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An open letter to lawyers who have clients involved with sociopaths

Dear Mr. or Ms. Esquire,

When a client tells you his or her opponent is a sociopath, please be aware of the ramifications for your legal case.

First of all, do not disregard the statement just because the opponent hasn’t killed anyone. A common perception is that sociopaths are all deranged serial killers. This is not true—only a small percentage of sociopaths commit murder. But all sociopaths are social predators, and live by exploiting others.

Frequently this is financial exploitation—many sociopaths are skilled con artists—but not always. Sociopaths also target people who can provide them with a place to live, business connections, sex, housekeeping or other support services, children, or a respectable image in the community while they live double lives.  The point is that sociopaths intentionally use manipulation and deceit to hook their target. They continue the manipulation and deceit to keep the exploitation going, bleeding the target until there is nothing left. At that point, some sociopaths abandon the target, moving on without a backward glance.

Sometimes, however, the target gets wise to the sociopath, and wants to end the involvement. At this point, some sociopaths become enraged at the possibility of losing control, and set out to crush the target. They are not interested in compromise or equitable distribution. They do not want to give the target whatever he or she is entitled to. They want to grind the target into the dirt.

What you need to understand about sociopaths

1. A sociopath’s prime objective is power and control. All they want is to win.

2. Sociopaths love the drama of court because it gives them an opportunity to win. They do not consider the possibility that they may lose. If they do lose, they view it a bump in the road, and figure out how to attack the target again. Forcing the target to incur steadily mounting legal expenses is considered a win.

3. Sociopaths lie. They lie convincingly. They have no qualms about lying in court documents or on the witness stand.

4. Sociopaths manipulate other people to lie for them. These witnesses may not know they are lying—they may simply believe everything that the sociopath has told them, because sociopaths are so convincing.

5. Sociopaths feel no obligation to follow court orders or the law. They only follow court orders or the law if they perceive an advantage in doing so. But they are experts at figuring out ways to use the law to further their objective, which is to crush your client.

How people become targets

Most of us believe that people are basically good inside and everybody just wants to be loved. Because we do not know that there are exceptions to these beliefs—namely, sociopaths—we have huge blind spots that these predators can exploit.

No normal person intentionally becomes involved with a lying, manipulative sociopath. So when your client tells you outrageous stories of the sociopath’s behavior, and also says he or she never knew about the behavior, or accepted the sociopath’s explanations, your client is most likely telling the truth.

How do these entanglements happen? Sociopaths are always on the lookout for people they can use. When they encounter someone through any social interaction, they quickly evaluate whether that person has something that they want. If the answer is yes, they assess the person for vulnerabilities. Then they figure out how to exploit the person’s vulnerabilities to achieve their objective.

Sociopaths engage in calculated seduction. If you’re handling a divorce case, the seduction was romantic. If it’s some other type of case, the seduction may have involved shared beliefs, aspirations or goals. Either way, in the beginning of the involvement the target is subject to a wonderful honeymoon of admiration and promise.

Once the target is hooked, the sociopath begins the exploitation, while simultaneously ramping up manipulation to keep the target under control. This may involve:

  • Isolating the target from his or her support network
  • Emotional, psychological, verbal, physical, sexual or financial abuse
  • Gaslighting—making the target doubt his or her own perceptions

What you need to understand about the target

1. Involvement with a sociopath is like living in a black hole of chaos. Your client, the target, has probably had every aspect of his or her life disrupted:

  • Career interrupted
  • Finances ruined
  • Health compromised
  • Home and property neglected
  • Relationships shattered

By the time the legal action commenced, your client may have already been in free fall for a long time. He or she may feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issues that need to be addressed.

2. Involvement with a sociopath can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At one time PTSD was diagnosed only in relation to a single traumatic event that involved risk of serious injury or death, coupled with intense fear, horror or helplessness. A new definition identifies a type of PTSD that results from cumulative trauma and long-term injury.

3. PTSD is a psychiatric injury (not a mental illness). PTSD causes biochemical changes in the brain and affects certain areas of the brain’s anatomy. Common symptoms include intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty concentrating and exhaustion.

