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Mary Ann Glynn: Deceit – the most destructive abuse

Mary Ann Glynn

By Mary Ann Glynn, located in Bernardsville, New Jersey

I have noticed that those who get involved with a sociopath, whether it’s for 30 years or three months, the relationship has the same devastating effect. I’ve heard some describe even a brief encounter with a sociopath as the most destructive relationship they’d ever been in, even if they had previously been in a physically abusive relationship. What makes this true?

Loss of value and power

Any abusive relationship is destructive. In order to survive it, a person has to sublimate their needs and their identity, and a loss of self is experienced over time. Self-esteem is battered. Ongoing exposure to physical or verbal degradation — from controlling over-correction to condescending criticism to demeaning words or tirades, and frequent angry tones — from controlled disdain to simmering rage to outright screaming, over time have a gradual eroding deconstructive effect. The violation of boundaries and disregard of personhood translates into the gradual loss of value and power, and the ultimate dehumanization of the victim.

In a nutshell, if a person who is supposed to love you reflects back to you on a continual basis anger, disapproval, disregard or neglect, you start to feel not valued, unworthy of their love, like you are wrong, you don’t matter, you’re not enough. You feel ashamed of who you are – a very painful emotional place. You start to believe different things about yourself, even if you started out feeling positive and strong. It’s the nature and essence of abuse.

Abuse — what is it?

Recognizing abuse is a process because you are attached to the person, who you believe loves you. You do everything in your power to make it work, especially if you have children. For an indefinite period of time, you will be locked in denial by the cycle of abuse in which the abuser becomes “remorseful” and/or romantic after the abuse, which then ignites hope again. If the abuse is obvious, you’re likely to recognize it faster and your survival instinct may kick in faster. Also, other people may notice it and bring it to your attention.

Many partners of sociopaths do not experience much outright abuse. It is much more subtle – deceit, rejection, disapproval, and distancing, coupled with the feedback that you’re imagining it, crazy or needy, or that’s you’re the one victimizing them. That has the effect of keeping you off-kilter, in constant self-doubt about your perception, even your sanity. It’s crazy-making. The feeling of unsafety created by their lack of honesty and being kept off guard takes away your sense of safety and security that relationships must have for love to be shared.  When it’s not safe to even speak and be heard and or even feel certain, you start to erode, you have no power to be heard or valued. You are being abused – in fact, taken for your mind – but it is being handed out in an insidiously veiled way.

You’ve been tricked

At the point when you realize the person you have been with for however long has been tricking you, the trauma and humiliation of being deceived and used is a violation that in and of itself has a crushing power. Sociopaths take you at your most vulnerable – the giving of your heart – and they use it, make fun of it, scorn and degrade it. For me, the part that makes me most angry at him and me, is that he had the ability to take my power away. He had the ability to manipulate my perception and devalue the best things in my character to meet his need, and I let that happen.

Reclaim your power

But, for today I choose to accept my naiveté and vulnerability and desire to be loving, to forgive myself, and take my power back.



15 Comments on "Mary Ann Glynn: Deceit – the most destructive abuse"

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  1. Mary Ann – Thank you for posting this. It is so true – being tricked is so hard to come to terms with. We come down really hard on ourselves – when all we did was trust. Humans are meant to trust – and sociopaths twist that to their own advantage.



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  2. HanaleiMoon says:

    Yes, this subtle abuse is horrific. I had no idea I was being abused, and in seven years, he had plenty of time to batter my self esteem. I was in love with life when I meet him, strong and independent, at the peak of my career, financially stable and a bright future ahead. When he discarded me for the final time almost 3 years ago, he had set things up so that along with losing him, he made sure that all these good things were destroyed too, and he made it clear it was my own fault. I knew this was a lie and maybe this was my first clear thought in a very long time.

    I’ve worked hard cleaning up the mess he left me in, but I am still struggling to feel “right” again. It seems that everyone around me (especially him with his new wife) has moved on with their lives and are doing great, while I am still struggling to get myself back. I feel like I’m treading water. It’s a tough, lonely road.



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    • dorothy2 says:

      It is just So painful in SO many ways and I don’t know about you, but no matter how much I talk about it there is still a very deep hurt that is so excruciating I can’t even find word to describe it. Your last sentence…..”It’s a tough, lonely road”.



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      • Bets says:

        I know that hurt very well. Being with someone for so long and finding out how much wasn’t real was terribly painful. The physical abuse faded. Some scars remained. At least people could see those and understand.

