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By February 5, 2016 26 Comments Read More →

Who exactly is a potential victim of psychopaths or sociopaths?

ExPsychopathCover

Chapter 5
Who is a potential victim?

Everyone is a potential victim of a psychopath. There are two basic reasons why, and my goal in this chapter is to make them clear for you. Why? Because too many people think they can’t be fooled or that they’re too strong to be a victim, and those beliefs put us in danger of being swept away and devastated by a psychopath.

Here are my two points, up front. First, psychopaths handle deception differently, and it catches us off guard. Almost anyone can be fooled, even professionals. Second, the most masterful unincarcerated psychopaths can give a very warm impression and/or they talk incessantly about their values. We are not brought up to anticipate warmth and what seems like patriotism and/or family values from a psychopath. We are not prepared to detect their lies. And that makes us all susceptible.

So let’s talk about deception. How can you tell if someone’s lying to you? Most commonly, people say that they look for shifty eyes or fidgeting. We think that someone will feel agitated while lying and that even if they’re really good at hiding their symptoms, that they will still feel internal agitation in a way that can be measured by instruments attached to the body. Like a polygraph.

Here’s the thing. A psychopath does not feel agitated while lying. So there are no symptoms. No shifty eyes, nothing that can be measured internally… nothing. What a psychopath may feel is elation. There may be a sense of joy in duping you, in getting away with a lie. To a psychopath, that is a WIN, which means power, which means fun! It’s fun to toy with people and watch them twist and turn like little puppets. We (neurotypical people) are looked down upon as stupid, funny fools.

So the reason I say everyone can be a victim of a psychopath is because there’s no way to tell if a psychopath is lying. And most of us are over-confident in our ability to detect lies, anyway. In general, most people overestimate their gut sense of lie detection, and that makes us even more vulnerable.

My family was on vacation in Albuquerque. Wyatt was staying in an amazing resort all week for a conference, and I was staying with extended family who lived out there. We were supposed to have access to his room all week so the kids could enjoy the walk-in gradient pool, water slides, lazy river, and so on. It was an outstanding facility. The problem was that he never called us to say it was ok, and he wouldn’t answer my calls. I was afraid to show up over there because I didn’t want to make anyone in his company angry.

Finally, though, on the morning of the last day, my aunt said, “We’re going,” and basically got a key from the front desk and let us all into his room. She opened the door and walked right through it to the back door, which opened on the pool area. She threw open the shades and the beautiful light of New Mexico streamed across the room as I spotted a woman’s bracelet next to Wyatt’s wallet, cigar, and keys on the table in the front hall. Wow. I gasped a little. Another bracelet. This was the third.

My kids were pulling on my hands, wanting to change.

“Let’s go to the pool! This place is awesome!”

They bounced beside me, and I turned my back on the bracelet. It was gaudy. I took them into the bathroom and started helping them undress.

Wyatt must’ve gotten word that we’d arrived. I could hear him come in the door and give my aunt and uncle loving hugs with lots of happy explanations. They were tense because he hadn’t returned our calls all week, but like so many of us, they were polite. But I only heard their voices for a moment before he was bursting through the bathroom door, bracelet in hand.

“See what I found for you? Look what I found on the golf cart yesterday. I kept it for you. I thought you’d like it.” He held it up to my face and smiled. “See, look what I found for you.”

I blinked at the ugly thing.

“Ok. Interesting that you found yet another bracelet for me.”

The boys were struggling into their shorts at my feet.

“Crazy, right?” He grabbed me for a big hug and then bent over to tickle the boys.

“I’m so glad to see you guys—so glad to see you guys! I’ve been missing you so much! Missing you all week!”

What’s weird about this? Not much, I guess. Unless you remember that he hadn’t answered our calls or texts all week, asking to come play in the fancy resort pool. Unless you can zoom ahead in time and watch him just as confidently telling me a different story about how he found that bracelet.

He was lying.

He was happy.