4. The litigation against the sociopath makes your client re-experience the underlying trauma and triggers the symptoms of PTSD. Dr. Karin Huffer, in her book Unlocking Justice, explains what happens:

Mentally reliving the trauma during legal proceedings simultaneously activates parts of the brain that support intense emotions while diminishing the functions of the central nervous system that controls motor output, regulates physiological arousal, and impedes the ability to communicate in words. Memory fails and intrusive emotions sabotage concentration on the task at hand. Litigants feel incapable of the spontaneous verbal response and interaction required in typical courtroom exchanges. As a result, the litigant with PTSD might be driven to avoid topics. They literally do not hear them. They disconnect when they need to engage. And, at times, they clearly are nonfunctional and are unable to communicate their symptoms and needs in a formal manner accepted by the courts.

5. Targets of sociopaths have been deceived, betrayed and perhaps subject to violence. They approach the courts expecting justice, which sociopaths actively thwart. When justice is denied, and targets instead experience profound and prolonged injustice, their PTSD takes on another dimension, which Huffer identifies as “Legal Abuse Syndrome.”

Your client’s experience

The goal of this letter, Mr. or Ms. Esquire, is to help you understand what your client has experienced. My objective is to explain why he or she may be having difficulties with the litigation process, and difficulties moving on in life. The sociopath intentionally used your client—perhaps for years—and may be intentionally attempting to destroy him or her now.

Your client is not irrational, lazy or obstinate. Your client is having a normal reaction to profound betrayal.

Sincerely,

Donna Andersen
Author, Lovefraud.com, and a former litigant against a sociopath



56 Comments on "An open letter to lawyers who have clients involved with sociopaths"

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  1. revjanice says:

    I left my husband two and a half years ago. And I have to say that the way my case was handled I would not recommend a woman to leave her abusive husband and I am in a profession that this is likely to happen. My husband WAS also clergy as well and he managed to play the charm card and won the magistrate and guardian ad litem over before they even had a chance to meet me. He got custody of our kids in huge part because the only police report was the one the day I left (I knew he would be fired and he was), and I lost the protective order. From then on I was told that I had kidnapped the kids by taking them to the shelter with me and I would never have custody or more than visitation.

    My lawyer lied to me in the court house and told me that he had worked out a deal for me get the kids 51% of the time so a social service organization could help me get housing. A letter stating as much was sent to this agency. But my lawyer never filed anything in court. My lawyer “forgot” to tell me about a hearing, I heard about it from my ex, because a doctor’s appointment for our son had to be changed. The lawyers secretary knew nothing about the hearing and I got a call at 5pm on Friday to arrange my own witnesses for Monday morning. My lawyer demanded I pay another $1000 with less than 24 hours to go in order to represent me at a hearing. He tried to get me to sign a letter that was not on letter head, that did not list an amount owed or an end date again to represent me at a hearing (This the day after I was actually able to come up with the $1000). He messed up the witness list at the main hearing and subpoenaed 10 people (the wrong people) and then subpoenaed the right two. 11 people showed up and he interviewed them all which made the magistrate mad. He actually walked out of the court room once after the magistrates opening statement and went to another trial, until the magistrate called him and demanded he come back. He misfiled the final divorce decree and it did not get signed for 4 months. And then only after I called my old legal advocate from the shelter I had been at and she got the mess straightened out. He filed two motions dismiss, even after the first time he was told it was too late in the case to do so. The second motion was accepted and then overturned when the new judge realized the old magistrate had rejected his first motion. I have many other instances I could lift up about this lawyer who was supposed to be representing me!!!

    The guardian ad litem point blank told me I “Must like living in the shelter and was not trying hard enough to get out”. This was on the day I started a full time job, six weeks after I left. He also would not allow my children to visit me at the shelter, not even for day visits.

    The magistrate even put in the divorce decree that I had made a “very poor decision” in leaving my husband. He was fired part way through our case, I do not know why. A retired judge from another county was put in charge of our case.

    My ex’s lawyer called me an “unfit” mother and my lawyer did nothing to refute him.

    The court mandated counselor point blank told my youngest she did not believe her when she told her that her dad hit her. When apparently my husband admitted spanking her, at the next session she told her she believed he had spanked her, but she never wanted to hear the word hit again. She was also fired, and I do not know why.

    When I had to turn the kids back over to their dad near the beginning of this whole mess,I was told that the exchange had to happen in the parking lot of the shelter we were staying at. And it DID happen there! In all fairness this was in part due to a snow storm, but I had been told even the police would not be told I was staying there. Much less the man I was hiding from!

    The police forgot to take pictures of the bruises, so no pictures were taken until 5 days after I left.