        The hard part was trying to wrap my brain around the lies. I finally came to understand that when it came to the things he was accusing me of… what I needed was a mirror. The lies and deceits I was accused of were the ones he perpetrated. Since he had no guilt he projected them on me and then punished me for them. With that understanding I finally started to find peace. When I tell people that it was always about him… it really was always about him, I just got caught in between him and himself.



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        • dorothy2 says:

          That is very interesting Bets. I was not physically abused but relate to what you are saying about the lies. The aftermath of one of these things is so much worse…..the digestion process is so surreal. It’s very hard for me to connect with it in many ways because it’s just so bizarre to me, so unreal, so twisted, childish and just so unnecessary to do to another person. It just makes no sense but I’m supposed to accept it to move on? I don’t know how to digest it.



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          • HanaleiMoon says:

            I don’t know how to digest it either. At this point, I’ve had to accept that it happened, it’s harder to accept the long term losses. He left my life in such a shambles that it’s been a full time job to keep my head above water, let alone have time and energy for anything extra. I’ve been cleaning up for almost three years and I’m still standing in wreckage that needs to be handled while he didn’t even get dust on him. He’s in his comfy home with his new wife who pays half the bills planning their next adventure, while I lost my home, my financial stability, my career and my pride. Nice.

          • dorothy2 says:

            HanaleiMoon: Mine is back in Mommy;s basement with meals prepared for his highness and living like an 18 year old. And I too am still cleaning up because he was such a time suck,,,,,,couldn’t be alone, just HAD to be with me because he loved me, right? and more so, in the PTSD trauma afterwords everything fell apart. I’m still not sure I’m caught up with bills and financial responsibilities, etc. Of course he has none of this to deal with because his bills are paid by mommy as in he has none. well, I’m sure there is money going out to like who knows what being auto withdrawn from his bank. I found out about one but I’m sure there is more……how can someone live for free at Mommys and have no money to speak of? liar.
            I’m sorry HanaleiMoon………

          • Escapefor1 says:

            Dorothy and Hanalei Moon,

            As for digestion, I just think of their mind and lives as visiting another planet. When you realize the rules as they see them, it all makes a weird kind of sense. You can interpret what they do and say in their terms from their point of view. That also makes their behavior more understandable and sometimes predictable. Notice I did not say foregivable.

            Once I understood how it all went down, I could foregive myself for the accident of meeting up with this person. And I could see how and just why I was fooled. I was not so much stupid as he was good at it, and I had no idea there was a game on or a player like him possible. Not that I do know, I watch out much more carefully.

      • HanaleiMoon says:

        dorothy2, for me, I found that some of my “friends” simply turned their backs on me. A few judged and blamed me, were patronizing and condescending (it would have never happened to them). The very few who seemed to be a support, turned out to be pretending to care to just get a better seat to watch my struggle. I realized that they had an interest in seeing my struggle continue and were even contributing to it by stirring the pot on things I had long let settle. I’ve distanced myself from the last two, since they seemed to disapprove every time I got the slightest toehold on moving forward.

        There is no one in my life from “before”. The few friends I have now came into my life after I was discarded so only know me for me. A breath of fresh air.

        I am very sad at the reality of those who I counted on in my life before, but at least now I know where I stand, even if it is alone. At this point, I’ve lost most of the need to talk about it – it only comes once in awhile. If I wait it out, it passes.

        I think things will right themselves in time. It’s taking a lot longer than I thought, once I get over one hump another one comes out of nowhere. I’m looking forward to the day when I wake up in the morning and this thing that happened, and all it’s endless fallout, isn’t the first thought I have.



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        • dorothy2 says:

          I’m still having realizations HanaleiMoon…………indigestion.
          Your “friends” don’t sound like friends 🙁 I will say that SOME people just can’t relate because they do not know what these types are like or even that they exist. I didn’t. And it’s so damned hard, for me at least, to explain most of it because it happened in such a covert way,,,,,,so many subtle twists and turns.
          I just had another 2+2=4 realization yesterday. A HUGE ah ha moment that paints him in an even scarier light than I was seeing him in.
          I wish you strength and peace HanaleiMoon. Hug to you.



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        • Escapefor1 says:

          Unfortunately, watching the creative destruction by sociopaths is often entertaining, as long as you are not a target. Everyone told me I should write a book. As several other victims have done. So, friends and family watch in horrified satisfaction. Their own real-life reality show.



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  3. Bets says:

    Hugs all around! It’s hard work getting past the crap. I have zero friends from our time together. They all got sucked into his poor poor pitiful me dramas and deceits. I became the wicked witch because I chose the truth. I was left with a child to raise and he went off to his next toxic conquest. He paid a sum total of $500 in child support and got his parental rights terminated due to his lack of participation. That child is now 25 and better off for that lack of participation. This makes me the wicked witch.