The second reason we’re so susceptible to psychopaths is easy to explain if you look at images of psychopaths online. From movies to book covers to general images, what you’ll find will tell you a lot about what our general public believes about psychopaths. They are scary.

They have ice-cold eyes. There’s often blood and murder involved. A psychopath might look madly insane and be wielding a butcher knife. A cleaned-up psychopath might look like a slick con-artist with scary eyes. If you cross a psychopath like this, they’ll either give you the worst chills of your lifetime or they’ll kill you.

This is what we expect from psychopaths as a society. That’s why we’re all potential victims.

Just so you know, Wyatt tells me regularly—at least once a month still—that he is a really good person. That I might not believe it, but he is a really good person. He reminds me that he serves on the board of the most highly regarded charitable organization in his county. He reminds me that parents come to him all the time to thank him for setting such a positive example for their children. He tells me how much he loves America and how much better he is at parenting than I am. He tells me to calm down. To smile more. To maybe consider meeting with a minister or counselor to work on becoming a better person. Someone God would deem worthy.

So an unincarcerated psychopath may or may not look like a cheesy, fake, power hungry politician. Some are better at loud proclamations of their family values, while others will play the sweet choir director who is just there to serve. The roles they fill will depend on their goals—which group of people they want to hurt and/or exploit. Now if a scary-looking strange man dressed all in black with greasy hair and an ice-cold gaze walks into a church and asked to spend time with the children there, people worry. But if a quiet natured, baby-faced young minister enters and asks time to spend with the children because he’s led four other youth groups and just loves spending time with families (and hopes to have one someday of his own), people will not worry as much.

Which one is the psychopath?

My point is that you can’t tell. And since unincarcerated psychopaths who are clever enough to avoid detection will not have a record, background checks really won’t help.

That’s why anyone can be a victim. So if you’ve been a victim of a psychopath, there’s no shame in that. And if you haven’t been, count your blessings—but don’t give yourself too many pats on the back for avoiding it. The scary fact is that we’re all susceptible. The more you accept that vulnerability, the more you can actually wake up and protect yourself.

Author’s Note:

A chapter of my new book, “My Ex is a Psychopath but I Am Strong and Free,” is being released every week here on Lovefraud and on my blog at hgbeverly.com.

Check back next Friday for Chapter Six: I Wouldn’t Let That Happen.

Or follow these links to previous chapters here on Lovefraud:

Chapter One: Everyone’s Ex is a Psychopath
Chapter Two: Labels and Lists Might Not Help
Chapter Three: There Are Degrees of Conscience and Empathy
Chapter Four: Richard Parker is Not Your Friend

Also, if you like my writing you can find my other books, The Other Side of Charm at major booksellers.

Many thanks!



26 Comments on "Who exactly is a potential victim of psychopaths or sociopaths?"

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  1. Bev says:

    Wow.

    Imagine the coldness…Wyatt grabs the bracelet and says…look what I found? I thought that you would like it.

    And, all the while…not scared of being found out…no. He said it happily.

    Oh the smugness. The confidence in our trust.

    My SP son wouldv totally do this. I can actually visualize it!

    I love H.G. Beverly’s style of putting the things that resonate with all of us who have been there, into the perfect words.

    Wow.



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  2. AnnettePK says:

    Thanks for another chapter. The paragraph in which you cite his telling you he’s a good person, etc., and backing his claims up with a list of people who he’s still successfully deceiving, makes me furious. My ex P was always using what other more deceived people think of him as a measure of his goodness and my ‘wrong thinking.’ He blamed all my suffering and all his problems on my ‘wrong thinking.’



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    • Bev says:

      Exactly AnnettePK!!

      They make you feel like there is something wrong with YOU, because everyone else thinks they are so great…



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      • loveisblind says:

        Why can’t everyone else see them for who they really are??