    My case is the ultimate example of how things are not supposed to happen. I have stumbled my way through. I love my ministry and I am also about to graduate from a program I have been in throughout this whole ordeal. I hope to use the training from this program to help others going through similar things. At this point I do not have the strength to even consider entering another relationship with another guy though and I have grown to very much distrust every aspect of the legal system in this country.

    A friend of mine is from Uganda and she has told me that she thinks that women have more rights there than here from what she has experienced through my case.

    Trust me through this whole mess I must have made 200 phone calls trying to find a new lawyer. I heard every excuse under the sun as to why no other lawyer would take my case. The most creative was “we are going out of business.” I have put together everything I need to turn my old lawyer into the supreme court of the state I live in. And I finally found a new lawyer two weeks ago!

    I do have custody of my kids again. But only because my ex was homeless for several months. We have a court date pending at the moment with yet another motion for custody on his behalf. Two weeks ago his lawyer subpoenaed my church for any document related to me, even my pension. The subpoena was received on a Thursday and everything was due to his lawyer 4 days later. It was pure harassment. But the leaders of my church did not want to hire a lawyer, they did not feel like they needed drawn into my divorce at all. So everything was quickly put together and mailed off. I had a clear feeling if it happened again my ministry could be in peril. My ex seems to believe he should get the kids simply because he now has a job earning more than twice what I am. The courts are again buying his argument enough to consider the hearing, even though nothing has changed in my circumstances or that of the children. (AND he is in arrears with child support).

    I continue to receive harassing emails from my ex constantly, where he calls me names and makes all sorts of legal threats towards me. Since I left he has threatened me with bodily harm and I even got him on a voice recording threatening to kill me (The police said it was a figure of speech and they could do nothing). Even this far out I keep bars on my downstairs windows and my doors at night. I lock my car constantly and am hyper vigilant outside.
    I am very aware that he will never let me out of his sights, at least not for 9 more years when our youngest is 18.

    • RevJanice – Welcome to Lovefraud, although I am very sorry that you have to be here. What a horrific story. Yes, it sounds like you got the worst of everything in the legal system. I hope your new lawyer will do a better job. Perhaps you can file a grievance against the old lawyer – when you have the strength.

      Do your best to take care of yourself. Believe in yourself – it will help you keep going.

      • WantMyLifeBack2 says:

        Donna – Thank you so much for this open letter, and all your efforts on this site – I believe this site may have saved my life, at least part of my mind – I live in Utah, Male 37 years old… I feel hope for the first time in 16 years because your site – you understand completely! I just recently figured it out she was a socio… just months ago! After 1 years dealing with pure Hell. I married and have two young children with a socio female – its a total nightmare, already went to court once, I just couldnt get to the heart of the matter, it was so structured, and I am nervous and mousy around her evil and confidence – Im scared because people always believe her and look at me like a devil… she always somehow reaches people and lies to them about me before I even get a chance to show them who I am… they close off to me immediately and look at me like deadbeat Dad, even when I do so much more for them than she ever has… appearances are kept up so well and reality so hidden… but she did lie in court and got caught and allegations groundless so the mediator recommended counciling and I agreed and she refused, as she had refused it for the last 16 years. Just few days ago she sent me an e-mail (I went no contact about a year ago, its most effective thing I have done so far with dealing with her) asking for counciling for us or our children because ‘she is concerned our autistic son isnt being raised to his full potential, and not properly pushed to potty train as much as she feels is necessary (she abuses him, forces him to soil himself in hopes he will be humilliated enough to learn how to go on toilet – its disgusting of her, she is Satan incarnate) – my Son is a beautiful, sensitive, and yes autistic, 8 yr old boy… he and my 12 yr old daughter are my world.. and she is destroying me pshycologically piece by piece… she cheated on me with at least 5 men during our marriage and having xhildren and I didnt know till 8 years later, we have been separated for 6 years now – I was diagnosed with PTSD after she chearted on a violent boyfriend and landed my kids on restraining orders – I filed court papers for full custody, but they must have been the rwrong type, and only the divorce was completed… I just dont know whaere to go or who to turn to, I have no family, its just me alone, she destoryed all my social circle after I divorced her – Im trying to hang on, trying to save my children with only 50/50 custody… its near impossible… all I can say is thank you without your site I would be jumping off a bridge in hopelessness and pain and sorrow and guilt. Can you help me organize my thoughts? Can you help lead me to a person who can sort out my life and end this madness? I am so destroyed I can barely keep my job – my only goal is to save, feed and clothe my kids, give them shelter – and everything else, including me, I neglect severly – Im doing my absolute best, but I am slowly dieing… I want to save my children, I would give my life just to make them happy and protect them, I dont care about myself, only them… they are my only hope, they are my world, they are my job, its my job to protect them and I put them in a world of Hell. I need so much help. Thank you…