    The “friends” from the relationship weren’t worth my time. I learned that the hard way. They were keeping him informed on my activities. None of them would accept the truth. Believing the ex’s lies somehow was more acceptable to them than hearing what actually happened. My emotions were too hard for them to deal with. Even when faced with rock solid damning evidence, they sided with poor poor pitiful him. They saw the bruises -some of them even got front row seats to the original injuries. How could I be so mean to him when he loved me so much? I got tired of that question and those “friends”.

    Truthfully, it took longer than I hoped, but when it happened I remember how happy I felt. The sadness, anxiety, anger, confusion, aggravation, loneliness, heartache, etc., felt like they melted away. I realized that I was OK after all. Along the way, I made new friends. I much prefer the genuine relationships in my life now.

    Hang in there all!!!!



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  4. eggshellsnomore says:

    What I wouldn’t give for my ex to not want to participate and lose parental rights. Instead, like many other spaths, he uses the child to continue to try and control, manipulate, shame, and deceive me. This is his “in” to my life still today. It’s so hard to forgive myself. I have been asked so many times, accused even, as to why I stayed with him. I get this from my attorneys, my parents, and anyone else who hears my story or learns for themselves just what he is. It’s hard when you are a smart professional woman who “should have known better.” When I look back on how he always turned everything around to make it my fault, how convincing he was when caught in a lie, how he used my “big heart” against me I just cringe. He had me jumping through hoops and bending over backwards to prove what a good wife I was, and the sad and crazy part was he had me believing I needed to convince myself of this, as well as him. Talk about self doubt! Even today, any time I do bother to respond or set the record straight with him with regard to my child, he always tries to turn it around so that I get blamed, I get made out to look like the bad person or the one who is lying.



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    • dorothy2 says:

      Eggshellsnomore……….YUCK! I’m just SO sorry you have to continue to have exposure to him!! It’s inconceivable to me, as in I can not imagine having to interact in ANY way with that POS ever again! My sympathy is with you there.



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    • Bets says:

      eggshellsnomore, I want to explain a little about my journey to the spath’s termination of parental rights. His participation with our son and lack of participation was shown in the court ordered social study. The examiner found that my ex used his time with our son as a tool to constrict and control me as opposed to having a meaningful relationship with his son. In his possession, our son was in the hands of girlfriends and family as opposed to him spending quality time parenting or participating. Our son was under the age of two at the time so he could not verbalize much of what was going on. Our son’s reactions to being returned to me were demonstrative of the spath’s intention to use our child against me. As much as I hated the process, that social study was beneficial to me.

      In addition, my ex the spath, made several errors in his bid to make the rest of my life a living hell. For one, he had children with his first wife to whom he owed a massive amount of back child support which he had no intention of making good on. He saw those children sporadically and when he did they were with me more than him. Two, he owed me a hefty sum of child support. Three, ex-wife#1 and I got together and sued for termination of parental rights at the same time thus making it difficult for him to fight a war on two fronts – it helped that we lived in different parts of the state. Four, He married the girlfriend (now ex-wife#3)three days before she was set to testify against him in a court hearing thus she could not testify, weakening his position and adding fuel to our case of his use of power and control against me. Five, he opted not to fight ex-wife#1 and signed the papers relinquishing his rights and absolving him of back child support owed which helped me. Six, he slept with the attorney ad litem appointed to advocate for our son which when discovered forced the judge to assign another ad litem. Seven, he stalked the judge in our case, a woman who had recently lost her husband and became afraid of the spath. His constant vigil against her convinced her to resort to some pretty incredible measures to deal with him. Eight, he failed to read the newspaper announcing the intention of the court to terminate his parental rights and failed to show up on the appointed date.

      My journey to remove him from my life was not an easy one. I spent years in terror of his ability to follow me at any given time and potentially fulfill his promise to kill me, my family, and anyone who helped me. In the end, it was MY lack of participation to his campaign to draw me back into his drama that eventually lead to his moving on and leaving us alone and allowing me to finally heal.

      I know how hard it is. I’m helping a friend try to deal with his ex-wife-spath who is using his children in her campaign to keep him locked into her drama. I understand how hard it is to keep present in the truth as opposed to feeding into a spath’s drama. I applaud you! It takes an immeasurable amount to strength and resolve to stay out of the drama. Just stick to the business of managing the children and eventually he will lose interest. He’s looking for drama. The less you provide the more he will chase it elsewhere.



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