent, but they were ones that we have all probably asked.
“How did such an intelligent, strong woman get into this situation? Am I flawed?”
I know. This is the million dollar question. “Getting into this situation” has little to do with intelligence, strength, or flaws. In fact, sometimes, being aware, curious, and strong may make us more vulnerable. Why? Often, “thinking people” ask a lot of questions. Strong individuals tend to take little lying down and resist “group think.” When we introduce a combination of the two, we find people who are willing to work hard at relationships, take stands, and advocate for what is right.
On one hand, these attributes are not popular with abusive individuals. On the other, they are irresistible. Psychopaths do not like to be questioned or have their power and control threatened, but most cannot resist the challenge we present either, especially if we are useful in other ways, as well. Therefore, they target us. This does not mean that strong, intelligent women who find themselves in these relationships are “flawed” in any way. Simply, we unknowingly provide a very rich “supply” for their manipulative needs. They hit the jackpot when they find those of us who are willing to engage in their madness. However, we don’t understand that it is actually madness we are engaging in. Their mixed messages keep us confused and involved.
In the case of the individual asking this question, her only real “problem” was the fact that she was a decent, warm, caring, and trusting person, who had something her psychopath wanted to exploit.
“How do these sociopaths twist our heads around? I have to keep looking internally to see what flaw it is in me that keeps letting the same behavior into my life. Any words of wisdom?”
As a matter of fact, yes. We must stop looking inward for our “flaws.” This person mentioned her “flaws” on several occasions. Naturally, we all have them. When it comes to recovery, looking inward is critical. We must examine and come to know ourselves before we can truly change and heal. We must recognize the traits we possess (even if independently they are positive) that made us susceptible to this special form of evil and then work to keep the unhealthy at a distance.
However, that is where we should stop the introspection, or at least the loathing and self blame for what happened in the past. We did not do this. We were dealing with dysfunction and disorder.
Not everyone will understand this. Not everyone will understand the addictive, unhealthy bonds they created that kept us trapped for as long as they did. We should try to surround ourselves with those who do. Going forward, we should listen to our instincts, trust that they are correct, and pay attention to the red flags we encounter.
“I just don’t understand the mentality (in reference to the psychopath’s revenge.) I can’t wrap my head around it. It’s like he had a breakdown of some kind. He just snapped or something. He lost EVERYTHING…and for what? What’s he doing?”
It is a tough pill to swallow, but he did not just “snap.” Conversely, he finally allowed himself to clearly show through. The cracking mask. As masters of disguise, they become what they think we are looking for. But who they appeared to be initially is as unreal as the thirsty man’s mirage in the middle of the desert. “He” did not actually ever exist. The mean, vengeful shell of a person is the only thing that ever really was.
As far as what they are willing to lose in pursuit of revenge, it’s fairly unbelievable. This is another aspect that becomes almost impossible for those with little experience to digest. If psychopaths’ main objectives include taking and destroying what they envy in another, their success at this means more to them than how they fare in the process.
They are often willing to lose or risk losing everything in order to harm their target(s). For them, the true payoffs lie in demolition. Additionally, they don’t view their “devastation” as their fault anyway. We “did it” to them. They do not feel that their demise reflects on them in the least.
As far as “what he is doing,” whether it be in regards to the revenge she is questioning or otherwise, we must eventually come to the place where we legitimately do not care. With the exception being as it relates to our safety, how they live or what they do must not matter under any circumstances.
This all takes time to absorb and that is ok. However, grasping and then accepting the reality of the situation is the key to recovery, even if it is incredibly difficult to wrap one’s head around.