    • heart1 says:

      I agree with everyone elses comments. Sociopaths attract to law like flies to ****. Very few are in it because they are honest and want justice. The rest of them love the manipulation, lies and financial gain, it feeds them. My daughter want to be criminal lawyer and I told her to take care, because you dont know the client your representing. You have to be unfeeling and detached to your client. Its a job.

  2. betsybugs says:

    The truth be known…many lawyers are sociopaths. I was married to one. What other kind of person can have a career where winning is more important than justice. There are of course exceptions but the entire legal system is stacked against victims. That is what our so called justice system has become. People without ethics or morals are attracted to law school where they learn deception and schemes to avoid worries about ethics or morals and learn to focus on winning at any cost. They learn nothing about justice except that it is blind and they interpret that as meaning it doesn’t matter. It is not even the law that matters, it is winning the case to make themselves look good in their community of reprebates. The bar indeed, you will find more ethics, honesty and justice in a typical barroom. BTW, Donna, excellent article for those in the field who are real human beings.

  3. anothervictim says:

    It’s true what some people on here have said. Lawyers tend to be evil and it’s no surprise that many sociopaths can be found in that profession. As I am currently in the process of working with a lawyer regarding my run-in with a sociopath, I am learning that this lawyer is not on my side, only concerned about the money she is getting, and is a liar. I was lucky enough to know someone who works in mediation who is willing to help me with this case. My lawyer told me at first that we should be getting a lot of money from this case, and after just two emails and a phone call with the other side’s attorney, she gave up and tried to pressure me into taking a very small settlement. My advice to everyone is to either attempt mediation first before hiring a lawyer or to ask around and get reviews from friends before using a lawyer. As others have said, they charge you for every little thing they do, even calling you and leaving a message. It’s sad because people have been so traumatized already and the lawyer who is supposed to help them just hurts them even more.

  4. atozmom says:

    I have to say I have seen both the good and the bad lawyers. When my child informed me of inappropriate behavior I borrowed money from my sister and hired an attorney. She was a lifesaver. When my retainer ran out long before the court case ended my attorney kept going pro bono. My case went on for almost 4 years. My attorney saw what I was up against with my ex and saw the danger he posed to my child and myself. She told me that with the education and training she had the privilege of having that it was useless if she couldn’t help someone like me. She actually got 2 other attorneys to jump on board with her on this case. My case has been over for 2 years now but I am still in contact with her I consider her a friend. It was because of her that I found out that my ex had been accused of molesting several other children over the past 20 years. Nothing has been done to him yet for the abuse of my child, who was only 3 1/2 years old at the time of the abuse. He still has visits with my child now unsupervised, which brings us to the other kind of lawyer. The attorney that was appointed for my child is evil and may be a sociopath herself. This attorney was ordered to transport my child to the trauma evaluation that had been ordered. My child told the evaluator what happened to her. The evaluator filed with dcf that dad not have contact with the child due to the disclosure made by the child. The attorney for my child, threatened my child telling her what to say to the evaluator. My child was told she would never see me again if she did not tell the evaluator what the attorney told her to say. My child then went back and recanted the truth, my ex got what he wanted to make my child look like a liar and to make it look like I made the whole accusation up. I can only hope and pray there are more decent attorneys out there like mine.

    • WantMyLifeBack2 says:

      Atozmom – MONSTERS!!! unbelievable – Im so glad you had a good atty – but the appointed one.. obviously got into the profession to cause more chaos – I could never imagine hurting a child on purpose.. I hope that person burns in Hell and is given the mind of a helpless and abused child for eternity. Come to think of it, that wouldnt be punishment enough!! God bless the victims of monsters everywhere. God help them.