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        • AnnettePK says:

          My ex psychopath is very good at fooling people; he is an excellent liar. When I met him, I thought he was wonderful just like everyone else did (except his first ex wife, I’m sure.) He is still successfully deceiving and manipulating people. I remember how I viewed him before I was victimized, which gives me some understanding of their view.



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          • loveisblind says:

            I thought he was perfect that he had his life together and the deeper I dug the truth came out and the more he tried making me look like the bad guy even though I accepted him for him when I found out truth. He got upset I found out the truth instead of believing his lies

          • AnnettePK says:

            Loveis,

            What you describe is a perfect description of what psychopaths do. They only care about impression management, not about growing spiritually and changing to become a good person. Also, they present themselves differently to different people according to whatever their victim wants them to be. Spaths don’t care

            Even though you are a pretty cool person to accept him including his faults and to forgive him for deceiving you, it doesn’t help him nor does he care. Spaths treat everyone according to what works to manipulate their victim to get something they want. What they want is superficial – someone else’s money, people to think they are wonderful, someone else’s place to live, sex, etc. There is nothing you could do or be that would help him be a good person, care about your well being, or make the ‘relationship’ work.

            The betrayal of a spath is worse than a death. You have lost the person you loved in good faith, you have been betrayed and lied to which is abuse, and most people don’t really understand and are unable to provide the support you would get if he had physically died.

            You will feel better. You sound like you are thinking clearly and like you are doing a good job of taking care of yourself. It’s the worst feeling in the world to be betrayed and abused and to find out that someone you loved was just manipulating you.

            Keep in mind that spaths can be physically dangerous because they have no conscience nor caring about others to stop them from doing anything. Also, if it suits his purpose he may do a smear campaign on you by telling lies about you to people. Spaths are very destructive.

            I am so sorry that you are going through this. It is the worst. You will feel better and you will get your life back. Spaths are evil, and good will win in your life.

  3. 4Light2shine says:

    So true H.G. Especially if we have never been really burned by this person before. We have no reason to expect it. The camouflage and lures that social predators use usually work like a charm. A well seasoned spath has learned which lures and tactics work the best, and the ones I’ve dealt with have a box full of wicked wares available. I have found from studying many of the tactics that they typically use that I can recognize slippery maneuvers much quicker than I used to. That’s not a brag btw because I used to be clueless and uber trusting. I had never heard of or imagined such twisted evil games. Now I say to myself – there goes an end run around accountability. I was sensing dominance. This person is selling humility but I’m not feeling it. Like Wyatt’s bracelet move, I’ve noticed that they tend to be proactive when employing their distancing maneuvers.
    This subtype that you describe I know very well. I unfortunately know several. Their deception is complex. There are so many layers in play simultaneously that seeing through the smoke and mirrors can be challenging to say the least. Hugs and kisses, I love you soooo much ! Playful, thoughtful. I was thinking of YOU ! This is for YOU ! Sparkle ! Shine ! Joy ! So much Joy ! What a great guy ! Right ? Is there a vomit imoji ?



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  4. loveisblind says:

    How can I be certain I’m with a sociopath? I need advice, I’m hurt, yet still in love, confused, feel so drawn to this person yet I know in my heart I have to break away. Just need words of encouragement there’s too huge of a list to even start. I’m pretty sure I’m in love with a sociopath and that hurts even more knowing he’ll never have the opportunity to love or experience feeling all together. I’m sad for him yet sadder for myself this just can’t go on. I need a friend



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    • AnnettePK says:

      The way you describe how you feel right now is pretty typical of how someone in a ‘relationship’ with a spath comes to feel in time. You love the person he showed himself to be, and he probably betrayed you. You love because you’re capable of love. Your spath invited you to love him based on false pretenses. That is wrong and harmful to you. When you leave him, you take your ability to love someone with you. You can choose to give your love to someone who appreciates you and who has a good character.

      Spaths like being how they are. They don’t want to feel love like normal people do; they view our emotions as weaknesses. If it bothered him to harm others, he would stop doing it. Keep in mind that spaths often work at manipulating us to feel sympathy for them.

