Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following e-mail from a reader who writes as “Esther.”
I am watching with horror as I see the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The water and photos of devastation bring back memories for me of my experiences in South Florida—three hurricanes back to back destroyed my home. I was married to the sociopath at that time. He enjoyed the attention and the chaos. I was devastated and overwhelmed. The insurance adjusters, claims, trying to get tarps to protect the home from further rain and damage, the ceiling collapsing and the black mold that began to appear on the walls after the power was restored. Contractors could not be found, and the predators looking for work all came to Florida.
Meanwhile I discovered that I was facing a true predator. My ex took insurance funds that were made payable to me, him and the mortgage holder. These insurance funds were to be kept by the mortgage holder, Merrill Lynch. I say were, because my ex’s brother worked at Merrill Lynch and he released the funds solely to my ex. My ex claimed he paid the contractor to repair our home. The contractor disappeared. My ex did not seem concerned and tried to get me to sell inherited property to replace the funds.
I felt the physical pain of betrayal, as he ran off with the young flight attendant and the wealthy girlfriend that he had met on one of his trips. I was left with a home that had been torn apart, no money, no insurance funds and a broken heart. Insurance companies, banks and a legal system blamed me; ignoring the crimes they committed.
What I now know is that this was all a plan, my ex could care less about the property and he probably made a deal with the contractor to split the insurance funds. I also discovered that my ex and his brother had removed me from the mortgage so they could steal more insurance funds.
This flood of cash that my ex could manipulate moved him to greater motivation to injure me psychologically. He had begun his emotional abuse. I could never do anything right. I was too angry, etc. He then began to be physical. It started with pushing, pulling my hair. It all was my fault; he felt that I needed to be on medication. He then produced a post nuptial that he insisted I sign. It had a clause that the marriage was in trouble and that if in 5 years we had resolved the marital differences, the post nuptial would be void.
When I refused to sign, he told me that I only cared about the money. He had cancelled all credit cards, denied access to bank funds and began to become dangerously physical. I had nowhere to go, no home and I didn’t know what to do. He charmed the insurance agents and told them he was the mortgage holder. Even though their paperwork had my name on it, they were sucked in by his charm and wrote additional checks only to him.
My father feared for my life and he paid an attorney a retainer fee. The real rape began for me in Family Court. I slept on couches, in my office and cried nightly. I felt safer with my ex than I did with the attorneys and judges who only wanted a pay check. The legal experience was another serious violation. These legal predators sensed my vulnerability and preyed on me.
I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I knew the symptoms of PTSD, what I didn’t understand was the numbing effects and the effect on my cognitive functioning. This is why survivors are more vulnerable to predators after leaving an abusive relationship. It takes time for the brain to heal and we need protection while we heal. I wish I would have had Lovefraud to prepare me to put on a mask and prepare to leave, not leave in desperation. I needed an article to help me understand that my husband was worse than the three hurricanes and that the court personnel would prey on my tragedy.
Disasters such as these are a candy store for an abusive mate, predatory attorneys and contractors. The intense emotions that cripple those of us who have anxiety, inspire and charge the Sociopath. The manipulation games are pleasure for the sociopath. This is an extremely dangerous period for our sisters and brothers who still suffer in these relationships.
How to leave
If you have the fortune to read my words, find a very good counselor who understands your vulnerability. Too many counselors told me, “just leave.” This is dangerous advice and ignorant of the dynamics of domestic violence.
Keep a copy of all records. Know the insurance adjusters and agents. Remove important possessions and photos to a safe storage place. Do not think that if you tell him you want a divorce, he will change. Do not trust that the agents of any agency will follow the law and policy. Reconnect with your families and friends. Ask them to witness the actions of the sociopath. In these relationships we isolate because we are ashamed of the environment in which we are living. Your sociopath will be so charming to the authorities, you will need witnesses.
What I also didn’t know was that I had Federal Protection with the Violence Against Women Act. This act stipulates that the Court and agents of the State of Florida by accepting federal funds were responsible to assist me, to train judges and attorneys to protect me. This system that I turned to for protection also betrayed me.
Learn from my mistakes. I know it hurts. I understand the shame. This will all pass. You will learn and understand that these people are incapable of kindness, compassion and care. It is not your fault. You have been at war and you are injured. I write and explain my story, my denial and ignorance so that you will not suffer and feel alone at the hands of predators like I did. Share with us, you will find some of the most caring people on this site who will mirror your strength. The drywall, the cabinets, the appliances can all be replaced. The scars left by betrayal take longer to heal. The greed that you see in these evil predators may haunt you for a long time.
You are in my prayers. When you are crying and feeling as if your weight is too much, ask God to remove the intense feeling, giving you the wisdom and strength to put one foot in front of the other. In these difficult times may you have trust in the wisdom of the pain and find the lesson for your growth.