  5. Atozmom- what a nightmare! and an outrage!

  6. Stargazer says:

    I had the good fortune of meeting an incredible woman recently who is a civil rights attorney. I met her from Craigslist of all places. She is buying my Italian leather furniture set from me. We talked for several hours when she came down to give me the deposit. She often represents battered spouses and wrongful employment victims. She takes the cases on a contingency and has a very high success rate. She is very sensitive and compassionate but knows how to handle sociopathic attorneys in the courtroom. If anyone here lives in Colorado and needs a civil rights attorney, I can forward her information. This woman is amazing. I’d hire her if I had any cause to.

  7. SmearCampaign says:

    Hi,

    THE LARGEST ONGOING, RECORDED AND DOCUMENTED SMEAR CAMPAIGN OF ALL TIME! 3 years and going…. LIVE!

    Includes dozens of Manufactured Witnesses, Identity Theft, Even from a supposed family friend who is a retired Appellate Court Judge, whose name was used to manipulate other Judges, without his knowledge of course. Video evidence of scenes setup and carried out to manipulate (so called friends) into thinking something false, therefore, voila, a witness. All caught on tape and in transcripts, and in voice-mails, and in false criminal filings.

    What happens when you have more than one Unconscionable at work?
    What happens when you have many, like the attorney and others?

    What if the entire event, still going was documented, with over 4,000 pieces of evidence all ignored for profit?

    What if they extorted around $500,000 in fees, when evidence (dozens and dozens of video clips, emails, etc) was provided in the beginning, proving every single allegation was not only false, but proven to be? Kind of hard to prove a negative, not in this case.

    What if all of the “evidence” is so overwhelming, and they can’t turn back from the “financial profiling”, and for almost 3 years, they kept driving the fraud train, day in and day out?

    What if everything they did and didn’t do, said and didn’t say (like speaking on behalf of the kids) was meticulously documented.

    WHAT IF AT THIS VERY MOMENT I TOLD YOU I HAVE SETUP A LIVE SCENE FOR PEOPLE TO WATCH THEM COMMIT CRIMES?

    Being off the grid until this post and only for this post.

    WHAT IF I TOLD YOU THEY ARE GOING TO DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO PREVENT ME FROM INFORMING THEIR (Witnesses), I MEAN VICTIMS, WHAT THEY DID TO THEM AND WITH THEIR NAMES, AND WALK INTO COURT TO OBTAIN A PROTECTIVE ORDER ASKING ME TO STOP, LEAVING OUT THE TRUE REASON AS TO WHY, THEREFORE LYING TO THE COURT AND COMMITTING ANOTHER CRIME.

    What if I told you they are stealing children and using the entire community to assist, without their knowledge of course, however, fully documented.

    There are over 1,500 documented counts of perjury in this case.

    What have we in the corruption net? Poison Ivy, the Joker (attorney), Mr. BIA and Dr. VDP (Voodoo Psychology), Judges and more, promise. It’s a live show, you can see for yourself.

    What is currently happening will shock even those that think they have a clue about Unconscionables. I don’t like the word “sociopath”. Psychopath is fine as it properly resonates. Sociopath, on the other hand is basically the same exact thing, yet has the crazed part removed. The real scary part. The part that has most people assume, are the ones in prison. Besides, the one saying it to anyone not familiar as you all are, looks like the possible problem. Many hear a sociopath being mentioned, which winds up equating to white noise.

    You see, CON-ARTISTS constantly roam the streets. Very few are realized by society being behind bars. Pathological liars, same thing. The word Sociopath, moved too far to reflect it’s true meaning. In the public’s mind, it underestimates the reality, therefore, counter productive.

    It needs to be simplified and direct. Unconscionables. Simply described as; “Does not possess a Conscience, Con-Artists and Pathological Liars”.

    What else does anyone need to know?

    They are invisible rats.

    It’s way too much to post on someones site, no doubt. It will go on http://www.covertcounty.com which they will swear in some court somewhere, they are being harassed, and basically the reporting of their crimes and corruption is bad for business, but they are simply committing another crime by lying in court, again. The fact is, they are trying to prevent those they used for their scam to find out about any of it.

    Evidence times ridiculous was presented to the Judgetice. Who has old friends in that town, who were too roped into this scam and could not get out, so she jumped in. So, she was knighted Judgetice. There is Justice, then there is Judgetice. All documented.

    Ongoing 3 year research is very interesting in how it relates to the Psychology industry (who are the least likely to spot an Unconscionable). to legal aspects and and useful tools. A free seminar is being offered which will be placed online soon.
    ….

  8. HopingToHeal says:

    I’m going to the lawyer tomorrow and will carry this with me. Thanks, Donna.

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