      It sounds like you are thinking clearly that you need to leave the relationship. It doesn’t matter as much whether his disorder is sociopathy or something else. If he is making you feel bad, he is not a good person for you. You might make a list of the positive things and the negative things about him and the relationship to help clarify to yourself whether your assessments are accurate.

      We are your friends because most of us have been through what you are experiencing, and we care how you feel and we want you to be treated well and to be happy.



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  5. becomingstrong says:

    Thank you for the article. My spath didn’t like to be bothered with a bold flat out lie that could be verified. He actually appeared uncomfortable. Not because he had a conscious but for some other reason that eludes me. He lied by omission, he lied by creating a picture that would lead you to a false answer, he lied by not addressing anything when called on it. He made it so he rarely had to tell me a flat lie. For example, he used to tell people at work that he was going out of town to see his children. He would omit the “wife” and thereby leading people to believe he wasn’t married or separated. Wasn’t it true he was visiting his children? He would just omit the “wife”. When he talked about his “family” it would be the children. Solidifying his false picture. But did he ever say he was divorced? No so if someone would call him on it he could say I never said I was divorced. Cleaver.



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    • AnnettePK says:

      Lying by omission is lying, and is just as powerful as lying by commission. Despite the technicalities, he was deliberately deceiving people to believe something that was not true. He knows he is lying and he knows that victims of his manipulation will question him if/when they find out. Maybe fear of being found out made him uncomfortable?

      His being able to say that he I”never said I was divorced” is game playing by a set of insane ‘rules’ he makes up as he goes along. He’s tossing word salad around that has no meaning.

      What he’s not doing is communicating facts that are important for others to know to increase understanding and cooperation and that enhance everyone’s well being.



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        • becomingstrong says:

          Yes “word salad” is dead on. Possibly fear of being found out was the source of his discomfort. He did the this in court. When questioned about his claim of exorbinant child care costs he was asked the name of his baby sitter. He flatly refused to answer the question. Then he was asked if this was girlfriend. He flatly denied it. But then threw in “were friends”. Now, I’ve never met this woman but by my daughter’s description doesn’t sound like she would be, but whatever. If she’s the girlfriend the judge wouldn’t care. So why deny it. And if you’re going to deny it then why add “she’s a friend”? My point is that this word salad leads you into five or more directions. I think he told the truth to the judge that she wasn’t the girlfriend. But the reference to she’s “friend” I took as a veiled threat to me to say, “If you don’t come back to me I’m going to elevate her to girlfriend status”.



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  6. 4Light2shine says:

    Loveisblind I’m sorry that you are having to go through this betrayal of trust. I like your strategy & Annette is giving you great advise. I’ve used gray-rock & I was happy to have something to make the moral insanity pass me by. A couple things to consider- Some spaths are highly adept at picking up on subtle changes & if they sense that their target is getting wise or just fed up, they will flip the switch and turn on the charm. The sweet, kind, loving character that they portrayed to you in the beginning may return. Promises to the moon. Just one more chance. They are very seductive. We want desperately to believe, to be forgiving, to practice blind love. Unfortunately this is not love. At least not a reciprocal one. I speak from experience. I allowed myself to love and forgive blindly extending trust to the most powerful enemy that I have ever known. I could not have imagined the level of interpersonal destruction that I was rewarded with by being kind, merciful, and extending trust to an untrustworthy individual. It’s called hoovering. It is a strategy. It is not genuine love. The end game is to destroy you. Gray rock till you can put together an exit plan.



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  7. 4Light2shine says:

    Follow those links. Learn it. Gray rock is your friend. Be the gray rock. Strangely, surprisingly empowering concept.



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  8. Bev says:

    It really is quite a concept…and would most certainly work!

    SPs HATE blandness. They thrive on DRAMA.

    Don’t be the drama…be the grey rock! So good!



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