What sociopaths do to us is unfair, coercive, exploitative and evil. In a just world, they would be held accountable. They would be forced to return what they took from us, and compensate us for the pain and suffering they have caused. They might even be prosecuted and imprisoned.
But we do not live in a just world. We live in a world that is oblivious to the human predators among us. We live in a world where clueless people believe a convincing liar; the best performer wins and courts have neither the time nor the inclination to sort out the truth from the lies.
For all of us who have been targeted, this adds insult to injury. We’ve been abused and exploited. We are damaged. Then because we are damaged, we are at a disadvantage when we seek redress—and this just adds to the damage.
Even when we do prevail, it can be a hollow victory. When I divorced my ex-husband, James Montgomery, I won in court. The judge found that my ex committed fraud. I was awarded everything that was taken from me—$227,000—plus $1 million in punitive damages.
I then spent thousands of dollars hiring a private investigator and lawyers to track down my ex, because I was sure he had money—money that was rightfully mine. I failed, and in the end I had to declare bankruptcy.
Here’s where many of us make a big mistake: We believe that the successful resolution of the crisis caused by the sociopath will lead to our healing.
In reality, solving the problems caused by the sociopath and working towards personal recovery are two separate pursuits. To reclaim our life, we need to move forward along two parallel courses:
- Dealing with the real-world situation that we face
- Pursuing physical, psychological and emotional healing
The good news with this realization is that we don’t have to wait until the situation with the sociopath is resolved in order to begin our personal recovery. We can start taking care our health. We can overcome our addiction to the relationship and begin deeper healing. (For more on this, see After the sociopath, make the decision to recover.)
Think of the implications of this understanding. We no longer have to put our life and recovery on hold, waiting for the sociopath to face justice—justice that may never come. Dealing with the sociopath becomes a project in our lives, like cleaning out the garage. It’s something we do. It is not who we are.
Our true, important effort is our personal recovery and growth—and we can work on this regardless of what happens to the sociopath.
Decisions about fixing the situation
To decide what actions to take or how to respond to the sociopath, we have to evaluate both parallel courses for moving forward, and the interplay between them.
To deal with the situation, we need a very clear understanding of the personality disorder—Lovefraud has plenty of information on that. With this understanding, and our knowledge of the individual, we can probably begin to anticipate what the sociopath will do. In deciding how to proceed, we also need to evaluate our resources and possible outcomes of different courses of actions.
At the same time, we need to consider our personal recovery. Where are we emotionally and psychologically? How much can we tolerate? What actions—or lack of actions—would be most beneficial to our own recovery?
I don’t advocate that everyone simply cut their losses and run. Sometimes the more you give in to the sociopath, the more he or she demands, so it may be critical to fight. Or, what we really need for our personal recovery is to take a stand for ourselves, not allowing ourselves to be trampled again. I, personally, am very glad that I pursued my ex in court. Even though I never got any money, the court’s finding of fraud is what enabled me to launch Lovefraud. I had proof that he was a con artist.
In deciding how to best move forward, all of us targeted by sociopaths should balance the two parallel courses for moving forward: The reality of our situation and our own personal recovery.