Most of us at Lovefraud are here because we’ve been conned, duped, deceived and betrayed by a sociopath.
Once we finally figure out what we are dealing with, many of us do not tell other people what really happened. After all, it’s embarrassing to admit that no, we didn’t see it coming, and yes, we fell for the scam. And if we do venture to describe the sociopath’s true behavior, we may be met by disbelief. “What? That charming person couldn’t possibly have done that. You must have misinterpreted.”
We quickly learn that people do not understand what we are talking about. Either they don’t believe us, or ostracize us. So we stop talking. We try to hide what happened, even from ourselves.
Our silence on being betrayed by sociopaths has two effects:
- Our pain is bottled up within us, impeding our own recovery
- The world does not learn just how many social predators are living in our midst
Talking about it
After my appearance on ABC 20/20 Friday, I received an email from a Lovefraud reader who wrote:
I watched the show last night and somehow it unleashed several hidden emotions and feelings which I tried to bury regarding my situation. My healing has begun slowly month by month and I am now learning how not to be so hard on myself and be more cautious with my future relationships…
This reader experienced a release because someone else who was targeted told her story.
Katherine Underwood suffered tremendously at the hands of Budimir Drakulic, who took more than $410,000 from her. I know for a fact that it was very difficult for Katherine to do the TV show. Anyone who watched could see that she became emotional on several occasions.
Still, Katherine did it. And sharing her story likely helped thousands of other people.
When we talk about our experience, when we stand up and say, “yes, this happened to me,” it helps other people who have been targeted realize that they are not alone. This can go a long way towards recovery.
Our own healing
Talking about our experience also helps our own healing. When we share what happened, we are no longer carrying the burden of our pain all by ourselves.
A big reason why it’s often so difficult to recover from the devastation of the sociopath is that we feel so isolated, like no one really understands what we experienced.
Unfortunately, often our perception on this is correct. People do not understand what happened. That’s why a community like Lovefraud is so important — everyone who reads and posts here does understand.
To know that someone truly empathizes with us is extremely validating. Especially when a sociopath has been calling us “crazy” and “mentally unbalanced,” validation can be truly helpful to our recovery.
Breaking the silence
When we discover that we’ve been duped by a sociopath, among the multitude of unpleasant emotions we feel are shame and embarrassment. Talking about what happened increases our shame and embarrassment, so we don’t do it.
Our silence, unfortunately, benefits the particular sociopath we were involved with, along with all the other sociopaths who prowl the planet. Because we don’t talk, society doesn’t know they exist, and they continue to get away with their manipulation and deceit.
Yes, sociopaths are in our midst. Sometimes they look scary, but usually they don’t — they seem to be just like the rest of us, at least at first. They’re attentive and charming. They appear to be our best friend, or a pillar of the community.
Even a guy named Budimir Drakulic, the man who conned Katherine Underwood, was able to pass himself off as trustworthy.
Back in 1994, when Katherine met Drakulic, there was even less awareness of sociopaths than there is now. Today, if nothing else, all of us at Lovefraud at least know that they exist.
Spreading the word
Let’s spread the word.
Talking about sociopaths can accomplish three things:
- Helping someone else recognize that they’re involved with a predator
- Helping our own recovery by sharing the burden of our experience
- Warning the rest of the world about the predators who live among us
We should educate ourselves about this personality disorder, and when the opportunity arises, talk about it. It may not always be safe to talk about our personal situation. But we can share general information. We can send someone a link to Lovefraud.
Knowledge is power. The first step in protecting ourselves from sociopaths is knowing that they exist.